NFC North: Jason Spitz

Super XLV: Where are they now?

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Exactly three years ago -- on Feb. 6, 2011 -- the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV.

Since then, much has happened to the 53 players who were on the roster for that 31-25 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Arlington, Texas.

Free agency, injuries, retirement and declining performance cause roster turnover.

Still, it’s eye-opening that from the group that suited up for the Packers’ last championship, only 12 players (just 22.6 percent) remain under contract with the team for 2014. Another 11 are still officially members of the Packers, but have contracts that expire next month. There are 13 players with other NFL teams, and 17 are out of football -- perhaps for good.

Here’s a look at the status of every player who was on the active roster three years ago today at Super Bowl XLV:

Under contract for 2014

  • [+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
    Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesThree years after being named MVP of Super Bowl XLV, Aaron Rodgers is still leading the Packers.
    QB Aaron Rodgers: Threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns on the way to winning the Super Bowl XLV MVP, then won the NFL MVP award the next season. Signed a five-year, $110 million contract extension last April.
  • G Josh Sitton: Started Super Bowl XLV at right guard, but moved to left guard in 2013 and was a second-team, All-Pro selection. Signed a five-year contract extension on Sept. 2, 2011 that averages $6.75 million per season.
  • T Bryan Bulaga: Started at right tackle, but moved to left tackle last offseason. A training camp knee injury ended his 2013 season, and he now enters the final year of his rookie contract.
  • G: T.J. Lang: Served as a backup, but became the starting left guard the next season. Signed a four-year contract extension on Aug. 14, 2012 that averages $5.2 million per season. Moved to right guard last season.
  • WR Jordy Nelson: Caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl, and went on to post 1,000-yard receiving seasons in two of the next three years. Entering the final year of his contract in 2014.
  • OLB Clay Matthews: Forced a fumble in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl that the Packers recovered and turned into a touchdown to pad the lead. Four-time Pro Bowler signed a five-year, $66 million contract extension last April.
  • LB A.J. Hawk: Started and made seven tackles in the Super Bowl. Was released two months later, only to re-sign a more salary-cap friendly deal. Is under contract through 2015.
  • CB Tramon Williams: Broke up three passes in the Super Bowl, including the one that sealed the game on fourth-and-5 from the Steelers’ 33-yard line in the final minute. Entering the final year of his contract. Scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2014, and could be a candidate to be released or restructured despite a strong finish to last season.
  • K Mason Crosby: Made a 23-yard field goal in the game and signed a five-year, $14.75 million contract on July 29, 2011. Struggled in 2012, but bounced back last year to post his best season.
  • P Tim Masthay: Capped his first season with the Packers by averaging 40.5 yards and allowing the Steelers just 5 yards on punt returns in the game. Signed a four-year, $5.465 million contract extension on July 26, 2012.
  • LS Brett Goode: Has been the long snapper since 2008 and signed a three-year, $2.715 million contract extension on Oct. 13, 2012.
  • CB Jarrett Bush: Special teams player who was pressed into defensive duty in the game after injuries to Sam Shields and Charles Woodson, and intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass in the second quarter. Signed a three-year, $5.25 million contract on March 26, 2012.
Headed for free agency next month

