BBAO: Mixing it up for Jerome Simpson

We're Black and Blue All Over:

On Thursday, we identified the Big Receiver that Got Away from the Minnesota Vikings. But as they prepare for Sunday's game against Sidney Rice and the Seattle Seahawks, the Vikings are trying to figure out why the current "big receiver" hasn't been more productive this season.

As Ben Goessling of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes, Jerome Simpson has caught seven passes for 95 yards this season. (Simpson has also drawn more than 80 yards in pass interference penalties.) He has dealt with a back issue, and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave admitted there have been a few plays where it appeared he was having trouble separating from defenders. But Musgrave also told reporters the Vikings need to use Simpson in different ways.

"[W]e need to do a better job of asking him to run different types of routes," Musgrave said. "... He ran some good routes in Detroit, that first week back (from a three-game suspension). Now we're still working through his issue with his [back], and I think he's getting better each and every week."

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • The Vikings never seriously considered acquiring receiver Dwayne Bowe or any other receiver at the trade deadline, according to Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.

  • Vikings safety Mistral Raymond (ankle) should be available for part-time work Sunday against the Seahawks, notes Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune.

  • Chris McCosky of the Detroit News on Detroit Lions executive James "Shack" Harris: "He's about as anonymous and unassuming a trailblazer as you will ever meet." Harris was the first black quarterback to start a season for an NFL franchise.

  • Lions linebacker Justin Durant is looking forward to hitting some of his former Jacksonville Jaguars teammates Sunday, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

  • Lions coach Jim Schwartz on having rookie receiver Ryan Broyles, via Justin Rogers of Mlive.com: "A lot of people were shocked when we drafted a wide receiver in the second round, but then you see what happens. Last year our wide receivers were healthy the whole year. We got very lucky last year." Broyles has replaced the injured Nate Burleson in the Lions' rotation.

  • The Chicago Bears could turn to Kelvin Hayden as their nickelback if D.J. Moore doesn't straighten out his game, writes Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune.

  • The Bears might have the NFL's two best cornerbacks this season, writes Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com.

  • It's "nearly impossible" to think of the Bears playing this kind of defense without middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, despite Urlacher's bad knee, writes Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times.

  • The Green Bay Packers seem more focused on throwing to their receivers, and less on tight ends, writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

  • Packers cornerback Charles Woodson on the progress of his broken collarbone, via Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "We'll go with the medical timeline right now. I will say, it's feeling a lot better. I have pretty good strength in it. It's just a time issue with a bone. You have to let it heal. At this point, I feel pretty good. Hopefully I'll be back sooner rather than later."

  • Packers linebacker Erik Walden has responded to the offseason challenge he received from the team, writes Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

  • Receiver Greg Jennings had his surgery Thursday to repair an abdominal tear, notes Wilde.