GREEN BAY, Wis. -- You can go back to enjoying your Thanksgiving, the Green Bay Packers don't appear to be concerned that receiver Davante Adams is at risk of missing Sunday's game against the New England Patriots.

Adams was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday's practice because of a heel injury, but he did not appear to do anything during the portion that was open to reporters.

Coach Mike McCarthy said someone stepped on Adams' foot in practice on Wednesday.

"Davante actually moved around, did some things, so they're just kind of working through exactly how they're going to handle it," McCarthy said after practice. "So I don't have high concern."

Neither did receiver Jordy Nelson.

"I think he'll be fine," Nelson said. "I'm not worried."

One player not listed on the injury report -- and who insisted that he shouldn't be -- is linebacker A.J. Hawk, who looked like he was having a hard time in coverage against Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph last Sunday. On the Vikings' first play from scrimmage, Rudolph easily ran away from Hawk for a 23-yard gain on a crossing route.

"It wasn't from being unhealthy or whatever," Hawk said. "He just caught me by surprise. I should've anticipated him coming across earlier, but it wasn't anything health-wise.

"I'm good. I'm healthy. There's no way I would ever say anything if I wasn't, but I'm actually not lying to you."

Here's the full injury report from Thursday’s practice:
MINNEAPOLIS -- Good afternoon, and a happy Thanksgiving to all of you. The Minnesota Vikings practiced on Thanksgiving morning, in a session that was closed to reporters (no complaints here), and according to their injury report, they were still missing four starters as they prepare for the Carolina Panthers.

Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was out again with the knee and ankle injuries he suffered on Sunday, and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd did not practice again after sitting out last Sunday with a knee injury. Coach Mike Zimmer said on Wednesday that Floyd would play Sunday against the Panthers; if that's still the Vikings' plan, they will likely try to get Floyd on the practice field on Friday.

Running back Jerick McKinnon sat out for a second consecutive day with a low back strain, and tight end Chase Ford was also out with hamstring and foot injuries. Both McKinnon and Ford have been playing with back and foot injuries, respectively, and both figure to be available Sunday, but we'll again have to see how the Vikings handle things on Friday.

Safety Harrison Smith returned to limited participation after missing Wednesday's practice with shoulder and ankle injuries, and three players who were limited on Wednesday -- Matt Asiata (concussion), Matt Kalil (knee) and Anthony Barr (knee) -- were full participants on Thursday.

With that, we'll return you to more substantive happenings in the NFC North today. Hope you all enjoy a safe and happy holiday, and we'll talk to you tomorrow morning.
DETROIT -- Longtime Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola has picked up another record for the franchise.

Raiola started his 200th game Thursday against the Chicago Bears, the first player in Detroit history to make 200 starts. He had passed Wayne Walker (197 starts) and Jeff Backus (191 starts) this season.

The 35-year-old was a second-round pick out of Nebraska in 2001, and since then has played in all but four games for the Lions -- a constant presence on the offensive line over the past decade-plus for Detroit.

He is one of five active players to have 200 starts, behind quarterback Peyton Manning (251 with Indianapolis and Denver), defensive back Charles Woodson (230 with Oakland and Green Bay), defensive lineman Justin Smith (212 with Cincinnati and San Francisco) and quarterback Tom Brady (202 starts with New England).

Only Brady has more starts with one team among active players.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If the Green Bay Packers' plan was to feature Davante Adams on Sunday against the New England Patriots, they might have some alterations to make.

Adams did not take part in the portion of Thursday's practice that was open to the media. He was in attendance but spent the early part of the session talking with members of the team's training staff.


He could be a critical piece on Sunday if the Patriots, with two top-flight cornerbacks in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, can effectively cover the Packers' top-two receivers, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

A full injury update will be available after practice.

Adams practiced on Wednesday and also spoke with reporters in the locker room afterward. However, during Sunday's win against the Minnesota Vikings, he left the game for three plays during the first quarter after he appeared to fall awkwardly on his midsection after a 10-yard reception on the Packers' second series. He returned for the next series after missing only three plays.

Linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder) and cornerback Jarrett Bush (groin) were the only other players not practicing during the session that was moved to earlier in the day in order to allow everyone to get home for Thanksgiving.

