In the midst of rehabilitating torn anterior cruciate ligaments, two key Detroit players made appearances Thursday at an organized team activity. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew and tailback Kevin Smith only participated in individual drills, but both expressed confidence they will be fully recovered by the start of the season -- if not when training camp begins in late July.
According to Tim Twentyman of the Detroit News, Smith was asked if he would be ready in time for camp. His response: "Is my name Kevin Smith? There's your answer."
Smith certainly has motivation to accelerate his recovery after the Lions drafted tailback Jahvid Best in the first round last month. The Lions also have added reinforcements to Pettigrew's position by trading for tight end Tony Scheffler.
I'm not sure what Smith's future with the team will be, but Pettigrew will resume his role as a central building block whenever he returns.
Continuing around the NFC North:
New Lions receiver Nate Burleson believes the Lions can compete with any team in the division, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
An NFL spokesman wouldn't address whether the league would consider staggering potential four-game suspensions for Minnesota defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, according to Tom Pelissero of ESPN1500.com. Such a move would generate considerable angst.
Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "Pat Williams and Kevin Williams deserve four-game suspensions if for no other reason than being naïve enough to think they could out-litigate the NFL."
Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune takes a look at the four opponents the Vikings might have to face without the Williams Wall.
Chicago might end up keeping four tight ends on its active roster, writes Michael Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune: "If the Bears can convince Marc Bulger to sign a one-year deal on the cheap, having a veteran backup quarterback is a grand idea. Otherwise, going to camp with Caleb Hanie, Brett Basanez and Dan LeFevour may be their best option."
Dave Heller of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel speaks with rookie Green Bay receiver Shawn Gore, a native of Canada who signed after a tryout during rookie minicamp.