  • RB James Starks: Started the Super Bowl and rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries. Battled injuries most of his career, and might not be re-signed.
  • WR James Jones: Caught five passes for 50 yards in the game, and signed a three-year, $9.6 million contract on Aug. 2, 2011. Caught 59 passes for a career-high 817 yards in 2013, and could be a re-signed despite his age (will turn 30 next month).
  • DT Ryan Pickett: Started the game, made two tackles and was in on the play in which Matthews forced Rashard Mendehall's fourth-quarter fumble. Played in all 16 games last season with a base salary of $5.4 million, but might be at the age (34) where the Packers let him walk.
  • DT B.J. Raji: Capped a strong 2010 postseason with a pair of tackles in the game. Finished his rookie contract in 2013, and reportedly turned down an $8 million-per-year offer last season.
  • DE C.J. Wilson: Started the game, but played only 14 snaps. Biggest impact came the night before the game, when he kept things loose in the team hotel by playing piano and leading a team sign-along. Finished his rookie contract in 2013.
  • FB John Kuhn: Played on both offense and special teams in the game. Signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract on Aug. 1, 2011.
  • CB Sam Shields: Suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter of the game. Had his best season in 2013 while playing under the restricted free agent tender of $2.023 million. Will command a big contract either from the Packers or another team in free agency.
  • LB Robert Francois: Went back and forth from the practice squad to the active roster throughout the 2010 season, and played on special teams in the game. Played last season under a one-year, $725,000 deal, but tore his Achilles tendon on Oct. 6.
  • TE Andrew Quarless: Caught one pass for 5 yards in the game. Suffered a major knee injury the next season and missed all of 2012. Returned last season to catch 32 passes for 312 yards (both career highs) in the final year of his rookie deal.
  • QB Matt Flynn: Served as Rodgers’ backup but did not play in the Super Bowl. Left after the 2011 season as a free agent, and after stints with Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, he returned to the Packers last season for a one-year minimum deal and played in five games after Rodgers broke his collarbone.
  • C Evan Dietrich-Smith: Was inactive for the Super Bowl. Became a starter late in 2012 and for all of 2013, when he played under the restricted free agent tender of $1.323 million deal.
With other teams

  • [+] EnlargeMcCarthy
    Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsCoach Mike McCarthy and the Packers have seen a lot of roster turnover since winning Super Bowl XLV.
    WR Greg Jennings: Started and became just the third player in team history to catch multiple touchdowns in a Super Bowl by recording touchdowns of 21 and 8 yards. Signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Vikings last March.
  • G Daryn Colledge: Started at left guard, but left in free agency a few months later to sign a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Cardinals. Has started every game for the Cardinals since.
  • C Scott Wells: Started at center and remained with the Packers through the 2011 season before signing a four-year, $24 million contract with the Rams. Has missed 13 games over the past two seasons because of injuries.
  • LB Desmond Bishop: Became a starter earlier in 2010 after Nick Barnett's wrist injury and made nine tackles in the Super Bowl. Also recovered the fumble that Matthews forced. Signed a four-year, $19 million contract in 2011, but was released after missing the entire 2012 season because of a hamstring injury. Signed with the Vikings last offseason, but appeared in only four games.
  • OLB Frank Zombo: Started the game and had the Packers’ only sack of Roethlisberger but battled injuries the next two years and was released. Signed with the Chiefs last year and appeared in all 16 games.
  • CB Charles Woodson: Started at cornerback, but broke his collarbone late in the second quarter and missed the remainder of the game. Played two more seasons with the Packers, who released him last year. Returned to his old team, the Raiders, and played in all 16 games last season.
  • DE Cullen Jenkins: Played 36 snaps and had a pair of quarterback pressures. Left in free agency the following year and signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Eagles, who released him after two years. Signed a three-year, $8 million contract with the Giants last season.
  • TE Tom Crabtree: Played on both offense and special teams in the Super Bowl, catching one pass. Left last year to sign with the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent, but was limited to seven games because of injuries.
  • CB Josh Gordy: Was inactive for the game, and the next season was signed off the practice squad the by the Rams. Spent the past two seasons with the Colts.
  • G Nick McDonald: Was inactive for the game, like he was for every game that season. Was released in training camp the next year, and spent parts of the next two seasons with the Patriots. Did not play in 2013, but was recently signed by the Chargers.
  • OLB Erik Walden: Was inactive after suffering an ankle injury in the NFC Championship Game. Played the next two seasons before signing a four-year, $16 million contract with the Colts last year.
  • DE: Jarius Wynn: Was active but did not play. Played in Green Bay through 2011, and with the Titans and Chargers before landing with the Cowboys last season.
  • FB Quinn Johnson: Inactive for the game. Was traded to the Titans in 2011. Has played in 24 games for the Titans over the past three years.
Out of football

