We're Black and Blue All Over:
I was half-kidding when I suggested last weekend would be the NFL's final dark weekend of the offseason. But maybe it's true.
Multiple reports have suggested the Green Bay Packers are planning a meeting Saturday for at least some players, assuming NFL owners ratify a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) on Thursday as hoped. Teams would technically be able to open their doors starting Friday, and they would no doubt aggressively begin preparations for training camp at that point.
NFL teams are prohibited from contacting players during the lockout, so it's not clear how the Packers are communicating their plans to players, if they are. It would make more sense to "invite" younger players who need playbook updates than veterans. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said via Twitter: "I definitely haven't been contacted about anything in gb this weekend, for the record."
No matter how it plays out, it's clear that NFL teams are motivated by end-of-July urgency and are taking news of CBA progress the same way we are -- it's a matter of what day, not if, an agreement occurs in the coming week.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Packers receiver Donald Driver to Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "The lockout gave me the opportunity to heal and not try to rush back to prove to people or prove to the media I'm not done yet. If I didn't show up for OTAs, and I'm hurt and everything, people would say I may be winding down. It always seems like every year I've got to go in and I've got to prove myself. At this point, I am the starter and no one can take that from me."
David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune believes the NFL should cancel the Aug. 7 Hall of Fame game.
Former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon is in pain but doesn't have life-threatening injuries following a limo accident in Nevada, according to the Associated Press.
The Chicago Bears might have trouble re-signing cornerback Corey Graham, writes Brad Biggs of the Tribune.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: "The Lions likely will be moderate in free agency this year, passing on the most-talked-about talents (Nnamdi Asomugha and Stephen Tulloch) at their most-needed positions (cornerback and linebacker). But they should be able to re-sign most of their priority free agents (Bobby Carpenter, Drew Stanton, John Wendling, etc., with Chris Houston being the wild card) and add a starter or two in free agency. And if that happens to be Drayton Florence and Keith Bulluck instead of Asomugha and Tulloch, know those players fit the Lions' dual desire to be competitive this year and build for next year and beyond."
Long-injured Lions cornerback Jack Williams will get a chance to prove himself, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder displayed a strong arm during workouts Monday, according to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said he was told by team executives that his playing time will increase dramatically in 2011, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.