Guard T.J. Lang (ankle) returned to practice after sitting out on Wednesday. Fellow starting guard Josh Sitton (toe) practiced for the second straight day.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers aren't sure whether the New England Patriots will assign Darrelle Revis or Brandon Browner to shadow Jordy Nelson on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Whichever way the Patriots decide to play the Packers' top receiver, it most likely will remain that way for the entire game, leaving the other New England cornerback to stalk Randall Cobb wherever he goes.

"It's a matchup defense," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "They'll figure out who they want on Jordy, who they want on Randall, who they want on [tight end Andrew Quarless] and who they want on Davante [Adams], and we'll run our offense and adjust if we have to."

But don't tell Adams, the rookie No. 3 receiver, that more opportunities will come his way because of it.

To him, that line of thinking is an insult to the work that Cobb and Nelson -- who have combined for 126 catches, 1,903 yards and 19 touchdowns -- have put in through the first 11 games of this season.

"I feel like if everybody's saying that the ball's just going to come to me, they're saying that Revis is going to lock [up] Jordy," Adams said. "Jordy is one of the best receivers in the game right now. Why not still throw to Jordy if he's open? We're all going to run our routes and do our best to get open. I don't really like the whole, 'it could come to you Davante because they're going to put Revis on Jordy and Browner on Randall,' because it kind of down plays our receivers."

Few teams have gone the way of matching one cornerback on Nelson or Cobb all game long. This season, only the Miami Dolphins did it with Brent Grimes on Nelson, who still caught nine passes for 107 yards and a touchdown in the Week 6 victory.

Few teams, if any other than the Patriots, have two cornerbacks capable of doing it.

In last Sunday's win over the Detroit Lions, Patriots coach Bill Belichick went with Revis on Golden Tate and the more physical Browner on Calvin Johnson. Safety Devin McCourty usually helped bracket Johnson.

If they follow that same plan, it could be Browner (with help) on Nelson and Revis on Cobb, who plays more in the slot.

"You look at both of them," said Nelson, who last Sunday went over 1,000 yards for the second straight season. "I'm pretty confident I'll get one or the other. But you look at past games, how they've treated other teams, so you kind of get a feel for it. But they can change it up. You go through it kind of like a normal game and guys aren't going to follow you, especially when you don't know who will. So you're watching both and how they play and try to get a feel for it and have a game plan for each of them."

Whatever the scenario, Adams will almost certainly face the Patriots' number three corner.

"Depending on whether they want to put Browner inside or out, so depending on that, but yeah, most likely," said Adams, who since his career-high seven catches for 75 yards against the Saints in Week 8 has caught only for passes the last three games combined.

But that does not mean Adams' number will be called more often this week.

"We'll see," he said. "You know just as much as I do where it's going."

Panthers vs. Vikings preview

November, 27, 2014
Nov 27
video When: 1 p.m. ET, Sunday Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis TV: Fox

When the Carolina Panthers came to Minneapolis last fall, they were a 1-3 team about to start an eight-game win streak on their way to a NFC South title.

This year, they're still in the hunt for a second consecutive division title, even though their record is a half-game worse than that of the last-place Minnesota Vikings. Both teams have lost star players to off-field issues (Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson); both have young QBs (Cam Newton and Teddy Bridgewater), although at different stages of the development process; and both head into Sunday's game trying to end losing streaks as the calendar turns to December.

ESPN Vikings reporter Ben Goessling and ESPN Panthers reporter David Newton broke down Sunday's matchup.

Goessling: David, how would you assess the progress of Cam Newton in Year 3? It looked earlier this season as if he was turning the corner as a pocket passer, but his inaccuracy against the Saints and his turnovers the past two weeks make it seem as if he has taken a step back. What’s your take?

Newton: You’re right, Ben. He was looking pretty good as a pocket passer earlier in the season when doctors and coaches handcuffed his running while his left ankle continued to heal. He was going through his reads and progressions better than ever. When he was turned loose to run, he got back to an old habit of taking off before letting the play develop. Then injuries decimated an already suspect offensive line and he was under more pressure to make things happen. I really believe he’s trying to do too much, which is affecting his play. The return of fullback Mike Tolbert should help. Tolbert will help with the protection, as well as give Newton options on the run and in the passing game in the red zone he hasn’t really had.

Both teams have had issues with star players involved in off-the-field incidents that landed them on the commissioner’s exempt list. Hardy’s domestic violence case has had a major impact on Carolina’s defense. How have Peterson’s legal issues affected Minnesota on and off the field?

