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Black, Blue, and Ornery: NFC North News for Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Good morning, folks! Welcome to the Water Cooler Sports’ Black, Blue and Ornery, your source for NFC North News on this Thursday, August 29th, 2013.

I’d bet Aaron Rodgers’ salary that something interesting happened on this day in history. Let’s find out!

Actress Lea Michele celebrates her 27th birthday today.

Actress Lea Michele celebrates her 27th birthday today.

  • The very first American Indian reservation was established on this date in 1758 in Indian Mills, New Jersey.
  • The tire enthusiasts out there may be interested to know that on this date in 1898 the Goodyear Tire Company was founded.
  • The Beatles performed their last ever concert (to paying fans, at least) at Candlestick Park on this date in 1966. It was the last time anything cool ever happened at Candlestick Park.

Well, it looks like I should be expecting a check from Rodgers in the mail, right?

While I wait for that, why don’t you help me wish these fine celebrities a Happy Birthday: Glee star Lea Michele, director Joel Schumacher, and the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.

NFC North News

Link it! Just link it!

Chicago Bears

We’ve all heard about the recent odd statements from Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall about some frustrations around his recovery from offseason hip surgery. ESPN Chicago tried to get to the bottom of situation, and if you believe what they’re saying, the thing is getting blown way out of proportion.

First they spoke with Marshall’s agent, who explained that the wide receiver is only upset because he’s worried he won’t be able to play at as high a level as he’s used to as quickly as he’d like:

“Brandon is accustomed to executing and playing at a high level, and being the perfectionist that he is, his expectations of himself are very high. Anything less than elite is unacceptable to him.”

If you don’t believe his agent, let’s see how Marshall explained it:

Just that eight years in the NFL coming off these surgeries, and it’s been frustrating trying to get back to 100 percent. I woke up a couple days really sore when camp first started. I’m really much better now, but it’s not where you want to be at this time, which has been a little frustrating. From an ability standpoint, I’m right where I need to be. I’m not at midseason form, but that’s OK.

Maybe I’m just looking at it from a biased position, but it looks like quite the non-story to me. But, hey, at least it’s a break from the RGIII coverage, right?

From a recent tweet from Adam Schefter, the Bears”had some discussions about trading WR Earl Bennett.” Not really a fan of that, but I guess it all depends on what they’d get for him.

It's not clear what the Chicago Bears would be able to get in exchange for wide receiver Earl Bennett, but they're dangling him in the pond just in case.

It’s not clear what the Chicago Bears would be able to get in exchange for wide receiver Earl Bennett, but they’re dangling him in the pond just in case.

How about some good news about the Chicago Bears? According to Jeff Dickerson on Twitter, Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman stated that franchised defensive tackle Henry Melton is due to be cleared to return to practice either Monday or Wednesday. Huzzah!

There’s been a quite a few changes in the Chicago Bears organization, one of which was the removal of Devin Hester from the team’s receiving group. With him being solely on special teams, does he become expendable? Not according the the Chicago Sun-Times, which posits that it would be “very surprising” if he didn’t make the final 53-man roster.

If it’s up to special teams coach Joe DeCamillis, he’s definitely safe: “. . . when you look at it around the league, most everybody’s keeping a returner. . . . [Hester is] one of the best of all time, so hopefully we can get him back to that level he’s been at in the past. He’s been great to work with for sure.”

What say you, sports fans?

Green Bay Packers

Rob Demovsky, ESPN’s new Green Bay Packers beat writer, posted a recent article about the team’s quest to find a new “1-2 running back punch” now that they’ve had to place running back DuJuan Harris on the injured reserve.

We all know that Eddie Lacy is going to contribute early and often this year, and guard Josh Sitton confirmed it, stating: “He’s going to have to step up and probably have a larger role. . . . He can’t be a rookie anymore.”

Rookie running back Johnathan Franklin hasn't impressed anyone in camp, but he and fellow rookie Eddie Lacy can entertain you with their version of the "Running Back Shuffle."

Rookie running back Johnathan Franklin hasn’t impressed anyone in camp, but he and fellow rookie Eddie Lacy can entertain you with their version of the “Running Back Shuffle.”

At first glance, you’d probably say, “Well, they drafted Johnathan Franklin this year, why not use him?” In theory he’d be the obvious choice, but in reality the article notes that Franklin “doesn’t look ready to contribute.” That means that one or both of Alex Green and James Starks have earned a reprieve this year. Or they may just leave Lacy in as a three-down back.

