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Around the NFC North

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Around the NFC North

Chicago Bears – The news could not have been worse this week.  The Bears took a huge hit to their chances of returning to respectability when they learned that former number-seven overall pick WR Kevin White would require surgery for a stress fracture to his left shin.  White was being counted on to be an integral part of the Bears offensive plans this year after the team jettisoned former starter Brandon Marshall along with his 61 receptions and 721 yards from 2014 shortly after the end of last season.  The talk is that White will return to the Bears yet this year. Yet the grim reality for Bears fans is that the odds of his return are slim and that the injury may indeed be season-ending.  The team will look to Marquess Wilson and Eddie Royal to fill the void until White’s return.

To add to the WR depth the Bears have also signed Jeremy Kelley (6'6", 231) to the roster.

Former Vikings star DE Jared Allen did not have the impact most Windy City fans had hoped he would after joining the Bears last season.  After signing a two-year deal with a guaranteed $15.5M contract Allen contracted pneumonia and lost 15 lbs. in September.  This contributed to his career low 5.5 QB sacks. The offshoot is that a lighter Allen is perfect for a switch to outside LB ala Julius Peppers.   Resistant to the change, Allen soon learned it was outside LB or nothing.  Could Allen transform himself into Peppers-lite under new Bears coordinator Vic Fangio?  Stay tuned.

Meanwhile former prize signing outside linebacker Lamarr Houston has been recovering from last year's ACL tear and has informed coach John Fox that he is close to being a “go” for the Bears defense.  They will need every contributor that they can muster to right the ship of the 31st ranked defense this year.  Good luck Lamarr, you will need it in week one.

Detroit Lions – Barry Sanders The Second?  The Lions seem to think they have something special.  In talking to the press about first round pick Ameer Abdullah the prized rookie running back from Nebraska, here is what Jets HC Todd Bowles had to say this week:  "He looked like he did in college," Bowles said. "He's quick as a cat. He's about as quick as Barry Sanders. I'm not saying he is Barry, but he's a good running back and we have to go take our shot and we have to attack the inside out of a leverage and he made us miss today." 

Whoa there Pilgrim!  This is still the Matthew Stafford/Calvin Johnson show.  Expectations are really high in the Motor City.

Disappointing second year TE Eric Ebron is making more plays this training camp but remains an enigma.

In the “Who Cares” section, it is now QB Kellen Moore over Dan Orlovsky working with the second-team offense.  Lions’ fans pray they won’t have to see either playing at QB in the upcoming campaign.

Minnesota Vikings – Bad news on the injury front wasn’t restricted to the Bears.  The Minnesota Vikings received bad news after their 26 – 16 victory over the lowly Tampa Bay Bucs.  Starting OT, 29-year-old Loadholt, had confirmed that he tore his Achilles tendon and will miss the upcoming season.  Loadholt was trying to recover from his second major injury in less than 12 months. He had missed the Vikings' final five games of 2014 with a torn pectoral muscle.  The Vikings inserted former 2015 fourth-round pick T.J. Clemmings to Loadholt's position after the injury on Saturday night.  The former Pitt Panther is recovering from his own injury which caused his 2015 draft status to plummet. 

Said Head Coach Mike Zimmer, apparently whistling through the graveyard, "I think T.J. Clemmings did a good job, so we will see," Zimmer said. "We draft these guys to get them in here and play."

The Vikings announced on Tuesday that they had signed OT Stephen Goodin to take Loadholt's spot on the roster.

Much to the relief of the purple masses, Adrian Peterson returned from a two day absence due to a thigh bruise  The Vikes are relying on Peterson and QB Teddy Bridgewater to move the offense this year.

Rookie second-round pick LB Eric Kendricks is making a name for himself in camp.  Although he plays 100 MPH he also has had assignment issues.  Most figure it is only a matter of time until Kendricks unseats the current placeholder Audie Cole.  Who?!!

Packers’ fans will remember Kendricks from this past NFL Draft as he was a favorite of many to be selected by the linebacker-needy team. 

