NFL Nation: Minnsota Vikings
Saturday is the NFL's official roster cutdown day. But the best story might be that of Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, who revealed Friday that his personal absences from training camp this summer were due to the serious heart condition of his six-month-old daughter, Tiana.
As David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune writes, Tiana Tillman was rushed to a Chicago-area hospital May 20 because of an enlarged heart. She was kept alive with a device known as a Berlin Heart -- an external pump that maintains blood flow in cases of a damaged heart -- until finally receiving a heart transplant July 31.
Tiana must remain on medication for the rest of her life, but Tillman said: "She'll be a normal kid. She can ride a bike, play little league soccer if she wants to. I'm optimistic. This has made us stronger as a family."
At a news conference Friday, Tillman urged citizens to register as an organ donor. Sounds like a noble cause to us.
Moving back on the field in the NFC North:
- In addition to the players listed on Friday's post, the Chicago Sun-Times reports the Bears have told long-snapper Thomas Gafford he will be released.
- Gafford could return to the Green Bay Packers, whose current long-snapper, J.J. Jansen, was diagnosed Friday with a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his left knee, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette. The injury isn't serious, but it's not clear whether Jansen can recover in time to play in the Sept. 8 season opener against Minnesota.
- Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offers a position-by-position analysis of the Packers. It includes this highlight: "Matt Flynn clearly was the second-best passer in camp." Flynn and Brian Brohm were competing for the No. 2 quarterback job behind starter Aaron Rodgers.
- In addition to the players listed on Friday's post, the Star Tribune reports the Vikings will also release linebacker Rufus Alexander and David Herron.
- Six of the Detroit Lions' eight draft picks are expected to make the team, according to the Detroit Free Press.
- Running back Artose Pinner hopes his performance Thursday night -- 78 yards on 23 carries at Buffalo -- convinces the Lions he is worth keeping on the roster for insurance purposes.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- We'll take the pulse in Green Bay one more time this morning before departing ... and, in all likelihood, passing the Brett Favre story on to colleague Pat Yasinskas of NFC South fame.
For now, however, let's take a look at quarterback issues around the NFC North:
- Kyle Orton will start the Chicago Bears' first preseason game Thursday against Kansas City at Soldier Field. The decision wasn't random -- there was no coin flip -- but coach Lovie Smith said there was "no real reason" for choosing Orton over Rex Grossman. The Bears will start Grossman in their second preseason game, Aug. 16 at Seattle, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
- This preseason might be Dan Orlovsky's last chance to prove he should have a future with the Detroit Lions. He is currently battling Drew Stanton for the team's No. 2 job but is in his contract year, reports the Detroit Free Press.
- Minnesota Vikings fans are going to have to find something else to talk about besides the possibility of acquiring Favre, writes Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- Plenty of other Packers legends have left the team before the end of their careers, writes Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. But none of the departures have been as unsightly as Favre's.
- You need a subscription to read the full column, but we'll give you this nugget of Bob McGinn's analysis of Favre's departure on the Web site of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Just about everyone who counted in the football department reached the conclusion that Favre could never win another championship." Wow. Apparently, that opinion was based mostly on Favre's second-half performance in the NFC championship game.
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