NFC North: Kahlil Bell

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers began this offseason with 17 players scheduled for unrestricted free agency.

They have re-signed five of them: outside linebacker/defensive end Mike Neal, tight end Andrew Quarless, defensive tackle B.J. Raji, cornerback Sam Shields and running back James Starks.

Four of them signed with other teams: center Evan Dietrich-Smith (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), receiver James Jones (Oakland Raiders), tackle Marshall Newhouse (Cincinnati Bengals) and defensive end C.J. Wilson (Raiders).

That leaves eight still on the market. Here's an update on where things stand the Packers’ remaining free agents:

Kahlil Bell, RB: With Starks back on a two-year, $3.165 million deal, it’s unlikely Bell, a late-season pickup last year, will be re-signed. The Packers already have five halfbacks with NFL experience on the roster -- Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, DuJuan Harris, Michael Hill and Starks -- plus practice-squad member Orwin Smith.

Jermichael Finley, TE: There's no guarantee Finley will receive medical clearance to resume his career following last season's neck injury. Finley reportedly failed a physical during a free-agent visit to the Seattle Seahawks, and the Packers say they are still monitoring his condition. At this point, Finley's career remains on hold.

Matt Flynn, QB: It's all but a lock that the player who kept last season alive while Aaron Rodgers was sidelined with his broken collarbone will return. Coach Mike McCarthy wants Flynn back and would like to keep three quarterbacks on the roster this season. Expect Flynn to be re-signed soon.

Robert Francois, LB: The special-teams player is coming off a torn Achilles tendon. If healed, he could be re-signed for a minimum contract later in free agency.

Johnny Jolly, DT: Like Finley, Jolly underwent neck fusion surgery. But Jolly's injury was not as severe as Finley’s and the fusion took place lower in his neck, which makes it safer for him to resume his career. McCarthy said he liked how Jolly played last season, so expect the Packers to bring back Jolly at some point.

John Kuhn, FB: The Packers remain in talks with the fan favorite who completed a three-year, $7 million contract last season. Kuhn is a valuable special teams player and has been their best pass protector out of the backfield the past several seasons. But it's not a given he will return. And if he does, it likely will be for less money than he received three years ago.

Ryan Pickett, DT: The plan to move Raji back to nose tackle might make Pickett expendable. Or perhaps his age (34) has already done that. McCarthy was non-committal when asked about Pickett's status last week at the NFL annual meetings.

Seneca Wallace, QB: McCarthy would like to bring four quarterbacks to training camp, but don't expect the 33-year-old Wallace to be one of them. He couldn't stay healthy when the Packers needed him after Rodgers' injury. Instead, they would like to add another young, developmental prospect.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Sometimes, NFL players outperform their contracts.

Without tearing up those deals, there is a way for players who fit that description to earn more money. It’s called the NFL's performance-based pay distribution in which each team can allot a total of $3.46 million in additional play to its players.

It typically benefits players in their first NFL contracts or minimum-salaried free-agent signings who become key contributors.

For example, Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari, a fourth-round pick with a base salary of $405,000 last year, will receive an additional $256,882.22 in performance-based pay, according to documents obtained by Bakhtiari started every game last season as a rookie. He received the largest pay increases among Packers' players. According to the NFL, those payments will be made on April 1, 2016.

The smallest distribution to a Packers' player went to backup tackle Derek Sherrod, who will receive $2,154.55. He was active for seven games but only took six snaps on offense all season.

Here’s a list of the top-10 and bottom-10 performance-based bonuses on the Packers’ roster:

Top 10
Bottom 10
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Between now and the start of free agency in March, the Green Bay Packers have plenty of decisions to make about their roster.

Some may already have been made, but with 17 unrestricted free agents and two more that fall under the restricted category, there are bound to be both big-money signings and cost-saving departures.

Every one of the key free-agents-to-be who was in the locker on Monday when players packed up and headed home for the offseason expressed uncertainty about their situations.

“I’ve had a lot of fun with the guys playing,” center Evan Dietrich-Smith said. “I hope we can continue it, but at the same time I think everybody understands the business side of the game and we’ll just have to wait and see.”

For some players, like veteran receiver James Jones, this won’t be the first time going through free agency.