Green Bay Packers – The Green Bay Packers are really in good position again regarding injures (so far) in Training Camp 2015.  No key players appear to be injured to the point where it might put into doubt the starting lineup vs. the Bears on opening weekend.  LOT David Bakhtiari is the latest nick in camp causing consternation to the Packers faithful, but early indications seem to point to a return in the near future.  That being said, look for him to sit in Pittsburgh this Sunday.

All four QB’s looked good in the 22 - 11 victory vs. New England this past Thursday night.  The coaching staff was excited (relieved) that former UCLA and fifth round draft choice Brett Hundley finally made a positive step forward.  Hundley had been running at the number four QB spot until recently.

Several other training camp battles are playing themselves out.  Some of the more interesting are:

  • With Casey Hayward out with injury it is leaving the door open for rookie Quinten Rollins to work with the first team.  Rollins may be the most impressive rookie to date for the Packers.  Hayward could have his hands full reclaiming his job if he is out for any length of time.
  • Jared Abbrederis has been out since the first day of training camp after suffering a concussion.  It leaves him little time to make an impression and stick with the team.  With his concussion history there is speculation that he may never return.  In the meantime a trio of receivers are distinguishing themselves and will merit consideration as the fifth and perhaps sixth receiver (should the team keep six) including:  Jeff Janis, Myles White and Ed Williams.
  • Perillo, Henry and Backman are battling tooth-and-nail for the third TE position.  Each has given the coaching staff something to think about and has a chance to stick.
  • On the O-line C JC Tretter, G-T Josh Walker, T-G Don Barclay, G Lane Taylor and T Jeremy Vujnovich battle for what will be three or perhaps four backup spots.
  • The battle for the third running RB is heating up.  Candidates John Crockett, Rajion Neal and Alonzo Harris (highest grade among RB vs. NE Pats) have all had their moments.  Special Teams play will likely decide this battle. 
  • Will FB John Kuhn hang-on to make the squad one last time?  Aaron Ripkowski has looked very good at times and graded out as the number one special teams player (tied with Jeff Janis per stats from ProFootballFocus.com) for the Packers vs. the Patriots.

There are other intriguing roster battles.  Follow CheeseheadTV.com for your Packers training camp updates.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (61) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

EdsLaces's picture

Man....if Rollins turns out to be the stud we think he should be and start opposite Shields with Hayward in the slot that could be lethal.

RCPackerFan's picture

And add in Randall, and Hyde, to go with Burnett and Clinton-Dix at Safety.

I do really like our secondary.

DrealynWilliams's picture

And then the question(s) become(s):

Who starts in Base?
Who starts in Nickel?
Who starts in Dime?

To be honest, (and I've been saying this for the past 2 seasons) I wish Dome played/used more sub-packages out of Nickel.

3-3-5 and it's variations.

I mean, we have the Linemen. We have the versatile LBs. Hell, he could even sneak Sean Richardson as a 3rd LB in that situation. I've played this out many of times in games of Madden. Lol. It works!

EDIT:

Also, since our 4-2-5 is not as difficult to run against as most 3-4 Teams I believe the 3-3-5 would help in both run support and pass rush.

EdsLaces's picture

Didn't see what u said about Richardson. I think they are talking about a defense kinda like what u mentioned. Having Richardson almost play a LB. That is as intriguing as it gets imo.

DrealynWilliams's picture

I thought he was only playing in base 3-4 though. Which is heavy run.

The 3-3-5 gives Dom many more options. I hope that's the plan.

EdsLaces's picture

And our thumper .....Richardson.

Nick Perry's picture

I really believe this Secondary will be better than last years. Williams was obviously on the decline and gave up a ton of TD passes. Hayward, Randell, or my steal of the draft (Along w/Montgomery) Rollins will make the Secondary a strength.

Mulumba has been a pleasant surprise too. This Packers team is the Ultimate Team this season. They'll get it done with depth throughout the defense on every level.

The offense? Unstoppable!!!

The Bears still suck!

