We're Black and Blue All Over:
We've reached the midpoint of the preseason, which means we're coming up on the two-week mark before the NFL's real season begins. Bit by bit, we're learning more about each NFC North team. It's still early to start drawing many conclusions, but as we sit here on Aug. 23, I think we can establish the following four facts. Hopefully you use your knowledge wisely as you embark upon this Monday:
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (154.0 passer rating) is a beast.
The preseason is filled with ups and downs, but to this point, the Chicago Bears haven't done anything well yet.
Behind quarterback Matthew Stafford (72.4 completion percentage, one interception in 29 attempts), the Detroit Lions are going to score some points this season.
For all of the talk about the offensive line in Chicago, the Minnesota Vikings have quietly developed a mini-crisis there as well. Sunday night's shift of right guard Anthony Herrera to center was a warning sign.
We'll develop these themes and others throughout the week. For now, a quick spin around the division:
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune examines the state of the Bears' offensive line: "Growing pains were expected. They've moved to a new offense that calls for more seven-step drops than they've used previously, and new line coach Mike Tice has been charged with reshuffling the deck. But left tackle Chris Williams, the 14th pick of the 2008 draft, was supposed to be one of the sure things."
Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times offers some Bears perspective: "In the 2006 preseason, the Bears' offense was impotent, but the team played in the Super Bowl. In the 2007 preseason, the Bears acquired Darwin Walker to replace Tank Johnson, a good move at the time, and they seemed to have one of the best rosters in the league. They finished 7-9."
The Bears' defense needs to improve on third-and-long, writes Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
The Detroit Lions used defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh at right end Saturday night for two plays as an experiment to alleviate double teams, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com: "The Lions still are trying to figure out the situation at right tackle. Jon Jansen started and played most of the first half with Gosder Cherilus also getting some reps with the No. 1 offense."
The Lions' secondary is "living down to expectations," writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
The Green Bay Packers found out Saturday night what it's like to play without cornerback Charles Woodson, writes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Roughly three weeks before the Packers open the regular season, [coach Mike] McCarthy and his offensive staff probably know about as much about their running attack as they did the day training camp opened. In two exhibition games, starting running back Ryan Grant has carried the ball eight times, two fewer than the team's three quarterbacks."
Packers tight end Tom Crabtree is making a push to make the team, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
We'll have more on the Vikings' 15-10 loss at San Francisco a bit later, but now is the best time to point out Andrea Kremer's piece on receiver Percy Harvin over on MSNBC.com. Vikings athletic trainer Eric Sugarman told Kremer that Harvin did not collapse last week as a direct result of migraine headaches "but rather as a complication of other factors, which may include an adverse reaction to medication, dehydration and low blood pressure."