“Whatever may happen, happens,” Jones said. “I would love to be back here. I’ve been here for seven years and would love to be back. You know, you’ve got to go into the offseason, they make decisions up top, I’ll go into the offseason and talk with my agent and we’ll go from there.”

Here’s the list of the free-agents-to-be on offense (to be followed later by the defensive list):
  • Seneca Wallace, QB: Aaron Rodgers said he enjoyed having a veteran backup around, but at age 33 and coming off surgery to repair a torn groin muscle, Wallace is not expected to return. He finished the Nov. 4 game against the Bears after Rodgers broke his collarbone but then sustained his injury on the first series of his first start the following week. 2013 base salary: $662,118
  • Flynn
    Matt Flynn, QB: Back in the system where he’s most comfortable, Flynn has shown that he can be a short-term fill-in for Rodgers. After failed attempts to start in Seattle and Oakland, he might be content to come back as a backup. However, the Packers also have Scott Tolzien under contract and would like to continue to develop him. 2013 base salary: $715,000
  • John Kuhn, FB: If ever there was a question about his value, it should have been answered this season, when he made several big plays – including the key block on Rodgers’ game-winning touchdown pass in Week 17 against the Bears. The role of the fullback has diminished, but the position is far from extinct in Green Bay. 2013 base salary: $1.8 million
  • James Starks, RB: Playing the role of complementary back to Eddie Lacy suited the oft-injured Starks. He missed only three games this season and averaged 5.5 yards per carry on 89 regular-season attempts. He might seek a starting chance somewhere else but could return as a backup. 2013 base salary: $630,000
  • Kahlil Bell, RB: Signed on Dec. 3 after rookie Johnathan Franklin’s season-ending neck injury, the veteran backup played primarily on special teams. With Franklin and DuJuan Harris expected to be healthy by next season, Bell may not be re-signed. 201 3 base salary: $715,000
  • Jones
    James Jones, WR: Perhaps eager to test the free-agent market after receiving little interest the last time around in the post-lockout signing period of 2011, Jones fought through a knee injury to finish second on the team in receptions (59) and receiving yards (817). It will be interesting to see what the market will be like for a 29-year-old who has been mostly a No. 2 receiver – albeit a productive one. 2013 base salary: $2.95 million
  • Jermichael Finley, TE: This will be as much a medical decision as it is a financial one after he underwent surgery following his season-ending neck injury. Finley wants to keep playing, but he will have to be cleared by doctors first. It would have been a difficult negotiation even without the injury, but that has only complicated matters. 2013 base salary: $4.45 million
  • Quarless
    Andrew Quarless, TE: Replaced Finley in the starting lineup and despite a career-best 32 catches for 312 yards and two touchdowns, he did not show the dynamic playmaking ability that Finley has. It doesn’t mean he won’t be back, but the Packers will probably address this position whether it’s by re-signing Finley or looking elsewhere. 2013 base salary: $1.32 million
  • Evan Dietrich-Smith, C: Played last season on a restricted free-agent tender and started all 16 games for the first time in his career. The Packers would like some continuity at the center position, so perhaps re-signing the dependable Dietrich-Smith will be a priority. 2013 base salary: $1.32 million
  • Marshall Newhouse, T: Reduced to a backup role after starting the previous two seasons at left tackle, Newhouse started two games at right tackle while Don Barclay was out because of a knee injury, but his days as a full-time starter in Green Bay appear to be over. 2013 base salary: $1.23 million

Packers' injuries to watch in Week 17

December, 23, 2013
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers still have a chance to make the playoffs.

Win Sunday’s game at the Chicago Bears, and they win the NFC North and get the home playoff game that goes with it.

But do they really have a chance at Soldier Field if they have to play without some of their key playmakers?

Here are the key injuries to watch this week:

RB Eddie Lacy: The Packers’ all-time rookie rushing leader -- he set that mark on Sunday with 84 yards to give him 1,112 for the season -- failed to finish Sunday's 38-31 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He missed the entire fourth quarter after he hobbled off the field, favoring his sprained right ankle. He first injured it on Dec. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons. Although he has not missed a start, he has spent most of the past two weeks wearing a walking boot while practicing only the last two Fridays. “It’s the same thing, reaggravated it,” Lacy said. Backup James Starks was effective in place of Lacy, rushing for 47 yards on 10 carries and catching one pass for 23 yards against the Steelers. Fullback John Kuhn also scored a fourth-quarter touchdown. The only other back on the roster is Kahlil Bell, who was signed on Dec. 3.

