NFC North: Thomas Tapeh

Too much depth: Vikings release Wade

September, 10, 2009
9/10/09
12:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert

Wade

Ok. Ok. Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy!!!!!! You win. Egg, meet face.

That’s right. Minnesota didn’t do me any favors Thursday morning by releasing receiver Bobby Wade and reportedly replacing him with veteran Greg Lewis. (It’s probably a bad deal for Wade, too, but this isn’t his blog. It’s mine.) The move doesn’t suggest the Vikings had the same opinion of Wade’s ability to provide depth as I did in this week’s Have at It feature.

I think most everyone is surprised by the timing, if not the substance, of this move. Wade, after all, restructured his contract last week and took a 50 percent pay cut in the process. Typically when a veteran agrees to such an arrangement, the understanding is that he will make the team. Otherwise, the player is released and gets an opportunity to sign elsewhere during the mad rush of final-cut weekend.

I’m not totally sure why this happened, but here are some possible explanations:
  1. The Vikings are more concerned about the health of receiver Bernard Berrian’s hamstring than they are letting on. Berrian suffered the injury in the first quarter of the Aug. 14 preseason opener at Indianapolis and missed the rest of the preseason. He was limited in practice Wednesday but all indications have been that he’s ready to come back. But if the Vikings are worried about him, Wade -- a slot receiver -- probably wouldn’t have been an ideal replacement. Lewis is more of an outside/speed receiver.
  2. Childress has long had an affinity for players he once coached in Philadelphia. Lewis, whose career with the Eagles dates back to 2003, joins a long line of ex-Eagles players to have paraded through Minnesota over the past four years. The list includes offensive lineman Artis Hicks, fullback Thomas Tapeh, receivers Billy McMullen and Todd Pinkston, and quarterbacks Mike McMahon and Koy Detmer.
  3. The Vikings didn’t want to guarantee Wade’s new contract, which is believed to be worth $1.5 million. That would have happened if he were on the roster this weekend. As it is, the Vikings still had to pay Wade for one day of practice. At $1.5 million per year, Wade would receive a Week 1 “game check” for $88,235.29. That’s nothing for the Vikings, however. They once paid Detmer more than $90,000 to practice for three days in 2007.
  4. Childress grew weary of Wade’s refreshing but highly public profile. I doubt it’s the reason Wade is gone, but he did use a crude word to describe Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler this summer and also told reporters it was clear that Tarvaris Jackson would defeat Sage Rosenfels in a training camp competition at quarterback. Like most coaches, Childress isn’t big on players making news with their mouths.

We may never get a full explanation. But at least the Vikings improved their receiver depth today, right?
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Minnesota's decision to retain fullback Naufahu Tahi, as reported here by Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune, seemed a foregone conclusion since the team lost out on free agent Leonard Weaver last week. So why did the Vikings take the full seven days to match?

Tahi

I asked coach Brad Childress that question earlier this week during the NFL owners' meeting. His response:

"You have a week and in these economic times, rather than take on a burden for an extra week of principle and interest, there's really no merit in jumping out of the box until 11:59:59 if that, in fact, is what you're going to do."

What does that mean? Tahi carried a $1.01 million cap charge on the Vikings' books when free agency began, the value of his restricted tender offer. When he signed an offer sheet with Cincinnati, the Bengals absorbed a $1.4 million charge.

When and if the Vikings matched, the difference in the charges -- $390,000 -- would be transferred to their books. There are no cash considerations, but in essence the Vikings bought themselves a week of extra salary-cap space. That didn't make a difference in their day-to-day operations, but in general it's a good policy to follow when the numbers are meaningful.

(Note: I updated the paragraphs above to clarify the explanation.)

To me, the bigger question is why the Vikings think it's so important to have a high-priced fullback on their roster when he plays less than 50 percent of their offensive snaps. This will be the fourth time in the past four years they have a fullback on the roster averaging $1 million or more on his contract. Tony Richardson was their starter in 2006 and 2007, while Thomas Tapeh earned $1.855 million for two games last season before being waived.

I've always thought the Vikings should find a way to maximize the time that Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor spend on the field together. When they absolutely need a fullback, they have H-back Jeff Dugan on their roster for that purpose. But that's just me.

