We're Black and Blue All Over:
Two Green Bay Packers players suffered season-ending knee injuries in Sunday night's game at Reliant Stadium. A third appeared fortunate to have avoided the same. As we discussed in Monday's Free Head Exam, it's fair to wonder if the Packers would draw any connection between the injuries to linebacker D.J. Smith and running back Brandon Saine -- and the apparent near-miss of linebacker Nick Perry -- to the stadium's unique grass surface.
The field consists of grass on 1,250 portable trays and requires maintenance at the seams. As Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com points out, Packers coach Mike McCarthy didn't dismiss the injuries as coincidence.
"Their surface is definitely different," McCarthy said during a news conference. "It's something we've never played on before in my time here, so just the way it's brought into their seams just because of the design of it, for grass I thought it was hard. I'm not an expert on if that had any factor in the injuries."
Meanwhile, McCarthy was asked if the hit that caused Smith's injury was dirty. It occurred when Texans tackle Duane Brown blocked Smith away from the play from the side.
McCarthy: "It's something you obviously don't want to see happen. It's unfortunate. It was an avoidable. It probably depends on what side you’re coaching. I think the offensive lineman was trying to finish the play, the play was close to being over. They were behind the tackle. But it was an ugly play and D.J. suffered a serious injury."
We'll see if the NFL weighs in on that one.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Veteran linebacker A.J. Hawk will play a big role for the Packers moving forward, writes Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Packers faced a similar situation with multiple injured players in their run to the Super Bowl in 2010, notes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
In a radio interview, Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz did not rule out the possibility of activating running back Jahvid Best from the physically unable to perform list before a three-week window closes next month. Justin Rogers of Mlive.com explains.
The Lions might have released veteran running back Kevin Smith if Best was cleared to practice, notes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
Lions rookie offensive lineman Riley Reiff is pushing for additional playing time, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The Chicago Bears haven't forgotten their chippy game with the Lions at Soldier Field last season. Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com has more.
Bears special-teams ace Blake Costanzo is planning to return to practice this week after having surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right hand, according to Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was inaccurate on 11 of his 17 incompletions Sunday against the Washington Redskins, according to film review from Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Vikings receiver Jerome Simpson clearly wasn't happy to have been deactivated for Sunday's game against the Redskins and let it be known during a terse interview session Monday, according to Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune.
Receiver Percy Harvin on his heavy workload, via Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "I'm a little sore. But no sorer than anybody else. I've got two days off. I'll be ready to go Wednesday."