OLB Clay Matthews: It would seem unlikely the Packers would have Matthews this week and perhaps beyond if they make the playoffs. Matthews reinjured his broken right thumb on his second-quarter sack of Ben Roethlisberger. Matthews knew it was bad as soon as it happened. He ran off the field with his right arm hanging limp at his side. Just like when he broke it on Oct. 6, he couldn’t even use his right hand to unbuckle his chin strap. Matthews needed surgery to fix it the first time and missed four games. “I couldn’t give you a timeline but I think based off the history of what happened the first time, I’m told it’s similar to the [previous] injury," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Sunday after the game. Adding to the concern is the fact fellow outside linebackers Nick Perry (foot) and Mike Neal (abdomen) are banged up. Neal came out for a portion of Sunday’s game but managed to return.

QB Aaron Rodgers: Need we say anything more about Rodgers? As of last Friday, he had not been cleared to return from his Nov. 4 broken collarbone, which means it will be another week of speculation about his status unless McCarthy says something definitive during his news conference Monday afternoon.

Other injuries to watch: LB Brad Jones (ankle), CB/KR Micah Hyde (shoulder), TE Ryan Taylor (ankle).
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers won’t have to shuffle their offensive line because center Evan Dietrich-Smith is going to give it a go on his sprained ankle.

Dietrich-Smith was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report after he sprained his ankle in practice on Wednesday. That, combined with the knee injury he sustained in the Thanksgiving game at the Detroit Lions, left his status in doubt for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

It means that the Packers won’t have to move right guard T.J. Lang to center and find a replacement for Lang.

Against the Lions, Lang played center after Dietrich-Smith left in the second quarter. It was only the second time in Lang’s career that he played center. Marshall Newhouse and Lane Taylor split playing time at right guard after Lang moved against the Lions.

Newhouse was a surprise inactive after coming down with flu-like symptoms. Running back Kahlil Bell, signed on Monday, also will not play.

Here’s the Packers’ full inactive list:
GREEN BAY, Wis. – New Green Bay Packers running back Kahlil Bell might not be one of those guys who constantly checks how many people follow him on Twitter. However, the former Chicago Bears running back couldn’t help but notice what happened after he tweeted that he was signing with the Packers on Monday.

“It’s funny, when I put it on my Twitter, I lost like 500 followers,” Bell said Wednesday after his first practice in Green Bay. “Honestly, it’s the NFC North. I’m very familiar with the teams in this division, and it’s icing on the cake that we get a chance to play Chicago.”

Who knows what Bell’s role will be by the time he plays his old team in Week 17? For now, the fifth-year veteran is just trying to get acclimated to football again after being away from the game since he was cut by the New York Jets before the season.

“I’m just happy, and I’m grateful and I’m humbled to be here,” Bell said.

Perhaps the highlight of his career came right here at Lambeau Field on Christmas 2011, when he rushed for 121 yards on 23 carries in a 35-21 loss to the Packers. It remains the only 100-yard rushing game of Bell’s career.

“I remember coming up here to Lambeau, and it was my first NFL start,” Bell said. “It was a good day individually, but this game’s not about individual accolades. It’s about winning as a team. Even though it was nice to get an opportunity to start and showcase my talent on an individual stage at that point in time, we still got blown out and we didn’t make the playoffs. That’s what resonates with me more than anything else.”

The Packers were in need of a third running back behind Eddie Lacy and James Starks after rookie Johnathan Franklin was placed on injured reserve last week because of a neck injury. Franklin was injured on the opening kickoff against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 24, and the Packers played with only two halfbacks last Thursday at the Detroit Lions.

Bell also has some experience as a kick returner, most of it in the preseason during his time with the Bears, but the Packers haven’t said how they plan to use him.

“We looked at that,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We also looked at the responsibilities he’s had in the past on special teams. I’ve been impressed with him in the classroom as far as his recall of his past offenses and language that was used that relates to us. We’re trying to get him ready for both running back and special teams.”

