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Nfc north preseason reports

Discussion in 'Other NFL' started by adamprez2003, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    Here's one report from Cheesehead TV about the Green Bay Packers struggles on offense, but I've read about this in various places. QB Aaron Rodgers wasn't sharp, and QB Matt Flynn had several bad passes last weekend. And I'm glad to read they're getting the work in and shaking the rust off. These early season problems are inevitable, and the earlier they get them out of their system, the better

    Rookie 3rd round S Morgan Burnett is getting a lot of coaching from safeties coach Darren Perry. With the status of Bigby up in the air due to his knee injury, Burnett will have to be ready sooner than later.

    I point out a good play from undrafted rookie CB Sam Shields, and he goes and drops a punt the next day. It would matter more if he dropped it during a preseason game, but I'm assuming the reason why he was converted from a receiver to defense in college was because of his hands. If he can't hold onto the ball, then he's got no chance at making the team.


    It was just one play in one practice, but the Green Bay Packers hope it’s a sign of things to come.
    During the first one-on-one pass-rushing drill of training camp on Saturday, rookie C.J. Wilson charged upfield. In his way was first-round pick Bryan Bulaga, who stopped Wilson in his tracks.

    Bulaga’s potential to be a lockdown pass blocker at the all-important left tackle position is why they are paying him about $14.75 million over the next five seasons.

    “Whenever you get the pads on, the intensity always rises a little bit,” Bulaga said. “OTAs, you’re kind of concerned about getting guys dinged up — collarbones with helmets and stuff like that. In pads, everything kind of ramps up a little bit and guys are going after it. It’s the first day in pads. You can’t help but be excited and want to get after it.”

    For now, veteran Chad Clifton is entrenched as the starting left tackle. True to what the coaches said, Bulaga is locked in place at left tackle, even though he’d have a chance to win the starting job at left guard. Bulaga called that “helpful” but said he’ll do anything to help the team win.

    “The approach I’m taking is going 110 percent every snap I get out there and busting my tail and trying to earn a job,” he said. “I think that’s the mentality every

    Based on this practice, Tim Masthay and Chris Bryan will have ample opportunities to win the punting job.

    There were two punting periods, with each getting 15 reps. Bryan did slightly better, with an unofficial average of 49.1 yards compared to 48.5 for Masthay. While they both battle inconsistency, Masthay had the worst of the day, with a punt that sent the fans in the stands scurrying for safety, and he seems to take forever to unload the ball on occasion compared to Bryan.

    McCarthy called the two punting periods part of a larger emphasis on special teams.

    “We’ve gone with a little different format in special teams, as far as working maybe one segment per practice, maybe two,” McCarthy said. “We’ve dedicated more time in our special teams practices. That was clearly evident with a 15-minute period there early as opposed to a 10-minute in the past, which gave the punters more opportunities.”

    Will Blackmon, Quinn Porter, Tramon Williams, Jordy Nelson and Sam Shields all took reps as the returner. Nelson

    Last edited: Aug 2, 2010
  2. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    # Jerome Felton has been taking a lot of snaps at running back. Jim Schwartz called him the team's "power back" and talked about how they have a lot of guys at running back that can fill different roles -- power, speed, every-down and so on.
    # Adam Schefter, who visited Lions training camp today as part of his bus tour, believes Tim Toone has a "legitimate chance" to make the team as a punt returner.
    # After interviewing Matthew Stafford on his bus, Schefter got a chance to play catch with him.
    # Receiver Mike Moore and cornerback Eric King got into a "skirmish" during this afternoon's practice. Moore later left practice with a shoulder injury.
    # The Lions continue to list Jonathan Hefney as a cornerback, but he has moved to safety.
    # Kyle Vanden Bosch believes he is in the best shape he's ever been in and is as healthy as he's been in a couple years.

  3. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    he draft picks are starting to make some noise. Chris Cook, who seemed destined for special teams and maybe a dime role, looks like he might be moving up the chart. He has been described as a prototypical press corner, and he's flashing his skills, picking off three passes so far. The other Chris, DeGeare, has made the most of his opportunity. With a minor injury to Joohn Sullivan, and Steve Hutchinson resting, DeGeare played well against the first team, and then beat Kevin Williams during individual line drills.

    The quarterback play continues to suffer. I'm not trying to make excuses, but if these guys know that it doesn't matter how well they play, are they maybe going through the motions? TJ knows he's going to be the backup when Favre arrives, and Rosenfels has to know that he might be cut just as much for financial reasons as he might be for talent. This has to be in their head somewhat, and therefore distracting. I don't know for sure, but I'm looking for something here that might explain mediocre play. UNless, you know, they're mediocre. Because if they are, and Favre doesn't come back (which he is, but still) we're gooned.

    Leslie Frazier insists Tyrell Johnson is still a starting safety, but Jamarca Sanford is 'providing competition', which is a subtle way of saying 'pick it up Tyrell, or you're sitting'. Good to see something being done to try and improve the backe end of the secondary.

  4. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    Bears veteran Desmond Clark dispelled that theory throughout Friday's first day of training camp, snatching pass after pass during full-team drills.

    It figured Clark, running with the second team, would have a big day after hauling in a one-handed pass during individual drills. He followed with a leaping catch off a pass from Caleb Hanie and a couple of crowd-pleasing, all-out stretches off passes from Jay Cutler. Clark nearly had another one-hander near the end of practice but Danieal Manning knocked the ball away.

    "It is always good to get the first practice underway,'' coach Lovie Smith said. "You want to see what type of condition the guys are (in). We were out here for over two hours and they worked hard throughout. When you are not in pads there is only so much you can see but I liked what I saw.

    "I have heard an awful lot about the tight end not being involved in our offense. I think the tight end are the only guys you guys were talking to today. So it was good to see all of them make plays, Dez Clark, Greg (Olsen), all the way down the line. The quarterbacks really threw the ball well today.

    Of course, the team wasn't in full pads and it's too early to tell how Martz plans to use the tight end. But for a guy whose job was supposed to be in question after the Bears signed blocking tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, Clark made quite an early statement.

    Here are some other first-day observations.

    • Cutler was sharp, for the most part. His first meaningful pass was dropped by Johnny Knox then the second was nearly picked by Charles Tillman. Matt Forte and Devin Hester also has drops. But Cutler caught fire during full-team drills. And Hester made him look good, too, with an outstanding leaping catch between Tillman and Manning.

    • Zack Bowman looked like the promising talent he has been over the last year, making a falling interception on a pass intended for Earl Bennett. Craig Steltz had an interception, as did Jarron Gilbert off a tipped pass.

    • Josh Beekman ran with the first team at left guard. As a previous starter there, he is sure to get the first look over his younger competitors

  5. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    # Two players have moved from cornerback to safety -- Jonathan Hefney and Dante Wesley. The Lions have not shown a lot of faith in the safeties on the team not named Louis Delmas, so this is another move to shore up depth at the position.
    # Cornerback Aaron Berry, an undrafted free agent from Pittsburgh, has been playing quite well, according to Jim Schwartz.

    "Berry gets his hand on the football just about every single period. You know, he’s small but he has a lot of confidence. He goes out, he plays all the coverage’s, he competes, and he has a short memory. He’s been beat a couple times but that doesn’t force him to play less aggressive. He’s had a good start to camp – he’s in the same place a lot of rookies are – but he’s had a good start to camp."

    With the cornerback position riddled with question marks, Berry has a legitimate chance to make the team.
    # Starting middle linebacker DeAndre Levy missed both practices on Monday due to a tight back. He was replaced by Vinny Ciurciu.
    # Jim Schwartz praised Zack Follett via his Twitter account.

    Since we have given Zack Follett the chance to compete for a starting spot, he has not disappointed us. We released him after a poor camp last year, but a light came on when we brought him back onto the practice squad. It got to the point where we wanted him on special teams, then we wanted to get him involved in def schemes & packages. It was all him. He's done a good job in the offseason program and he's continuing to improve.

  6. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    Roberto Garza, a fixture as the starting right guard, could be moving back to the left side.
    During a Friday night session at Soldier Field, Garza practiced at left guard while Lance Louis, a seventh-round pick in 2009, started at Garza's usual spot.