RCPackerFan's picture

Mulumba has really played well so far. As has Elliott. I would love to see the OLB be 4 deep in rotation.
I would honestly like to see Peppers snap count go down a bit. Just to keep him fresh for the end of the year. Similar to what they did with Lacy last year.
If Neal, Perry & Mulumba can be your run stopping OLB's, that will allow Peppers, Elliott & Mathews to be the Pass rushers. I would love to see at the very least Elliott become a Nickel/Dime pass rushing OLB. If he can provide pressure that will allow Mathews to be in the middle more which will allow him to blitz from anywhere.

If our secondary can play as good as we hope it can be, and you add in a good pass rush, its going to make for a very good defense.

the_clinic's picture

Agreed. Williams became a liability. From 24/7 sports: Williams finished ranked as the No. 50 cornerback in coverage in 2014. When he was targeted, quarterbacks had a rating of 101.7. Before this season, that number had never been higher than 85. He allowed the sixth-most receptions when targeted of the 73 cornerbacks ranked and allowed quarterbacks to hit 64 percent of the receivers he was covering. He also allowed 10 touchdowns in 18 games, including the one that ended their season in Seattle to Jermaine Kearse.

DrealynWilliams's picture

But he was our most aggressive CB. That's one thing I will miss. This team needs more nastiness.

Dan Stodola's picture

I never thought of Tramon as aggressive or particularly nasty. Not soft but not aggressive either. I definitely think Randall and Rollins will be more aggressive and physical than he ever was. Probably add Gunter too. The CB group has gotten better w/ Tramon going in FA and he got way overpaid too. Good move to let him go, he's not going to live up to that contract and he will be lucky to see yr 3, may not even see year 2.

DrealynWilliams's picture

Of course the CB group is much better without him. I'm just saying that 1 attribute might be missed.

Dan Stodola's picture

And I'm saying "I never thought of Tramon as aggressive or particularly nasty." So if he wasn't aggressive or nasty, its not something they can miss, since in my opinion Tramon didn't provide that.

DrealynWilliams's picture

We shall see.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Agree, Dan. But if anything bad happens to Tramon I hope it is after the comp pick is awarded. Thus, I hope he has one more good year in him.

The TKstinator's picture

Agreed about overpaid. House too. Just can't do that stuff in the cap era.

Nick Perry's picture

Double post...ERRRRR

SterlingSharpe's picture

Absolutely love QR. Was a huge fan of Rollins all along.
I felt like he was a 1st rounder and Randall the 2nd rounder.

I don't want to see Eddie Lacy take one more beating in preseason. We should not see him until Chicago.
Same with Cobb & Nelson.

I don't mind Rodgers playing a little bit so those 4 or so WRs battling for the #5 spot can get a fairer chance.... afterall, they'd be playing with Rodgers throwing the ball in the regular season (hopefully).

25 Days til Chicago!
This just in: The Bears..... Still.......... Suck

RCPackerFan's picture

'Absolutely love QR. Was a huge fan of Rollins all along.
I felt like he was a 1st rounder and Randall the 2nd rounder.'

I do too... I said before the draft that Rollins was the most intriguing player in the draft. Because of how dominate he was in his only year of college football. And at the Senior Bowl he performed well against some of the best talent in the league.
He showed traits similar to what the greats have. The instincts, awareness and ability to make plays.

Randall the more I see from him the more I like. I am looking forward to seeing him play in the preseason games.

egbertsouse's picture

I like Rollins but am not hopping on the hype-train just yet.

I'm worried about Hayward, is it turning into a Perry situation? I hope not.

barutanseijin's picture

A healthy Hayward can make a difference in the slot. Healthy or not, Perry is just a warm body.

Nick Perry's picture

Perry is decent against the run, at least compared to the other Packers OLB.

The TKstinator's picture

And doesn't he rush pretty effectively from the right side, too?

Handsback's picture

Lacy needs work on being an outlet receiver. Beyound that, he, Sitton, and Rodgers should be resting.

EdsLaces's picture

Also gotta say as a WVU fan I don't remember a time where I was so bummed/happy at an injury. Hate to see anyone get hurt but I also know how damn good he is.

