Black and Blue all over: Vikings add more LB depth

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Linebacker Napoleon Harris returned to Minnesota in a late-night transaction Wednesday and should be in uniform for practice Thursday, the second ex-Vikings linebacker to sign with the team this week. Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune have details.

Harris and Dontarrious Thomas have re-fortified the team's depth after injuries to E.J. Henderson (toes) and David Herron (ankle, head). (This summer, backup Heath Farwell was lost for the season because of a knee injury). It also wouldn't be surprising if either Harris or Thomas starts at middle linebacker Sunday at Chicago; the Vikings' other option there is special teams player Vinny Ciurciu.

Harris was originally scheduled to visit Detroit first after Kansas City released him Tuesday, but the Vikings represent a better option on many levels. Harris' best seasons in the NFL have come under Vikings linebacker coach Fred Pagac, who also coached Harris in Oakland, and his best NFL season came in 2006 when the Vikings moved him to middle linebacker.

Minnesota officials opted not to re-sign him during the offseason, instead sliding Henderson to the middle. But Harris knows the Vikings' defense well enough that he can be more than an emergency pickup. The Chiefs obviously were down on Harris, deactivating him for every game this season, but the Vikings can't afford to be picky right now at one of the most important defensive positions.

Continuing around the NFC North:

  • There was no resolution Wednesday to the odd situation between Minnesota and fullback Thomas Tapeh. Speaking after practice, Tapeh indicated he had been told not to discuss the situation publicly. Typically, a player on the verge of release wouldn't be allowed to practice for fear of injury. Zulgad reports details in the Star Tribune.

  • Injured Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna continued criticizing the Lions' decision to place him on injured reserve Wednesday. Speaking on WJR-AM in Detroit, Kitna said in reality he was benched and could have played later this season: "They decided they wanted to go in a different direction. And I guess the thing for me is, that's fine. Let's just say that." The Lions have to be careful because NFL rules require them to document Kitna would have missed six games because of his back injury before placing him on IR.

  • Rob Parker of the Detroit News writes the Lions aren't fooling anybody by saying they haven't given up on the season: "It would have been refreshing to hear the Lions face their situation honestly and admit they failed miserably this season."

  • Chicago defensive tackle Tommie Harris joked Wednesday that he got high school star Adrian Peterson to commit to Oklahoma by promising he would return for his senior season in 2004. As recounted by John Mullin of the Chicago Tribune, Harris entered the NFL draft instead. Peterson and Harris will square off Sunday at Soldier Field.

  • The Bears are still working through their injury situation in the defensive backfield. One possibility for the nickel back position is rookie safety Craig Steltz, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times.

  • Green Bay defensive tackle Justin Harrell was highly motivated Wednesday in his first full practice of the season, according to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "You don't want anybody talking bad about you," Harrell said. "All the people that said I was a bust, that's the kind of stuff that gives you added motivation to go out there and prove them wrong."

  • Packers receiver Greg Jennings is on pace for the NFL's highest total of receiving yards since 1995. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel breaks down Jennings' first six games.