Fullback eludes Vikings

March, 20, 2009
3/20/09
2:58
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Minnesota now has a decision to make at fullback after losing out on its intended upgrade.

Free agent fullback Leonard Weaver has agreed to terms with Philadelphia, according to ESPN's John Clayton. That move leaves the Vikings to decide whether they should match the terms of a one-year offer sheet Naufahu Tahi signed Friday morning with Cincinnati.

If they match the offer, the Vikings would have to pay Tahi $1.4 million in 2009. Weaver, a Pro Bowler in 2008, will earn $1.75 million from the Eagles.

Otherwise, the Vikings could turn to tight end/fullback Jeff Dugan to assume more regular duties. The other alternatives are the draft and the post-draft rookie free agent market. Fullbacks generally aren't expensive, and the Vikings would have to be fairly confident in Tahi to pay him $1.4 million next season.

Tahi is one of four players the Vikings have used at fullback over the past three seasons, a group that also includes Tony Richardson, Thomas Tapeh and Dugan.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

INDIANAPOLIS -- Take this for all that it's worth: On the first full day of the 2009 scouting combine, five of Detroit's key decision-makers went to dinner with Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford. The two-hour affair at a local steakhouse included:

  1. General manager Martin Mayhew
  2. President Tom Lewand
  3. Senior personnel executive James "Shack" Harris
  4. Coach Jim Schwartz
  5. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan

Check out reports from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press, John Niyo of the Detroit News and David Birkett of the Oakland Press.

Stafford entered the combine as the consensus top pick of the draft, and the Lions are evaluating whether to take him, go the safer route with an offensive tackle or trade out of the position.

Stafford is scheduled to speak with reporters here at the combine on Friday. We'll bring you his thoughts as soon as we can.

For now, let's take a romp through the rest of the division:

  • Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com reports the Lions will release or trade quarterback Jon Kitna before he is due a $1 million roster bonus next month. Schwartz was vague on the issue Thursday.
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times notes that it's possible the Bears could draft an offensive lineman with left tackle traits to play on the right side.
  • Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald looks at the top tackles in the draft: Alabama's Andre Smith, Baylor's Jason Smith, Ole Miss' Michael Oher and Virginia's Eugene Monroe.
  • Schwartz and Pittsburgh director of football operations Kevin Colbert both noted the difficulty of making the kind of switch to a 3-4 defense that Green Bay is planning. Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal has details.
  • Minnesota owner Zygi Wilf loves to spend money in free agency, but there might not be enough targets available for his cash, according to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
  • Former Vikings fullback Thomas Tapeh is likely to work out with Seattle next month, according to Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

NFC North midseason awards

November, 5, 2008
11/05/08
12:14
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

You've heard of getting ahead of the curve? Well, we jumped out a bit two weeks ago when we presented our near-midseason awards on a slow Saturday during the bye week. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but we're kinda out of juice now that the actual midseason has arrived and the bosses want a true slate of midseason awards to coincide with the midpoint of the season.

So here then are the first updated near-midseason awards at midseason in ESPN.com Blog Network history:

 
 David Stluka/Getty Images
 No, there's nothing wrong with your computer screen: Kyle Orton is the NFC North's midseason MVP.

Rookie of the year: Chicago tailback Matt Forte
He hasn't had a 100-yard game since the opener, but Forte's steady work has put him on pace for an 1,100-yard season. His best contribution might be as a receiver, where he is more comfortable than anyone could have imagined. UPDATE: Obviously, we knew it was a matter of time before Forte got his second 100-yard game. It came Sunday against Detroit, putting him on pace for a 1,280-yard season.

Coach of the year: Chicago's Lovie Smith
Green Bay's Mike McCarthy got consideration for navigating the Packers through the Brett Favre mess. But Smith's decision to start quarterback Kyle Orton, and his willingness to trust him with a wide-open offense, has put the Bears in the thick of the division race. UPDATE: Smith will really earn this award if the Bears hold on to first place with backup quarterback Rex Grossman at the helm.

