Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times has an interesting column Wednesday about the extended recovery time for Bears receiver Brandon Lloyd, who sprained his knee Sept. 28 and has missed five games -- over a course of six weeks -- for what was originally deemed a 2-4 week injury.
When a player misses more time than expected, it's usually because the injury was worse than the team let on. Most players have non-guaranteed contracts and fear job loss if they don't return as quickly as possible.
But Mulligan writes that the Bears essentially punished Lloyd for taking too much time. Lloyd said several weeks ago that he didn't want to return until he was 100 percent healed -- a rarity for an NFL player -- and the implication is that the Bears lost faith in him.
Here's how Lloyd, who hopes to play Sunday at Green Bay, explained his mindset:
"What I meant is that I want to be able to make the kind of moves I always make -- run the kind of routes and make the kind of cuts. If I don't have that confidence, I'm worthless. If I'm not out here playing how I normally play, what good am I?"
Lloyd was the Bears' leading receiver in terms of yardage when he was injured, and the reality is the Bears still need his playmaking ability. At the same time, Lloyd needs to get back on the field. The Bears took him off the scrap heap, and a sour end to this season could scuttle his final chance in the league.
Elsewhere around the NFC North:
The Chicago Tribune's Rick Morrissey on Bears coach Lovie Smith: "Smith's everything-is-OK act is so old it orders the early-bird dinner special and is in bed by 9 p.m.
Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy told Fox Sports Radio that he thinks Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has struggled in part due to a lack of practice time caused by his sprained right shoulder. Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has details.
Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette traces the struggles of both Packers lines.
Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune tells the story of James Wade, the 33-year-old brother of Vikings receiver Bobby Wade, who was shot and paralyzed 17 years ago.
Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway, a first-round pick in 2006, has emerged as the team's leading tackler in the absence of E.J. Henderson. Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press profiles Greenway.
Detroit quarterback Dan Orlovsky visited another hand specialist Monday and is leaning against having surgery to repair two fractures and a torn ligament in his right hand. Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press has the story.
The Lions re-signed running back Aveion Cason in hopes of boosting their return game, writes John Niyo of the Detroit News.