NFC North Quick Hits: Wednesday

I really meant to pull back Wednesday afternoon in anticipation of the holiday (and your presumed absence from electronic gadgets). But we've had a newsy day in the NFC North, one that we'll review in quick hitting fashion:

Item: Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (and defensive end Shea McClellin) have been cleared to practice on a limited basis.

Comment: The Bears' first day of practice this week is Thursday. But before either Cutler or McClellin can play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, they'll have to be cleared by an independent neurologist. Bears coach Lovie Smith continued to indicate that Cutler is likely to be cleared.

Item: In a surprise, Bears guard Chilo Rachal left the team for what the Bears said were personal reasons and was placed on the reserve/left squad list.

Comment: Rachal did not play well Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers, and Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune reported he left the team facility after learning the Bears planned to replace him with former starter Chris Spencer. So add another level of drama to the Bears' situation at offensive line.

Item: The Detroit Lions listed left tackle Jeff Backus as doubtful for Thursday's game against he Houston Texans. Safety Louis Delmas and cornerback Drayton Florence are questionable.

Comment: Backus is not expected to play, snapping a streak of 186 consecutive starts. Rookie Riley Reiff would start in his place. Delmas has a decent chance to play after missing three consecutive games.

Item: The Green Bay Packers have ruled out defensive back Charles Woodson and cornerback Sam Shields from Sunday's game against the New York Giants. Linebacker Clay Matthews and receiver Greg Jennings appear doubtful.

Comment: Shields has had a setback in his shin injury, but the Packers have developed good depth behind him in Casey Hayward and Davon House. The focus for Jennings and Matthews probably moves to Dec. 2 game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Item: Vikings receiver Percy Harvin (ankle) did not practice Wednesday.

Comment: Harvin told reporters he wanted to give practice a go, but apparently he was overruled. It might be tough for him to get on the field Sunday against the Bears.