We're Black and Blue All Over:
ALMOST IN BOURNBONNAIS, Ill. -- Last night's travels ended a bit short of Olivet Nazarene University, but they continue this morning, and I will most assuredly be in place when the Chicago Bears open training camp Thursday afternoon. The Green Bay Packers, of course, are set for their first practice at 9:15 a.m. ET, while veterans from the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings will report to camp Thursday in anticipation of opening practices Friday.
THAT MEANS IT'S HERE! WE MADE IT! WOOO-HOOO!
Anyhoo, it appears one more news item crossed the wire late Wednesday. Green Bay Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop reportedly failed his physical but was placed on the non-football injury (NFI) list, according to Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com and others. It was not immediately clear what happened or how serious Bishop's injury is, but the NFI designation means it happened on his own time and would limit his financial recourse in the highly unlikely event the Packers part ways with him as a result.
Let's take our morning tour around the division while we have a moment:
Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette examines the Packers' special teams, noting the Packers' situation is the best in "more than a decade."
The linebacker position should be highly competitive for the Packers, writes Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher reiterated that his injured left knee is healthy and that he will participate in training camp, notes Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
Bears cornerback Tim Jennings earned some trust from coaches with a strong set of offseason practices, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
Bears receiver Devin Hester's first cousin is a fugitive after a shooting three weeks ago in Florida. Hester told Brad Biggs of the Tribune: "[Y]ou try to be a role model with the situation I am in, playing football. But sometimes people are stuck in an environment where they can't get out. It's just the worst situation that he is in and a bad decision that he made."
Gabe Carimi could be a Pro Bowl right tackle if he picks up where he left off before his injury last season, writes Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune on Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder: "In theory, he has the chance to emerge soon as the Vikings' franchise quarterback, a smart, athletic and likable leader who's on the rise. In reality, Ponder remains a green, unproven quarterback in an unforgiving league trying to revive a team that lost 13 times a year ago."
One scout told Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com that it's a "waste" for the Vikings to use Joe Webb only as their No. 2 quarterback.
Ponder admitted his confidence took a hit at the end of his rookie season, notes Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Count longtime NFL executive Gil Brandt as among those who is flummoxed by the Lions' refusal to say how long coach Jim Schwartz's contract runs for. Via Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press, Brandt said: "You have to look far and wide to find somebody better than Jim Schwartz. And so that, to me, is why I say you open the vault for a guy like that. But I don't understand why they don't want to say that the guy's got X number of years left. I'm not sure. I don't know what reason they use for it or anything like that."
Schwartz addressed the short-term future of first-round draft pick Riley Reiff during an interview Wednesday, notes Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.