NFC North: Willie Parker

We're Black and Blue All Over:

Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin confirmed to reporters Monday that he is being treated for sleep apnea, a condition that might have triggered his increasing frequency of migraine episodes this summer. Harvin said the diagnosis came when he was hospitalized after an Aug. 19 collapse during a Vikings practice.
Harvin (via Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press): "They'd just barge in the room and be like, 'Harvin, you OK?' I'd say, 'I think so.' [They said] 'Well, your heart just wasn't beating.' I was like, 'What do you want me to do?'"

Indeed, doctors determined his heart was stopping and then re-starting during the night, a common symptom of sleep apnea. He now sleeps with an oxygen device and said he feels a "100 percent difference" when he wakes up in the morning.

Whether this cures his migraines, slows them down or merely helps him sleep better, Harvin appears to be in a better place than he was a month ago.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Vikings owner Zygi Wilf's enthusiasm hasn't dampened following a Week 1 loss at New Orleans. According to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune, Wilf said: "We built a team that we expect to go all the way. We're not holding back right now. ... We pretty much feel that we're all in. We're going to try our best to fulfill our goal."
  • Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com: "Sidney Rice expects to remain on crutches for a couple more weeks, and the Minnesota Vikings' top receiver said on Monday he hasn't set a target date for returning to practice following last month's hip surgery."
  • Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel lists these veteran agent running backs as available if the Green Bay Packers look for outside help to replace Ryan Grant (ankle): Willie Parker, Ahman Green, Justin Fargas and J.J. Arrington.
  • Because the Packers spent the entire game at Philadelphia in the nickel, A.J. Hawk did not receive a single defensive snap, notes Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Inside linebackers coach Winston Moss: "If I was in that same situation, I would be upset if I didn't play and I was going into an opening game ... and I had a very good preseason. I would have wanted to play. I'm sure a highly competitive guy would have wanted to play. I would use it as -- if I have to do whatever it takes and do more to stay on the field as much as possible, I've got to do whatever it takes. That would be my attitude."
  • The Packers plan to re-sign defensive lineman Jarius Wynn to replace the injured Justin Harrell (knee), confirms Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
  • The Detroit Lions agreed to terms with former Chicago Bears cornerback Nate Vasher, notes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com. Vasher could replace injured nickelback Aaron Berry.
  • Lions coach Jim Schwartz called backup quarterback Shaun Hill "one of our biggest offseason acquisitions," writes John Niyo of the Detroit News.
  • Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on his series of injuries in the NFL: "Pretty perfect hits. Guys dropped me on my shoulder pretty hard both times. I'd call them weird, freaky injuries more than anything." Michel Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press has more.
  • Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is willing to gain yards on the ground, notes Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald.
  • Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com questions the Bears' decision to match Lions receiver Calvin Johnson in single coverage on the play that nearly beat them Sunday.
  • Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz made a number of concessions Sunday for his still-developing offensive line, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Devin Aromashodu started the 2010 season the way he ended the 2009 season: as the Bears' hottest receiver."

NFC North weekend mailbag

June, 19, 2010
6/19/10
12:00
PM ET
I once listened to "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" for almost 24 consecutive hours. Long story. Not that interesting. But I think it pretty much describes what any football fan feels in the middle of June.

When I'm drivin' in my car

and a man comes on the radio

he's tellin' me more and more

about some useless information

supposed to fire my imagination.

I can't get no, oh no no no.

Hey hey hey, that's what I say.


I can't get no satisfaction,

I can't get no satisfaction.

'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try.

I can't get no, I can't get no.


Express your own dissatisfaction through the mailbag portal, Facebook or Twitter.

Onward...

Via Facebook, Donald writes: I am curious about Albert Haynesworth. Do you think Jim Schwartz or Lions brass would have interest in either trading for him (at a reduced rate) or claiming/signing him after he is released? I think he and Ndamukong Suh would be two unstoppable forces upfront for the Lions.

Kevin Seifert: Like many teams, I'm sure the Lions are conflicted about Haynesworth. When his head is right, Haynesworth can be a rare player. Schwartz built his scheme with Haynesworth playing defensive tackle at Tennessee, and I'm sure he could figure out a way for Haynesworth and Suh to play next to each other.

From a financial standpoint, many teams would jump at committing a relatively small total of $9 million guaranteed over the next two seasons. That bargain would come courtesy of the Redskins, who have already paid him $32 million.

Schwartz and the Lions would have to consider Haynesworth's well-deserved history of troublemaking and decide if he's worthy of insertion into their rebuilding process. After all of that, the hardest part of this decision is finding out how to pry Haynesworth away from the Redskins.

There is some thought that interested teams should wait for Haynesworth's eventual release, especially if the Redskins are successful in their efforts to capture part of his signing bonus. But if the Lions wanted to trade for him, and the Redskins just want to be done with this situation, it's worth revisiting a possibility we first broached in April.

Former Green Bay contract negotiator and current National Football Post columnist Andrew Brandt hatched a trade idea that would give the Redskins financial relief in another way. It calls for Haynesworth to keep all of the Redskins' money while the acquiring team takes on the expensive contract of another Redskins veteran -- namely, running back Clinton Portis.

Portis is due to make $7.2 million in 2010, of which $6.43 million is guaranteed. The Redskins would get some financial relief, and the new team would have to guarantee a total of $15.43 million for Haynesworth and Portis combined. The Redskins already have veteran running backs Willie Parker and Larry Johnson on their roster, while the Lions could surely use some backfield depth while Kevin Smith rehabilitates his knee injury.

