Well, that escalated quickly. I snuck away from the blog for an hour Wednesday afternoon to record the weekly Inside Slant podcast, and two related news items were waiting upon my return.
First, Green Bay Packers defensive back Charles Woodson has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears. Woodson had returned to practice last week as he continued to recover from a broken collarbone, but coach Mike McCarthy told reporters that Packers doctors aren't ready to clear him for this game.
That turn of events will prevent Woodson from answering to a series of blunt public statements from Bears receiver Brandon Marshall, who told reporters that "I really dislike the Green Bay Packers and their players" because of what he deemed was their inappropriate analysis of his performance in the teams' Week 2 matchup at Lambeau Field.
Marshall managed two receptions for 24 yards in that game, a 23-10 Packers victory, but took exception to the suggestion that Packers cornerback Tramon Williams shut him down on his own.
"For their players to be over there talking about how awesome of a job they [do] shutting down certain players, I don't respect that," Marshall said. "With two and three guys on you, on other guys, so [defensive coordinator Dom] Capers did an amazing job of game-planning us and game-planning me. I didn't beat double and triple coverage or whatever they were throwing at us.
"I take it as a slap in my face when guys talk about my lack of ability to do something against them when they have help all over the place, so I'm looking forward to one-on-one coverage. Hopefully those guys in a game like this will go to their coach and say, 'Let me have him. I want Brandon Marshall. I want to stop Brandon Marshall. Let me have him one-on-one press coverage,' and let's see what happens."
I was in the Packers' locker room after that game. There was no doubt the Packers found a level of satisfaction that they had defeated a team that had been hyped as Super Bowl contenders. Woodson, in fact, said he thought it was "funny that all of a sudden they were the team to beat because they got a couple new guys."
Obviously Marshall was the major new player the Bears acquired this season. The Packers did dominate him, and I wouldn't think there is much to be ashamed in doing it with two or even three men at a time. If anyone was crowing about beating him in single coverage, I didn't hear it.
We can only be left to assume that Marshall felt compelled to spice things up this week to shake the Bears out of a funk borne from a 1-4 slide. Perhaps he was trying to goad the Packers into doing something that would make little schematic sense: Leaving Marshall in single coverage with an offense that really hasn't had another playmaker this season in the passing game.
I'm sure he will be as motivated as ever Sunday, but the Packers had the most effective plan this season for shutting him down. I'm guessing they won't be drawn into Marshall's fun little game this week.