J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

I got my #24 jersey at the PPS this weekend while up north visiting our lake house. 1st jersey since Cullen Jenkins for me!

sheppercheeser's picture

Before Bakhtiari and Linsley nailed down their positions, there were high hopes that JC Tretter would be the heir apparent as an offensive stalwart. Intelligent, physical, didn't make mistakes. What happened? Seems like he might not even make the final 53. WTH?

zeke's picture

MM really talked him up recently, for what's that worth.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I don't really see who else can back up at center other than Tretter. Lang, I suppose? I have been encouraged by a couple of our back up guards, but that doesn't mean I want them starting yet.

DrealynWilliams's picture

No way Tretter does not make the 53. I don't care if he has a horrible preseason.

WKUPackFan's picture

Tretter is killing it in the one-on-one drill. He's never had a chance yet (except preseason last year where he looked good at C).

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Wow, I disagree with a bunch of folks above. It is rarely a good idea for a super bowl contending team to rely on a rookie to be the starter at CB. Lots of 1st round picks (even those picked in the top 20) have severe trouble starting as a rookie; a few do come through.

I do have some optimism for a couple of reasons: Tramon was not really very good last year (as pointed out well by The_Clinic above), so the drop off probably won't be as steep as it might be; I love the Rollins pick, and Randall also looks pretty good, but I also think TT had the percentages in mind (and was wise) when he decided to double dip (triple if you count Gunter) at CB; and while I don't think Hayward is well suited to play outside, I think he won't be terrible, and probably can play about as well as Tramon.

Here are the CBs drafted in Rd 1 and 2 from 2011 to 2014. I only really watch GB, so I don't really know how these rookies did in their rookie year - I am only interested in how they did as rookies. Maybe someone can tell what percentage of rookie CBs were good enough to start at outside -not slot- CB. I sort of did 2011 and came up with 25%.

2014: 7 Justin Gilbert; 14 Kyle Fuller; 24 Darqueeze Denard; 25 Jason Verett; 31 Bradley Roby; 41 Lamarcus Joyner; 58 Stanley Jean-Baptiste;

2013: 9 Dee Miliner; 12 DJ Hayden; 22 Desmond Trufant; 36 Darius Slay; 43 Jonathan Banks, 54 James Taylor; 60 Robert Alford;

2012: 5 Morris Claiborne; 10 Stephon Gilmore; 17 Dee Kirkpatrick; 39 Janoris Jenkins; 62 Casey Hayward;

2011: 5 Patrick Peterson; 19 Prince Amukamara; 27 Jimmy Smith; 33 Ras-1 Dowling 45 Rahim Moore; 50 Marcus Gilchrist; 54 Jaiquawn Jarrett; 60 Brandon Harris.

I did the results for 2011 - Patrick Peterson, the coveted #5 pick in the draft, would be an upgrade. A guy like Moore might help us, not the answer.

Verdict: 2 of 8 played well enough in their rookie year to help us. [#5 - good. #19 0 games started; #27 3 GS; #33 bust; #45 7 GS; #50 4 GS; #54 2 GS; #60 bust 0 games started in 4 years.

Dan Stodola's picture

Difference is We're not counting on either Randall or Rollins to start or even have to play significant minutes. One of them is going to likely be the #4 CB. Shields, Hayward, Hyde have all come in and contributed as rookies. Dont see why Randall or Rollins can do the same for the Packers.

Other teams may have to depend on rookies to start we're just asking them to contribute. I'm looking for Randall to push Hayward be season's end to possibly start.

RCPackerFan's picture

A few reasons why I like our secondary and why I'm ok with going with young CB's.

First we still have Sam Shields as one starter, Hayward and Hyde will also either start or play a lot.

Also, we have 2 very good safety's behind them. This to me is the biggest reason why I'm fine with starting rookies at CB. With Safety's that can cover up mistakes it makes the DB's in whole a lot better.

And the rookies themselves won't be asked to be starters right away, Much like Clinton-Dix last year, they will be eased into it and will be allowed to start once they are ready.