You don't often see moves like this in the NFL. But you don't often see players demanding a trade from a team that has paid them $32 million over the past 15 months, either.


Neal of Eau Claire, Wis., writes: Who do you think has the best 5-year plan in the NFCN? As a Packers fan, I constantly hear Ted Thompson discuss "building for the future," which is how I came to think about this topic. Having Aaron Rodgers alone I think (in my very biased opinion) puts the Pack at or near the top, but being one of the youngest teams in the NFL helps also (Clay Matthews, B.J. Raji, Greg Jennings, etc.).

I have to say that having Matthew Stafford on offense (who I believe showed great leadership and character in the win last year in which he dislocated his shoulder) and Suh (also seems to have great character) on defense bodes well for the Lions. I think even the Bears are in a better position than the Vikings given that the Vikings have no plan at QB and Adrian Peterson will be out of his prime in a couple years.

What do you think?? Obviously hard to say and maybe impossible to predict, but gives us something to talk about in the month of June.

Kevin Seifert: I like your thinking, Neal. If the most important long-term position is quarterback, then the Packers are ahead of, well, the NFC North pack. The Bears could soon be in a comparable position with Jay Cutler if he settles down this season, and with Stafford, the Lions have their most important building block in place as well.

Aside from quarterback, I think the Vikings have done a solid job in flushing young talent into their offense. Receivers Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin are 23 and 22, respectively. Rookie tailback Toby Gerhart is 23. Two younger players, center John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt, assumed starting jobs on the offensive line last season.

Defensively, however, the Vikings' best players are aging. Nose tackle Pat Williams is 37. Cornerback Antoine Winfield will turn 33 next week. Linebacker Ben Leber is 30. Defensive tackle Kevin Williams turns 30 in August. They'll need to accelerate their replenishing process on that side of the ball.

On a relative scale, the Packers might well have the best five-year outlook among NFC North teams. But let's not equate average age with the total youth of a roster. There are key players on both sides of the ball who will need replacements soon, from receiver Donald Driver (35) to tackles Chad Clifton (34 next week) and Mark Tauscher (33) to cornerback Al Harris (35). That list includes some of the Packers' most reliable players over the past decade.

But overall I would agree with you, Neal, and put the Packers at the top of this list.


Jay of the Bay Area writes: Is Brad Childress losing control of his team? Every week, there seems to be some story about a player doing something that Childress is either unhappy about or naive about or something. The issues with Adrian Peterson and Chad Greenway strike me as instances in which the players feel they're running the team ... and don't even get me started on the Favre situation and the precedent that set (and is setting).

Kevin Seifert: Jay, I actually don't think the situation is quite that dramatic. I think it's a bit worrisome that an All-Pro tailback has been disconnected for much of the offseason. And my conspiracy radar went up when Childress and Greenway provided conflicting explanations for why he didn't practice during minicamp.

But I really don't think that Favre's special circumstances have bled into the rest of the locker room. I've not sensed that anyone else believes they are entitled to Favre's offseason vacation, and I would be surprised if Peterson ever cites that as a reason for his absence.

Childress does have a veteran locker room, and he needs to give them a certain amount of leeway. That's a long way from losing control of a team, and I don't think I've implied that in anything I've written. Unless you've read the blog like our next reader:


John of St. Paul writes: You embody everything that is vile about the media. Stop being so doom and gloom over melodrama. It's freaking pathetic. Your hyperbolic description over the Vikings offseason is obviously an overcompensation to appear impartial. It comes off as forced. Just write, dude.

Kevin Seifert: Funny, I was voted "Most Vile" in high school? It all makes sense now. Semi-seriously, John, you've introduced a concept I haven't even considered: The Jedi mind-trick of criticizing the Vikings to fool readers into thinking I'm not secretly their biggest fan. Brilliant! But as we all know, there is no try. You either do or do not. And I do not.


Monsterdfence76 of Shamokin, Pa., writes: What is Chicago's offensive line looking like? Who is going where? I know it is early! But if you had to say, who's where?

Kevin Seifert: I think we can all agree that Chris Williams will be at left tackle, Frank Omiyale at right tackle, Olin Kreutz at center and Roberto Garza at right guard. Kreutz hasn't practiced this spring after having foot surgery, but every indication is that he will be ready for training camp.

That leaves left guard, the position the Bears hoped to fill with Omiyale last year. As ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson pointed out last week, first-year player Johan Asiata has caught the Bears' eye and was working exclusively with the first team during organized team activities. But the Bears have been known to reconfigure their personnel between OTAs and training camp, so let's not hand Asiata the job yet. He's a New Zealand native who didn't play football in high school and spent part of last season on the practice squad.

The unanswered question is what the Bears will do with Josh Beekman, who has started 20 games at left guard over the past two seasons but has been working exclusively at center in Kreutz's absence this spring. When Kreutz returns, will the Bears shift Beekman back to left guard? Or will they leave him at center as a long-term heir apparent?

We might not know the answer to those questions until training camp. But I can tell you that offensive line coach Mike Tice likes big guards. He had success with another big New Zealand native in Minnesota (David Dixon). The Asiata option appears to be legitimate.

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NFC NORTH SCOREBOARD

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