We're Black and Blue All Over:
INDIANAPOLIS -- The NFL scouting combine includes not only evaluations of draft-eligible players. Teams are also managing their salary cap and negotiating with their own free agents. Meanwhile, the league's competition committee meets to set the groundwork for rule changes and adjustments to be voted on later this spring.
One rule that seems certain to be re-written is the one that prevented the Detroit Lions from getting a replay on a call that gave the Houston Texans a touchdown in last year's Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field. According to the Associated Press, the competition committee will propose a rule change that still allows for a replay even if a coach illegally challenges a play that is automatically reviewed, as Lions coach Jim Schwartz did on Justin Forsett's 81-yard scoring run.
A similar instance occurred in the Week 17 game between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, but officials did not take away a review from Packers coach Mike McCarthy because they said it had already been initiated when he threw his challenge flag. Beginning in 2013, the league plans to still penalize the coach but won't take away the replay opportunity.
"The bottom line is that we will get resolution on that play where we will get it right, where the play on the field is correctly administered," said Ray Anderson, the NFL's vice president of football operations.
In the end, this issue was nothing more than a loophole that needed to be closed. It will be, and it should be made official at the annual league owners meeting in March.
Continuing around the NFC North:
If the Lions are going to spend big money on a free agent, writes Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press, it should be on defensive end Cliff Avril.
The combine will formally open up a make-or-break year for Lions general manager Martin Mayhew, writes Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com.
Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune explains why J'Marcus Webb has the pole position to be the Chicago Bears' left tackle in 2013.
Interesting theory from David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune: The Bears might want to bring back Brian Urlacher to help new coach Marc Trestman connect with the locker room.
The Bears could ignore offensive line altogether in the draft, writes Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Green Bay Packers have learned from their mistake of keeping Donald Driver on their roster last season, writes Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Could the Packers bring back receiver Greg Jennings during the free-agent market? Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explores that question.
Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune breaks down the Minnesota Vikings' situation heading into the NFL scouting combine.
In practical terms, the Vikings have $10.6 million in cap space heading into free agency, according to Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Receiver is a position of focus for the Vikings at the combine, writes Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.