Black and Blue all over: A couple of Purdue QBs

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Two former Purdue quarterbacks will meet Thursday night at Soldier Field, one at the top of his game and one striving to meet him there.

With 4,100 passing yards this season, New Orleans' Drew Brees has a chance to break Dan Marino's all-time NFL record of 5,084. yards. Chicago's Kyle Orton is enjoying the best season of his career in 2008, but Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times puts the pair in perspective: "Brees is the type of player Orton hopes to become."

The players are different in most every way, but Mulligan points out that they both learned the game in Purdue's wide-open passing offense, one that puts the quarterback's first read on the deep pass and then moves closer to the line of scrimmage. The father of that offense, Purdue coach Joe Tiller, is expected to attend Thursday's game.

Look for a couple of preview posts on this matchup over the next two days as well as an extended postgame analysis Thursday night.

Continuing our morning jaunt through the NFC North:

  • Bears punter Brad Maynard leads the NFL with 32 punts downed inside opponents' 20-yard line, according to Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald.

  • Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal examines the collateral effect of safety Atari Bigby's lost season on Green Bay's pass defense.

  • Packers defensive tackle Johnny Jolly faces a March 27 trial in Houston following his July arrest for felony drug possession, writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

  • Minnesota center Matt Birk will donate $50,000 as part of Gridiron Greats' annual effort to raise money for disadvantaged former players, writes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune. Birk is sending a letter to players around the league to join in the gesture.

  • Former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon on the Vikings' Tarvaris Jackson: "I think for him the big thing is winning back the trust of the coaching staff and the players." Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has the story.

  • Detroit center Dominic Raiola was still at it Tuesday afternoon, moments before Detroit announced it was fining him $7,500 for an obscene gesture he made to fans at Ford Field. According to John Niyo of the Detroit News, Raiola told Sporting News Radio: "If you're not happy, why are you coming to the game?"

  • Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com is already looking ahead to the 2009 draft: "The Lions are so thin at so many spots that they have the luxury of drafting nearly any position and immediately upgrading the team."