We're Black and Blue All Over:
We've discussed the impending return of Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who missed most of last season because of a fractured wrist. This week, however, Urlacher discussed the hoped-for return of the Bears' Cover 2 defensive scheme.
Speaking to Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune, Urlacher said the addition of defensive end Julius Peppers should elevate the defensive line's pass rush, reduce the frequency of blitz calls and allow the Bears to play the scheme they employed with great success in the middle of the decade.
Urlacher: "I mean the year before the Super Bowl and the year of the Super Bowl, we were good. We ran so much Cover 2, and it worked, man. We had pressure on the quarterback. We had a lot of picks. Yes, we have the talent and the ability to play more man coverage. But here's the thing: Cover 2 works. When we do it right and when we have pressure with our front four and we're breaking on the ball like we've been doing all this spring, it works. There is no doubt in my mind that we will have pressure on the quarterback this season. ... I would hope we blitz less. Hopefully we won't need to. Pressure on the quarterback from the front is huge. You're dropping seven and that's more eyes on the quarterback, more people breaking on the football. It's just better for everyone.''
Pressure from the front four is a goal of every defense, but over the past three seasons, we've seen what happens when the Bears don't get it. Can Peppers alone reverse that trend? Urlacher believes he will.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com isn't sure why the Bears have placed so much trust in defensive end Mark Anderson, who will start opposite Peppers: "What has Anderson done to restore the Bears' faith in him? Why was [Alex] Brown deemed expendable? These are questions only Anderson can answer by his performance on the field."
Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times traces the journey of Bears guard Johan Asiata.
The Minnesota Vikings have expressed interest in free-agent receiver Kelley Washington, according to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
The father of Vikings center John Sullivan died suddenly of a heart attack last month, writes Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune.
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com takes a look at the Vikings' quarterback depth.
Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offers this doomsday scenario for the Green Bay Packers' offensive line: "[Chad] Clifton and [Mark] Tauscher get old in a hurry, and when they are able to line up their level of play dips dramatically. [Bryan] Bulaga struggles at left tackle. T.J. Lang's post-surgical wrist takes a long, long time to heal. Breno Giacomini isn't the answer. No one emerges at left guard. Daryn Colledge proves that he shouldn't even have been brought back. Jason Spitz really is a center. Allen Barbre fails again. Marshall Newhouse can't anchor inside. Lang isn't able to punch and grab. Bulaga finally is moved inside in October, but by then it's too late."
Defensive lineman Justin Harrell's career is on the brink, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
The Detroit Lions would be better off having running back Jahvid Best hold out than defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.