  • T Chad Clifton: Started at left tackle, but his long career with the Packers ended when they released him after he played in only six games in 2011. Was never signed by another team.
  • WR Donald Driver: Started the game and caught two passes for 28 yards before leaving with an ankle injury in the second quarter. Retired after the 2012 season as the team’s all-time leading receiver.
  • S Nick Collins: Started and made a key early play when he returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Suffered a neck injury in Week 2 of 2011 and hasn’t played since.
  • DT Howard Green: Claimed off waivers earlier that season and started the game. His hit on Roethlisberger led to Collins’ interception return for a touchdown. Returned in 2011 and played in all 16 games, but has not played since.
  • WR Brett Swain: Posted a team-high four special teams tackles. Was released the following season and played briefly with the 49ers. Was cut in training camp last season by the Seahawks.
  • S Atari Bigby: Played on special teams. Signed with the Seahawks the following season and played in 15 games. Played in eight games with the Chargers in 2012, but did not play in 2013.
  • CB Pat Lee: Special teams player who saw action on defense after injuries to Woodson and Shields. Played one more season in Green Bay before splitting time in 2012 between the Lions and Raiders. Did not play in 2013.
  • RB Brandon Jackson: Played as the third-down back, but did not have any carries in the game. Caught one pass for 14 yards. Signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Browns in 2011, but missed all of that season and played in only two games in 2012.
  • FB Korey Hall: Caught one pass for 2 yards and made one special teams tackle in the game. He played in 13 games with the Saints in 2011, and retired after going to camp with the Cardinals in 2012.
  • S Charlie Peprah: Led the Packers with 10 tackles (including nine solo stops). Returned as a starter in 2011, when he had five interceptions, but was released shortly before training camp in 2012. Played in five games for the Cowboys in 2012.
  • LB Diyral Briggs: Made one special teams tackle in the game, but never played in another NFL game.
  • LB Matt Wilhelm: Made two special teams tackles, but seven-year career ended after that game.
  • G Jason Spitz: Played on special teams. Left in free agency the next year and signed a three-year, $4.05 million contract with the Jaguars, who released him in training camp last summer. He signed with the Seahawks, but was released on Oct. 12.
  • TE Donald Lee: Played in the game, but did not have a catch and was released two months later. Played in nine games for the Bengals in 2001.
  • QB Graham Harrell: Inactive for the game. Remained with the Packers until he was released in training camp last summer. Also spent time briefly with the Jets before being released.
  • RB Dimitri Nance: Inactive for the game. Was released by the Packers the following summer and never played in another NFL game.
  • CB Brandon Underwood: Inactive for the game. Was released in 2011. Went to camp with the Raiders in 2012 and Cowboys in 2013, but did not make either team.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Good Monday morning. Hopefully everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend. We're pretty much full speed ahead toward the NFL draft, which opens in just 17 days, and have plenty of ground left to cover. But first, let's ease back into the football routine with a tour around the NFC North:

BBAO: The development of Scott Wells

November, 4, 2011
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Very quietly, as Jason Wilde of writes, Green Bay Packers center Scott Wells has developed into a frontline NFL player.

It was just two years ago when the Packers tried to replace him with Jason Spitz. Now, Wells is locked in as the Packers' presumably long-term starter and in position for a relatively lucrative contract extension when his deal expires at the end of this year.

Wells hasn't allowed a sack this season and has been called for only two holding penalties since the start of the 2010 season. His experience and intelligence is an underrated reason why the Packers' offense is clicking so efficiently this season.

Continuing around the NFC North:

XLV: Practice report VI

February, 4, 2011
FORT WORTH, Texas -- We've already covered the extent of the Pittsburgh Steelers' injury report, so let's move straight inside the Green Bay Packers' final injury and practice report of the 2010 postseason:

To assuage any concern, it would be "shocking" if receiver Donald Driver (quadriceps) does not play in Super Bowl XLV. That's the exact word coach Mike McCarthy used when asked Friday. He listed Driver as probable on the injury report, despite a second consecutive day of limited practice.

"I would be shocked if Donald Driver does not play Sunday," McCarthy said. "He would practice today if I would let him. He tweaked it in Wednesday's practice, and frankly I just do not want to take any chances at this point. ... Donald's played a lot of football, he knows the offense, he's had a whole week of preparation with the plan last week, so this is clearly just being safe with him."

Meanwhile, McCarthy listed linebacker Erik Walden (ankle) as questionable after another day of limited participation. Frank Zombo would start if Walden can not, but McCarthy said: "We'll take Erik up the game and see what happens. I have a good feel for what he can and cannot do. Sunday, I'm going to trust him and the medical staff to make that call."

The rest of the players on the Packers' injury report -- left tackle Chad Clifton (knees) and offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf) -- were listed as probable.

