We're Black and Blue All Over:
Imagine this: If all goes as planned, at least one NFC North training camp will be underway one month from today.
The Chicago Bears are scheduled to begin practice at Olivet Nazarene University on July 23, and the rest of the division would open camps by the end of the following week. It's all contingent, of course, on the NFL agreeing to a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with its players soon and the lockout being lifted by early July. It would be a tight timetable but would probably allow for a week or so of free agency before the Bears report to camp.
Two NFL teams, the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets, have already canceled plans for off-site training camps because of lockout uncertainty. The Bears apparently face no deadlines along those lines, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
The Minnesota Vikings, the other NFC North team with an off-site training camp, have said they will inform Minnesota State University, Mankato, of their plans by July 15.
Continuing around the NFC North:
David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune profiles Ed McCaskey, 24, grandson of the former Bears chairman and a media relations manager for an independent league baseball team.
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy will speak at a Fayetteville, N.C., sports banquet Monday at the request of longtime NFL assistant Jimmy Raye. Earl Vaughn Jr. of the Fayetteville Observer has more.
Packers fans are rallying around former player Fuzzy Thurston, who is selling his Super Bowl II ring to pay back taxes. Scott Venci of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has the story.
Detroit Lions guard Rob Sims is talking playoffs, via Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press: "I agree. I think it's time. I don't think it's premature. I think we put the work in last year and went through the bumps. We took the licks that we needed to take last year. It is time for us to think that way. It's time for us to get ready to play that way. Attitude is everything. If you set those goals high, you can reach those goals."
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder will wrap up his work at the IMG Academy this week, notes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
Michael Rand of the Star Tribune profiles Matt Mitrione, a former Vikings player who is now a prominent mixed martial arts fighter.
Vikings athletic trainer Eric Sugarman is a member of the Hazleton (Pa.) Area Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2011.