We're Black and Blue All Over:
NEW ORLEANS -- When the Chicago Bears benched defensive tackle Tommie Harris last season, they replaced him with third-year player Matt Toeaina. But are the Bears targeting another third-year player as Harris' permanent replacement?
Bears general manager Jerry Angelo seemed to give that impression during a wide-ranging interview with Michael C. Wright of ESPN Chicago. Angelo suggested that Henry Melton, who technically has been listed as a defensive end, could make the conversion to defensive tackle.
Angelo: "... Obviously, the plan is for him to play more, and hopefully be the starter. He's still a work in progress. But everything we saw this past year, in particular during the season, we liked. He just kept getting a little better, a little better. The arrow's going up. We feel, physically speaking, he's got everything you want in terms of size, speed, toughness. That's not any question. Now it's just a matter of learning the position and that will come with the repetition of more play. We feel real good. No guarantees, but everything we look for, he has. That's the good thing. He has shown that at some point or another."
I still think the Bears need to consider defensive tackle one of their top offseason priorities. But with such uncertainty about the timing of offseason acquisitions this year, there could be some weight behind Angelo's suggestion. If there were ever a year to rely on an internal replacement, it's this one.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Angelo isn't concerned about the Bears losing their ability to return kickoffs even if new rules are established, writes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune speaks with outgoing Bears chairman Michael McCaskey, who will give way to younger brother George this spring.
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy is likely to make dramatic changes to his training camp schedule this summer, according to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier might use Lorenzo Booker, and not Percy Harvin, as his primary kickoff returner in 2011. Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune has more.
Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, via Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com: "We can literally die when we're out there on the field."
Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford was one of five NFL owners to receive an American Spirit Award from the National World War II museum in New Orleans.
The Detroit Lions are prepared for free agency -- when and if it starts, according to Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
Lions president Tom Lewand, via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News: "We have put ourselves in a position where there are not a lot of moving parts for us. There's not a lot of gaps and we have a lot of guys under contract. There are fewer things we have to prepare for and fewer contingencies we have to be ready for."
The status of unsigned cornerback Chris Houston doesn't appear to be a big concern to the Lions, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.