NFC North player wire

Summary of news and notes on individuals within division from the third weekend of preseason games and training camp

QB Ingle Martin was cut by the Packers. Martin, a fifth-round draft pick, was the No. 3 QB as a rookie last year but was done in by decision-making and accuracy issues in offseason and preseason work this year. His release left undrafted rookie Paul Thompson in the No. 3 role for the final week of the preseason, though Thompson might decide to keep only two quarterbacks (Favre and Aaron Rodgers) for the start of the season.

RB P.J. Pope was part of the Packers' first wave of cuts. Pope entered training camp as a viable candidate for a roster spot but was felled by an early knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery. He wasn't going to be ready for the outset of the season, so the team reached an injury settlement with him.

RB Vernand Morency won't play in the preseason finale Thursday at Tennessee, and his status for the Sept. 9 season opener against Philadelphia is up in the air. Morency has been out since sustaining a strained patellar tendon in his right knee on the first day of training camp July 28. He entered camp as the projected starter at halfback, but rookie Brandon Jackson has assumed the duty in Morency's absence.

S Atari Bigby was promoted to starter ahead of Marquand Manuel at strong safety for the Aug. 23 preseason game against Jacksonville. Bigby had a strong performance in the previous contest against Seattle. He has exhibited better range and playmaking skills than Manuel in the preseason.

DE Michael Montgomery underwent arthroscopic surgery Aug. 22 to repair a torn medial-collateral ligament in his right knee. The third-year backup will be out at least a month. Montgomery suffered the injury Aug. 18 against Seattle.

RG Jason Spitz aggravated a calf injury and was taken out after the first quarter of the 21-13 preseason loss to the Jaguars. The injury wasn't considered serious, but he won't play Thursday at Tennessee. Junius Coston replaced Spitz with the first unit.

DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila didn't play against the Jaguars because of a bruised knee sustained in the preceding game vs. Seattle.

OT Tony Moll has yet to play in a preseason game because of discomfort stemming from a neck stinger suffered early in training camp. The top backup to right tackle Mark Tauscher is expected to be ready for the start of the season.

S Marviel Underwood, in a space of a year, went from a starting candidate to a cut casualty. The Packers released Underwood, a fourth-round draft pick in 2005, on Aug. 21. Underwood never regained the form that had him pushing free-agent signee Marquand Manuel for the starting job at strong safety early in the 2006 training camp. Underwood missed all of last season after sustaining ACL and MCL tears in his right knee during a preseason game.

QB Rex Grossman's numbers in the 31-28 victory over the 49ers Saturday night were impressive on paper, but he also provided some ammunition for his critics.

Grossman and the first-team offense played the entire first half, and the fifth-year quarterback completed 13 of 20 passes for two touchdowns and a whopping 211 yards, as he threaded several long passes with precision. But he fumbled another snap from center, which he recovered, was picked off by former Bear Walt Harris for a 52-yard touchdown return and then very nearly made the same mistake on the next possession.

Still, Grossman's 112.7 passer rating was more than double last week's 51.1, when he fumbled three times, including two center snaps.

"Any time you score 31 points in the first half, it's good," Grossman said. "The offensive line did a great job of allowing me to see the field."

DT Tommie Harris missed his third straight preseason game and, although coach Lovie Smith continues to downplay any concern, it doesn't appear that the Pro Bowl player will be 100 percent by the regular-season opener.

RB Cedric Benson's unimpressive preseason continued with just 33 yards on 19 carries, eight of which resulted in no gain or a loss of yardage. He did not have a run longer than seven yards.

OLG Ruben Brown missed Saturday's game, but coach Lovie Smith said it was just a precautionary move to give a (13-year) veteran some time off to alleviate general soreness. WR Muhsin Muhammad did not play in Saturday's preseason game, but he doesn't have anything more than "general soreness," according to coach Lovie Smith. Muhammad, and several other veterans, were given frequent days off throughout training camp for the same reason.

DB/KR Danieal Manning again proved to be an effective fill-in for Devin Hester, returning two kickoffs for a total of 63 yards..

KR/PR Eddie Drummond was released because he didn't contribute on offense. Receiver Troy Walters probably will return kicks, receiver Shaun McDonald punts. Drummond quickly was signed by Kansas City.

RB Kevin Jones continues to rehab his injured foot. The Lions need to decide soon whether to keep him on the physically unable to perform list.

QB Jon Kitna sat out the Aug. 25 exhibition at Indianapolis because of back spasms, but he is expected to be fine for the regular season.

Former Packers QB J.T. O'Sullivan struggled replacing Jon Kitna, but he still could have the lead in the backup quarterback competition because Dan Orlovsky is out with turf toe.

DT Shaun Rogers returned to practice for the first time since October, but he is still nursing a knee problem and getting into shape. He didn't play at Indy.

WR Mike Furrey has a minor knee injury.

RG Damien Woody didn't play at Indy because of an ankle injury.

FS Daniel Bullocks suffered a knee injury at Indy and is being evaluated.

CB Keith Smith impressed during training camp but struggled at Indy, missing a couple of tackles on a Colts touchdown go.

DE Erasmus James, who hadn't played since suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the second game of last season, returned for Saturday's game against Seattle. The coaching staff wanted to get James 10 to 15 snaps.

DT Fred Evans rejoined the Vikings last Thursday after taking a week to resolve league issues in Florida and Texas.

S Mike Doss missed the Seattle game because of a calf injury. Doss is one of three veteran safeties who have been battling in training camp. Darren Sharper and Dwight Smith are the starters; Doss and Tank Williams have been working with the second team. Second-year player Greg Blue also is in the mix.

LB Vinny Ciurciu, a special teams ace, broke a finger on his left hand during practice last week and was unable to play against the Seahawks.

CB Mike Hawkins sat out Saturday's game because of a rib injury.

TE Richard Owens (knee/ankle) missed the Seattle game.

WR Bobby Wade caught five passes for 85 yards in the Vikings' preseason loss to Seattle but suffered a sprained ankle in the third quarter.

WR Aundrae Allison, who appears to be the leading candidate to return kicks for the Vikings, left the Seattle game because of back spasms.

LB Cameron Siskowic suffered a head or neck injury against Seattle and was taken from the field in an ambulance. Tests on Siskowic's neck and head were negative, and he had control of his extremities, but he was held overnight at a Seattle area hospital as a precaution.

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