Yin and yang executive award: Green Bay's Ted Thompson
Clearly, Aaron Rodgers was ready to assume the team's quarterback position. And clearly, Thompson should have ended the Brett Favre saga sooner. You can only wonder how much of the Packers' penalties and other sloppiness can be traced to a distraction-filled training camp. UPDATE: Thompson is so confident in Rodgers that he's already made him a very rich man. And the Packers still have a limp in their gait.

Quietest 684-yard performance: Minnesota's Adrian Peterson
Yes, he has five touchdowns -- including a 54-yard jaunt last Sunday at Soldier Field. But his production hasn't translated into victories; only one of his four 100-yard games have come in a win. UPDATE: Darn! We thought this would happen but didn't write it: Peterson's 139 yards Sunday against Houston gave him a second 100-yard game in a Vikings victory. Another lost scoop.

Offensive player of the year: Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings
Jennings is the NFL's most explosive receiver, leading the league with 685 receiving yards and 12 receptions of at least 20 yards. Defenses should know by now that he's Aaron Rodgers' favorite receiver. UPDATE: Jennings has slumped to second in the NFL with 764 yards, but he has managed to save face by maintaining his league lead with 14 receptions of 20 or more yards.

Defensive player of the year: Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson
It's been nothing short of miraculous: Woodson is tied for the NFL lead with four interceptions despite playing the past six games on a fractured toe. He's hardly practiced but his coverage hasn't suffered. (Ask Dallas' Terrell Owens.) UPDATE: Woodson is back to practicing on a limited basis but it hasn't affected his performance on Sunday.

Most Valuable Player: Chicago quarterback Kyle Orton
Can't say I envisioned writing these words, but Orton is the key to the Bears' success these days. His accuracy and quick adaptation to the no-huddle offense has caught opposing defenses off guard. Face it: with an injury-depleted defense and a mediocre running game, the Bears are a passing team. Gasp. UPDATE: And that means the passer isn't supposed to run. But Orton tried to get fancy the other day at Soldier Field and will miss a few games because of a sprained ankle.

Biggest swing and miss: Detroit's plan to run the ball
The Lions' conversion to a zone-blocking run scheme, a knee-jerk reaction to the pass-happy ways of former coordinator Mike Martz, has been a total disaster. Linemen aren't blocking it well, runners aren't finding the holes and coaches aren't mixing up the calls. Their average of 77.7 rushing yards per game is the third-worst mark in the NFL. UPDATE: That average is now down to 72.0 yards and is kind of like the stock market: No one knows where rock-bottom might be.

Best offseason acquisition: Minnesota receiver Bernard Berrian
Berrian has given the Vikings exactly what they were missing last season: A receiver who could take advantage of the attention paid to tailback Adrian Peterson. Berrian's 517 receiving yards rank 10th in the NFL and put him on pace for a career season. UPDATE: Berrian now ranks 9th with 621 yards. He's only a few Gus Frerotte rainbows away from the first 1,000-yard season.

Worst offseason acquisition: Minnesota fullback Thomas Tapeh
The Vikings envisioned Tapeh as a long-term companion for Adrian Peterson and paid him top money for a fullback. As it turns out, however, the Vikings didn't know Tapeh had knee surgery a month before signing. He played in two games and already has been released. The Vikings could be on the hook for as much as $1.855 million. UPDATE: It turns out his name really wasn't Thomas. (Sarcasm alert.)

APB Award: Green Bay defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila
"KGB" has a half-sack to his credit despite playing in all seven games. The Packers are limiting his playing time to maintain his health, but it's time to start wondering if he has simply seen his better days
. UPDATE: The Packers agree. They released Gbaja-Biamila last Saturday.

Most patience: Readers of this blog
Thanks for sticking with us through FavreGate I and II, MillenGate, the Soldier Field fracas and the OCCASIONAL typo or misjudgment. Most of all, let's keep having fun. That's what football is about, right? UPDATE: You're right, it's "Rob" Bironas.

NFC North near-midseason awards

October, 25, 2008
10/25/08
11:00
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

The NFC North bye came almost exactly at the halfway mark of the season; it's Week 8 and all four teams will have played seven games by the end of this weekend. So now is as good of a time as any to hand out a few midseason awards after our inaugural half-spin through the Black and Blue division.

