NFC North: Maurice Clarett
It was interesting to read the Bears coverage Wednesday morning in Chicago's two major newspapers.
Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times chronicled the high number of carries for rookie tailback Matt Forte this season. Meanwhile, Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune profiled backup tailback Kevin Jones -- who just happens to be facing his former team Sunday in Detroit.
Is it time for Jones to start easing Forte's load? That might not be a bad idea for the long haul, assuming the Bears are comfortable with Jones' recovery from offseason knee surgery.
Forte has an NFL-high 92 carries in four games, six more than Kansas City's Larry Johnson, and also leads the Bears with 18 receptions. Forte is on pace to rush 368 times this season, putting him dangerously close to the 370 mark that historically has caused problems for running backs. Mulligan details a study by Football Outsiders that suggests tailbacks who get at least 370 carries in a season face a greater risk for injury and typically see their production the following year drop by 35 percent.
Enter Jones, who has 71 yards on 20 carries this season. Players who tear an ACL typically need a full year to return to their previous strength, but there is some hope that he will be able to provide more consistent relief for Forte. On Sunday, Jones will face the Lions and said: "Most of all I want to beat them. No way I want their first win to be on us."
Elsewhere around the NFC North:
- Green Bay officials moved quickly to add depth at defensive end after learning of Cullen Jenkins' season-ending chest injury. The Packers signed free agent Kenneth Pettway, who was with former Jacksonville teammate Richard Collier last month during the shooting that left Collier paralyzed from the waist down. Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has details.
- Packers coaches have been impressed by how fast rookie quarterback Matt Flynn developed a rapport with his offensive teammates, according to Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, for one, said: "[He] seems to have a little chemistry with some guys. Nothing seemed to be too big for him. He didn't seem to be intimidated by anything and obviously he's played in some big games himself and so I think those are some of the traits we observed that impressed us as a staff."
- David Herron, the linebacker who might replace injured Minnesota starter E.J. Henderson, was once the blocking fullback for Maurice Clarett at Warren G. Harding High School in Warren, Ohio. Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune tells his story.
- Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul Pioneer Press examines the Vikings' pass rush. The team has seven sacks in four games, good for No. 19 in the NFL.
- Several Lions players are hinting that some offensive wrinkles could be employed Sunday against the Bears, according to John Niyo of the Detroit News.
- Jon Kitna is on borrowed time with the Lions, writes Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press.