And the rookies are getting used to playing against the best QB in the league and one of the best groups of WR's in the league each and every practice. If they can cover them, they will be able to cover just about anyone. They are gaining more experience then most rookies get each and every practice.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Dan, RC, I am fine with those sentiments. I've been seeing comments about Rollins - or Randall - starting right away. It may be that one of the trio is capable, but I was just trying to interject some caution into that conversation. I have to say that each nick or injury Hayward reports worries me since I don't think Hyde or Hayward are that well suited to outside as opposed to slot CB. I do see talent and am encouraged by the rookie CBs.

Very interesting that Ripkowski and Janis tied for highest grade from PFF for special teams. That helps both of them.

Dan Stodola's picture

If anyone is expecting either of the rookies to start immediately Game 1, I have to think they are expecting way too much. Lets get them into roles they can be successful in and gradually develop them during the season to be able to take on a larger role later.

Packers are being cautious w/ Hayward, likely because they know they'll need him ready to be a starter opening day. Better keep him safe and get him healthy now, than push him, get him injured and then have to start a rookie game 1. I won't be concerned unless it lasts all preseason.

Keep your mind open and don't be surprised if Kuhn, Rip, Lacy and Starks are the only RB on the 53 man roster, w/ probably 2 RB on PS. Janis getting top grades on ST definitely gets him a roster spot.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Dan, I guess we don't agree. I think a 3rd HB is necessary, and Kuhn & Ripkowski (so far) do not qualify. Quoting MM's 8/17 Press Conference:

"I think your third halfback, your third runner is critical. You look at games in the past when that individual isn't available, that changes your whole game plan ... yeah, the third running back is critical to your roster, and his ability to play special teams is critical too ... you look at Kansas City in 2011, we were down to one ... it affected the game, they were coming off the edges like no other. Ryan (Grant) played hurt throughout the game, we were down to John Kuhn."

I suppose that TT will actually decide. The head coach seems pretty clear as to what he wants, but OTOH MM left Dujuan Harris inactive during the playoff game last year and went with just two HBs. I haven't heard of Montgomery taking any snaps - he probably has enough on his plate right now with KR, WR, and some PR.

Dan Stodola's picture

I don't see a 3rd RB as necessary. Last year Harris was far from necessary. He did nothing. If an injury occurs to Lacy or Starks the other gets more plays for that game, Kuhn picks up some snaps for that game to help out, mostly in blocking situations. If the injury is severe enough that games are going to be missed you pull one of the guys off the PS. Ripkowski is going to be much too valuable on ST, he in effect is the 3rd RB when it comes to ST. Heck even Montgomery can be used in the backfield on some downs and on returns for ST.

In the end ST is better w/ Rip and Montgomery than any 3rd RB would ever be. And I don't see a big change on offense. If the injury is going to be more than that game you just bring the PS RB to the roster.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

That's fine. Glad you realized that I agreed with you on the CB situation and was only disagreeing on the 3rd HB. BTW, I watched 3 games of college tape on Montgomery and tried to determine what he looked like as a HB - i.e., whether he picked the right holes, had vision, but the sample was too small or the hole was obvious. He seemed fine in terms of elusiveness, not going down too easily and the like, to my inexpert eyes, anyway.

lucky953's picture

Some of the inevitable mistakes can be helped by a fiercer pass rush. If we play rookie CBs on the outside, I think we'll see a more varied blitz package from Dom. You have to take time away from QBs: rushed throws, bad reads and our athletic corners will make plays. There'll be a lot of different LB configurations out there.

WKUPackFan's picture

Excellent research tgr. I see only two out of the entire list that should have been starting as rookies: Peterson and Claiborne, and each of them have regressed (although Claiborne has had injuries). Peterson was smoked last year.

Who is your 2nd from 2011?

Dan Stodola's picture

Peterson was diagnosed w/ diabetes at the end of the year. That explains his regression. Lack of energy, due to poor blood sugars. Now that he's had a full offseason to learn how to control and get the diabetes under control he'll be fine. Back to a shutdown CB.