Rookie of the year: Chicago tailback Matt Forte
He hasn't had a 100-yard game since the opener, but Forte's steady work has put him on pace for an 1,100-yard season. His best contribution might be as a receiver, where he is more comfortable than anyone could have imagined.

Coach of the year: Chicago's Lovie Smith
Green Bay's Mike McCarthy got consideration for navigating the Packers through the Brett Favre mess. But Smith's decision to start quarterback Kyle Orton, and his willingness to trust him with a wide-open offense, has put the Bears in the thick of the division race.

Yin and yang executive award: Green Bay's Ted Thompson
Clearly, Aaron Rodgers was ready to assume the team's quarterback position. And clearly, Thompson should have ended the Brett Favre saga sooner. You can only wonder how much of the Packers' penalties and other sloppiness can be traced to a distraction-filled training camp.

Quietest 684-yard performance: Minnesota's Adrian Peterson
Yes, he has five touchdowns -- including a 54-yard jaunt last Sunday at Soldier Field. But his production hasn't translated into victories; only one of his four 100-yard games have come in a win.

Offensive player of the year: Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings
Jennings is the NFL's most explosive receiver, leading the league with 685 receiving yards and 12 receptions of at least 20 yards. Defenses should know by now that he's Rodgers' favorite receiver.

Defensive player of the year: Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson
It's been nothing short of miraculous: Woodson is tied for the NFL lead with four interceptions despite playing the past six games on a fractured toe. He's hardly practiced but his coverage hasn't suffered. (Ask Dallas' Terrell Owens.)

Most Valuable Player: Chicago quarterback Kyle Orton
Can't say I envisioned writing these words, but Orton is the key to the Bears' success these days. His accuracy and quick adaptation to the no-huddle offense has caught opposing defenses off guard. Face it: with an injury-depleted defense and a mediocre running game, the Bears are a passing team. Gasp.

Biggest swing and miss: Detroit's plan to run the ball
The Lions' conversion to a zone-blocking run scheme, a knee-jerk reaction to the pass-happy ways of former coordinator Mike Martz, has been a total disaster. Linemen aren't blocking it well, runners aren't finding the holes and coaches aren't mixing up the calls. Their average of 77.7 rushing yards per game is the third-worst mark in the NFL.

Best offseason acquisition: Minnesota receiver Bernard Berrian
Berrian has given the Vikings exactly what they were missing last season: a receiver who could take advantage of the attention paid to tailback Adrian Peterson. Berrian's 517 receiving yards rank 10th in the NFL and put him on pace for a career season.

Worst offseason acquisition: Minnesota fullback Thomas Tapeh
The Vikings envisioned Tapeh as a long-term companion for Peterson and paid him top money for a fullback. As it turns out, the Vikings didn't know Tapeh had knee surgery a month before signing. He played in two games and already has been released. The Vikings could be on the hook for as much as $1.855 million.

APB Award: Green Bay defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila
"KGB" has a half-sack to his credit despite playing in all seven games. The Packers are limiting his playing time to maintain his health, but it's time to start wondering if he has simply seen his better days.

Most patience: Readers of this blog
Thanks for sticking with us through FavreGate I and II, MillenGate, the Solider Field fracas and the OCCASIONAL typo or misjudgment. Most of all, let's keep having fun. That's what football is about, right?

Blame to go around on Tapeh affair

October, 16, 2008
10/16/08
5:16
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Tapeh

If he wanted to play hardball, Thomas Tapeh could have walked away from the Minnesota Vikings with $1.855 million -- for two game's worth of work. It's likely he agreed to a settlement before the Vikings waived him Thursday, but the figure represents how tough of a spot the Vikings landed in this botched transaction.

You might not have heard of Tapeh, but the Vikings signed him to a five-year contract on the first day of free agency and planned to pair him with tailback Adrian Peterson for years to come. Tapeh and coach Brad Childress had spent two years together with the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Vikings gave him a market-level deal that included $1.25 million in bonuses and a 2008 base salary of $605,000.