As for Twitter, Bell might need to change his handle from @KahlilBell32 because he’s wearing jersey number 22 with the Packers.

Cutting McMillian not a major shakeup

December, 3, 2013
GREEN BAY, Wis. – As far as major shakeups go, cutting a second-year safety who had been phased out of the defense probably doesn’t qualify.

But that’s about as far as the struggling Green Bay Packers went upon returning Tuesday from their extended time off following last Thursday’s 40-10 loss at the Detroit Lions. They cut Jerron McMillian, a fourth-round draft pick in 2012, to make room for veteran running back Kahlil Bell, who agreed to a one-year deal a day earlier.

[+] EnlargeJerron McMillian
AP Photo/Duane BurlesonJerron McMillian fell out of the Packers' defensive plans.
McMillian lost a training-camp battle with M.D. Jennings for the starting free safety job but then started the first two games at strong safety while Morgan Burnett was out because of a hamstring injury. However, McMillian lost that starting spot even before Burnett returned. Rookie Chris Banjo started in Week 3, and McMillian was reduced to a part-time role as the dime (sixth) defensive back.

By the Packers’ sixth game, McMillian was out of the defensive plans all together. After playing 184 snaps on defense in the first five games, McMillian played just seven defensive snaps in the last seven games. Even McMillian’s role on special teams was reduced. He played just six of 27 special-teams plays against the Lions.

“Any time you have a young player you bring into your program, you obviously have expectations,” coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday. “But this is something that we felt we needed to do from a roster standpoint. I think our roster distribution reflects that, and as far as his individual performance, it just wasn’t quite what it needed to be this year.”

McCarthy wouldn’t commit to any other changes for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, a virtual must-win game if the Packers want to stay in the playoff hunt. He said the newly signed Bell might factor in on special teams right away but wouldn't say if that would be in a kick-return capacity.

McCarthy said the film review of the Lions game did not produce many positive grades. The offense, he said, had none. The defense, other than the four takeaways, also was all negative. He said they had 20 missed tackles on defense and special teams combined.

“We’re staying true to who we are,” McCarthy said. “We study the film. We correct the things that we’ve done [and] maybe get some people healthier. Coming back, there’ll be more competition for playing time in certain packages. So some of that’s going to change, but I’m not going to get into specifics on that.”

While the Packers don’t have to file an official injury report until Wednesday, McCarthy indicated that the knee injury that center Evan Dietrich-Smith sustained in the second quarter against the Lions was not serious. Dietrich-Smith, who did not return to the game, may be able to practice on Wednesday. He also said receiver Randall Cobb, who is eligible to come off the injured reserve/designed to return list next week, has not been cleared to return from his leg injury.

Packers sign running back Kahlil Bell

December, 2, 2013
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers signed veteran running back Kahlil Bell on Monday, according to an NFL source.

The Packers were down to just two halfbacks -- Eddie Lacy and James Starks -- after they placed rookie Johnathan Franklin on injured reserve last Wednesday because of a neck injury.

Bell worked out for the Packers once last season, but they did not sign him. They brought him back in for a workout on Monday, according to the source, and signed him to a contract for the remainder of this season shortly after his session. Bell would be a free agent after this season.

The 5-foot-11, 219-pound Bell had the best game of his career against the Packers on Christmas Day 2011. As a member of the Chicago Bears, Bell rushed for 121 yards on 23 carries. It remains Bell’s only 100-yard rushing performance in 26 career regular-season games. He also had four catches for 38 yards in that game.

He also has some experience as a kick returner. Most of it came during preseason with the Bears.

Bell went to training camp with the New York Jets this past summer but was released during the final cuts. He played in three games for the Jets last season, sandwiched around two different stints with the Bears. Of his 26 career games, he played in 23 of those with the Bears.

He has a career rushing average of 4.3 yards in limited work. He has a total of 148 carries in his career.

The Packers will have to make a corresponding roster move to clear a spot for Bell. It was not immediately known what that move was. When they placed Franklin on injured reserve last week, they promoted practice squad linebacker Victor Aiyewa.

