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Black and Blue all over: Smith's shoulder

We expressed concern a number of times this season about the dipping performance of Detroit tailback Kevin Smith. As it turns out, Smith separated his left shoulder Sept. 27 against Washington -- an injury severe enough that it will require offseason surgery -- but continued playing.

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew revealed that information during a meeting Thursday with Detroit-area reporters, according to John Niyo of the Detroit News. Smith gained 101 yards against the Redskins but didn’t have more than 75 yards in a game after that before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

The Lions almost certainly will need to pursue a running back this offseason, but their evaluation of Smith will be heavily influenced by the shoulder injury.

“Kevin didn't have a great year, but Kevin's injury in the third game against Washington, we've had guys go on IR with that.” Mayhew said. “...We've had guys say, ‘I need to get this thing fixed.’ But he didn’t do that, and I think it affected his play. ...

“Looking at Kevin, I see a guy that started slow, had a good game [against Washington] and got injured, and then had an up-and-down season when he was playing hurt. I think a lot of times he had opportunities to attack a defender and he didn't, so the question in my mind is the reason why. I don't know the answer for that.”

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • Mayhew said the Lions haven’t ruled out re-signing Daunte Culpepper as their backup quarterback. Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press has more.

  • Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy admits he was worried about his offensive line earlier this season, writes ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde.

  • Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette on the midseason return of right tackle Mark Tauscher: “Tauscher, who will line up as the starting right tackle in the Packers’ wild-card playoff game Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, scoffs at the notion he is the savior of an offensive line that was drowning at midseason. But it’s true.”

  • Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel describes the midseason changes in the Packers’ offense: “They still take their shots, but as evidenced by a significant drop in [Aaron] Rodgers' average gain per attempt, they have become more of a high-percentage passing team.”

  • A son of Minnesota coach Brad Childress was charged with second-degree driving while intoxicated early Saturday in St. Paul, according to this ESPN news story. It was the second DWI for Aaron Kyle Childress.

  • Minnesota tailback Adrian Peterson made substantial progress as a receiver this season, writes Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune.

  • Some very interesting comments from former Chicago players in this column by Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago. Among them, from ex-quarterback Jim McMahon: “The only massive change they'll ever have is if [the McCaskeys] ever sell the team, and that ain't going to happen. While they're still there, they ain't going to win.”

  • Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald isn’t enamored with the possibility of Jeremy Bates as the Bears’ next offensive coordinator.

  • David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune on the Bates issue: “The Bears would be fools to ignore the problems Bates encountered at USC and chalk them up to him adjusting to the college game after seven seasons on NFL staffs.”