We're Black and Blue All Over:
Given the 180-degree turnaround of his sentiments Wednesday, I'm going to guess Chicago Bears place-kicker Robbie Gould got himself in a bit of hot water by criticizing the field conditions at Soldier Field on ESPN 1000. Gould reiterated his stance during an interview with reporters but recanted and apologized in a statement released by the team Wednesday evening. (It's worth noting that the field will be re-sodded before the Bears' next home game.)
But Gould wasn't the only Bears specialist under scrutiny. As colleague Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com notes, the team tried out four punters at its facility at a time when punter Adam Podlesh has been struggling. None were signed, but two of them were punters the Bears already know well: Spencer Lanning, who spent 2011 training camp with them, and Ryan Quigley, who was with them in camp this summer.
Podlesh ranks No. 21 in the NFL with a 38.4 net average and had three punts under 40 yards last Sunday against the Houston Texans. Replacing a veteran punter in the stretch playoff run is risky, and Podlesh doesn't appear to be struggling enough to make a switch. But the Bears were at the very least weighing their options.
Continuing around the NFC North:
"Something is fundamentally wrong" with the Bears' offense, writes Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Bears are preparing for the San Francisco 49ers' hard-hitting defense, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
The Detroit Lions' depleted secondary has a tough road ahead of it, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
New Lions cornerback Pat Lee is ready to help beat his old teammates, according to Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News.
Lions place-kicker Jason Hanson is dealing with a foot injury, notes Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com.
Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams is ready to battle Lions receiver Calvin Johnson. Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has more.
The Packers usually struggle on defense without linebacker Clay Matthews, who will miss Sunday's game because of a strained hamstring. Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette explains.
The Packers are hoping for more consistency from defensive lineman Jerel Worthy, according to ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com has a transcript of a bye week media session with Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.
Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "Gov. Mark Dayton's populist rant against personal seat licenses is about six months too late. That Vikings ship has sailed. We can barely hear the Gjallarhorn off in the distance."