Free Head Exam: Chicago Bears

December, 24, 2012
After the Chicago Bears' 28-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, here are three issues that merit further examination:

  1. Free Head Exam
    More than anything, Sunday's game reinforced how reliant the Bears are on their special teams and defense in staking them to a lead and in some cases maintaining it as well. The Bears offense couldn't move the ball on their first drive, but Zack Bowman downed a punt at the Cardinals' 4-yard line, and two plays later, he recovered a Beanie Wells fumble for a touchdown. Quarterback Jay Cutler started the game with 10 incompletions in his first 11 attempts, a performance that could have scuttled the Bears' chances had the defense not started strong. Overall, the defense scored two touchdowns, had four sacks -- three by defensive end Julius Peppers -- and forced three turnovers in a game the Bears won by 15 points. For as much as the Bears thought their offense would carry their share of the load this season, it just hasn't developed.
  2. The Bears' offensive line has gotten so much grief this season that it's worth noting it limited the Cardinals' aggressive and productive pass rush to one sack. Based on press statistics, that sack was the only hit Cutler took in the game. That's a pretty amazing statistic considering the Bears were starting their fifth different combination of linemen in this game because of right tackle Jonathan Scott's hamstring injury. Rookie James Brown started at left guard, Chris Spencer started at right guard and Gabe Carimi was back at right tackle. We'll see if Carimi earned back his starting job and if he can re-establish himself at this position before the offseason begins.
  3. The Bears will be in some trouble if tailback Matt Forte doesn't make a quick recovery from sprained ankle that was significant enough to require a walking boot Sunday. Backup Michael Bush is already on injured reserve because of a rib injury, leaving the Bears with Kahlil Bell and Armando Allen as their remaining healthy running backs. Both have experience, but the Bears are literally in a must-win situation and Forte is one of their best players. Forte is pledging to be ready for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions, but willpower alone can't get it done.
And here is one issue I still don't get:
We know the Bears must win this game to get in the playoffs. Do they need to win in order to save coach Lovie Smith's job as well? A loss would leave the Bears out of the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons since they reached the Super Bowl in 2006. They would become just the second team in the 23-year history of this playoff structure to miss out on the playoffs after a 7-1 start, and at best Smith would be looking at a lame duck contract for 2013. We have no idea what the McCaskey family and general manager Phil Emery are thinking, but the possibility exists that Sunday could be Smith's final game with the team.

BBAO: Slim pickings at QB

December, 20, 2012
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Inside Slant partner Mike Sando and I spent this week's podcast hashing through the bleak pool of quarterback replacements available this offseason for teams that want to make a change. A few hours later, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay released an updated set of rankings Insider that added more context to the discussion.

There are only two quarterbacks ranked among McShay's 32 best players in the draft, and both are near the bottom of the list. West Virginia's Geno Smith is No. 23 and USC's Matt Barkley is No. 31. And that's it.

Quarterbacks tend to rise in value as the draft approaches considering the importance of the position. But this is yet another sign that it's a bad year to need a new quarterback for NFL teams.

Continuing around the NFC North:
You don't have to go any further than last Sunday's loss to the Green Bay Packers to understand how valuable tailback Michael Bush was to the Chicago Bears this season.

Unable to play because of a rib injury that officially ended his season Tuesday, Bush could only watch as starter Matt Forte failed on three attempts to score from the Packers' 5-yard line in the third quarter. Forte gained 4 yards on his first carry, was stopped for no gain on his next two and the Bears were forced to kick a field goal in what became a 21-13 loss.

The Bears signed Bush in part to help them in the goal-to-go situations that Forte has routinely failed in during his career. This season, Bush got the carry on 11 such situations and scored five touchdowns, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Forte has one touchdown on eight such carries this season, giving him just 10 touchdowns in 94 career goal-to-go carries. Bush, on the other hand, has 22 touchdowns on 68 goal-to-go carries.

The Bears' decision to give the ball to Forte on those three consecutive carries was one of the most predictable failures of their season. Bush said during training camp that he preferred not to be pigeon-holed in such a role, but on this team it made perfect sense to use him that way.

Note: The Bears re-signed running back Kahlil Bell to replace Bush on the roster. It's likely that Armando Allen will serve as Forte's backup Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

No surprise: Bears rule out Matt Forte

September, 21, 2012
I tried to spare you minute-by-minute updates this week on the condition of Chicago Bears tailback Matt Forte. As we discussed, Forte's status for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams seemed in doubt from the moment the Bears re-signed veteran Kahlil Bell last weekend. Forte's injured ankle might not be of the high-sprain variety, but there never seemed a realistic chance he would play Sunday.