(By NFL rule, the base salary was guaranteed on Sept. 8 because Tapeh was on the Vikings' opening-day roster.)

Things went sour sometime between March and October, when the Vikings learned that Tapeh had undergone a "cleanup" procedure on his knee in February -- less than a month before the Vikings signed him. Childress said the knee appeared to be giving Tapeh some trouble early in his Vikings tenure, but it's not clear when Tapeh acknowledged the procedure.

Wednesday, Childress said:

"We just didn't feel like everything, all of the questions that we asked, that we got conveyed all of the information that we needed."

Tapeh hasn't told his side of the story and we might never have enough information to point a definitive finger. A player generally is responsible for disclosing medical preconditions and past surgeries, but ultimately the Vikings passed him on their physical and gave him medical clearance to join the team and practice in training camp.

Childress told Minnesota reporters Thursday that fullback Naufahu Tahi simply won the starting job. Childless wouldn't say whether the undisclosed surgery hastened Tapeh's departure, but you can rest assured that it did. It's almost unprecedented for a significant free-agent signee to be waived in midseason for performance reasons. The Vikings jumped on the surgery issue to correct a mistake and, presumably, get some of their money back.

While it might be coincidental, it doesn't look good for the Vikings now that two of their four major offseason acquisitions -- Tapeh and safety Madieu Williams -- have yet to contribute. Williams came down with a neck injury early in training camp and wasn't cleared to practice in full until Wednesday. He's likely to return Nov. 2 against Houston.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Linebacker Napoleon Harris returned to Minnesota in a late-night transaction Wednesday and should be in uniform for practice Thursday, the second ex-Vikings linebacker to sign with the team this week. Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune have details.

Harris and Dontarrious Thomas have re-fortified the team's depth after injuries to E.J. Henderson (toes) and David Herron (ankle, head). (This summer, backup Heath Farwell was lost for the season because of a knee injury). It also wouldn't be surprising if either Harris or Thomas starts at middle linebacker Sunday at Chicago; the Vikings' other option there is special teams player Vinny Ciurciu.

Harris was originally scheduled to visit Detroit first after Kansas City released him Tuesday, but the Vikings represent a better option on many levels. Harris' best seasons in the NFL have come under Vikings linebacker coach Fred Pagac, who also coached Harris in Oakland, and his best NFL season came in 2006 when the Vikings moved him to middle linebacker.

Minnesota officials opted not to re-sign him during the offseason, instead sliding Henderson to the middle. But Harris knows the Vikings' defense well enough that he can be more than an emergency pickup. The Chiefs obviously were down on Harris, deactivating him for every game this season, but the Vikings can't afford to be picky right now at one of the most important defensive positions.

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • There was no resolution Wednesday to the odd situation between Minnesota and fullback Thomas Tapeh. Speaking after practice, Tapeh indicated he had been told not to discuss the situation publicly. Typically, a player on the verge of release wouldn't be allowed to practice for fear of injury. Zulgad reports details in the Star Tribune.
  • Injured Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna continued criticizing the Lions' decision to place him on injured reserve Wednesday. Speaking on WJR-AM in Detroit, Kitna said in reality he was benched and could have played later this season: "They decided they wanted to go in a different direction. And I guess the thing for me is, that's fine. Let's just say that." The Lions have to be careful because NFL rules require them to document Kitna would have missed six games because of his back injury before placing him on IR.
  • Rob Parker of the Detroit News writes the Lions aren't fooling anybody by saying they haven't given up on the season: "It would have been refreshing to hear the Lions face their situation honestly and admit they failed miserably this season."
  • Chicago defensive tackle Tommie Harris joked Wednesday that he got high school star Adrian Peterson to commit to Oklahoma by promising he would return for his senior season in 2004. As recounted by John Mullin of the Chicago Tribune, Harris entered the NFL draft instead. Peterson and Harris will square off Sunday at Soldier Field.
  • The Bears are still working through their injury situation in the defensive backfield. One possibility for the nickel back position is rookie safety Craig Steltz, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Green Bay defensive tackle Justin Harrell was highly motivated Wednesday in his first full practice of the season, according to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "You don't want anybody talking bad about you," Harrell said. "All the people that said I was a bust, that's the kind of stuff that gives you added motivation to go out there and prove them wrong."
  • Packers receiver Greg Jennings is on pace for the NFL's highest total of receiving yards since 1995. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel breaks down Jennings' first six games.
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