    ''I wanted to try to give [Louis] more work tonight,'' offensive line coach Mike Tice said. ''If I look up right guard in the dictionary, I see a picture of Lance Louis.''

    Tice highlighted the fact that Louis is big (6-3, 305 pounds) and athletic.
    ''I'm just thankful for the opportunity,'' Louis said. ''But nothing is set in stone.''

    Still, Louis acknowledged that Tice's effort to get him snaps with the starters meant a lot to him.
    ''It definitely gives you a lot of confidence,'' Louis said. ''It makes me want to work even harder.''
    Garza noted that he has started plenty of games at left guard, most recently in 2005, his first season with the Bears. But he has started every game since the 2006 season opener at right guard.

    ''Obviously, it takes some getting used to,'' Garza said. ''But you've got to be versatile. It's all about earning a starting job.''

    Previously, Johan Asiata and Josh Beekman had been competing at left guard, with Louis primarily taking snaps behind Garza at right guard. But Tice unveiled the new-look line on Friday night in front of some 26,000 fans at Soldier Field.

    Offensive coordinator Mike Martz indicated during his Wednesday news conference that he was pleased with his starting offensive tackles, Chris Williams (left) and Frank Omiyale (right).

    And Martz and head coach Lovie Smith have sung the praises of center Olin Kreutz, who had offseason Achilles surgery.

    On Thursday, Kreutz said he felt ''as good as I have in a couple of years'' -- and then added that ''so, hopefully, that translates onto the field.''

    Injury update
    Rookie safety Major Wright did some running on the sideline Friday night, and he said he is inching closer to returning.

    ''I'll be back soon,'' Wright said.
    Wright was having a strong camp until he injured his groin on Monday.

    ''It was frustrating,'' he said. ''But it's all a part of playing football. I've got to deal with the ups and downs.''
    In other injury news, veteran safety Chris Harris returned to the lineup. There were a few instances when Craig Steltz and Danieal Manning lined up as starting safeties, and others when Harris and Steltz were on the field together with the No. 1 defense.

    ''Chris is a big part of what we need to do,'' Smith said.

    Meanwhile, Josh Bullocks has been sidelined the last two days with a quad injury, and Smith said tight end Kellen Davis missed Friday night with tightness in his back while tight end Brandon Manumaleuna is having some trouble with his knee.

    Receiver Devin Hester was in uniform Friday night but didn't finish practice -- but ''everything is good,'' an upbeat Hester said as he left the field.

    Tight ends stand out
    The tight ends once again distinguished themselves, making plenty of plays Friday night to fire up fans.
    ''I like what the tight ends are doing,'' Smith said.
    ''Greg Olsen has had a good camp.''
    Olsen plucked a ball near Pisa Tinoisamoa's shoulders on the sideline, and he also caught a laser from quarterback Jay Cutler, who was flushed out of the pocket and toward the sideline. Olsen made the play with linebacker Lance Briggs closely defending him on the sideline.
    Desmond Clark also made a nice catch, barely bringing in a pass downfield for 20-plus yards from backup quarterback Caleb Hanie.

  7. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity


    Tight end Brandon Pettigrew tore an anterior cruciate ligament on Thanksgiving Day 2009. A little more than eight months later, Pettigrew was back on the field doing much more than at least I would have expected. He's practicing at least once per day and participating in some contact drills, even while wearing a brace on his knee.

    If he has a hitch in his gait, it's barely noticeable. And on at least one play this week, Pettigrew displayed enough speed to get past linebacker Julian Peterson and catch a nice seam pass from Stafford. "He's had a really good rehab and we don't want to set him back by trying to do too much too soon," Schwartz said. At this rate, it seems quite reasonable to expect Pettigrew to be ready for a significant role in the season-opening game at Soldier Field. That has to be the best-case scenario the Lions could have imagined when the injury first occurred.


    Two key parts of any defensive improvement the Lions will have this season weren't on the field for any part of the five practices I watched. Delmas hasn't practiced since the spring because of a groin injury that Schwartz said has healed but impacted his conditioning. But Delmas is an "established" player who probably could get away with missing a portion of training camp after starting 15 games last season. Linebacker DeAndre Levy, however, needs every practice rep he can get while making the permanent transition from the outside to the middle. Levy reported to training camp with tightness in his back, and he was pulled from practice this week. There is no long-term concern at this point, and the Lions must hope nothing develops. At this point, there are no viable internal options to turn to. Levy's backup is veteran Vinny Ciurciu, an undersized career special-teams player.

    [+] EnlargeCalvin Johnson
    Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesAdditional weapons on offense should open things up for Calvin Johnson.

    * Burleson signed a five-year, $25 million contract in the offseason that included $11 in guaranteed money. Then, in one of the first meetings of the Lions' reconfigured receiver position, Burleson stood up to speak. "There's a lot of things that can get between players when new guys come along, especially when money's involved," he said. "So I made an announcement that I've been in the league long enough to know, as a guy who just got paid, I'm going play a lot. So my goal is to prove I'm worth more than what they paid me. I'm here for the team, not to pat myself on the back." In part because No. 1 receiver Calvin Johnson is so quiet, Burleson has taken on the leadership role of this group.

    * Johnson is hopeful that coverages will loosen on him this season, but it will require players like Burleson, making big plays to do it. Burleson doesn't think it will be a problem. "My goal is to come in and make enough plays to where Calvin will get more single coverage and Bryant [Johnson] will make plays," he said. "You hear about [Terrell Owens] and Chad [Ochocinco] in Cincinnati. I'm going to say firsthand that we will be the most-respected receiving corps after it's all said and done." Wow.

    * Suh is one serious man. During a news conference to announce his arrival to camp, a reporter asked a pretty standard first-day question for a top draft pick: "What are you going to treat yourself to after becoming a millionaire?" Most players bite and say they bought a new car, or a house for their mother or some such splurge. Suh? Here's what he said: "I'm treating myself to getting on this field and getting ready." OK then.

    * Vanden Bosch makes it a point to touch the ball on every practice play from scrimmage. Sometimes that happens at the line of scrimmage. But whether the play comes directly toward him or goes 30 yards downfield, he chases without fail. If that means sprinting 40 yards, so be it. Although the Lions didn't necessarily sign Vanden Bosch for that reason, he sets an excellent example for a historically moribund defense. "You don't get any points for that," Schwartz said. "But if I was a professional football player, I would hope that I would practice and I would play the way Kyle Vanden Bosch does. I think it is contagious for sure and I think that it's tremendous leadership. I think it makes the running backs better. The running backs are now finishing their runs deeper down the field because they don't want him catching them."

    * Right tackle Gosder Cherilus, the Lions' No. 1 draft pick in 2008, might be down to his final chance to lock down a permanent starting job. He's sharing repetitions with veteran Jon Jansen, and a decision might not come until the end of the preseason.

    * Linebacker Zack Follett is on his way to locking down the weakside linebacker job a year after he nearly cost himself his career with a poor showing in training camp. "I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off," Follett said. "This year, it's 100 percent different."

    * Poor Chris Houston. As the Lions' erstwhile No. 1 cornerback, Houston finds himself lined up against Johnson in 1-on-1 drills more often than not. That's not even fair. I saw Houston make some decent plays against other receivers, suggesting he deserves to be on the field as a starter. But few teams have a true No. 1 cornerback, and the Lions aren't one of them.

    * With Delmas injured, the same four players made up the first-team secondary during my visit: Houston and Jonathan Wade at cornerback, with C.C. Brown and Marvin White at safety. One thing I'll say is that Wade is feisty, even if he is a bit undersized. Delmas noticed the same thing. "He gave up a big play on Calvin," Delmas said. "And then he came back to us as a group and said, 'We can't do that! I can't do that!' Then he went out and didn't give up another big play. In order to be one of the best secondaries in the NFL, we have to start with that."

    * In an earlier post, I suggested that rookie receiver Tim Toone had looked sharp and ranked him no worse than No. 4 among the Lions' receivers. In the comments section, some of you suggested that second-year receiver Derrick Williams was having a better camp than I gave him credit for. All I can say is that every time I looked, Williams was dropping a pass while Toone was catching one. Regardless, there is a long way to go for both players.

    * One beneficiary of Suh's holdout was second-year defensive tackle Sammie Hill. Schwartz said Hill "has taken the biggest step that I've seen him take." Assuming those weren't just kind words for a player destined to cede his first-team status to Suh, this development offers the Lions a level of depth they didn't have last season.

