We're Black and Blue All Over:
This MMQB.com piece from retired NFL quarterback Sage Rosenfels is notable in a number of ways, among them his revelation that teammate Brett Favre said he "choked" at the end of the 2009 NFC Championship Game between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. What stood out most to me, however, was the way Rosenfels conveyed the intensity and tension of that game.
"Every play felt like a fourth down," Rosenfels wrote, and having covered that game myself at the Superdome, I couldn't agree more. There was a tension I have rarely felt in a sporting game, largely because, as Rosenfels wrote, "Both teams' fans had been waiting decades for a Super Bowl berth; the Saints had never made it there in their then-43-year history, and the Vikings hadn't been to the big game in more than 30 years."
It might not have been the most perfectly played game we've ever seen, and it has since been overshadowed by the NFL's bounty case against the Saints. But rarely have I experienced a game where so many moments and plays simply took your breath away.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Here's a good profile of Vikings receivers coach George Stewart from Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press via the Star Tribune.
This might be the year when the Vikings really should limit defensive end Jared Allen's snaps, writes Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com.
The preseason could be a career résumé for Vikings backup tailback Toby Gerhart. More from Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley has looked better as a run-blocker in training camp, reports Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com reveals the lengths to which Packers punter/holder Tim Masthay has gone to be fair in the team's place-kicking competition.
Veteran running backs James Starks and Alex Green are still in contention for a starting job, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Tempers flared at Packers practice Wednesday, per ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky.
Receiver Joe Anderson continues to impress at Chicago Bears training camp. More from Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Quarterback Jay Cutler and other key starters will see very minimal action in Friday night's preseason opener, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.
David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune wants the comparisons between Bears defensive end Shea McClellin and Houston Texans All-Pro J.J. Watt to stop. Haugh writes: "The Bears don't need McClellin to be like the NFL's king of the batted pass who made a giant leap in his second season. They need McClellin to become a dependable NFL starter first before somebody compares him to John Thierry next. Comparing McClellin to Watt? What?!"
Detroit Lions rookie Ziggy Ansah has received the "Lions Lobotomy," writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. His dry sense of humor is nowhere to be found in training camp interviews.
The Lions have been impressed with the progress of rookie running back Theo Reddick, according to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
The Lions are fortunate to have skipped the injury bug so far in training camp, writes Kyle Meinke of Mlive.com.