We're Black and Blue All Over:
Late Wednesday night, I passed along the NFL's explanation for why Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic was fined $21,000 for what seemed to be a standard hard hit last week on San Diego Chargers receiver Mike Willie. In short, NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said that Bostic used the crown of his helmet to deliver a forcible blow to Willie and defined Willie as a "defenseless receiver."
Some of you objected to that final characterization. When you watch the play, Willie had begun the process of catching the ball and was already running when he collided with Bostic. Just so we're all on the same page, here is part of the NFL's definition of a "defenseless receiver," one that is wider than you probably realized.
A player is considered to be in a "defenseless posture" when, among other things, he is "attempting to catch a pass" according to the NFL rule book, or he has "completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become the runner." The receiver is not considered defenseless if he "is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of an opponent."
I guess you could squeeze Willie into that wide definition, but I think we all know there have been plenty of similar occasions when the NFL has looked the other way.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times on the hit: "But if you’re going to stop hits like Bostic's, you're stopping football. It was a hard hit, but it looked as clean as a second-grader's rap sheet. It looked like a football play."
Bears returner Devin Hester on the Hall of Fame, via Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Tribune: "I have one foot in right now. If I take three or four back this year, it should be considered 80 percent chance of making it. But I am not really worried about it right now. I am really focused on this season. After this season, when all the stats add up, hopefully it won't be a question."
Bears running back Matt Forte has endorsed the team's pair of rookie offensive linemen. More from Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
Justin Rogers of Mlive.com has five Detroit Lions players to watch in Thursday night's preseason game against the New England Patriots, including quarterback Matthew Stafford.
There is a competition at nickelback for the Lions, notes Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News.
Lions cornerback Chris Greenwood is looking forward to his NFL game debut, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
Casey Hayward will have to work hard to get back his nickelback job for the Green Bay Packers, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Part of the logjam in the Packers' secondary is due to the emergence of rookie Micah Hyde, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Packers coaches marvel at the ability of defensive end Johnny Jolly to bat down passes, writes Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Uh-oh: Packers place-kicker Mason Crosby's woes have returned. More from Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.
Former Minnesota Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff failed to make the cut for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's seniors committee's nominations, writes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune.
The Vikings' secondary has more questions than answers, writes Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Chris Cook has plenty of reasons to establish himself as the Vikings' No. 1 cornerback this season, writes Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com.
Things might be lining up for Vikings cornerback Bobby Felder, writes Ben Goessling of ESPN.com.