XLV: Practice report IV

February, 2, 2011
Getting inside the Wednesday practice report for Super Bowl XLV, culling from the injury and pool reports of Wednesday's activities:

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers practiced in the unheated TCU indoor practice facility for about two hours. Center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) did not practice, and coach Mike Tomlin appears to be targeting Friday as a day for Pouncey to test his ankle. The Steelers' only limited player was defensive end Aaron Smith (triceps), whose chances of playing Sunday are "fading," Tomlin said.

Green Bay Packers: Players and coaches got a nice tour of the Dallas-Fort Worth area Wednesday. They conducted the preliminary portion of their practice -- what coach Mike McCarthy calls a "jog-thru" -- at the team hotel. Then they bussed to their designated practice facility at Southern Methodist University, where they put on their pads, and then took a short trip to Highland Park high school's indoor facility. The Packers seem likely to follow the same drill Thursday and Friday. All Packers players participated in at least a portion of Wednesday's practice. That includes linebacker Erik Walden (ankle), offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf) and left tackle Chad Clifton (knees). Walden will start Sunday if healthy. "How Erik responds to this practice will be big," McCarthy said. "He practiced and took reps in every team drill. That was the high end of what we were going to try to give him today. It'll be great if he feels good tomorrow."

XLV: Practice report I

January, 26, 2011
Explaining the first practice report of Super Bowl XLV bye week:

Pittsburgh Steelers: Center Maurkice Pouncey (left ankle) has the most significant injury among the six players who sat out Wednesday's practice. Doug Legursky replaced him Wednesday and would start for him if necessary. AFC North colleague James Walker broke down the injury and Pouncey's chances of playing earlier Wednesday. Also sidelined were safety Will Allen (knee), cornerback Bryant McFadden (abdomen), safety Troy Polamalu (Achilles), receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot) and tackle Jonathan Scott (ribs). Defensive end Aaron Smith, who is hoping to make it back from a triceps injury, participated on a limited basis.

Green Bay Packers: As we noted earlier this week, the Packers won't practice until Friday. But the NFL still required a practice report Wednesday for injury updating purposes. Had they practiced Wednesday, linebackers Erik Walden (ankle) and Frank Zombo (knee) would not have participated. Linebacker Desmond Bishop (ankle), tackle Chad Clifton (neck), linebacker A.J. Hawk (neck), receiver Greg Jennings (knee) and offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf) would have been limited. Meanwhile, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday he did not suffer a concussion in Sunday's NFC Championship Game, as has been speculated. He was not listed on the Packers' practice report.

Packers gameday deactivations

January, 23, 2011
CHICAGO -- We don’t yet have the Chicago Bears’ gameday roster decisions, but the Green Bay Packers were prompt this morning.

Safety Atari Bigby is active and so is offensive lineman Jason Spitz. Cornerback Pat Lee is inactive, meaning he isn’t a candidate to return kickoffs. Here are the rest of the Packers’ deactivations:
Getting inside the Friday practice report:

Chicago Bears: With temperatures hovering in the single digits for most of the day, the Bears wisely practiced indoors. The only limited player was safety Chris Harris (hip), who was able to participate in part of practice but is questionable for Sunday's NFC Championship Game. Harris has vowed to play but hedged a bit Friday. Harris: "We'll see. I think I'll be fine. I'm hoping to be fine. I was able to get a little work in here today indoors, so we'll definitely see before the game. ... You got to be smart, you definitely have to be smart about it. If it happens to bother me to a significant extent, then absolutely, I'd come out of the game. I wouldn't play tough guy for my own gratification to say I played in the NFC Championship Game." If Harris can't play, rookie Major Wright would make his first NFL start.

Green Bay Packers: It was even colder in Green Bay on Friday, with temperatures just above 0. With the doors of their indoor facility open, the Packers practiced in 18-degree weather, according to coach Mike McCarthy. Only two players among the Packers' 53 are an injury question for this game. Linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) was ruled out, while offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf) sat out Friday's practice and is listed as questionable.
Getting inside Thursday's practice report:

Chicago Bears: For the second consecutive day, the Bears practiced outdoors. Conditions in Lake Forest, Ill., were partly sunny and 20 degrees. Receiver Earl Bennett and cornerback Zack Bowman, who missed Wednesday's practice for personal reasons, were returned Thursday. Safety Chris Harris (hip) again missed practice but continues to insist he will be ready for the game. Finally, linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa didn't practice. He has struggled with a knee injury during the second half of the season.'s Jeff Dickerson suggests the move was precautionary, noting Tinoisamoa also sat out last Thursday's practice.

