We're Black and Blue All Over:
INDIANAPOLIS -- In juggling the availabilities of multiple NFC North luminaries Thursday, I missed the announcement of a new (public) path by new Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman. Speaking informally to reporters after his news conference at the NFL scouting combine, Trestman called an end to the Bears' public priority of beating the Green Bay Packers.
Per Don Banks of SI.com, Trestman said:
"I'm not as familiar [with the NFC North] as I'm going to be down the road, but certainly I recognize there's a rivalry in Chicago, and that's important. But we have to treat every team we're playing with the utmost respect. There's difference-makers on every team, we all know that, without going into names. And in every game you have to try and neutralize the difference-makers first.
"It's a highly competitive division and highly competitive league and everything starts in your division. But you're not going to play your division harder than you're going to play teams outside of your division. That'd be disrespecting the game completely. That's the reality."
Most new coaches seek distance from their predecessors, and we all know that former Bears coach Lovie Smith made the Packers a big part of his introductory news conference in 2004. That pronouncement didn't look too good in the latter stages of his career, as the Packers won a Super Bowl in 2010 and division titles in 2011 and 2012 while owning the Bears in head-to-head matchups.
I don't mind Trestman publicly downplaying the rivalry as long as he recognizes it internally. For the time being, at least, the Packers are the Bears' biggest obstacle to success. That in itself makes them a priority.
Continuing around the NFC North:
The Bears will ask Devin Hester to compete to be their kick returner, according to general manager Phil Emery via Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times. Hmmmm.
Shea McClellin remains primarily a defensive end for the Bears, writes Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com, but could be moved around as needed.
Emery isn't prepared to talk about a possible contract extension for quarterback Jay Cutler, according to Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
The Bears need to find some extra salary-cap space, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
Mike Groh is the Bears' new receivers coach, according to the Tribune. Groh had served in the same capacity at Alabama.
Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson played part of his record-breaking 2012 season with at least broken fingers, according to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. The Lions did not confirm the injury.
Receiver Nate Burleson restructured his contract to give the Lions some salary-cap relief, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
The Lions hired Terry Heffernan, previously of Wayne State, as their assistant offensive line coach, via Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.
A saturated market could bring down the price of Lions defensive end Cliff Avril, according to McCosky in the News.
Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looks at the brain drain in the Green Bay Packers' front office.
Thompson doesn't usually provide much public insight at the combine, according to Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette checks in with two second-tier offensive line prospects who could help the Packers.
The Minnesota Vikings' most important free agents are their own, writes Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune.
Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson, who had surgery to repair a sports hernia earlier this month, should be ready for offseason workouts, according to general manager Rick Spielman via Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Spielman said he prefers to have at least 10 draft picks in each draft, notes Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.