  8. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    * Jermichael Finley is looking great. This might not surprise many of you. However, I was slightly concerned about his knee being 100% by the time camp started. In addition, I'm eager to see how he responds to all the attention he has received and will receive heading forward since his "break-out performance" during the second half of the 2009 season; despite his maturation over the past year, he's still a young kid whose immaturity has been his worst enemy at times. A pithy comment from Bedard that I liked was, "Finley catches everything." People say he has the best hands on the team, and he's shown it early on thus far in camp.

    * Bryan Bulaga is holding his own. The differences between him and incumbent Chad Clifton are palpable; Clifton is still unequivocally the starter. Nonetheless, Bulaga is playing well and making the most out of his increased reps when Clifton (and other vets) are given some time off. Despite being a first round pick, Bulaga's performance should not be underestimated: let's remember, he's going against the likes of Cullen Jenkins and Clay Matthews on a fairly consistent basis. Perhaps most impressive is that he's shown some newfound intensity. A knack on Iowa linemen, according to Greg Bedard, is that they have sound technique but often lack aggression and a nasty demeanor. That doesn't appear to be the case with Bulaga, a good example to which is the hit he put on Cyril Obiozor in a one-on-one. Bulaga hit him so hard and sudden that Obi was momentarily stunned, a play that even solicited praise from linebacker coach Kevin Greene.

    * BJ Raji is getting negligible attention. This might be a case where no news is good news, but I'm surprised to see so little sustained and comprehensive coverage on Raji. In other words, his name comes up here and there when describing the one-on-ones, and almost every time it does he is lauded for beating his man, showing his agility, or collapsing the pocket, but I want to read more on his transition overall. It's no secret that good nose tackle play is imperative for a 3-4 scheme to be successful, and the same holds true for the Packers. I have high expectations for Raji this year, so I'm eager to read more about his performance (albeit early) in year two.

    * Mike McCarthy is displaying shades of a more "no-nonsense" approach. I've only heard this from one source, that being Bedard, but here's what he said: "By the way, McCarthy seems to be taking a much harder line with the players this year. Not too many smiles given out. And he’s glaring at guys after mistakes. I like to see that. I think it will do some good with this bunch." I have to say I agree with Bedard in that a more disciplined approach could benefit this team (as an aside, I also like McCarthy's emphasis this year on tackling). Some here accuse McCarthy of being too much of a "players' coach", and while I'm not sure that's the case, I will concede that a more stern approach is important for a team dealing with Super Bowl expectations. I recall sinatra arguing that this team has a propensity to underachieve at critical points of the season, believing part of the problem to be a false sense of bravado. Whether accurate or not, McCarthy does need to make sure the Super Bowl talk doesn't have an adverse effect on the team.

    * James Starks is still fighting the injury bug. Starks' prior injuries have been well documented: they're also a major reason Starks fell to the sixth round despite having first/second round talent. Unfortunately, it's been more of the same for Starks, who is currently battling a hamstring that now appears worse than previously thought. This doesn't augur well for Starks, especially with news that his competition, Kregg Lumpkin, has looked good and shown marked improvement in his pass protection and blitz pick-ups. The Packers still have high hopes for Starks, believing he could be the answer on kick returns, but he's put himself in an unfavorable position early on. I predicted and still believe that Starks will win the third and final running back slot, but he's got a ways to go with an injury that historically tends to linger longer than expected (see: Ryan Grant 2008).

  9. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    The uneven play of quarterbacks in camp has been an issue from day one. Other than asking about the 600 pund Favre in the room, there really hasn't been a whole lot of info about Tarvaris Jackson, other than the coaches have been very pleased with his approach and increased understanding of the offense. That's the good news. The bad news is that today, he went 3-11 in 11 on 11 drills, although Judd Zulgad said he looked very sharp in 7 on 7. I have no doubt that Jackson knows the offense better now than at this time last year, and that he will be better in that offense, but it's all for naught if he can't get the ball to the receiver. Sage Rosenfels really stuggled early in camp, throwing four picks in one practice session. But over the last two days he has really picked up his game, having a good session today and building on what was described as his best day of camp yesterday.

    The status of Sidney Rice and Adrian Peterson has gone from an afterthought to a mild concern. Between the two, the one I am least worried about is Peterson, although he went from a light workload to not even being in pads today. I'm sure a lot of that is precautionary, but with AP's fumbling issue, it can't hurt to practice and get reps. Sidney Rice's injury is starting to concern me, though. If his hip isn't okay with rest and phyical therapy, it's something that will affect him all season, and could lead to surgery. Regardless of who the QB is, Rice is a vital cog to this offense, and if he is out for an extended period of time it will hurt. With Percy Harvin's migraines, a healthy Rice is essential.

    Oh, Adrian Peterson also thinks that it's time to 'have a conversation' about his contract.

    "At least talk about it," Peterson said. "It is what it is. It’s a business and people really don't understand. The fans really don’t understand it but there is a business side of football that my agents take care of while I still come out perform and play football. It’s a business side with the Vikings organization and we can talk about whatever, but I’ll let those guys handle that and I just do what I've got to do and that’s get myself ready to play this season and get to the championship."

    Cool, more distractions!!

    Speaking of running backs, Albert Young entered camp as the 2nd string RB with Toby Gerhart 3rd string, and Young is still the #2 guy. Bevell said that is due to Young's familiarity with the system, and that's also why he is the leading candidate to be the third down back as well. My sentimental favorite for a RB spot, Darius Reynaud, injured his ankle today and was carted off the practice field. Even a minor injury that sets him back only a day or two could be the difference in whether or not he makes the team. Reynaud has an uphill climb to begin with, and any time out of the loop could put him far enough behind that he won't be able to catch up.

  10. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    There have been a lot of questions about the preparedness of Bears backup quarterback Caleb Hanie.

    But Hanie looked comfortable on Monday, when starter Jay Cutler took a scheduled day off.

    "Jay's thrown the ball quite a bit but on days like today, you really want to see some of the other players," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Caleb Hanie got some work with the 1's and we get to look at Dan LeFevour for a little extended time, which is always good."

    Often, when a young quarterback with little experience is pressed into action, they rely on dump passes. But Hanie didn't hesitate to test the secondary, spreading the ball around quite well.

    He showed touch on a swing pass to running back Kahlil Bell. He showed zip on a high sideline pass to Devin Aromashodu. And he showed trust in the scheme, leading Johnny Knox with a ball in the middle of the field, with rookie safety Major Wright inching forward.

    "There's a few plays I want to have back," Hanie said. "Threw some balls down the field. We're still hooking up with the receivers. Still trying to get the timing. But I felt I did pretty well today."

    Other notes and highlights from today:

    * Rashied Davis is listed as the backup to Johnny Knox, and he bolstered that position on Monday. He made two nice catches back-to-back, adjusting to one that was thrown behind him and making one despite tight coverage by a defender. Meanwhile, Earl Bennett was sidelined.

    * Greg Mathews made the catch of the day, sprinting and fully stretching out for a deep middle pass from Dan LeFevour. He initially controlled it with one hand then secured it with the other.

    * Henry Melton continues to get a lot of reps as a defensive tackle, and he showed his explosive speed on one rush against Chris Williams and Roberto Garza in a two-on-two pass protection drill.

    * Julius Peppers made one of the most athletic defensive plays, batting down a short swing pass from Hanie to a running back.

    * Rookie Major Wright looked solid today, but he did drop one sure pick.

  11. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    Brad Jones, Brandon Chillar and Brady Poppinga are battling to be the starter opposite Clay Matthews. Plus, Joe Philbin says there's plenty of time for Bryan Bulaga to settle in at guard; Jason Spitz is odd man out; plus much, much more from Tuesday.

    In one regard, the hamstring injury that will sideline Clay Matthews for at least a couple of weeks is a blessing.

    With the Pro Bowler on the sideline, that means more reps for Brad Jones, Brandon Chillar and Brady Poppinga as they compete to be the other starter at outside linebacker.

    On Tuesday morning, Jones and Poppinga took most of the first-team reps, with Jones on the right side and Poppinga — in his first practice back from a concussion — on the left. At night, Jones (right) and Chillar (left) frequently were the tandem.