Green Bay Packers: Practice took place in an indoor facility with the doors open, which brought the temperature to 29 degrees, according to coach Mike McCarthy. Linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) again was the only player to sit out practice. Limited participants included defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf), running back John Kuhn (shoulder), linebacker Clay Matthews (shin), defensive end Ryan Pickett (ankle), offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf) and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe). Everyone but Zombo remains on track to be available Sunday.
Because we're at the Epicenter of Humanity and all, we'll be elevating to daily injury and practice reports. Let's get right to it, pulling from a variety of media sources:

Chicago Bears: Coach Lovie Smith took his team to its outdoor practice field in Lake Forest, Ill., where the conditions were partly cloudy and 24 degrees. The only player who missed practice for injury reasons was safety Chris Harris, who has a hip pointer. Harris is insisting he will be ready for this game. Receiver Earl Bennett and cornerback Zack Bowman also missed practice for non-injury reasons -- both are expecting babies this week, according to's Jeff Dickerson.

Green Bay Packers: Coach Mike McCarthy had the Packers on their outdoor field, where the conditions were cloudy and 16 degrees, and also in their indoor facility -- where McCarthy said the temperature was between 29 and 32 degrees. Linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) was the only player who sat out practice. Limited were left tackle Chad Clifton (knees), defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf), running back John Kuhn (shoulder), cornerback Pat Lee (hip), linebacker Clay Matthews (shin), defensive lineman Ryan Pickett (ankle) and offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf). At this point, Zombo appears to be the only player on the Packers' 53-man roster who is a health question for this game.

Friday injury report: Packers-Falcons

January, 14, 2011
Getting inside the Friday injury report a day before Packers-Falcons:

Green Bay Packers: Linebacker Frank Zombo has been declared out. Safety Atari Bigby (groin) is questionable but has a good chance to be available. Offensive lineman Jason Spitz would have returned to practice Friday if the Packers had held one, and for that reason he is listed as questionable. Fullback Korey Hall (knee) is questionable, but seems to have a decent chance of being available. All other members of the 53-man roster should be available.

Atlanta Falcons: Cornerback Brian Williams (knee) is doubtful. The Falcons listed six players as questionable, but all of them participated in Friday's practice and appear on track to be available Saturday.

NFC North injury report

January, 12, 2011
Updating the injury situations for this weekend’s pair of division playoff games:

Chicago Bears: Cornerback Charles Tillman didn’t practice Wednesday because of an illness. All other players participated in at least a portion of practice.

Seattle Seahawks: Linebacker Lofa Tatupu (concussion) didn't practice and was the only player listed on the Seahawks injury report. Coach Pete Carroll told Chicago-area media that Tatupu is on track to play Sunday.

Green Bay Packers: Two players missed practice Wednesday: Linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) and offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf). The guess is that neither will be available Saturday night. Safety Atari Bigby (groin) participated on a limited basis and has a chance to play. The Packers don’t seem to have any other significant injury concerns.

Atlanta Falcons: The only player who sat out practice was cornerback Brian Williams (knee). My NFC South colleague Pat Yasinskas suggests that most everyone else on the roster is healthy.

Free Head Exam: Green Bay Packers

December, 13, 2010
After the Green Bay Packers' 7-3 loss to the Detroit Lions, here are three issues that merit further examination:
    Head Exam
    Kevin SeifertFollowing their loss against the Lions, the Packers take their turn in the examination room.