Goessling: We'll start with the on-field impact: We never got a chance to see how Peterson would fit in the framework of Norv Turner's offense, which called for him to be more involved as a pass-catcher than he'd been in the past, but I have no doubt his presence would make life easier for Bridgewater. If the Vikings had Peterson, commanding attention from defenses and forcing them to put extra men in the box, Bridgewater would get more favorable looks and teams might not be able to devote as much attention to pressuring him. Off the field, Peterson's absence has been noticeable; players certainly wanted him back, and a few of them haven't been shy about saying they think he should be allowed to play. Football people certainly want him back, although there's some concern about how the business and PR sides of his return would play out. It has had quite an impact on the season, though, and there's still at least one more twist coming; Peterson's appeal hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

You mentioned Hardy. Is that the main reason for the Panthers’ regression on defense this season, or have there been other factors?

Newton: There have been other factors, but it begins with Hardy. He was such a key cog to what defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and his staff planned throughout the offseason. When you take away his team-leading 15 sacks and 38 quarterback pressures from 2013, his ability to stop the run, play end and tackle, and drop back into coverage … well, you just can’t easily replace that. It forced others to try to do more. That led to missed assignments and an unusually high number of big plays. Even middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, made some uncharacteristic mistakes. The Panthers have finally adjusted to the new personnel and gotten back to stopping the run, which is key. They still haven’t put it all together on the pass rush, but the defense has played well enough to win the past month.

It looks as if Bridgewater is having a typical rookie season in terms of inconsistency. How much is Minnesota’s success dependent on him?

Goessling: Well, with Peterson out, the Vikings have to depend on Bridgewater much more than they'd like -- especially when you consider that Matt Cassel, not Bridgewater, was supposed to start this season. It's funny that you use the word "typical," considering all the atypical things that have happened around him this season, but yes, Bridgewater's inconsistency has been about what you'd expect for a rookie. He has shown some signs of progress, but he still looks as if he needs to speed up his progressions and trust himself to throw into tight windows more often. Essentially, he's going through the growing pains you see from most quarterbacks his age. The unfortunate thing for him is, he doesn't have much to count on around him: The Minnesota running game has been inconsistent without Peterson; the Vikings haven't gotten the breakout year they expected from Cordarrelle Patterson; and a solid offensive line was having protection problems even before it was hit with injuries. Bridgewater is being asked to carry quite a bit of the load right now. It's not ideal, but maybe he'll be better for it.

As silly as it seems, the Panthers are a half-game out of the lead in the NFC South. Is this a team that’s thinking playoffs? I know anything can happen once you get there, but would it even be beneficial for them to make the playoffs and drop 10-12 spots in the draft because of it?

Newton: As silly as it sounds for a team that hasn’t won since Oct. 3, yes, the Panthers are thinking playoffs. They really believe they can turn the season around this Sunday as they did in Minnesota last season when a 1-3 team began an eight-game winning streak with a 35-10 victory over the Vikings. Interesting on the draft, though. They could use a franchise left tackle, and the best way to get that usually is in the first 10 picks of the draft. That won’t happen if they make the playoffs. On the other hand, if they win the NFC South, they get a home playoff game, and that could be a good payday. And if winning breeds winning, making the playoffs probably would be as valuable for this franchise moving forward as a high draft pick because it has never made the playoffs two years in a row.

Obviously, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn played the past five seasons with the Panthers. How has he played so far this season, and do you think his former team will try to create a few mismatches with him, at 5-foot-8, defending 6-5 rookie wideout Kelvin Benjamin?

Goessling: Munnerlyn got off to a rough start early this season, but he has played better in recent weeks. Really, the entire Minnesota secondary has shown quite a bit of improvement this year. Munnerlyn will be the left cornerback when the Vikings are in their base defense and will move inside to play the slot in nickel situations. Xavier Rhodes is the right cornerback, and Josh Robinson moves to left corner when Munnerlyn slides inside, so if the Panthers want to line up Benjamin on Munnerlyn, they'd effectively have to get him to the right side of their formation while the Vikings are in their base defense. It's likely Benjamin will see more of Rhodes, his former college teammate who has done a nice job handling bigger receivers. It should be a good matchup to watch Sunday.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – If you thought Bill Belichick's comparison of Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers was deep, what until you hear what Mike McCarthy said Wednesday.