    “Yeah, I think it’s obviously Clay and then we’ll have good competition,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said after the morning practice. “Those other three guys are competing and they’re all competing well. I feel good to have three guys really competing for the position, because I think that we can put any one of them in the game. So, if we do have somebody go down, we’ll have somebody that’s competent to step in.”

    Matthews had 10 sacks as the starting right outside linebacker last season but spent most of the first week of training camp on the left side. Capers didn’t think the injury would affect Matthews’ transition. Rather, Capers hinted that Matthews will play both sides, depending on matchups and the need to mix things up. Part of that is a response to the playoff loss at Arizona, when the Cardinals used double-team or chip blocks on practically every passing play.

    “I think you’ve got to try to create targeting problems for them in terms of where he’s going to be and that type of thing,” Capers said. “If you always know, if you’ve got Clay and Cullen lined up over here together, all right, there’s no question where that protection’s going to go. And so I think there are advantages to have those guys in different (spots). We’ll have different schemes where we’ll move them around. Clay and Cullen are two of our top rushers, so you’ve got to try to keep them rushing as much as you can from various spots. You’ve seen us move Cullen around a lot in camp.”

    New-look line

    With the coordinators made available on Tuesday, Bryan Bulaga’s opportunity to start at guard remained big news.

    “You like him as a football player,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “It’s not a complicated game. We’re looking for guys who can block, we’re looking for guys who can stay on their feet, we’re looking for kids that are physical and competitive. He’s shown a lot of nice things as a tackle. It’s just a progression. Coach wants him to have a chance to compete, so that’s where it is. I think a lot of the things you like at tackle, you like at guard. He’s a football player, he’s got the mentality of a football player, he moves pretty well. We’re going to take a look and see what he can do.”

    As I wrote yesterday when taking the coaching staff to task, it might have made more sense to try this with a handful of reps here and there in May and June rather than giving Bulaga a shot at left guard with 14 practices remaining in camp.

    We have a bunch of observations from Tuesday night’s practice in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club Forum.

    Philbin, however, didn’t buy that line of thinking.

    “I think it’s enough time,” he said. “I remember when Daryn Colledge was a rookie and we go down to Miami and he plays left tackle and I don’t think he had taken 10 reps at left tackle his whole rookie campaign. Guys have to prepare for multiple positions, unless you’re a truly established veteran starter in this league. I don’t think we can use that as an excuse. If he demonstrates that he’s capable, that will be plenty of time.”

    The odd man out

    While Colledge has a chance to keep the job at left guard, it appears Jason Spitz is out of the running without getting a fair shot. Spitz, who missed the offseason practices because of last year’s back surgery, played all three interior spots during the first week of camp without getting a chance to focus at left guard.

    “Jason is a very valued member of our offensive line,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He has excellent flexibility. He has started in football games, a number of football games for us. He’s played multiple positions, and I don’t view him any differently. He’s someone that can battle for a starting position, but he’s also someone that can play three positions if needed as a backup. My focus for Jason is really to see him get back to where he was when he was playing full-time. You forget that he was out all last season.”

    Spitz, who has 45 starts under his belt — including all 16 in 2008, when he played every snap — is day-to-day with a calf strain.

    Aches and pains

    A whopping 18 players were held out of the morning practice, including tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, who are on one-a-day schedules.

    Clifton didn’t participate in the night practice, either, because he got sick after the afternoon meetings. Allen Barbre took the first-team reps so Bulaga could focus on guard.

    Players who were out for the night practice: Brett Swain (knee), Atari Bigby (ankle), Will Blackmon (knee), Derrick Martin (ankle), Al Harris (knee), James Starks (hamstring), Frank Zombo (ankle), Alex Joseph (quad), Clay Matthews (hamstring), Spit (calf), Donald Driver (calf) and Andrew Quarless (hamstring). Cyril Obiozor dropped out with a calf strain. Nick Barnett (knee) and Ronald Talley (ankle) returned.

    Roster move

    Cornerback Josh Bell was put on season-ending injured reserve with a foot sprain and Maurice Simpkins, a 27-year-old linebacker from Coastal Carolina who played for the Green Bay Blizzard indoor team, was signed.

    “He had a good workout,” McCarthy said of the 6-foot, 236-pounder. “I saw his workout in there today and we felt that he validated an opportunity. I have not seen any film on him, I just saw his workout after the a.m. practice.”

    Four-point stance

    — After the morning practice, McCarthy said second-year defensive end Jarius Wynn was merely doing “OK.” Wynn must have got the message. In one-on-ones during the night practice, he ran around Barbre and then dumped Chris Campbell on his butt in the most thorough beating delivered by anyone during training camp.

    — The night practice was cut about 10 minutes short.

    “Our numbers are thin,” McCarthy said. “This is always a tough practice. If you look at the past three years of this format, this is a point in camp where your team’s pretty much stressed out. The design of the camp, particularly with the Wednesdays off, is to try to avoid the fatigue injuries as much as possible, and we’re heading in that direction, so we cut a little time off.”

    — Chris Bryan got the first rep during a punting period. His three punts averaged 42.3 yards. Tim Masthay got two punts and averaged 41.5. Both hit only one good punt.

    — Slocum said a return duo of Brandon Jackson on kickoffs and Will Blackmon on punts is a “real scenario.” Blackmon had three punt return touchdowns in 2007 and 2008 while Jackson returned a kickoff for a touchdown during the scrimmage.

  12. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

    Nov 22, 2007
    inching to 100k posts
    Donald Lee in trouble in Green Bay?

    adamprez2003 likes this.
  13. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    Much has been said about the Vikings returning all 22 starters from a team that was ever so close to making it to the Super Bowl, so going into the offseason and with the "final four rule" , the Vikings didn't have a lot to work with in the free agent market and they didn't need to necessarily draft an impact player like in years past. There were though a few positions that needed to be addressed and upgraded. Well not all of those positions like DT for example were addressed in the draft or free agentcy, but now that training camp has started I now realize why the organization did the moves they did and didn't do. My reasoning after the jump.


    The depth on this years Viking team is probably the best it has ever been since free agentcy and expansion teams have come into play and the FO has done a marvelous job of assembling talent for now and the future. I would like to recognize some of these players who so far are stepping it up :

    Asher Allen CB, during the offseason the FO felt that he wasn't where he should be in his development, but much to there suprise he came in to camp in shape and ready to go. Allen, a good cover CB in college and great tackler, has moved to the top of Depth chart at the RCB position. Allen had been playing the top nickle spot while Benny Sapp recovered from dehydration problems. The second year player who was going to be a top backup, has moved past Lito Sheppard into the starting line up.

    Letroy Guion DT, the third year player who just turned 23, looks like the light has finally come on. He added 10 lbs this offseason and actually got faster which is a good thing because he has always had a first good step. he has been known for being good at stopping the run but now he is getting after the QB. Look for him to spell KWill and see a lot of action this year. His emergence saved the Vikings from drafting a DT and they were able to use that draft pick on another position.

    Jamaca Sanford S, the second year player and seventh round pick has been a great ST player and was impressive while he filled in due to injury. This training camp he has been getting reps with the first team defense and will be pushing both T.Johnson and M.Williams for their starting spots. He will be the top backup at the S position, as he is a great tackler who brings the noise when he does.

    Jasper Brinkley MLB, after being thrown into the fire his rookie season last year with EJ Henderson going down to injury, Brinkley improved every week and continued to do so into the offseason; he spent a lot of time studying his assignments and is not going to give up the starting MLB job easily, EJ is going to have his work cut out. Brinkley is a thumper and this training camp he has left a few guys down for the count with his bruising tackles. The one knock on him was his pass coverage and this training that does not seem to be a problem.With him and Ej we now have the best depth at MLB in the league

    Chris Cook CB, our top draft pick this year, he has been great so far in training camp making plays on the ball, he leads in interceptions and seems to have a grasp of this defense after playing in a simular one in college. The report on him coming out of college was that he didn't like to tackle or get physical in run support but this training camp he has been hitting people. He will be Winfield's backup at LCB for now and may be moved over to RCB, with his size and speed and how he has been playing, he definitely looks the part as our top CB going into the future.

