NFC North: Jarrad Page
I ran out of steam Tuesday before the news stopped pouring in, so let's catch up on a flurry of moves that ended the season of four prominent Minnesota Vikings players, including two starters.
Receiver Michael Jenkins (knee) and safety Husain Abdullah (concussion) were placed on injured reserve, along with safety Tyrell Johnson (hamstring) and long-snapper Cullen Loeffler. Among those signed to fill their spots were veteran safety Jarrad Page.
Abdullah hadn't played since Week 10. Jenkins, however, had been a reliable receiver for rookie quarterback Christian Ponder and leaves the team's receiving corps in shambles. Percy Harvin is the only remaining wide receiver with more than nine receptions this season.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Writing for 1500ESPN.com, Sam Monson looks at what the Vikings must do in order to slow down the Denver Broncos' option offense.
- The St. Paul Pioneer Press sees Minneapolis getting back into the Vikings' stadium game.
- It's not clear whether Green Bay Packers linebacker Erik Walden, released from jail Monday, will play Sunday against the New York Giants. Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has more.
- Packers guard T.J. Lang has matured this season, writes Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com provides an injury update, noting that guard Josh Sitton (knee) could miss a few weeks.
- The Detroit Lions have the NFL's second-most difficult schedule the rest of the way, notes Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.
- Eric Lacy of the Detroit News traces the issues of Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to high school. Suh punched an opponent during a playoff game in 2004.
- Lions rookie Nick Fairley is at his healthiest of the season as he sets out to replace Suh, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
- Drew Sharp of the Free Press on Suh's two-game suspension: "Roger Goodell took a ruler to Ndamukong Suh's wrist, scolding the NFL's bad boy for being nothing more than a bad little boy. A two-game suspension for Suh stomping a player on the field Thanksgiving Day and then stomping all over common sense in a failed mea culpa following the game, is the equivalent of rich parents punishing their spoiled teen by forcing him to drive the domestic sedan for two weeks rather than the European sports car."
- Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie, via Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune: "I knew there was going to be a learning curve; I just hope it's very short.''
- Here is some video of Hanie speaking with Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.
- Things usually get better after the first start, writes Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Safety Louis Delmas, a second-round pick in 2009, seems to be a good piece to build around. Lions coach Jim Schwartz must sort out whether Ko Simpson, Marquand Manuel or C.C. Brown is the strong safety to pair with Delmas.
I would be surprised if the Lions don't add one or two names to that list of candidates before the start of the regular season. It might not be their top organizational priority, as evidenced by their cool pursuitof free agent Oshiomogho Atogwe, but my understanding is that they were less than satisfied with their options as minicamp concluded last month.
Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News suggests the Lions could have interest in Kansas City Chiefs safety Jarrad Page, who has asked for a trade. Another option is veteran defensive back Dante Wesley, whom the Lions signed as a reserve cornerback in April mostly for special teams purposes. Wesley has some experience as a safety, however, and the Lions likely will give him a chance to compete for the strong-side position in training camp.
We'll get into a more formal discussion of training camp battles next week, but at this point, the Lions' safety situation is among the most fluid in the division.
At least one of you did. After taking some time away, I took a glance at the mailbag Thursday morning. Mike of San Francisco duly noted: "The last month or so you seem to have gotten lazy." He begged: "Can you please start caring again?"
I never stopped caring, Mike. I just took a breath to gear up for the 2010 season -- which for me starts in seven days with our annual training camp tour. I'll visit all four NFC North teams between July 30 and Aug. 13. Details to come, but here is a clue to my first stop: Mayonnaise.
I would like to thank everyone who collaborated to fill the blog in my absence, including John Clayton, Matt Williamson and the elite ESPN.com blog editing team. They covered the Detroit Lions' acquisition of cornerback Dre Bly, the 2010 suspension of Green Bay Packers defensive end Johnny Jolly and the latest Brett Favre drama. Clayton did a bang-up job on the NFC North training camp preview, which you appear to have dissected quite well.
So let's put our toes back in the water catch up around the division:
- Favre told WDAM that he has gained 14 pounds since the end of last season. (Via Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.)
- Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was paired with Michael Jordan and Jerry Rice in the recent American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com. Rodgers: "It was fun to be able to play with them and shoot the breeze with guys who are now kind of my colleagues, although I'm definitely not on their level."
- The Chicago Bears remain the only NFC North team to have signed its entire draft class after agreeing to terms with running back Harvey Unga, whom they selected in the recent supplemental draft.
- Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com on Lions cornerback Jonathan Wade: "The Lions would like to see Wade, who started four games in St. Louis last year, progress in his development and earn a full-time starting job. Even if he doesn't, the Lions still feel they've got a quality special teams performer and they've improved the roster."
- The Lions are hoping their offensive line produces a more even performance in 2010, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
- The Lions would have interest if the Kansas City Chiefs are willing to trade safety Jarrad Page, writes Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News.
Many of you have been interested in the future of former Chicago safety Mike Brown, whom the Bears decided not to re-sign this offseason.
According to Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star, Brown has agreed to terms with the Chiefs. Under new coach Todd Haley, Brown will have a chance to beat out incumbent safeties Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page for a starting job.
More than anything, Brown could provide locker room leadership for a young team in transition.