NFC North News and Notes: May 7

Are the Lions healthier than they thought they would be at this point? Should it matter that Packers rookie Bryan Bulaga has short arms? Is there an update on Brett Favre's possible return to the Vikings?

Detroit Lions

The Lions looked like a different team during the first organized team activity they opened to the media, and not only because they have added so many players to the roster. They also have gotten back several players from injuries, at least on a limited basis.


TE Brandon Pettigrew
Getty Images: Jonathan Daniel

Quarterback Matthew Stafford went through all team drills after having clean-up knee surgery at the end of the season. Right guard Stephen Peterman returned to his starting spot after finishing last season on injured reserve with an ankle problem.

That was expected. What wasn't expected was seeing tight end Brandon Pettigrew, running back Kevin Smith and cornerback Jack Williams on the field. All three suffered torn ACLs the second half of last season.

"Those guys are starting to do individual-type drills and stuff like that," coach Jim Schwartz said. "They're still not even close to being cleared for team work and competitive stuff.

"They're not right in the middle of a long-term rehab. They're probably more past the middle. But they've still got a long way to go. They've done well in their rehabs. There's been no setbacks. Hopefully by the time training camp comes, they'll be able to be on the field and not have very many limitations."

Pettigrew said he started running about a month ago and had been cleared to "start amping it up a little bit." He tore the ACL in his left knee after tearing the one in his right knee in high school.

"As far as coming back, I may be coming back a little bit quicker, stability-wise maybe a little better, a little bit faster," Pettigrew said. "But I'm still taking it easy, not rushing at all."

Smith said his injury might end up as a blessing in disguise.

"It's frustrating that I hurt my knee, but knowing that I get to take my time coming in, I'll be a little more healthy and not that worn down because I'm not doing that much in OTAs," Smith said. "When training camp starts I'll be doing spotty stuff, I imagine, so I should be pretty fresh by the time I'm ready to get on the field, and that's a plus in this situation."

Cornerback Eric King has returned from a shoulder injury. Safety Daniel Bullocks also is back after missing two of the past three seasons with a knee problem. He tore an ACL in a 2007 preseason game, played in '08, then had another surgery in '09.

"My expectations are to come back and be a starter," Bullocks said. "I want to get back to where I left off at before the injury and just try to show these coaches what I can do. I didn't get an opportunity to do that last year."

Bullocks is the last player left from the Lions' 2006 draft class – the last from the drafts between '02-06, in fact.

"With all the transactions that have been going on, I'm still here, and that says a lot," Bullocks said. "But I've still got to showcase my talent and go out there and make plays and become the player I once was."

Green Bay Packers

Bryan Bulaga was happy the one question he feared would be asked by teams in their pre-draft interviews of him never was broached.


OT Bryan Bulaga
Getty Images: Jeff Zelevansky

"I was waiting for it," said Bulaga, referring to criticism raised by draft experts that the former Iowa left tackle has short arms.

Bulaga would have had a ready reply for anyone who would have questioned him about his 33 1/4-inch reach: "I don't know what you want me to say. I can't get them any longer. Sorry."

No apologies needed now that Bulaga is in the NFL and taking aim at getting on the short track to a starting job with the Packers, who gladly took the talented lineman when he fell to them at No. 23 in the first round of the draft.

"His arms are long enough," coach Mike McCarthy said after watching Bulaga in the team's recent rookie camp. "He's got broad shoulders, too, if you want to get really technical about it. Arm length doesn't tell the whole story based on if someone can pass protect or play with leverage."

Look no further than Chad Clifton as Exhibit A. Clifton hasn't been hindered by 33-inch arms as one of the top left tackles in the NFL after he started as a rookie with the Packers in 2000.

Comparing arms could be a nice icebreaker when Clifton and Bulaga get to work together for the first time in the organized team activities, which start May 17.

"I hope that he can help me out a little bit, show me the ropes a little bit," Bulaga said. "Obviously, he's been through a lot and he's played a lot of good football, and he's still playing good football.

"I'm just hoping that I can learn as much as I can from him and garner all that experience that he can offer because it's very valuable information. Anything I can learn from him is valuable."

How willing Clifton is to impart his expertise and tricks of the trade to Bulaga remains to be seen. Bulaga is being groomed as the Packers' starter of the future at left tackle, but the rookie feels he can put up a good fight for the starting job now.

"I'm used to playing football," said Bulaga, who started as a true freshman at Iowa. "I'm going to determine if I'm on the field or not. It's as simple as that. If they don't think I'm ready, then I won't be out there, and if they do and something happens where if a guy goes down or if I earn my way into a spot, then so be it."

Minnesota Vikings

Here's what we know about Brett Favre.


QB Brett Favre
Getty Images: Jed Jacobsohn

The quarterback needs minor surgery on his left ankle to remove some bone spurs.

Here's what we don't know about Favre.

Will he elect to have the surgery and return for the 2010 season?

The Vikings patiently remain in a holding pattern waiting for Favre to make a decision about whether he will play a 20th season.

How long can that wait continue? That's a fair question and one the Vikings really haven't answered. It appears as if it will go into the summer and perhaps into training camp.

It's conceivable that Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels could begin battling for the starting job at the outset of training camp for a second consecutive year, only to have Favre show up after the Mankato portion of the practices are complete.

"I don't have a lot of illusions about the timing of the thing," Vikings coach Brad Childress said of the Favre situation. "As I mentioned to you way back when, there was no manual back then and he played at a high level. How much does he need? He knows. I've got a ballpark idea of how much he needs, and obviously what he got last year was plenty."

It will be interesting to see if Favre has the surgery because, obviously, if he doesn't that could be a clear indication he won't play again. The assumption of everyone associated with the situation has been that he plans to return.

Favre, 40, admitted in a statement on his Web site that the ankle does play a role in his decision, but that's certainly not the only thing.

"[It's] one of many factors that I'll need to consider in making my decision," Favre said. "Other factors include the input of my family and the wonderful experience that I had last year with the Vikings."


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