WKUPackFan's picture

Wasn't aware of that, thanks. Just read an interesting interview with Peterson about it. Glad for him that he found out, he seems serious about taking care of himself. Time will tell if he returns to form.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

WKU, my second guy was Rahim Moore, not that I am necessarily correct that a guy like him could help us. Being a single parent (widower) and self employed (never less than a 70 hour work week with half over 90 until I closed down my business last year), I only watched Packer games. Thus, I was forced to go by stats alone, which is why in my post I asked for help on this. Moore started 7 games, and that sounded helpful, but for all I know his PFF grade for his rookie year could have been -75. Some of the guys on this site watch a lot of NFL football and might know how these rookies actually did, so I asked for help.

WKUPackFan's picture

Hang in there man, bless you. Hope your pizza was good. I remember that we're practically the same age (I'm 55). How many children do you have?

I watch quite a few other games during the season, although it's painful to watch anyone other than AR play QB, the difference is amazing. I was hoping your second wasn't Prince A. He's the second coming of Elvis "Toast" Patterson, one of my all time favorite nicknames.

ben's picture

Like I said before I only saw 1 play. And that's all I needed to see. Ameer Abdullah is special.

Peterson, Abdullah, Forte, and Lynch will for 1/2 the year will expose any weakness in the Packers Run Defense.

A year and 1/2 ago when I first suggested moving Clay to the middle I also said that Jared Allen would be the best choice in replacing him at OLB. Took a lot of heat here about not just clay moving in, but that Jared could play out. Of course i had facts like age, weights, stats, and combine times to back it up, but was ridiculed just the same for all of it.

Couldn't have been more right.

Hyde should start at FS. Couldn't be more right again.

EdsLaces's picture

What the hell are u talking about? Allen sucked last year. Peppers was awesome. You can go away now.

The TKstinator's picture

One ONE PLAY years ago I intercepted a pass with a beautiful over the shoulder catch and then ran it back 87 yards for a touchdown. Am I as awesome as Abdullah?

zeke's picture

This is heresy. LaMichael James must be spinning in his grave.

The TKstinator's picture

Just like he was left twisting in the wind of my turbulence as I blazed past him, pigskin held in both hands like Deion Sanders.

(I honestly thought about somehow working Mr. James into my tale, but decided against it, since I wanted to keep it 100% true. Plus, LaMichael wasn't even in our flag football league back then.)

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

TK: You - at any time, really - could actually run 87 yards without a break? Were people on the sidelines slapping bottles of Gatorade in your hand to help you keep up the old electrolytes? Were the opposing 11 players stunned unconscious by the beauty of your catch? Wow, there's a lot of math in this post. Congratulations. Glory Days, and all that...

The TKstinator's picture

LOL

ray nichkee's picture

Genious ben!

WKUPackFan's picture

Jared Allen has been mailing it in for 3 or 4 years. He's a complete liability against the run. Runs himself past the QB on most pass rushes. He'd rather do TV and radio interviews than play. Chicago should have cut him and eaten whatever cap space necessary.

I'd rather throw an 87 yard pass to TK than have Allen on the field.

The TKstinator's picture

And no way would it go over my head. My reflexes are too sharp. I would catch it. (Then take it to the house.)

NewNikeShoes's picture

Problem is that Jared Allen's contract its fully guaranteed the first 2 years. Also, there's no one else to play OLB if he's gone.
Cause, ya know ,the Bears suck

ben's picture

Best Nickel
------------------------Hyde--------------Burnett---------------------

--------------------------Clay--------Barrington----------------------------
Shields--------------------------------------------Heyward-----Rollins
----------Peppers-----Danials-----Perry------Neal-----------------

ray nichkee's picture

Ballsack ben

ben's picture

Best Base
------------------------Hyde--------------Burnett---------------------

-----------------------------Clay--------Perry-------------------------
Shields------------------------------------------------------------Rollins
-------Peppers----Danials---Pennel---Boyd----Neal-----------

Dan Stodola's picture

Thanks for proving you don't know the Packers, now feel free to go back to the dailyduntzman, I'm sure they're missing you already.

ray nichkee's picture

Funny ben, i thought you would have alot of non packers in the line up.

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