Expanding upon the New England Patriots coach's deadpan line from Wednesday morning that "they both wear number 12" before walking off, the Green Bay Packers coach offered something more.

"They're both from California," McCarthy said.

And with that, perhaps paying homage to Belichick and his sometimes brief news conferences, McCarthy's news conference was over.

To be fair, McCarthy did answer other questions with much lengthier responses and also prefaced his line by saying he believes questions about comparing players are difficult.

"Stay away from them," he said.

During his session with reporters on Wednesday, Rodgers was told of both coaches' remarks and then was asked if there were any other similarities?

"That's probably it right there," Rodgers said.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Before he starts his own film study each week, Ryan Kalil turns on the video of the Minnesota Vikings' game, to see how his little brother did. It's typically provided him a way to check in with Matt Kalil, but this year, there's been a little more urgency in the process.

The Carolina Panthers center talks with his younger brother after every game. He's heard the frustration in Matt Kalil's voice about the way he's played this year and the criticism he's received. So when he turns on the Vikings video, Ryan Kalil isn't just checking in on his brother; he's trying to help him find a solution.

"I've watched him do a lot of good things," Ryan Kalil said. "We've played a lot of same opponents that they play in the division this year, so we've watched a lot of Vikings film this year. And he's gotten highlighted a bunch: 'We've got to do this. Look at this left tackle. We've got to do this.' And that's exciting. I'm proud to be able to see that and be a part of that and be associated with him. So he does a lot of good things.

"I think late in the game, being down, a lot of passing situations, it's hard. And it's not ever one thing that happens. Not making excuses for him; at the end of the day that's your job. You have to block, but I think the biggest thing I'll say about Matt is he works hard. I know he's very talented. I know the knee thing does bother him, and I think he'll be fine. I think he's going to be a good player for a long time."

[+] EnlargeMatt Kalil
Jim Mone/Associated PressMatt Kalil is in his third season with the Vikings.
The four-time Pro Bowl center's conference call with Twin Cities reporters on Wednesday was largely an analysis, and at times a defense, of his younger brother, leading into Sunday's game in Minneapolis between the Panthers and Vikings. Matt Kalil has struggled on the field this season and weathered heavy criticism off of it. Things seemed to come to a head Sunday when Matt Kalil was penalized three times in a loss to the Green Bay Packers and knocked the hat off a fan who was heckling him outside TCF Bank Stadium after the game. Video of the incident surfaced on Deadspin on Monday morning, and Matt Kalil said he shouldn't have responded to the fan, adding, "That guy's not worth my time."

Matt Kalil had said he was on the phone with his father Frank during the exchange with the heckler; Ryan Kalil offered his father's perspective on it on Wednesday before sharing some humorous advice about how he'd have handled the situation.

" I asked my dad if he heard what happened," Ryan Kalil said. "He said, 'Yeah, I heard the whole thing.' He said, 'It was a really ugly deal.' The guy called him over, said he was a big fan, asked for his autograph. He went over there and then he started saying some pretty ugly stuff to him. So I think my brother just kind of reacted. It's probably my fault for picking on him when he was little. Flipping his hat, I think that was the go-to move for me.

"I was a little disappointed. I actually would have liked him to go with the, 'You spilled something on your shirt' and then throw the finger up and hit him in the chin. I think that would have been a funnier move."

Ryan Kalil said his entire family will be in Minnesota this weekend for the game, and if anything, he hopes the opportunity for Matt Kalil to see his nieces and nephew will provide a pick-me-up.

The big brother, still looking out for the younger one, believes he'll be fine in the end.

"The thing that hurts them is just everybody telling him he's letting the team down, and that's not what he wants to hear," Ryan Kalil said. "I don't think he's the problem with Minnesota not having a better record. I don't. I think there's a lot of different things that go into a season not being as good as you want it to go, and we're dealing with the same kind of stuff here. I don't think it's one person. But that's easy coming from me. It's one thing when you're hearing it every day. And even if you turn off the Twitter and you don't read the articles, you know what the conversation is, just based off the questions you're being asked daily, you know? It's frustrating. I think he's strong, though. I don't think he's gone in the tank. I don't think anything like that. I think he'll be fine. I think it's just learning experience."
ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Willie Young heard Matthew Stafford called him “one of my favorite teammates” Tuesday and the former Detroit Lions defensive end -- now with the Chicago Bears -- started to laugh.

