NFC North: Xavier Adibi

NFC North Friday injury report

September, 30, 2011
Getting inside the Friday injury report, which includes the expected debut of a veteran running back in Chicago, the loss of a starting linebacker in Detroit, lingering knee problems of a linebacker in Minnesota and surgery for a sidelined safety in Green Bay:

Chicago Bears: Safety Chris Harris (hamstring) was listed as questionable but appears unlikely to play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Tight end Matt Spaeth (calf) might also be sidelined. It's expected that running back Marion Barber (calf) will play in his first game of the regular season. Receiver Earl Bennett and right tackle Gabe Carimi are out.

Detroit Lions: Linebacker Justin Durant (concussion) won't play against the Dallas Cowboys, a big loss for the Lions. Durant has been their leading tackler through three games and will be replaced by Bobby Carpenter. The Lions also ruled out receiver Rashied Davis (foot). Six players are questionable, but all six of them participated in a portion of practice Friday.

Green Bay Packers: As expected, running back Ryan Grant (kidney) and right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) won’t play Sunday against the Denver Broncos. Coach Mike McCarthy indicated that veteran John Kuhn would be the second running back into the game behind starter James Starks. Linebacker Clay Matthews (quadriceps) did not practice Friday but is probable. Meanwhile, safety Nick Collins underwent fusion surgery on his neck Thursday, according to multiple reports. Collins has long been ruled out for the season, and the question now is whether he will be ready to play when the 2012 season begins.

Minnesota Vikings: Linebacker E.J. Henderson (knee) is listed as questionable, along with safety Jamarca Sanford (shoulder). Henderson is expected to play Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, but coach Leslie Frazier said his snaps could be limited. Henderson told reporters he noticed himself limping on film last Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Waiver wire pickup Xavier Adibi likely would take any snaps Henderson misses. Sanford practiced in full pads Thursday and Friday, so it's not clear how serious his injury is.

Updating Tramon Williams, E.J. Henderson

September, 16, 2011
I'll have a full and formal injury report later Friday, but let's update a few significant developments that have already occurred:
  1. Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams (shoulder) was not seen at the start of practice, according to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this week he would let Williams play against the Carolina Panthers if he missed practice Wednesday and Thursday, but it's not clear if that invitation extended to Friday.
  2. Minnesota Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson wasn't at practice Friday, according to Tom Pelissero of Henderson woke up Thursday morning with knee swelling and was sent for a round of tests. It's far from certain that he'll be able to play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Candidates to replace him include his younger brother, Erin Henderson, and waiver claim Xavier Adibi.
  3. Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle) and safety Louis Delmas (hip) both were present at the start of practice, according to Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News. That qualifies as a good sign for Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

NFC North at (near) night(fall)

September, 15, 2011
Some prominent NFC North players have missed a significant portion of Week 2 practices. The most recent addition is Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker E.J. Henderson. The details:

Chicago Bears: Linebacker Brian Urlacher returned to practice after rejoining the team following his mother's death. But the Bears were without safety Chris Harris (hamstring) and receiver Roy Williams (groin) for the second consecutive day. Meanwhile, tailback Marion Barber (calf) returned to the sideline after practicing Wednesday.

Detroit Lions: Receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle) and safety Louis Delmas (hip) again sat out practice. Johnson has said he will play Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, but Delmas' status is less clear. He would probably be replaced by Erik Coleman if he can't play against the Chiefs.

Green Bay Packers: Cornerback Tramon Williams (shoulder) again missed practice, but coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday he would be comfortable playing Williams on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers even if he missed Thursday's workout. The key will be whether Williams gets on the practice field for at least a portion of the work Friday.

Minnesota Vikings: Henderson woke up with knee swelling and didn't practice Thursday while undergoing tests. Henderson's primary backup, Jasper Brinkley, is out for the season because of hip surgery. So during practice Thursday, waiver claim Xavier Adibi worked at middle linebacker. Weakside linebacker Erin Henderson also took some repetitions.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

The NFC North will hum along Monday, Labor Day or not, so why not join us for the ride? We'll start by catching up on a series of interviews that Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams conducted over the weekend in response to his two-game NFL suspension that begins this week.

Williams termed it "unbelievable" that the NFL added a two-game fine on top of the suspension, bringing his total bill to $1.4 million. Speaking to Judd Zulgad of, Williams added: "At the end of the day, you can say from the outside that they cut us a break [by reducing the suspension from four games to two games.] But you look close, they're not putting that out there for the public to see that we're still going to get fined four games. Who wants to work for free?"

I can see where Williams is coming from. If the NFL wanted to keep in place the four-game fine Williams was originally on the hook for, it should have based on the total on his 2008 base salary ($1 million) rather than his 2011 total ($6 million). And tacking on the additional fine allows him to play an extra two games, but he won't be paid for them. In the end, however, Williams took a chance on the terms of his discipline changing when he mounted a 2 1/2-year legal challenge.

The NFL could have been more lenient, but I'm guessing it wanted to make clear that any future challenge to its discipline program will be dealt with in a similarly hard-edged manner.

Continuing around the NFC North:

Quick hits: Mike Neal, Cobb practice

September, 4, 2011
Let's account for a few Sunday afternoon newsbits in quick-hitting fashion ...

Item: The Green Bay Packers are back at practice Sunday in preparation for Thursday's season opener (!) against the New Orleans Saints.
Comment: According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a number of injured players have returned. That list includes tight end Jermichael Finley, receiver Randall Cobb and defensive end Mike Neal. I'll have more on the start of Week 1 in a bit.

Item: The Packers slipped several valued players through waivers and signed them to their practice squad.
Comment: Receivers Tori Gurley and Chastin West, along with quarterback Graham Harrell, were all part of the practice squad Sunday. It was particularly important to keep Harrell in the program with No. 2 quarterback Matt Flynn's contract set to expire after this season.

Item: The Detroit Lions waived running back Aaron Brown and center Chris Morris. They reportedly claimed offensive lineman Jacques McClendon from the Indianapolis Colts. At the moment, the second roster spot is unfilled.
Veteran running back Chester Taylor signed with the Arizona Cardinals, eliminating that possibility for the Lions. It's not clear if Brown's departure means another running back is on the way in, or if he was simply the least-valued player remaining on the Lions' 53-man roster. We'll keep you updated.

Item: The Minnesota Vikings claimed linebacker Xavier Adibi from the Houston Texans.
Comment: The Vikings are a 4-3 team and Adibi [Updated] probably lost his job because the Texans switched to a 3-4. Depth was a critical issue here. Only five linebackers were on the original 53-man roster, and Adibi provides credible insurance should a starter be injured.