NFC North: Johnny Mathis
Tommie Harris appeared to soothe most concerns about his left knee Wednesday afternoon. Although he was wearing a brace on the knee, which he had surgically repaired in January, Harris practiced and is expected to start at defensive tackle Sunday night in the Chicago Bears' season-opening game at Indianapolis.
''I want to be where my team needs to be, which is on the field during the season," Harris said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "Watch me out there. Let's see what will happen.''
Harris hadn't practiced in two weeks, the Chicago Tribune reported, but coach Lovie Smith said he made that decision for precautionary reasons. Although there has been some mild swelling in the knee, Harris insisted he will be on the field when the regular season begins. The Bears' run defense was shaky during the preseason, and things could get ugly against the Colts' offense if it has to play without its best defensive lineman.
Based on Wednesday's practice, that shouldn't be an issue.
Elsewhere around the NFC North:
- Bears tight end Desmond Clark (knee) participated in all of practice for the first time in three weeks.
- Crooners, take your seats early: Johnny Mathis is scheduled to sing the national anthem Sunday night in the first regular season game at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium.
- Minnesota Vikings receiver Bernard Berrian said the toe problem that bothered him for much of training camp is a recurring injury dating back to his days at Fresno State, where he had surgery on both of his big toes. "It is definitely frustrating, especially starting out the season," Berrian told the Star Tribune. "I don't want to start out the season going in not 100 percent. It's not really where I want to be at."
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press offers a comprehensive analysis of the Lions' new zone-blocking scheme. The key: Repetition. "This is not a running game that sometimes just operates right off the bat," offensive coordinator Jim Colletto said. "It wears on you."
- The average age on the Green Bay Packers' roster is 25.57, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It's the youngest Packers roster since 1986 and could end up the youngest in the NFL for the third consecutive year.