Young, who left the Lions in free agency during the offseason, was actually one of the more well-liked players in the Detroit locker room during his four years with the Lions, but, yeah, Young thought Stafford might be trying to fete him just a little bit.

“Absolutely, yeah,” Young said, laughing. “Yeah. He’s buttering me up on that one. Matt Stafford, man, he was a cool guy. He came to work every day, put the work in. Obviously he’s a very talented quarterback. He doesn’t make too many bad decisions, I would say. I know this year he hasn’t been because they’ve been on the winning side of things.

[+] EnlargeWillie Young
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsFormer Lions defensive end Willie Young has been a force as a Bear, compiling eight sacks.
“He’s obviously a respected quarterback, get rid of the ball fast, make pretty good decisions, has some good guys in the backfield running the ball for him. But I could see why he might be trying to be kinda nice to me right now because he’s a little low on protection right now. I don’t blame him for being nice right now.”

Stafford is smart to try to get on Young's good side, as Young has flourished since leaving Detroit in the offseason. Finally getting a chance to be an every-down defensive end in his fifth NFL season, he is 13th in the NFL in sacks with eight -- two more than he had in his four seasons with the Lions. Considering the Lions could end up starting two rookies on the offensive line Thursday if Cornelius Lucas replaces the injured Riley Reiff at left tackle, and Young could have a big return to his old stadium.

Young was a seventh-round pick out of North Carolina State, but ended up as mostly a rotational player until last season, when he played every game after a season-ending injury to Jason Jones. Having had to learn behind Kyle VandenBosch, Cliff Avril, Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Andre Fluellen in various forms helped him as he watched from the sidelines.

“Don’t get it wrong now, is it tough sitting on the sidelines, not playing, knowing that you have what it takes to be a player, yeah, it’s tough, it’s real tough,” Young said. “But I was able to figure out a way to deal with that and take everything that I could from the game, from the sideline standpoint. It just bettered me as a person and obviously as a player.”

It’s a progression Lions players expected when Young received more snaps, especially after he made the leap from 11 tackles in 2012 to 47 in 2013, which helped set up his free agency move.

Young said Tuesday he didn’t know if the Lions made him an offer during free agency or if they even called his agent to inquire about his services. He just knows his agent told him he was headed to Chicago on a new deal.

When asked about Young and free agency, Lions coach Jim Caldwell wouldn’t say whether or not he had wanted to bring Young back this season or not, but complimented his pass rushing ability.

His old teammates, though, saw exactly what Young could do from the beginning and figured this type of leap might come from him.

“Everybody saw what he could do from the jump,” Fluellen said. “I’m actually not surprised at all. He has a special talent and he has a really good attitude for the game.

“I’m not surprised at all.”
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- T.J. Lang was either trying to keep the New England Patriots guessing or he was just trying to be funny, but the Green Bay Packers right guard had a towel draped over his head during Wednesday's practice as he rode a stationary bike.

It was probably the latter.

Lang aggravated his sprained left ankle in Sunday's 24-21 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Although he finished the game after missing just one series, he said afterward that he was hurting. Lang has not been practicing at all on Wednesdays since he first sustained the injury Oct. 26 against the New Orleans Saints.

But fellow starting guard Josh Sitton, who has been on a similar schedule following his toe injury against the Saints, was back on the field.

So was running back Eddie Lacy, who was battling a stomach illness during the Vikings game.

Tight end Brandon Bostick (hip) also returned to practice after missing the last two games.

The only other players not practicing Wednesday were cornerback Jarrett Bush (groin) and outside linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder). Neither played against Minnesota.

The full injury report will be available after practice.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt, who will have surgery Friday to repair a torn pectoral muscle, said he expects to be completely healthy by training camp next July and will stay in Minnesota to rehab during the rest of the season.

Loadholt was injured on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. He said he stuck his arm out to counter an inside move from a pass rusher "and just kind of went too far." He was placed on injured reserve Wednesday to make room for J'Marcus Webb, whom the Vikings officially signed Wednesday, and is the second Vikings starter this season to require surgery for a torn pectoral muscle. Right guard Brandon Fusco sustained the same injury in September.

