NFC North: Lucas Oil Stadium
INDIANAPOLIS -- I'm cruising through a series of interviews here Friday morning while also working on a column to be posted later Friday on a super top-secret topic. But during a short break, I wanted to bring you one quote from Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson, who held court here in the media area of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Thompson is well-known for his draft day trades. But he is planning on holding on to the No. 9 overall pick in April, much like he did when the Packers chose No. 5 overall in 2006. That pick turned into linebacker A.J. Hawk.
"Most of the time, we've picked with our first pick," Thompson said. "I suspect that'll be the case this year. There's going to be a good pick there for us."
There were no blockbusters from Thompson's interviews, but I'll bring you more nuggets as the day and weekend continues.
Today is one of the rare Sundays when we won't be at an NFL game. As we revealed in Friday's programming note, we're covering Monday night's matchup between Green Bay and Minnesota. We're scheduled to cross state lines later this morning and be with you all day Monday.
But, don't fret. We'll monitor this afternoon's Detroit-Atlanta game as well as tonight's regular-season debut of Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Bears will try to keep up with the Indianapolis Colts. (Here are our NFL Nation thoughts on those games). So check back later today.
There are a number of good Sunday reads to peruse in the meantime. Here are a few from around the NFC North:
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press traveled to the Georgia hometown of Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Among the anecdotes: Johnson so abhors attention that he often sits quietly on the visitor's side when he attends games at his former high school.
- Despite all their talk about running the ball, the Lions shouldn't ignore the obvious advantage they have over the Falcons' defense in the passing game, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com. The Falcons will send second-year cornerback Chris Houston and little-used Brent Grimes to defend Johnson and Roy Williams.
- This is the 75th anniversary of Lions football. Roar.
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times traces the Bears' defensive slip to the middle of the 2006 season.
- The Colts learned the hard way not to kick to Bears returner Devin Hester, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
- Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers weighs 217 pounds, his lowest since before his sophomore year at Cal. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Rogers has lost 11 pounds and cut his body fat from 15 percent to at least 12 percent since he was drafted.
- In an extended interview with the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Rodgers quoted a passage from Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken," to describe his personality. (We tried to come up with a snarky passage of our own but ultimately didn't want to soil Mr. Frost).
- Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal opened Q&As with Packers coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson with this question: "Do you guys know what you're doing?"
- Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press compares the Minnesota Vikings' current defensive line to the Purple People Eaters.
- Former Vikings coach Jerry Burns spoke to the team Saturday.
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.