    Chris Degeare OG, never heard of this guy until we drafted him but now all I hear is great things about him. He played LT his senior year of college and did a fine job at it. He has great size and weight, with a thick build and the strength to go with it. For his size he has really good balance and athletism which will serve him great at OG. He has been given the oppertunity to play with the starters and has more than held his own. Playing in place of Hutchingson he handled All-Pro KWill and has been impressive. If he puts it all together he could be another Jahri Evens he has that much potential.

    Albert Young RB, after the Vikings drafted Toby Gerhert, it looked like Young would be battling for the third RB spot but so far he has held down the #2 spot behind AP and just may be our 3rd down back this year. After learning for two years behind Chester Taylor, he seems to have picked up a thing or two. He may be the surprize of training camp thus far.

    Everson Griffen DE, he may be the steal of the draft after sliding down in to the 4th round after he was projected as a1st or early 2nd round pick. He has show flashes of what the Vikings may be seeing for years to come, a great pass rusher and also good against the run. As the saying goes for the Vikings D-line "the rich get richer."

    Nate Triplett WLB, after playing MLB in college the Vikings have moved him to the weak side to groom him behind Ben Leber, and he has made some plays on the ball as his pass coverage skills are starting to shine at training camp. He is battling Erin Henderson for the backup position and possibly a roster spot.

    With a team full of veterans and many Viking fans thinking that our window of oppertunity is closing, the FO has restocked and reloaded this team for now and the future.

  14. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    The defensive end position is just one part of the Lions' revamped D-line, which will likely feature three new starters when the regular season opens. The lone familiar face will come at defensive end, as the likes of Jason Hunter and Cliff Avril are battling for a starting spot. The other side? That belongs to Kyle Vanden Bosch, the Lions' big defensive free agent acquisition.

    So far during training camp, Vanden Bosch's presence has been felt, both from a football standpoint as he makes plays, and from the standpoint of him being a leader and setting an example for the younger players on the team. Every day you hear about how Vanden Bosch is chasing down running backs even if they are 25 yards down the field and how he is one of the most intense people on the field. You also hear about how great of a leader he is, making me think he will be one of the Lions' captains for sure.


    With one starting job locked up, the rest of the defensive ends are battling to find their place in the starting lineup. The two main players involved in this battle are Avril and Hunter, who both had pretty good seasons a year ago. No matter who ends up with the starting job, it's obvious that the Lions' depth will be improved considering they have a few starting-caliber players at the defensive end position. (It's nice to be able to say that about a position on defense for a change.)

    The one dark horse in the starting competition is Turk McBride. He spent the offseason bulking up and getting back to the size he was at during his days in Kansas City with Gunther Cunningham, and he is looking to make his own push for a starting job this training camp. When Vanden Bosch got a day off last week, McBride stepped in to practice with the first team, so at the very least he will be there in case KVB goes down with an injury or something.

    The other DEs on the roster are rookies Willie Young and Chima Ihekwoaba and the veteran Jared DeVries. Right now as far as a spot on the roster goes, you'd imagine DeVries has the edge because he is a veteran. It's very common for younger players with upside to unseat veteran guys like DeVries, but both Young and Ihekwoaba are raw players that I could see ending up on the practice squad. DeVries may be older and is still dealing with some injuries, but it never hurts to have another veteran leader around.

    Need going forward?

    Depth is pretty solid at defensive end right now, so I can't imagine the Lions making a move at this position unless there is an injury.

  15. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    Now instantly, the first thing I noticed and I hope you all noticed too was our Defensive Line play. Cliff Avril looked like a brand new player finally showing his star ability. Our DT's were pushing into the Pittsburgh backfield. Kyle Vanden Bosch showed his leadership he brings to this defense. Jim Schwartz was right, a quarterback can't throw a pass on his back or with a defender in his face.

    Yet when he does get that ball away it can be scary for our weak secondary. There is more speed back there, but definately not enough experience. Safetys C.C. Brown and Randy Philips both played well. C.C. Brown stopped a big run play causing a forced fumble. While Randy Philips was always around the ball carrier. This is my biggest concern about our Lions- Secondary depth and the fact that our back-ups are horrifying. Dennis Dixon picked us apart as the second strings came in.

    I was extremely disappointed when Jordon Dizon went down with an injury and I could tell it wasn't good as the trainers looked at his left knee. With already thin depth at the Linebacker position lets pray Deandre Levy heals up quickly. Zach Follett was fun to watch, he just looked like he wanted to hit people and hard the whole time he was out there.

    Offensively I am proud of our Offensive Line play, we gave up one sack folks that's right one! (In the fourth quarter too I think) Stafford look poised and calm in the pocket most of the time and threw a nice touchdown to Calvin Johnson. His one interception came on a dropped pass from Jahvid Best. Best looked a little shaky and over-excited but showed his home run ability we all talk about. One time eluding two tacklers in the backfield which would have been a 4 yard loss and turning into a 6 yard gain for a first down.

    Special teams coverage was much improved and returns were average which is an upgrade.

    Winners- Cliff Avril, Shaun Hill

    Cliff Avril showed his speed and his ability to get into the backfield quickly and cause problems for the offense.

    I am extremely happy to finally have a good back-up in Shaun Hill. He comes onto the field, does his job, and gets it done.

    Losers- Derrick Williams, Dede Dorsey

    Williams is quickly dropping on this roster with his poor return plays, like a fair catch on the 4 yard line when no one is around him.

    Dorsey showed very little of why he should be on this roster that is already packed with good Running backs. With very little explosiveness and a fumble in the red zone.

  16. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    It's time at last. It's time at last. Thank Ditka and Halas it's preseason time at last. We've waited, we've prognosticated, we've pumped up players that might not even make the roster, and we've downplayed guys that may end up being diamonds in the rough. All statements about players could and might generally end as soon as those cleats hit the live field; and while the first game of the preseason is too soon for doomsaying, it's certainly not too soon for rays of beautiful orange and blue sunshine.

    There were plenty of things to be worried about coming into the first game, and just as much to be excited about as well. Both statements are still true, but hilariously, most of what the national outlets wanted to worry about and focus on ended up being non-factors. On the flip side of that coin, the vast majority of what the fans wanted to focus on ended up being front and center. Let's stay as excited as we were before this game about the rest of the season, and I'll do my best below the fold to give you some reasons why that excitement should be overflowing after what some deemed an underwhelming performance.


    1. The second play from scrimmage of the game...

    I know what you're thinking, or more like what you weren't thinking. It's extremely tough to remember the minutia of a game a few days out, but with the magic of replays you can go back and see something very similar to what I saw then and now. First things first, yes Harris and Adams were doing nothing on this play. A shame to be sure, but what was fantastic to see was the immense amount of pressure coming from Peppers on the left side, and a surprising amount of effort from Anderson on the right as well. Anderson gets driven to the ground about a yard from the QB, Peppers is absolutely dominating whoever they have at LT. An already designed quick pass is forced off even faster than normal, the LT is driven into the QB and that slight bit of extra pressure is enough to get an errant throw that was a bit more focused away from being a pick six.

    2. The blocking was nowhere near as bad as I'd feared.

    It sounds strange to say, but the blocking from the first team offensive line was nowhere near as bad as I had thought when watching the game live. The sack on the first series was an absolutely abysmal block by Forte, but if someone is blocking abysmally I'd rather it be a normally good blocking running back than someone we're going to be relying on to protect our franchise quarterback. The pressure on the next play that ended the series was also somewhat of a concern on my first viewing, but on a second look it was the rookie Lance Louis showing growing pains by losing control of his guy and Olson just getting absolutely surprised and then waylaid. Again, not something you love to see, but we all knew that Louis was going to have a lot of growing pains being a rookie conversion product in a non-gelled line, and Olsen is Olsen. His blocking technique has improved, but at the end of the day blocking just is never the foremost thought on his mind.

    So there were faults, but there were less of them than I was thinking we'd see, and quite a few were by non-linesmen. There were good things to be found on the line as well. Kreutz was without a doubt moving a lot better than last year. In fact, I'd like to call attention to the outside running play from the first series. Not only does Kreutz get out to block, but Omiyale pancakes the lightning bolt off of some Charger on the play, and had Kreutz squared up just a bit more Forte would have had an easy eight or nine yard gain. I'd love to see the line gel a lot faster, and I'd love to see the line get a lot more push on the inside runs, but it already looks better than last year.

