We're Black and Blue All Over:
The Green Bay Packers returned from their bye week Monday to a dose of reality: A rare full-padded practice.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), NFL teams can have more than one full-pads practice in a given week only once during the season. Coach Mike McCarthy chose this one.
Mike Spofford of Packers.com wrote that Monday "harkened back a bit to an August training-camp practice" and added: "Offensive linemen and tight ends were banging head-on against pass-rushers. Receivers were getting jammed one-on-one by defensive backs at the line of scrimmage. Running backs were trying to run interference against blitzing linebackers."
A padded practice doesn't necessarily mean full contact, but it at least allows for some physical drills. The Packers are preparing for Sunday's game at the San Diego Chargers, who are probably spent after a 23-20 overtime loss at the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Tight end Jermichael Finley said that he hopes to sign a long-term contract with the Packers but won't be upset if they place the franchise tag on him next season. Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has more.
The Packers promoted running back Brandon Saine from the practice squad to replace the injured Alex Green, notes Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Packers defensive back Sam Shields has been cleared to practice after recovering from a concussion, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News: "Go ahead and say it, even if it's premature, even if it sounds kind of funny and almost never gets said around here. The Lions are a playoff team. Yep, they are. Or should be. Or will be."
Lions receiver Nate Burleson, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: "We're not champions, we're not in the playoffs, but we've proven that we can contend with some of the best in the league. Now we have to go out there and have the same type of focus the second half of the season."
Birkett speaks to Lions receiver Titus Young about jumping into the Denver Broncos' stands after scoring his first NFL touchdown.
Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times hands out first-half grades to the Chicago Bears.
Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com looks at the possibility of placing the franchise tag on Bears running back Matt Forte.
The Bears seem to be following the same script in 2011 that they followed in 2010, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com reviews the tape of the Minnesota Vikings' 24-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune reviews the first victory of rookie quarterback Christian Ponder's career.
The Vikings are trying to decide if veteran cornerback Cedric Griffin, who has two surgically repaired knees, should continue as a starter, notes Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com.