The Journal Sentinel has a touching story about the promise Green Bay Packers safety Chris Banjo made to his mother before she passed away and how it drives him to succeed.

Banjo assured his mother, who was just 45 when she succumbed to sickle cell anemia, that he’d always take care of her and his two siblings. That promise and the memory of his mother never seem to stray to far from his mind, and he’s using that a motivation to practice a little harder and run a litter faster as he works to earn a job with the organization.

I can’t imagine losing a parent that young, so I wish Banjo the best of luck.

Steve Wyche over at the league’s official site doesn’t think the Green Bay Packers are going to live up to their expectations this year. He believes that “depth on the O-line and at receiver is thin” and he doesn’t believe they’ll stay committed to the run game for the entire year. I happen to disagree about the run game, but offensive line may be a concern. Of course, running the ball can help that, so we’ll see what happens.

Detroit Lions

While head coach Jim Schwartz isn’t giving any hints about the health of defensive end Ziggy Ansah after the fifth overall pick took a hard hit in a recent practice, reports that he wasn’t in attendance for the team’s kickoff luncheon at Ford Field on Wednesday.

Maybe he already ate, or maybe he was off hanging out with Brandon Marshall on a “personal” day. The world may never know. All Schwartz would say was:

“If you do that, then you have to clear the air on somebody’s hamstring, or you got to clear the air on somebody’s something else. I think it’s best to just say, ‘Hey, we’re not going to comment on players’ physical condition until we get into league protocol, which is injury report.'”

Whatever is or is not wrong with Ansah, he’s got a good amount of time to get healthy before Week 1, so I’m sure he’ll be fine.

The Detroit Free Press let Anthony Kuehn of the Lions blog “Lions Gab” take a crack at predicting the team’s record in the upcoming 2013 season, and he seems pretty optimistic.

Far be it from me to insult anyone’s predictions, but I’ll respectfully disagree with his assertion that the boys in Honolulu Blue will win 9 of their 16 games. Not that I don’t think they have the talent to do it, I just don’t trust Schwartz to keep them focused.

The inability of safety Chris Cook is concerning for a Minnesota Vikings secondary already depleted by the departure of cornerback Antoine Winfield.

The inability of cornerback Chris Cook to stay healthy is concerning for a Minnesota Vikings secondary already depleted by the departure of cornerback Antoine Winfield.

In case you’re wondering, Mr. Kuehn has them splitting with the Bears and Packers and sweeping the Vikings. What do you folks think about this possible outcome?

Minnesota Vikings

When people want to criticize the Minnesota Vikings ,they usually start with Christian Ponder. Well, according to Judd Zulgad over at 1500ESPN, the “passing woes” aren’t the biggest problem facing the team right now. He believes that Ponder’s deficiencies will again be masked (or at least lessened) by the magnificence of running back Adrian Peterson. The secondary, however, doesn’t have anyone to take the pressure of them.

You can head on over for his full list of reasons, but it’s mainly the inability of Chris Cook to stay healthy, as evidenced by his leaving the team’s preseason matchup against the 49ers, and inexperience that he thinks are going to hurt the group this year.

Not only is Zulgad not a huge fan of who they have on the roster, he isn’t very optimistic about their being able to pick through the players released by other teams: “. . . cornerbacks aren’t easy to find, so the Vikings can’t simply count on looking to the waiver wire to build quality depth . . . .”

While a valid point, I think the Vikings will be slightly better than last year, especially if Xavier Rhodes can make the adjustment to the pro game quicker than expected.

Actress Nicole Anderson is turning 23 today.

Actress Nicole Anderson is turning 23 today.

Big Deal
Big Deal

My son's buying his own computer piece by piece. Then he's going to stop console gaming.

Which means I won't have any cool games to play anymore.

Big Deal
Big Deal

@Rajifarian @Big Cheese - extremer 

I broke his Apple fanboy tendencies, but I don't think I can break this one. He thinks it's cool to be in the PC gamers club because he's a computer guy.

tmonson78 moderator

You hear that MaC?  She wants you.

That's what you get for serenading her with that Mr. Big song.

natesweet moderator

I'll tell you one thing. my cat better shut the fuck up or I am giving him to the Cambodian kids next door.