Around the NFC North while encouraging Vikings fans that it's unbecoming to rejoice in an opponent's injury ...


The Packers looked to Atlanta's practice squad for a backup running back, signing undrafted rookie free agent Dimitri Nance. Nance was one of those surprise stars of preseason. He ran for two touchdowns in a 20-10 win over the Chiefs. He didn't make the 53-man roster, but was good enough to earn a spot on the practice squad.

Nance ran for 1,934 yards and 19 TDs during his four seasons at Arizona State. He gives the Packers a second tailback on the roster after the news that starter Ryan Grant is heading for season-ending injured reserve with an ankle injury.

Brandon Jackson is the starter. Fullback John Kuhn also has some tailback skills. Other out-of-work possibilities: Ahman Green, Justin Fargas, J.J. Arrington, Willie Parker and Adrian Peterson. Sorry Packer fans, but that's the OTHER Adrian Peterson. The one who used to play in Chicago.


The idea that Bears coordinator Mike Martz leaves his offensive linemen exposed to failure with nothing but passes out of deep drops was quashed in Sunday's 19-14 win over the Lions. Vikings fans frothing at the chance to see their team's pass rush tee off on Cutler should note Martz used a game plan that's atypical for him, as the Chicago Tribune's Dan Pompei notes in this story.
Based on Pompei's film study of the game, Martz used the shotgun nine times and shorter drops more than half the time Cutler dropped back. According to Pompei, Cutler used three- and five-step drops on 12 of 23 passes. Pompei still gives the Bears' offensive line a poor grade in his analysis.

Based on what I saw in Chicago on Sunday, neither the Bears nor the Lions have the offensive lines to beat the Vikings. However, both teams have defensive linemen who will be a concern. Right ends Julius Peppers in Chicago and Keith Vanden Bosch in Detroit will most likely get their hands on No. 4 at least once.


The Detroit News found Willie Stone, who I'm willing to crown the most loyal NFL fan in America, hands down.

The Lions haven't won a championship since 1957. I believe they have one playoff win since then. They last made the playoffs in 1999. They've never been to a Super Bowl. Yet Willie has had season tickets to Lions games since 1949. That's 61 years of Lions football, including about 54 years of pretty putrid Lions football.

Meanwhile, on the field, this story on Sammie Hill helps explain why the Lions could be emerging from the NFL's toilet. When the Lions upgraded their defensive line with three new faces, including tackles Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams, that bumped Hill to a backup position.

Because Hill is a decent player, the Lions now have the kind of depth at D-Line that they haven't had in years. Hill had a sack against the Bears. Overall, the Lions' defensive line had four sacks, a forced fumble and sparked the goal line stand that stopped the Bears on four runs from the Detroit 1-yard line.


It will be interesting to watch former Dolphin receiver Greg Camarillo line up across from former Viking Benny Sapp in Sunday's game at the Metrodome. Camarillo is a slot receiver for the Vikings, while Sapp is the Dolphins' nickel back.

Hopefully, the Vikings' coaching staff uses Camarillo more this week. I was puzzled not to see him more in the Saints game. He seems like the kind of player Favre will love and go to often. I suppose Bernard Berrian technically is the No. 1 receiver, but Favre knows when he throws it to Camarillo, the ball will be caught, not bobbled around and exposed to an interception.

I watched the Dolphins-Bills game last night. Sapp dropped what should have been an easy 40-yard interception return for a touchdown. Went right through his hands.

Also, some miscommunication between Sapp and safety Tyrone Culver allowed the Bills to score on a 31-yard pass on fourth-and-11. That made the score 13-10 late in the fourth quarter. Without knowing the exact assignments, it's tough to tell who was more at fault. Culver appeared to be slow in dropping into a three-deep zone when the receiver split Culver and Sapp up the middle of the field.