    3. Major Wright looks to have been a very good pick.

    I'm not going to call for him to immediately be named a starter, but he really did make the case for the Bears making the right call by drafting him. He was all over the field, and was taking great paths to the ball the whole time he was in the game. Incredibly sound tackling one on one to top it all off, I would love to see him taking over at FS and moving Chris Harris up to SS at some point this year without a doubt, but it remains to be seen if he'll be able to get enough reps before the season starts.

    4. D.J Moore has finally got the right mindset for an NFL player.

    D.J. actually looked pretty good in the game, but above all else he seems to have finally adopted a bit more of a hard-nosed approach to the game and the way he plays it. You could tell he had a lot more fire in the playing time he received, and was looking to prove he belonged on the field. While Moore is going to find it extremely difficult to break the starting lineup as anything more than a nickel right now, his continued improvement will give the Bears an immense amount of depth amongst the defensive backs.

    5. The Wide Receivers made the case that many of us thought they would.

    The moves Johnny Knox put on the Chargers defense were fantastic, and the only thing better than the moves were the way he was coming down with the ball like he had velcro on his hands. The fantastic leaping catch that really showed of his athleticism on the second throw proved to me that he is definitely the wide receiver of the present and future for the Chicago Bears. Devin Aromashodu definitely continued where he left off, even taking into account that he was playing against the second string defense at times, he looked extremely fluid and is going to put up some great numbers this year. Even the Droppapotamus rose from the ashes to put up a solid effort, and generally gave me warm fuzzies about our entire receiving group. I can barely wait to see Earl Bennett back on the field and working the middle as well, or a bit more usage of the tight ends like we've seen in camp.

  17. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    As announced previously in this space, Comcast has generously agreed to support the best NFL community around--us. As part of that effort, between now and the end of the 2010 NFL season, Comcast will be sponsoring a variety of special editorial and interactive features on our site.

    The first pre-season game is in the books, and overall the Minnesota Vikings looked pretty good against the St. Louis Rams. Yes, I know, say it along with me. . .it was only the Rams. . .but this is pre-season, and the talent on each sideline isn't always reflected in the final score. However, for a Vikings team that went into the Edward Jones down without Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, and Visanthe Shiancoe. . .or, if you prefer, Pro Bowler, Pro Bowler, Pro Bowler, Pro Bowler, and more TD catches than any TE in football over the last two years. . .things went almost as well as could be expected.

    So, what were some of the things that we learned last night? Let's have a look.


    The Minnesota Vikings are ridiculously deep along the defensive line - Take a look at the defensive linemen on our roster right now. Not just the starting front four, but the guys that are behind them. Right now, the #2 and #3 guys on the Vikings' defensive line depth chart are guys like Brian Robison, Jimmy Kennedy, Fred Evans, Letroy Guion, Everson Griffen, and Jayme Mitchell. And depending on how the depth chart shakes out, at least one of those guys. . .and possibly two. . .aren't going to make the final cut for this team. There are probably quite a few teams that those players could go to and make an impact, but in Minnesota there just isn't going to be room for them.

    Guion, Evans, and Mitchell, in my opinion, are playing for roster spots. At least one of them will stay, maybe two. And the one (or two) that get cut will probably immediately sign with other teams and be no worse than solid rotation players, and perhaps more. I've touted Karl Dunbar as the best defensive line coach in the NFL in this space for some time, and the job he's done with guys like Robison, Kennedy, and Ray Edwards really speaks to that, in my opinion.

    Brad Childress' confidence in Tarvaris Jackson is borderline ridiculous - Yes, I get that you don't want people to have a ton of film on T-Jack or something. And I get that you don't want anything to happen to him in the event that Brett Favre doesn't return. And I know that exactly none of the skill position starters, save Bernard Berrian (if we count him as a starter), played on Saturday night.

    But, seriously, dude needs more than one series of work in the first pre-season game of the year. Particularly if circumstances at some point dictate that he is going to be "the guy" behind center this season.

    Jackson went 2-for-4 for 11 yards for the Vikings against the Rams for the one drive he was in.

    The run blocking needs to get better, and it needs to get there in a hurry - Granted, we had a lot of top-shelf guys that didn't play on the O-line for more than a series, but for the better part of the evening the run blocking was atrocious. Viking rushers carried the ball 31 times on Saturday night, and gained a total of 78 yards (2.6 yards/carry). Take out Joe Webb's 3 scrambles for 24 yards, and that goes down to 54 yards on 28 carries (1.9 yards/carry). Albert Young, who started at running back in place of Adrian Peterson carried six times, and amassed a total of -7 yards (that's minus-7, which means the average Young carry moved us a yard in the wrong direction). Toby Gerhart led the Vikings in rushing with 24 yards, but it took him eight carries to get there.

    Regardless of who is quarterbacking this team this season, the running game absolutely has to be better than this. Hopefully, as we get closer to the start of the season, it will get better. . .I'm not sure if it can get much worse than 1.9 yards/carry, but I've been shocked before.

    The battle at the bottom of the wide receiver depth chart is going to be interesting - In my opinion, only three wide receivers are mortal locks to make this roster. . .Rice, Harvin, and Berrian. Mike Mayock said last night that he thought Greg Lewis was pretty much a shoo-in, too, and hey. . .who am I to question that guy? So, if you figure those four guys are in, the battle for the fifth WR spot is shaping up to be an interesting one. Jaymar Johnson, from some accounts, appears to be the favorite right now, but a guy that asserted himself fairly well last night and could be making a strong case for himself is former Gopher standout Logan Payne. Payne led the Vikings in receptions last night with seven, good for 52 yards and a two-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter of play. If Payne can make a significant contribution on special teams, he and Jaymar should have an interesting battle for the last wide receiver spot on the big club.

    And that's what I saw last night. . .what did you folks see? Discuss it all below, and enjoy the rest of your Sunday, ladies and gentlemen.

    Oh. . .damn, is it great to have football back or what?

  18. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    Preseason game one is in the books with a 27-24 loss to the Browns. Thanks to the good people at NFL.com who made the entire preseason available online, being able to watch the game instead of listening to it on a fuzzy reception on WTMJ, so much more was able to be seen firsthand. Here are a few Quick Slants of last night’s game without re-watching the game…yet. A few of the highlights can be seen here.

    * Aaron Rodgers was good. Very, very, very good last night (12-13, 159 tds. 1 TD)
    * Jermichael Finley stretching the field is going to make covering Jennings and Driver very difficult.
    * The running game, except for Quinn Porter and Kregg Lumpkin in scrub time was non existent
    * A.J. Hawk is absolutely terrible in coverage
    * The offensive line was excellent. I may have started to change my mind on Bulaga starting at left guard as a result
    * Giacomini held his own, as did (gasp) Allen Barbre
    * The best pass rush of the night came from Justin Harrell and Mike Neal. That is a scary thought assuming Capers was not tipping his hat too much (we hope). Not much was coming from anyone else.
    * Mike McCarthy was NOT a happy camper at halftime-very evident during his halftime interview
    * If Quinn Johnson could block against starters the way he blocks against second and third teamers, he would be an All Pro. He was blowing up defenders in the 3rd and 4th quarter.
    * Special Teams coverage is still atrocious. How does Shawn Slocum preach all offseason and come out and stink like they did.
    * Jarrett Bush still sucks

    The pass defense in the first quarter left so much to be desired, words cannot do justice to what we saw. Aaron Nagler at Cheeseheadtv (cheeseheadtv.com) breaks it down into perfection here but I will add one more thing.

    The Packers were torched in the passing game against the Browns last night. The Browns. This is a team who ranked dead last in 2009 with 129.8 yards per game. Have the Browns added that much to their offense that they could throw for 211 yards against the fearsome Packers offense? Do the names Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace strike fear into opposing defenses? I would hope not, although both are veteran quarterbacks who have seen their share of defenses in the past.

