BBAO: John Carlson returns to practice

We're Black and Blue All Over:

The Minnesota Vikings got a welcome sight during Sunday's practice: Tight end John Carlson participated for the first time since spraining his knee July 31. The return gives Carlson what the Vikings consider a decent chance to be ready for the Sept. 9 season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Carlson and many other veterans will sit out Thursday night's preseason finale at the Houston Texans, coach Leslie Frazier said: "We think if he can just keep making progress throughout this week, he should be fine when we get ready for game week."

The Vikings never got a chance to see a preseason preview of the two-tight end offense they have envisioned with Carlson and second-year player Kyle Rudolph. But his return will help mitigate the three-game suspension facing receiver Jerome Simpson at the start of the season.

Continuing around the NFC North on the day that teams must reduce rosters to 75 players:

  • The Vikings haven't settled on who will be their third running back behind Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, notes Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

  • Quarterback Christian Ponder, who also won't play Thursday, said he needs to do a better job of stepping up in the pocket than he did in Friday's preseason game against the San Diego Chargers, according to the Star Tribune.

  • Green Bay Packers cornerback Davon House, who does not appear to need surgery on his shoulder, is hoping to get back to practice as early as next week. Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has more.

  • The slow recovery of offensive lineman Derek Sherrod, who broke his leg in December, has left the Packers with thin depth, writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

  • Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "The lineup may be different when the Green Bay Packers return to practice again on Monday. But if Sunday's practice was any indication -- and we really don’t know if it was -- Jerron McMillian is positioning himself to be the nickel and dime safety when Charles Woodson moves to the slot in sub packages, and Jarrett Bush is still the best option as the No. 2 cornerback coaches' minds."

  • The Detroit Lions hadn't made any roster moves as of Sunday evening, notes Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.

  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: "They talked about becoming a more balanced offense for months, even sounded believable at times. But when the Lions open the season Sept. 9 against the Rams, they're bound to be as pass happy as ever."

  • Chris McCosky of the Detroit News questions whether the Detroit Lions have done anything to improve their secondary.

  • The Chicago Bears haven't counted out punter Adam Podlesh (hip flexor) for Week 1, writes Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune.

  • The Bears still say that linebacker Brian Urlacher (knee) is on track to play in Week 1, according to Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times.

  • Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com isn't convinced yet by the Bears' offensive line, based on the number of one-liners in his column.