HarrisTapeh

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Two interesting nuggets out of Wednesday's media access at Minnesota's team headquarters:

1. Free agent linebacker Napoleon Harris will be in the Twin Cities later Wednesday for a physical, according to coach Brad Childress. Reports Tuesday night indicated Harris was planning to visit Detroit first, but it's not immediately clear whether he canceled that visit or will make it quick. Harris, who was released Tuesday by Kansas City, played middle linebacker for the Vikings in 2006 and is close to linebackers coach Fred Pagac.

2. Childress said the Vikings have had "pretty good dialogue" internally about fullback Thomas Tapeh, who only recently told the team that he had knee surgery in February. He has been inactive for the past four weeks and it's possible the Vikings are trying to reach some sort of contractual settlement. Less than a month after his surgery, Tapeh signed a five-year contract with the Vikings that included $1.25 million in guarantees.

We'll keep you updated on both fronts.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Perhaps this is my Detroit Lions naiveté surfacing, but I'm surprised no one is even mildly chiding Detroit vice chairman Bill Ford, Jr., for publicizing his dissent with the way his father runs the team.

Because, in essence, that's what Ford Jr. did Monday when he told reporters he would fire president/CEO/general manager Matt Millen if he had the authority. He doesn't, of course. That responsibility remains with his father, William Clay Ford, who hasn't listened to his son's advice.

Yes, it was a breath of fresh air to hear a Ford acknowledge the mistake Millen has been. And we in the media always appreciate the truth. But it hardly promotes respect for the chain of command, an essential tenet for an NFL team and any other corporation. Is this no different than an assistant coach publicly questioning the head coach's play-calling?

I suspect Millen fatigue is so intense these days that it supersedes all other problems. As Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News writes: "Nothing can move forward with this team until the main guy is held accountable. The Lions are paralyzed and poisoned by Millen's presence, by his stunning incompetence, and he has to know it."

Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press suggests Ford Jr.'s comments could give Millen an opening to resign and save at least a minimal amount of public respect: "If Millen is so fond of [William Clay Ford], how can he let himself be the wedge between Senior and Junior? I don't see how he can rationalize that to himself."

And, as Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com writes, Ford Jr.'s comments came too early to wait until after the season to address them: "Ford can't allow the dark cloud to hang over this organization for the rest of the season."

As of Tuesday morning, there were no indications the Lions were planning any changes. Firing Millen or accepting his resignation now wouldn't do much to save the season, but it would give the team a head-start on hiring their next leader.

The Lions have a bye this weekend and the timing is right. But after Ford Jr. took the extraordinary route of placing public pressure on his own father, his father could be more dug in than ever.

Elsewhere in less controversial regions of the NFC North:

  • Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examines whether the career of Green Bay cornerback Al Harris could be over because of a ruptured spleen. If Harris ultimately has his spleen removed, "a return would be less likely," Silverstein reports.
  • The Packers aren't thrilled with the inconsistency of new punter Derrick Frost, writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "He needs to do a better job, there's no doubt about that," coach Mike McCarthy said.
  • Tampa Bay offensive lineman Jeremy Trueblood accused unnamed Chicago defenders of grabbing his genitals during Sunday's game at Soldier Field. Defensive tackle Tommie Harris didn't deny it, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times. Asked if it was possible someone on the Bears did it, Harris said: "Yeah, the same way my junk got grabbed during the game. That happens, so guard your junk." Hmmmm.
  • David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune thinks coach Lovie Smith should give his laid-back style a "mini-makeover" and get after a few of his players publicly.
  • Minnesota has benched starting fullback Thomas Tapeh, whom they signed to a five-year contract on the first day of free agency. In his place is third-year player Naufahu Tahi, writes Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • The Vikings have the NFL's worst touchdown percentage in the red zone, writes Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune. The Tennessee Titans, their opponent Sunday, have the best.

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