We're Black and Blue All Over:
It has almost occurred on cue. Now that the Chicago Bears have made Devin Hester solely a returner, rather than try to double him up on offense, the truth comes out. Speaking with Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com this week, Hester said he expects to be "fresh" now for all of his returns.
Hester: "I'm not going to be tired when I'm out there. My legs are going to be fresh. That's the key thing, me being fresh. Returners have to be fresh. It's impossible to go 50-60 snaps on offense and try to return the whole game. I'm in the stage where I'm in a good mood to do what I love doing."
I can't tell you how many times we exchanged that sentiment on the blog over the past few years. Expecting Hester, or anyone else, to be an elite returner while also playing regularly on offense didn't seem realistic. In fact, Hester estimates he'll touch the ball more on a per-game basis now than he did in multiple roles before.
"I know during the season I'm going to touch the ball five or six times a game," Hester said. "I mean, when I was playing offense I was only touching the ball once or twice on offense. If you add it up, I'll probably be touching the ball a little more and be fresher to do what I love doing."
Makes sense to me.
Continuing around the NFC North on the final Friday of this blog as we know it:
The Bears are holding back a fair amount of their offense in the preseason, writes Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune looks at the Bears' key roster battles as the NFL's cutdown dates approach.
The Detroit Lions weren't going to lie: Crushing the New England Patriots in a preseason game felt good. More from Kyle Meinke of Mlive.com.
Here's my Observation Deck from the Lions 40-9 victory.
Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press on the game: "It further proves that the preseason is whatever you want it to be at any given moment -- important to those unsure of what they are, irrelevant to those with an already ingrained identity."
Lions coach Jim Schwartz benched defensive end Willie Young after a personal foul in the first half, according to Dave Birkett of the Free Press.
Schwartz on the preseason debut of safety Louis Delmas, via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News: "He was feeling good in the pregame warmups and we needed to test that out."
Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel speaks with two family members of Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Derek Sherrod about his long recovery from a nasty leg injury.
Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com takes a look at the Packers' roster as cuts loom.
Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette does the same.
Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com projects the Packers' final 53-man roster.
The start of construction on the Minnesota Vikings' new stadium is being pushed back to the middle of November, according to the Associated Press via the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
The Vikings have a concern with their linebacker depth, according to Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune.
The Vikings seem to trust Erin Henderson at middle linebacker, writes Ben Goessling of ESPN.com.
Meanwhile, Marvin Mitchell is holding on to hope that he can earn Henderson's old outside linebacker spot, writes Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com.