BBAO: Starting to get serious around here

We're Black and Blue All Over:

Hello everyone. I hope you had a nice August weekend, one that felt more like September here in the Upper Midwest, but I doubt anyone was complaining.

It's starting to feel like September in the NFL as we pass the midpoint of the preseason and prepare for the third, and most significant, preseason game. (See what I did there?) Starters typically play a half or more of the third game, and as it turns out, the NFC North likely will see a host of important players take the field for the first time this summer.

That list includes Green Bay Packers receiver Greg Jennings (concussion), Packers running back Cedric Benson (late signing), Detroit Lions tailback Mikel Leshoure (hamstring) and possibly Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson (knee). We will follow their progress as the week develops.

Meanwhile, I've been tinkering with our Facebook page, one that was getting dusty because I had reached the limit of 5,000 friends. It's tough being popular. Anyway, we've converted it to a "fan" page that you "like" instead of "friend," and now that I've reconnected it with our links feed, we should be up and running. So by all means go ahead and "like" the NFC North Facebook page ("Kevin Seifert Espn") if you weren't already a friend. We're still known there as "Kevin Seifert Espn." Spread the word.

Now, for our morning tour around the division:

  • Chicago Bears rookie safety Brandon Hardin was released from a hospital after suffering a neck injury Friday night, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Hardin will be re-evaluated in two weeks to determine when he can return to the field.

  • The preseason has already shown us that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler should have an easier go of things this season, writes Dan Pompei of the Tribune.

  • The Bears aren't reading too much into preseason games, according to Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.

  • Former Vikings tight end Jim Kleinsasser is among those who spoke to Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune for the first of a three-part series on pain and painkillers in the NFL.

  • Wiederer examines the rare and pleasant personality of Vikings coach Leslie Frazier. Wiederer: "Yep, Frazier might just be the most likeable head coach in pro football. And while such kindness won't directly catalyze the Vikings' return to relevance, it might help buy Frazier extra time to see his vision through."

  • Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway opens up about caring for his father, who is in leukemia remission. Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has the story.

  • Vikings middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley has two weeks to prove to the Vikings he deserves a starting job, writes Fowler. To this point, Brinkley has appeared tentative in the preseason.

  • Frazier on Peterson, via Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com: "We're going to give him a little bit more each day, see how he responds and continue to determine what's the next step. Just go day to day. We have some ideas of how we want to approach it, but a lot of it depends on how he feels with some of the things we're going to give him this week."

  • Benson practiced in full pads for the first time Sunday and is on track to make his preseason debut for the Packers, writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

  • The Packers are trending more and more toward a no-huddle offense, writes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

  • Packers tight end Jermichael Finley (quadriceps) is expected to join Jennings on the preseason field Thursday night, according to Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.

  • Jennings on the two weeks since he suffered his concussion, via the Associated Press: "I've been shut down completely for two weeks. When I say shut down completely, they wouldn't let me walk into the weight room. They wouldn't let me see a treadmill. They wouldn't let me see anything. It's going to be different for me getting my wind back, but today felt great."

  • Justin Rogers of Mlive.com: "While it's a little early in the week to make a determination, Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure appears to be on track to see his first preseason action this Saturday against the Oakland Raiders. Leshoure, who has been battling a hamstring injury, took a significant step forward, participating in team drills during Sunday's practice for the first time in three weeks."

  • Lions running back/kick returner Stefan Logan is day-to-day after injuring his ankle Friday night, according to Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News. Logan did not practice Sunday.

  • Lions coach Jim Schwartz on the preseason debut of rookie receiver Ryan Broyles on Friday night, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: "The thing like I said after the game that you can tell with Ryan, there's a reason he's the all-time leading receiver in college football because he just knows how to get open. They blitzed, he set his route down, did a really good job. Set himself up. He's going to get faster, his physical skills are going to get sharper as he goes on. But he hasn't lost anything from a mental standpoint. He was sharp that way."