Black and Blue all over: Reality sets in

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Veteran players in Detroit know what they're up against: A 13-game audition for the future of their careers.

As they reconvened Monday following their bye week, the Lions faced a new landscape. The man ultimately responsible for bringing them to the team, president/general manager Matt Millen, had been fired. According to Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com, at least one player understood what that meant. Here's how quarterback Jon Kitna put it:

"The way it is in this league is that you win games and you keep your job. If you don't, then you start losing jobs."

Focusing on the future of coach Rod Marinelli isn't productive, Kitna added.

"We're all lame ducks if that's our approach. We all are. If you win football games and climb back into the race and do some positive things and sneak into the playoffs, then everybody can feel more secure. But, if not, I don't think anybody should feel secure -- aside from Calvin [Johnson]."

Yes, it's fair to say Johnson has nothing to worry about. The rest of the Lions' roster? On notice.

Taking a jaunt around the NFC North this morning:

  • Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press isn't convinced Marinelli will follow Millen out the door: "[When] you start talking about normal NFL logic, you must remember that the Lions do not do normal. Or logic."

  • Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette compares the sprained shoulder of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to the one N.Y. Giants quarterback Eli Manning suffered last season. Manning did not miss a game.

  • The Packers haven't gotten the consistency they're looking for from new punter Derrick Frost, but they're not ready to move on yet. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

  • The Chicago Bears have an opportunity to stack some victories in the next two weeks with games scheduled against Detroit and Atlanta, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times.

  • David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune notes the Bears displayed more humility after their victory Sunday night against Philadelphia than they did after their season-opening victory at Indianapolis.

  • Minnesota won five games in a row last season after starting 3-6 and its hoping for a similar run now, writes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.

  • Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press sees many similarities between the 2007 and 2008 Vikings.