  1. There can be no argument that the Packers opened this game flat, giving an amped up 2-10 team every reason to believe an upset could be achieved. Rookie tight end Andrew Quarless' first-quarter fumble, along with receiver Greg Jennings' inexplicable mishandling of what would have been a 73-yard touchdown, were the two most obvious examples. I realize most Packers players weren't on the roster the last time the team lost to Detroit, and maybe they thought a victory Sunday was inevitable. But when you're already trailing the division lead by a game and aren't high on the list of NFC wild-card contenders, you can't afford to take anything for granted. For reasons that can't be explained, it sure seemed the Packers did.
  2. With three games remaining, the Packers need to prepare themselves for the real possibility of not making the playoffs. Sure, there are scenarios in which they can either win the NFC North or clinch a wild-card spot, but both would require help from other teams. They could be eliminated from contention for the division title as early as next week if they lose in a difficult game at the New England Patriots, and the Chicago Bears defeat the Minnesota Vikings. We won't jump the gun on analyzing the impact of missing the playoffs, especially considering the crippling list of injuries the Packers have suffered. So we'll just say the Packers have their work cut out for them to avoid serious disappointment.
  3. Just last week, we noted quarterback Aaron Rodgers' running prowess and that he has been mostly smart about avoiding major contact. Sunday was not one of those cases. And in this instance, no one could blame an uncalled blow to the helmet, either. Instead of sliding at the end of his 18-yard run, Rodgers dove forward through two converging defenders. One of them, Lions linebacker Landon Johnson, hit him hard but cleanly on the shoulder as Rodgers fell to the ground. Rodgers' concussion appeared to occur when his helmet bounced off the turf. The most important priority for any quarterback is to be available, not to fight for extra yards at the end of a scramble.
And here is one issue I don't get:
The Packers' offensive line has been pretty stable this season, so it was a little surprising to see it get manhandled by a Lions defensive line that was playing without one starter (defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch) and another (defensive end Cliff Avril) whose playing time was limited by injury. I realize that left guard Daryn Colledge left with an injury, and that the Packers tried two replacements in Jason Spitz and T.J. Lang. But I think the Packers were still expecting more than 66 rushing yards against an opponent that entered the game with the NFL's No. 25 ranked rush defense. And giving up four sacks, all to Lions backups or injury replacements, was also unexpected.

NFC North weekend mailbag

August, 28, 2010
Another week, NFC North style, has passed on our march to the regular season. All we had was a Pro Bowl receiver undergo surprise hip surgery in one locale, an abrupt change of quarterback plans in another and a message-sending preseason romp in a third. In a fourth, we discussed in detail the task ahead for its most important player.

Things were so crazy I felt like going Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett on the whole deal:

I ain't had a day off now in over a year
My Jamaican vacation's gonna start right here
Get the phones for me
You can tell 'em I just sailed away
Pour me somethin' tall and strong
Make it a hurricane before I go insane
It's only half past twelve but I don't care
It's 5 o'clock somewhere

Remember, I read all of your comments directed to the mailbag portal, Facebook or Twitter.

On with it...

Adam of Weston Super Mare, England, writes: Bearing in mind the Sidney Rice injury and a one year window of opportunity with Brett Favre, is there any chance the Vikings offer a second-round pick for Randy Moss? He is a UFA in 2011 so he wouldn't affect their long term plans. The team needs to do something.

Kevin Seifert: Adam's sentiment was expressed universally by Vikings fans, at least those who contacted me, in the wake of Rice's hip surgery. And I'm convinced that's why so many people were disappointed when they instead acquired Greg Camarillo from the Miami Dolphins. It was a nice emergency trade, but it wasn't Moss.

It's true that Moss has suggested this is his last year with the New England Patriots because he hasn't been offered a contract extension. And it's a fact that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre wanted the Green Bay Packers to trade for him in 2007.

But the rest is pie-in-the-sky hopes and dreams. The big issue the Vikings face in dealing for any receiver, be it Moss or San Diego's Vincent Jackson or someone else, is the delicate financial situation they would be in.

Both Moss and Jackson are going to want new contracts. Rice wants a new contract as well, and to this point the Vikings have been unwilling. So do you make a trade for Moss or Jackson, giving them a new deal to ensure tranquility, and then tell Rice to just keep working hard when he returns? That's probably easier said than done.

I do think that most of the facts that led to Moss' departure from Minnesota have dissipated. The organization has changed inside and out, from the owner to the coaching staff to the quarterback. But as of now, it just doesn't seem like a realistic possibility.

Allen of Fishers, Ind., writes: I keep seeing all these posts about Todd Collins and becoming the backup QB for the Bears. Some articles even talk about Dan LeFevour and how he could be the odd man out, but none are even mentioning anything about Matt Gutierrez. The Bears' website shows he's still on the roster but he isn't listed on the depth chart. Do you know the scoop on him? Is he still there? Where does he stand?