"(He and I) talked about that, and I talked to the training staff and things like that," Loadholt said. "I've got a pretty good feel of what to expect over the next few months. I look forward to attacking that the same way I attack playing the game."

Fusco faced about a four-month rehab process when he was injured in September, and if the prognosis is the same for Loadholt, he might be able to resume some activity during the Vikings' offseason workouts next spring. In the meantime, he said, he'll continue to attend meetings and offer whatever help he can to Mike Harris and Webb.

"Mike's had some experience in this league," Loadholt said. "He's started games before. The main thing for him is just to make sure he's preparing himself mentally. If Mike has his mind right, he'll be ready to go."
videoWhen: 12:30 p.m. ET, Thursday Where: Ford Field, Detroit TV: CBS

The Detroit Lions broke their Thanksgiving Day hex last season when they annihilated NFC North foe Green Bay. At the time, the Lions looked like a team potentially heading for the playoffs after stopping a two-game skid.

The Lions didn't win a game the rest of the season.

This season, the Lions face a Chicago Bears team that has won two straight and, much like Detroit, has a bunch of offensive talent currently failing to meet expectations. Does one of these teams break out Thursday?

ESPN Bears reporter Michael C. Wright and Lions reporter Michael Rothstein break down what could happen in this divisional Thanksgiving clash.

Rothstein: Chicago has a ton of offensive talent on paper, but this team has not put up the offense that one would think. What has been the main culprit here?

Wright: A few things, but the main issues throughout this team's struggles have been quarterback Jay Cutler, who has a penchant for committing turnovers, and the play calling. Cutler leads the league in giveaways, and in all but one of this team's losses this season, the quarterback turned over the ball multiple times. Yet in all but one of the team's victories, Cutler didn't throw an interception. So there's definitely a correlation there, as the Bears are 3-10 during Marc Trestman's tenure when they finish on the negative side of the turnover margin and 1-4 when the turnover margin is equal. Obviously, the Bears could minimize Cutler's exposure to potential turnovers by leaning more on the ground game with Matt Forte averaging 4.2 yards per attempt. But what happens is the Bears too often abandon the running game for the pass, which is understandable given all the weapons on the outside. Once the Bears start throwing it all over the yard, Cutler starts turning it over and opposing defenses capitalize (opponents have scored 82 points off Chicago's turnovers), which in turn makes it impossible to rededicate to the ground game because by then the offense is usually trying to overcome a deficit.

What's your take on the perception that Jim Caldwell has been too conservative, and do you see him loosening up some with this team trying to snap a two-game skid?

Rothstein: It's interesting because he wasn't at all against Miami, when the Lions attempted two fake punts in a half. Since then, the offense has looked completely out of rhythm, passes are getting dropped again, Stafford is under duress and Calvin Johnson is going through only the second three-game stretch of his career where he has caught less than 50 percent of his targets. But being at home cures a lot of things for Detroit typically, and that alone should help. Theoretically.

Switching to defense, what has gone into Willie Young's success with Chicago? He was emerging with Detroit, but how has his game grown?

Wright: You've been around him, Mike. You know the type of guy he is. Young's ascension is a product of the work he's put in, and the Bears just happened to bring him aboard at the perfect time in his career. Obviously it helps Young to have a veteran such as Jared Allen around to teach him some of the nuances of the game. But Young has also benefited from working with martial arts expert Joe Kim. The Bears brought in Kim as a consultant to work with the defensive linemen on hand-fighting techniques, and that's helped the group as a whole. Throw in Allen's tutelage and Young's own work ethic and you see why he's been able to put together a breakout season.

Can you provide a rundown on what's taken place with the guys Young will face, the offensive line? I know the group has struggled pretty much all season, but Riley Reiff's situation probably complicates things with the Lions looking possibly to start a couple of undrafted free agents at the tackle spots.

Rothstein: Between injuries, a small change in how the team blocks this season and just struggles with personnel, it's gotten really rough for the line. Let's start with the injuries. Right guard Larry Warford -- probably Detroit's best lineman -- is still out with a knee injury. LaAdrian Waddle, the right tackle, is healthy now but has been in and out of the lineup all season with injuries. Reiff, the left tackle, hurt his knee Sunday against the Patriots and his status is in doubt for Thursday. So the cohesion has barely been there. Also, some of the concepts have changed with how they block and how long it takes both the routes and runs to develop due to play calls, so it has put some other pressures on the line.

