NFC North: Ikaika Alma-Francis
We teased you Sunday night with some (bad) pop culture humor. Monday morning, we can tell you what's coming.
Actually, it's already here.
ESPN Chicago -- the Web site.
Yes, Monday is the debut for an ESPN-styled site devoted solely to Chicago sports. Some of the best writers in the ESPN stable -- Gene Wojciechowski, Wayne Drehs, Scoop Jackson and more -- will be contributing regular pieces on the Bears, Cubs, White Sox and Big 10 college sports as well. And Jeff Dickerson, who you might know from ESPN 1000 radio, is writing a Bears blog.
This won't change the frequency and tone of the Bears coverage here on the Black and Blue blog. Consider it another layer at our disposal. I'll do my best to link to the best of the Bears coverage on the site, and from time to time some of our Bears discussions will appear there as well. So check it out.
In the meantime, let's catch up on the weekend and start our sprint to the NFL draft.
- David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune considers the Bears "the most improved playoff-caliber team in the NFC heading into the NFL draft."
- The Bears haven't yet launched an advertising campaign around the acquisition of Jay Cutler, writes Lewis Lazare of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Detroit cornerback Travis Fisher predicts the Lions' defense will be "vicious" under new coordinator Gunther Cunningham, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Free Press looks at four players the Lions have drafted in recent years who need to bulk up for the team's new defensive system: Linebacker Jordon Dizon, defensive tackle Andre Fluellen, defensive tackle Landon Cohen and defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis.
- Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has an interesting piece on how health insurance works for Packers players. When a player is injured, the resulting care falls under workman's compensation. Most teams budget $1 million or more for this insurance, Demovsky reports.
- Minnesota has eliminated 78 players from its draft board for various red flags, including character and health, according to Chip Scoggins and Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
- The Vikings have had 95 percent attendance in their offseason strength and conditioning program, writes Scoggins.
DETROIT -- Greetings from a hushed Ford Field. We have a few of lineup changes to bring you as players start warming up:
- Artis Hicks will return as Minnesota's right tackle this week. Backup Ryan Cook is active but won't start. Anthony Herrera, whose status was uncertain following the death of his brother, will start at right guard.
- Detroit receiver John Standeford will replace Shaun McDonald in the starting lineup. McDonald is inactive Sunday.
- Ikaika Alama-Francis will start in place of rookie Andre Fluellen at left end.
- Kalvin Pearson will start in place of Dwight Smith at free safety.