So it's not surprising that Smith moments ago declared Forte out for Sunday's game. Michael Bush will start against the Rams, with Bell and Armando Allen in reserve.

The real question is whether Forte can get back, with one extra day of rest, in time for the Bears' game next Monday night (Oct. 1) against the Dallas Cowboys. Stay tuned on that one.

Matt Forte's right ankle injury might not be of the more severe "high" sprain, as Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith said Monday morning. But to me the team already revealed its concerns about Forte's short-term availability by re-signing veteran Kahlil Bell over the weekend.

If the Bears thought Forte would be ready for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams, they probably would not have felt compelled to make a roster move. Backups Michael Bush and Armando Allen are healthy and available for extended duty if necessary, but it's reasonable to think Forte might not play. Smith, in fact, acknowledged Forte was still "sore" Monday morning.

The Bears are scheduled to resume practicing Monday afternoon after a three-day layoff following last Thursday's 23-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
The Chicago Bears aren't scheduled to hold media availability until Monday, so we haven't gotten any official word on the status of running back Matt Forte -- who did not return to Thursday night's 23-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers after suffering a right ankle injury.

But we can tell you this much: The Bears appear set to fortify their depth over the weekend, an indication that Forte is unlikely to make an immediate return. Former Bears running back Kahlil Bell, waived last month, tweeted Saturday afternoon: "I'm taking my talents back to Chicago. So happy to be back. Never wanted to leave."

Bell would join Michael Bush and Armando Allen in the Bears' backfield this week.

Update: The Bears officially signed Bell to a one-year contract and waived safety Jeremy Jones this afternoon.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Running back Kahlil Bell's departure Thursday from the Chicago Bears wasn't completely unexpected. Bell was playing behind two well-paid veterans, Matt Forte and Michael Bush, and backups Armando Allen and Lorenzo Booker have been impressive in training camp. The timing, however, was unusual and in the end reflects the bad blood that can be a part of the NFL's restricted free-agent (RFA) system.

RFAs are rarely pursued on the free-agent market because of compensation that would be due to the original team. Usually, they are left with no choice but to sign a one-year tender offer. As an undrafted player with three years of experience, the Bears tendered him at $1.26 million.

That's a nice salary for a third-string running back in exchange for losing the chance to sign elsewhere. Recently, however, the Bears made the perfectly legal request that he take a pay cut to $700,000, according to Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune. The value was slightly more than the veteran's minimum for a fourth-year player, but it essentially robbed him of his rights as a RFA. Against what was probably his better judgment, Bell denied the request and asked for his release, according to the Tribune.

In the end, this episode won't impact the Bears' fortunes in 2012. But I would imagine the NFL Players Association would seek ways to stop teams from in essence preventing a player's movement in the offseason, in exchange for a higher salary, and then cutting back that salary a few months later.

Let's continue around the NFC North, noting that we addressed the Green Bay Packers earlier Friday morning:
  • Melissa Isaacson of profiles Bears rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery.
  • At least at the beginning of the season, the Bears plan to use rookie defensive end Shea McClellin when opponents are in obvious passing downs, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Rookie Kellen Moore is now one of three quarterbacks on the Detroit Lions' roster after the release of R.J. Archer and appears to be on his way to a roster spot, writes Anwar S. Richardson of
  • Hopes are high for the NFL debut of Lions running back Mikel Leshoure, who hasn't played in a game since Dec. 29, 2010, notes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
  • Lions receiver Titus Young on offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, via Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News: "He's about one thing, and that's ballin'. You always want a coach to be about ballin', not all that other stuff. By coming to meetings and stuff, I know one thing's on his mind, and that's getting his playmakers the football and winning."
  • Receiver Michael Jenkins is hoping to be a starter for the Minnesota Vikings in the absence of Jerome Simpson, writes Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams, via Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune: "We can be a top-10 defense. We just have to make sure as a coaching staff, we're in tune to making sure guys are detailed about carrying out their assignments."
  • It appears pretty likely that Vikings tight end John Carlson is going to miss the entire preseason after spraining his knee July 31, according to Tom Pelissero of