We're Black and Blue All Over:
Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher confirmed Tuesday night that he isn't likely to participate in organized team activities (OTAs) -- and probably not veteran minicamp, either -- as he rehabilitates a sprained knee suffered in a Week 17 game against the Minnesota Vikings. Urlacher told reporters that he expects to be ready to start training camp, a completely reasonable schedule that nevertheless highlights one of the few holes on the team's roster.
Namely: Who would play for Urlacher if he was injured during the regular season?
According to ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson, second-year linebacker Dom DeCicco -- an undrafted free agent in 2011 -- will take the majority of snaps during the offseason. If nothing else, the Bears should know at the end of the spring whether DeCicco is capable of filling in for Urlacher in a regular-season environment, or whether they would need to look elsewhere. Finding a long-term replacement for Urlacher, 33, remains one of the most important challenges facing this franchise.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Urlacher, via Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune: "It's getting better. I'm on schedule, so I feel good. At this stage, I know the defense pretty well. I'm not worried about being out there and not knowing what I'm doing.''
- Bears receiver Brandon Marshall on his reunion with quarterback Jay Cutler and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, via Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times: "That just doesn't happen in sports. You don’t have a Pro Bowl receiver and a Pro Bowl quarterback and one of the most talented minds in football in Jeremy Bates back together. It just doesn't."
- Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com thinks the Detroit Lions can contend for the Super Bowl -- "[b]ut only if this team can harness what is an amazing lack of self-control. The Lions remain one of the least disciplined teams in football."
- Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News: "Dumb stuff happens in football, as in life. But the Lions have too much at stake now to be dealing with it, way too much to gain and way too much to lose. The spate of player incidents -- mostly minor -- is not a sign of a rambunctious team losing its way. But it's a pointed reminder that young talent is unpredictable, and a warning that the Lions' rough edges still need work."
- Lions cornerback Chris Houston isn't ready to be anyone's mentor, writes the News' Chris McCosky.
- Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered the MACC Fund charity event in Milwaukee headlined by Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
- Packers coach Mike McCarthy on his 2012 team, via Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "This is clearly the most experienced football team in conjunction with the most talent that I've had a chance to coach."
- Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal: "The Green Bay Packers’ all-defense, all-the-time draft has already achieved one of its goals. The six rookie defenders have supplied a jolt of energy for a defense -- and a team -- that might have grown a little complacent after following up its victory in Super Bowl XLV with a 15-1 regular season in 2011."
- Packers linebacker Clay Matthews on moving to the right side, with rookie Nick Perry taking over on the left side, via Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "The misnomer about the position is that we're stuck to one side. On paper, it's going to say 'left outside linebacker' or 'right outside linebacker.' Really, those positions are interchangeable, so the faster we can get [Perry] up to speed, the faster we can have some fun moving him around, flying around and making some plays together."
- Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove didn't have much to add about his role in the New Orleans Saints' bounty story after Tuesday's OTA, according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- The Packers' defensive additions in the draft were "expected" and "necessary," according to linebacker Desmond Bishop via Rob Demovsky of the Press-Gazette.
- Dave Campbell of the Associated Press looks ahead at the Minnesota Vikings' three-week stay for training camp.
- The Vikings have signed a total of seven of their draft picks, according to Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.