For so long, the Bears have used Peanut Tillman on Calvin Johnson. Tillman's out. How do the Bears deal with Johnson and Golden Tate now?

Wright: To me, that's one of the most significant concerns for the Bears entering this game. As you already know, rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller's availability for this game is uncertain with him suffering a knee injury in the win over Tampa Bay. Fuller had been playing with a broken hand and a hip pointer prior to his latest setback. Fuller's injury didn't appear to be significant initially. But if Fuller can't go, the Bears would likely go with undrafted rookie Al Louis-Jean, who possesses similar size to Tillman (6-foot-1, 187 pounds). But would you want to put an undrafted rookie on Johnson? Tim Jennings (5-8) would likely struggle matching up with Johnson. So Chicago would be in a tough spot if Fuller isn't able to play. If the Bears are forced to go with Louis-Jean, the corners would probably stay on their respective sides with the defense giving the corner to Johnson's side safety help over the top, along with extra help underneath, whether that's from a linebacker or the nickel.

The Lions have lost two in a row for the first time all season, and surely there's some level of concern starting to creep in internally. This is uncharted territory for 2014 at least, but do you believe the Lions are better equipped to deal with this type of adversity now with Jim Caldwell calling the shots?

Rothstein: Theoretically, yes, although the personal foul penalty by C.J. Mosley and then the antics from Dominic Raiola at the end of Sunday's loss to New England did have me questioning whether Caldwell's message is truly getting through. The players still seem to believe in him and in the way he goes about things, which is always trying to stay calm and not showing signs of panic. This helped earlier this season when Detroit had three straight come-from-behind wins in October and November to help put them in this position. It's why Thursday is so big. Lose three straight and thoughts of another free fall might be more than just percolating around the edges.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Eddie Lacy's best game of the season came with an added benefit: The Green Bay Packers running back was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.

Lacy rushed for a season-high 125 yards on 25 carries in Sunday's 24-21 road win over the Minnesota Vikings.

And the second-year pro did so while battling a stomach ailment.

It was just Lacy's second 100-yard rushing game of the season. He had four of them last season on the way to a 1,178-yard season and the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. However, from an efficiency standpoint, Lacy has actually been more productive this season. He's averaging 4.4 yards per carry. His average last season was 4.1.

It was the second player-of-the-week award for Lacy, who became the first Packers player to win offensive player of the week in each of his first two NFL seasons.

From a total yardage standpoint, he's on pace to eclipse last season's total because he’s become more involved in the passing game. He needs only six more catches to match last season's total, and he's already topped last season's receiving total. He's on pace for nearly 1,500 total yards. Last season, his rushing and receiving totals combined for 1,435 yards.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings made the signing of J'Marcus Webb official on Wednesday morning, announcing they'd brought back the right tackle who'd spent the 2013 season with the Vikings.

To make room for Webb, the Vikings put right tackle Phil Loadholt on injured reserve; Loadholt will have surgery on Friday on his torn pectoral muscle and will miss the rest of the season.

Webb started for the Vikings last Nov. 7 in a win over the Washington Redskins, after Loadholt had sustained a concussion four days earlier against Dallas. Coach Mike Zimmer said on Monday that Mike Harris would "probably" take over for Loadholt at right tackle, but even if Webb doesn't start, the Vikings could use additional depth at tackle.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings apparently wasted little time finding another tackle to replace Phil Loadholt. And they've gone back to the last player to start s game at right tackle for them in Loadholt's place.

J'Marcus Webb, who spent last season with the team and started one game last November while Loadholt was out with a concussion, tweeted on Tuesday evening he had signed with the Vikings. ESPN's Field Yates reported on Tuesday afternoon the Vikings had worked out Webb and former Seattle Seahawks tackle Eric Winston.

Loadholt will have surgery on Friday for a torn pectoral muscle and miss the rest of the season. Webb's return would give the Vikings a veteran option at right tackle. Mike Harris finished the team's game against the Green Bay Packers after Loadholt was injured, and Zimmer said on Monday that Harris would "probably" start at right tackle, but the Vikings could certainly use depth and competition at the position.

The team had not announced the move as of Tuesday night. It would need a clear a space for Webb on the roster, which could be accomplished by moving Loadholt to injured reserve.