Around the NFC North: Training Camp Whispers

What's going on in NFC North training camps?

Training camp is the best part of the season for 31 NFL teams. Unheralded 7th-round picks do well against players who weren't even drafted, former busts are finally breaking through, and the token fat guy lost weight, or the token skinny guy put on 15 pounds of muscle. Everything is positive (unless you're Adam Schein) until the season starts. Let's go over what's happening with NFC North teams in training camp. 

Detroit Lions

  • Sam LaPorta has looked the part of starting tight end and may already be Jared Goff's favorite target. 
  • Jahmyr Gibbs and Jordan Howard are attempting to be the same kind of RB pairing that Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram were during Dan Campbell's time with the Saints. It will be interesting to see if the sub-190 pound Gibbs and bad Howard can play as well as the Saints dup. 
  • Second-year WR Jameson Williams is getting a ton of run because he will be suspended for the first six games. He could be part of an impressive group of unique skill players once he comes back. That said, until he comes back the team's number 2 receiver will either be Josh Reynolds, Denzil Mims, or Marvin Jones Jr. Yuck. 
  • The battle between Aidan Hutchinson and Penei Sewell has been epic. Both players could take a step forward into pro-bowler land. 
  • C.J. Gardner-Johnson has started at safety so far. This is a plus for Packers fans. CJGJ has been one of the best slot corners in the league over the past five years but was just OK as a deep safety last year.
  • A pre-draft favorite of Packers fans, Brian Branch, has been the starter in the slot. 
  • College edge Josh Paschal has gotten a lot of run at defensive tackle in rush situations so far - possibly signaling that the team is going to try to bring pressure with four instead of the blitz heavy approach of Aaron Glenn's first twp seasons. 

Chicago Bears

  • The two biggest pieces of news for the run-first Bears are both tight-end related. They signed Marcedes Lewis to a one-year deal and, for some reason, paid Cole Kmet more per year over a 4-year contract than Saquon Barkley got for one year. 
  • Rumors are running rampant that the team could be in the mix to trade for Jonathan Taylor and then sign him to a big extension. Nothing could be more Bears-like than having the most salary cap space in the league and using it to sign two off-ball linebackers, extend a meh tight end, and then sign a running back who they spent a premium pick trading for. All while betting on the worst passing quarterback in the league. But, maybe, I'm being too negative. 
  • One area where Justin Fields has looked good as a passer is throwing the ball to DJ Moore. You may be surprised to learn that Moore already has more receiving yards in his career than any receiver in Bears' history. 
  • The Bears also spent a little money at edge, signing journeyman Yannick Ngakoue to a one-year $10.5mm deal. Ngakoue has shown a lot of pass-rush prowess in schemes like what the Bears run, but he is undersized, bad against the run, and is on the downside of his career. DeMarcus Walker, who I just had to Google and has apparently been in the league since 2017, will start opposite Ngakoue.
  • In potential news, Jordan Love may sign adoption papers for the team as soon as week 1 this season. 

Minnesota Vikings

  • Most recently, the team signed former Patriots bust N'Keal Harry and gave him Adrian Peterson's number. 
  • TJ Hockenson (an eh? tight end, one tier above a meh tight end) isn't participating in team drills as he holds in for a new contract. Hockenson was one of Counsin's favorite third-down targets after he joined the team last year, let's hope they pay him more than Christian McCafrey. 
  • In a bad move for Packers fans, the Vikings managed to come to a new agreement with Danielle Hunter last week. Hunter was sneakily still a top-10 edge rusher last season and could easily be the most important piece of Brian Flores' new defense. 
  • First-round pick Jordan Addison's progress has been hampered by an undisclosed injury and a citation for going 140 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. Addison was the best receiver in college football in 2021 but took a step back in 2022. Addison will likely be able to reach his full potential on the Vikings with Justin Jefferson taking away coverage. 
  •  Za'Darius Smith got shipped out, Danielle Hunter got a raise, and TJ Hockenson is holding in, that leaves Kirk Cousins. The 34 year-old QB is in the last year of his deal and has said he wants to end his career with the Vikings. Will the team give in and pay him? Or do they risk losing Justin Jefferson's prime tanking for a new QB? If they keep Cousins, are they destined to stay in QB purgatory?  

 

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Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan who recently moved form Utah to Stoughton (a Madison suberb). You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.

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Comments (12)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
stockholder's picture

August 07, 2023 at 05:05 pm

thanks for the update.

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Tundraboy's picture

August 07, 2023 at 05:27 pm

Nice work, 😁

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greengold's picture

August 07, 2023 at 05:49 pm

“Adoption papers.” - Style points awarded.

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GregC's picture

August 07, 2023 at 06:49 pm

Not sure what an "eh?" tight end is, but T.J. Hockenson was second in receiving yardage among TEs last year with 914.

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Arthur Jackson's picture

August 08, 2023 at 09:50 am

My guess is an "eh" TE is a guy drafted #8 overall who averages 60 catches, 650 yards and 4.5 TDs per season. A guy who coming up on his 5th year option is traded by the drafting team along with a 2023 fourth-round pick and a conditional 2024 draft selection to to the division leading team in exchange for a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick. But who knows?

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Ima Payne's picture

August 07, 2023 at 06:52 pm

Didn't take long for the vikes gm to tire of Z Smiths shit. He'll play for mo pay.

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porupack's picture

August 07, 2023 at 08:14 pm

wierd comment. Its becoming your standard line now.

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

August 07, 2023 at 09:49 pm

Love the idea that QB1 is in escrow with the Bears with a closing date of September 10.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 08, 2023 at 05:01 am

The Bears have to spend some money to meet the 89% of the cap rules. They still have $28M for 2023 and OTC has them with $84M in 2024, not counting any rollover.

The author doesn't like TEs? I'd love to have Hockenson, who playing on his 5th year option for $9.2M. Look for him to sign for something in the area of $14M AAV. That is a little rich for Kmet unless one thinks he is breaking out a bit and terrible QBing has held down his receiving yards. He has improved. A closer look suggests the deal is really a 2-year deal for $20M ($10M/season) with jst $4.8M dead if they want to dump Kmet after the 2024 season.

Hockenson has played 4 seasons now and won two pro bowls. Pay the gentleman.

The Vikings won't/shouldn't be putting Adrian Peterson in their hall of fame or retire his jersey due to his off-the-field issues, so might as well give out the number to a current player.

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Bearmeat's picture

August 08, 2023 at 06:50 am

I love these updates. Chuckling deadspin style at the moronic rivals in our division is always fun.

I went to college in Chicago, so I have a lot of crap eating Bears fan friends who have been chirping alllll off-season.

Needless to say, I REALLY want Love to out duel Fields en route to a week one dub.

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mnbadger's picture

August 08, 2023 at 12:55 pm

"Hockenson was one of Counsin's favorite third-down targets . . . "
- don't forget, Hockenson was also cuzzn's absolute favorite target on important 4th down plays!
GPG!

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billiespot's picture

August 11, 2023 at 05:47 am

Thanks...Your NFC North training camp roundup got me pumped up like a stadium full of cheering fans! Just like a catchy tune, you've laid out the beats of each team's progress and potential game-changers. It's like watching a thrilling game-winning drive unfold in words. And just as a star player shines on the field, you've highlighted key players and their moves. Can't wait for the kickoff and the adrenaline rush of NFC North action!

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