    There was essentially no pass rush last night, and the coverage issues which existed at the end of last season were there again last night. Dom Capers was criticized last season for showing too much in the preseason, especially against Arizona when he came out with everything but the kitchen sink. Understanding that this is only the preseason, and this is the time to make mistakes and learn from them, I hope Capers looks at this film and realizes that although the end result means zero in the standings, the rest of the league should now take note of the approach the Packers used in the defensive scheme and analyze it. If the Browns can pick the D apart, who knows what other teams that are substantially better on offense could do. Hopefully vanilla is Capers’ favorite ice cream flavor, because that is all we saw last night: page one of the playbook.

    One comforting thought of last night is this: in 1996 the Packers went 3-1 in the preseason. They went on to win the Super Bowl. In 1999, the Packers went 4-0 in the preseason. They finished 8-8, missed the playoffs, and the Ray Rhodes era came to an abrupt end. Lesson learned: preseason results dictate nothing.

  19. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    By Brad Biggs, Tribune Reporter
    9:55 p.m. CDT, August 17, 2010
    BOURBONNAIS — Frank Omiyale's adventure at right tackle has been much smoother than a year ago, when the Bears inserted him at left guard.

    Omiyale graded out well in Saturday's exhibition opener, and the Bears are hoping that will serve as a building block for the offensive line. He looked more comfortable and natural, even if he's more accustomed to the left side, after struggling to play with proper leverage a year ago.

    "It's getting good," Omiyale said. "I'm getting my hands back where I want them. I'm still working on my feet. I've definitely had some good sets against (Julius) Peppers. He got me a couple of times. But it's getting better every day."

    Line coach Mike Tice got expressive with his group Tuesday morning, but whatever his issue was, things ran smoother during the evening practice. Tice is looking for better run blocking Saturday against the Raiders.

    "(In the game it was) exactly how it has been in practice, one block off here, one block off there," Tice said. "We just have got to continue to work on our timing, pay attention to some of the smaller details like splits and things like that. But for the first time out of the block, I was pleased with the start."
    Moore chances? Second-year nickel back D.J. Moore got only eight snaps on defense Saturday because the Chargers rarely went to three-wide personnel. That didn't give the 2009 fourth-round pick a lot of opportunities, but he continues to get occasional looks with the starters in practice.

    Corey Graham appears to be the leading candidate for the job, but coach Lovie Smith continues to praise Moore.
    "That's OK," Moore said. "I got chances on special teams, and I am trying to prove myself there too."
    Extra points: The MRI on linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer's injured foot brought good news, and he is expected to return to practice soon. … Running back Chester Taylor is sidelined with a hamstring injury, and his absence will provide Garrett Wolfe valuable opportunities. … Wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias made some nice catches with the second team. … Wide receiver Earl Bennett (hamstring), defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert (shoulder) and linebacker Matt Mayberry (left ankle) were sidelined


    BOURBONNAIS — Don't tell Darryl Drake that Devin Aromashodu isn't a starter.

    The Bears wide receivers coach will go in circles making the point that Aromashodu, who broke out in the final four games last season, is every bit as much of a starter as the two guys listed atop the depth chart — Johnny Knox and Devin Hester.

    "All three of those guys are at the top of the depth chart," Drake said. "We've got three starters. There ain't no buts. You listen to what I said. We have three starters right now. Don't try to get me to say what you want me to say. I just told you what the deal was."

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    It was pointed out that when Jay Cutler was with the starters on the first drive Saturday at San Diego, Aromashodu was in for only two of the eight snaps, when the Bears went with three-receiver personnel.

    "That's because (Cutler) played only eight plays," Drake said. "Golly. That is what I consider him, a starter."

    Aromashodu finished 2009 as Cutler's preferred target, catching 22 passes for 282 yards and four touchdowns in the final four games. Knox has been most targeted in training camp, but Aromashodu is still the player that offers a different dimension at 6-foot-2, 201 pounds. Cutler seems to like the big target.

    With a sore groin sidelining Hester a week ago and Knox recently out with a sore hamstring, Aromashodu has gotten more practice time and he's in the difficult spot of having to learn three positions: the X, Z and F. Primarily, he has been drilled at the F, which is the third receiver. Depending on the play, he can line up inside or outside.

    "He has progressed every week and we're making it hard on him," offensive coordinator Mike Martz said. "He's not had the mental errors I thought he might have."

    Aromashodu made four catches for 78 yards at San Diego, proving he could work well with backup Caleb Hanie on a 7-yard touchdown pass that they improvised.

    "I was happy with how I did, a couple things I have to correct, but for the most part it was OK," Aromashodu said. "I was just trying to pick up where I left off last season and just be consistent. That is the main thing."

    Aromashodu would have gotten a much earlier chance last year if a chain reaction wasn't started when he suffered a pesky quad injury just before the start of the season. It took him longer to return than expected and in his absence Knox emerged as a bright spot for the future.

    With Martz having such a penchant for three-receiver sets, you would figure Aromashodu is in for a substantial bump in playing time. He was on the field for 26.4 percent of the offensive snaps in 2009. But Martz will also be juggling his tight ends. The Bears paid handsomely for Brandon Manumaleuna to effectively be a third offensive tackle, and Greg Olsen should have a featured role.

    "Of course, everybody would like to start," Aromashodu said. "I don't really worry about that because I don't control it. I know my ability. Hopefully, they know my ability too. If I make more plays, I'll be on the field more."

    What the Bears are projecting, Aromashodu has never done. His biggest season at Auburn was in 2005 when he made 26 receptions for 494 yards and four touchdowns as a senior. In fairness, the Tigers were a running team.

    "I expect him to have a huge season," Drake said. "He expects to have a huge season. He is in a great situation right now and it is up to him to take advantage of it."

  20. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    The Green Bay Packers may have pulled two opening-day starters out of this year’s draft, but it’s the future of the defense that has benefited the most from recent newcomers.

    Third-round safety Morgan Burnett has worked with the No. 1 defense throughout the offseason and training camp with 2009 starter Atari Bigby out. Meanwhile, first-round pick Bryan Bulaga is in a tight competition with Daryn Colledge to start at left guard.

    Last year, the Packers wound up with two rookie starters: first-round linebacker Clay Matthews cracked the No. 1 defensive unit a month into the season, and seventh-round outside linebacker Brad Jones replaced the injured Aaron Kampman in the final eight games.

    Mix in 2009 first-round defensive tackle B.J. Raji, who will start this season, and 2010 second-round defensive end Mike Neal, who will be in the top five rotation, and there’s a young core on defense built through the last two drafts.

    The 2006 draft, when Greg Jennings, Colledge, Jason Spitz and A.J. Hawk all started during that season, was the last time the franchise produced numerous rookie starters. But the Packers were coming off a 4-12 season and presumably starting jobs were easier to acquire. Now, with the Packers coming off a playoff berth and 11-5 season, it should be harder to crack the lineup.

    Packers General Manager Ted Thompson likes how his team is coming together.

    “I think that’s always kind of an ideal situation, have a nice mix of veterans and young guys,” Thompson said. “So that there’s history and understanding and experience on the part of the veterans. Then you have the future and the excitement and the nervousness on the part of the rookies.

    “I think that makes a good mix.”

    But can that mix equate to a Super Bowl-quality defense this season?

    The Packers were the No. 1 run defense in the league before adding Neal, who teammates think may be the strongest defensive lineman on the roster. Ends Cullen Jenkins and Ryan Pickett are proven commodities and Nick Barnett and Hawk are dependable as inside linebackers. Reigning NFL defensive player of the year Charles Woodson and two-time Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins anchor the secondary.

    The pass rush continues to be the glaring weakness, but the organization is counting on youth to pick up the slack.

    Instead of drafting a high-profile pass rusher, Thompson had faith in Jones, who is battling with Brandon Chillar for the starting job opposite Matthews.

    “When you think about last year, you look at us the second half of the season and we really had three rookie starters in that defensive front,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “With B.J. Raji, Clay (Matthews) and Brad (Jones), we liked the way they played, so that’s a good young group.

    “If we can add some more young guys, you’ve got a pretty good young defense you can build on.”

    The Packers ranked No. 2 in the NFL in overall defense last season, and assuming early returns are accurate, Burnett and Neal could make it better.

    “We still have a lot of preseason left and training camp and all that,” Thompson said. “But so far, the (draft) group as a whole looks pretty good and I think can come in and play and help us win some games this year.”

    The rest of the draft class — tight end Andrew Quarless (fifth round), offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse (fifth round), running back James Starks (sixth round) and defensive end C.J. Wilson — would be given incomplete grades through 17 practices.