Kevin Seifert: Here's there, but the die is pretty much cast. The Bears guaranteed Collins a six-figure bonus to sign a contract this week. He gets that money whether he makes the team or not, so I think most of us agree that he is really going to have to flop not to make the team. There is no way the Bears are looking to throw away a dime, let alone $100,000.

I think they liked Caleb Hanie and planned for him to be Jay Cutler's backup, but Hanie's shoulder injury put them in a situation that was too risky. They needed an experienced and healthy backup behind Cutler.

Sam of Buffalo, Minn., writes: I am extremely happy you are no longer fully covering the Vikings. Even when you were here I thought you to be a little weezle of a man who thought he was so clever in how he rights.

Kevin Seifert: Yep, you got me. I'll make sure to share your insight with my friend Weezy on our way to the Weezer concert.

Andy of Chicago writes: I was wondering ... Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher, and the Bryan Bulaga/Daryn Colledge left guard competition seem to get most of the discussion in the press. What about Josh Sitton and Scott Wells? Is it a good thing that we don't seem to hear much about them?

Kevin Seifert: Absolutely. Sitton was probably the Packers' most consistent lineman last season and has picked up this summer where he left off. Wells, meanwhile, has had a remarkable career turnaround. Remember last year at this time? He was about to lose his starting job to Jason Spitz. Now, there seems no question that Wells is the Packers' long-term center. That's quite a career turnaround.

Kyle of Southern Michigan writes: Some interesting developments this week. Getting anxious that the strength of the Lions D-line & the possible weakness of the Bears.

Kevin Seifert: I'm guessing you're a Lions fan, making your anxiety a positive thing. But I would imagine Bears fans are a bit anxious about this Week 1 matchup as well. We've still got two weeks to go here, but at this point, the Lions-Bears opener has the feeling of a wild game.

You're right. The Bears have struggled to bring their offensive line together this summer, and the Lions' defensive line has played as well as advertised in the preseason. Put those two together, throw in some typical Week 1 craziness, and you've got the possibility of the Lions stealing a game on the road to start the season. We'll hit this theme a number of times over the next few weeks. For now, we're just planting some seeds. Maybe we'll call it the Anxiety Bowl.

Previewing preseason Week 1

August, 13, 2010
Here's the best thing I'll say about NFL preseason games: They're not completely worthless.

I can't in good conscience hype up any of them, but I do think we can glean at least some pertinent information. So with that in mind, let's sketch out preseason Week 1 in the NFC North, all of which will take place Saturday night.

Chicago Bears
San Diego Chargers
Location: Qualcomm Stadium
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Personnel notes: Starters could play as much as two quarters. Tight end Brandon Manumaleuna (knee) and wide receiver Earl Bennett (hamstring) might not play.
My focus point: Cohesion of an offensive line that began taking shape this week. Do we see obvious missed assignments and clogged running lanes? Or does the line protect quarterback Jay Cutler and provide room for running backs Matt Forte and Chester Taylor?

Detroit Lions
Pittsburgh Steelers
Location: Heinz Field
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Personnel notes: Running back Kevin Smith (knee), tight end Brandon Pettigrew (knee), safety Louis Delmas (groin), place-kicker Jason Hanson (knee), linebacker DeAndre Levy (back) and defensive end Jared DeVries (leg) are among those who have been ruled out.
My focus point: Will quarterback Matthew Stafford take his sharp practices into a game situation?

Green Bay Packers
Cleveland Browns
Location: Lambeau Field
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Personnel notes: Starters will get about 20 plays of action. Prominent scratches could include linebacker Nick Barnett, safety Will Blackmon (knee), linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring) and guard/center Jason Spitz.
My focus point: Does rookie safety Morgan Burnett, who might have to open the season in place of Atari Bigby, know what he's doing?

Minnesota Vikings
St. Louis Rams
Location: Edward Jones Dome
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Personnel notes: Starters will play a couple series at best. Prominent scratches could include receivers Sidney Rice (hip) and Percy Harvin (migraines), center John Sullivan (calf), tailback Adrian Peterson(hamstring), cornerback Cedric Griffin (knee) and linebacker E.J. Henderson (leg).
My focus point:The performance of right cornerback candidates Lito Sheppard, Chris Cook and Asher Allen.