    Quarless has been up and down, flashing athleticism at times and dropping routine passes at others. He doesn’t figure to play a huge role in the offense behind Jermichael Finley and even Donald Lee, but stands a decent chance to make the final roster.

    Newhouse took snaps at guard during the offseason but has worked mostly at tackle during camp. Making the 53-man squad will be a challenge for the TCU product.

    “Tackle, from the knowledge we have at this point, will be his best position,” offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. “Whether that could eventually be on the right or left side, it’s too early to tell. But I think he looks more natural and comfortable at tackle.”

    Starks hasn’t taken part in practice because of a hamstring injury. His absence has been felt more this week because starter Ryan Grant has missed two practices with a concussion and Kregg Lumpkin is down with a hamstring injury. Brandon Jackson and undrafted rookie Quinn Porter were the only healthy halfbacks.

    Starks was drafted to be in the rotation and possibly compete with Jackson for the No. 2 job.

    “Hopefully it’s more frustrating for him than us,” Philbin said. “I’m sure it is. Can’t get a very sound evaluation if you haven’t seen a guy practice in pads, that’s for sure.

    “It’s a little bit of a challenge we have to work through.”

    Wilson hasn’t made much of a mark behind Jenkins, Pickett, Neal, Justin Harrell and Jarius Wynn. The practice squad may be his best shot.

  21. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    Allen Park -- The Lions have acquired defensive end Lawrence Jackson, a first-round pick in 2008, from the Seattle Seahawks, his agent has confirmed.

    "He has been made aware of the trade and he's looking forward to getting out there," said Sean Howard, who also is the agent for Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew. "He's very excited."

    The Lions apparently are giving back an undetermined 2011 draft pick.


    Depth is a big concern at defensive end for the Lions, especially with veteran Jared DeVries still out with a knee injury. They released Jason Hunter on Monday, and have veteran Turk McBride and two rookies backing up starters Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril.

    Jackson, 24 out of USC, has been a disappointment in Seattle. He made 29 tackles last season and has been hampered by a hamstring injury in training camp. Coach Pete Carroll, who coached him in college, was trying to make him into a hybrid end-outside linebacker to fit his system and the process was going slow for Jackson.

    From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/2010...nce-Jackson-for-2011-draft-pick#ixzz0x0rkQDOn

    The defensive line had two encroachment penalties and one offside call go against them last week in Pittsburgh.

    In practice Tuesday morning, defensive linemen jumped offside at least three times.

    Get used to it.


    The first order of business for the line is to get off the ball quick and be aggressive. They will live with the odd 5-yard penalty.

    "We're wired and when the center has his hand on the ball, if anything twitches, we're going to go," DE Kyle Vanden Bosch said. "There are going to be times when we're drawn offside. It's one way for an offense to slow a fast, attacking defensive line.

    "But at the same time, we have to be smart. We have to know the situation and know when we absolutely cannot jump offside."

    Like on Tuesday, when Andre Fluellen jumped on a third-and-2. That can't happen.

    "We have to be alert for situations," coach Jim Schwartz said. "When you see a coach get upset, especially me, it's more for guys not thinking than being too aggressive."

    But Schwartz reiterated what Vanden Bosch said: The Lions will err on the side of aggression.

    "The best way to not be offside is to not get off the ball and not be aggressive," he said. "That's not an option."
    Second down

    The one upside to having so many defensive backs out (eight during the Tuesday morning's session) is that those who remain are getting bonus reps.

    CB Eric King and S Jonathan Hefney got reps with the first team.

    "I am loving all the reps," said Hefney, who is fighting to win a roster spot. "I am not mad at this at all."

    Hefney, who took an ill-timed interference penalty on a third-and-9 against the Steelers, looked good Tuesday morning, making several strong coverage plays in seven-on-seven and team periods.

    King, too, impressed. He was especially strong in one-on-one drills, showing excellent quickness on the short corner routes.

    Even rookie Amari Spievey, who finally appears to be moving pain-free, made a couple strong plays. His best came on a long pass to Nate Burleson. Spievey was initially beaten on the move, but closed quickly, deflecting the pass in the air and ultimately picking it off.

    "I think we are holding up pretty good," Hefney said of the extra workload. "You just have to go through it and hang in the best you can."

    There was one point in seven-on-sevens when they were short a cornerback. Jonathan Wade, out with a broken finger and on the sidelines without a helmet, ran onto the field to fill the vacancy.

    Defensive backs coach Tim Walton immediately shouted, "Wade! Get off!"
    Third down

    Talk about being tossed into the fire.

    MLB Lee Campbell, signed Monday, and DE Korey Bosworth, signed Tuesday, got more work they probably bargained for.

    Both, understandably, looked a bit lost.

    Bosworth, nephew of former Seattle LB Brian Bosworth, also looks considerably undersized. He played at 233 pounds his junior season at UCLA and was listed at 241 in the pre-draft information.

    "(Bosworth) is a guy we had some interest in from our college scouts," Schwartz said. "He was in shape and could give us some work. This is a good opportunity for him. We threw him right into the fire."

    Bosworth made a strong play in the afternoon session, putting heavy pressure on QB Drew Stanton and batting down his pass.

    Campbell had the misfortune of being matched one-on-one with TE Brandon Pettigrew during one of the afternoon team periods. Advantage Pettigrew, who beat him by about five yards and made a nice catch on a high, hard pass.
    Fourth down

    A very welcome sight Tuesday afternoon was No. 54 in the middle of the defense on both seven-on-seven drills and team drills.

    "I felt really good today," MLB DeAndre Levy said. "It's one thing to doing the position drills but it's a whole different thing getting live contact. That's going to be the next test. I don't want to rush things."

    Levy returned Monday after missing most of the first two weeks with back stiffness. He only did position work and some seven-on-seven Monday. He skipped the morning session Tuesday but practiced full-out in the afternoon.

    "We actually held DeAndre back in the morning," Schwartz said. "He was ready. He's going to need some time to shake the rust off but he's going to be fine

    From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/2010...ine--wired---prepared-to-attack#ixzz0x0rt9YKj

    At the NFL owners' meetings in March, Schwartz got on the subject of the frailty of defensive backs throughout the league.

    "Defensive backs get hurt at a higher rate than just about any other position on the field," the Lions coach said. "The reason is, other positions have gotten bigger and bigger while defensive backs have stayed basically the same, especially corners. It's not a matter of if somebody gets hurt and has to miss a game; it's a matter of when."


    Then came Tuesday, when Schwartz had to cut the morning practice session short because of an acute personnel shortage in the secondary.

    "It's definitely an issue," Schwartz said. "We only did one group of the no-huddle drill at the end instead of two. We stayed with a lot of base defense; we haven't been able to work our nickel packages much. We need to get some of our cornerbacks back."

    Missing in action Tuesday morning were cornerbacks Jonathan Wade (finger), Dre Bly (thigh), Aaron Berry (hamstring) and Jack Williams (knee), and safeties Louis Delmas (groin), Dante Wesley (unspecified) and Ko Simpson (knee).

    On top of that, safety Randy Phillips was taken off the field early because of dehydration.

    "It makes it really hard to practice," defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said. "And our offense doesn't make it any easier. They have to practice their stuff, and they are running three wide receivers and we are playing them with three linebackers. I could match up (with defensive backs) but I'd be killing the guys."

    The Lions worked out three cornerbacks between sessions and signed Jahi Word-Daniels, who played in two games for the Lions last year but was released after team mini-camp in June.

    As fate would have it, Word-Daniels injured his left hamstring halfway through practice.

    "Bad luck, to say the least," said Word-Daniels, who flew in from Atlanta on Monday night.

    Still, the Lions were able to get through the afternoon session.

    Simpson and Phillips both returned. Phillips, whose fianceé gave birth to a girl Monday, picked off two passes.

    Were this a regular-season week, Wade, Bly and probably Delmas would be practicing. The Lions, though, aren't going to push it, especially with Delmas' groin.

    It is unlikely Delmas and Wade will play at Denver on Saturday.
    Young impresses

    For much of camp, the Lions were wondering what happened to the athletic defensive end they drafted in the seventh round out of North Carolina State. He finally showed up last Saturday in Pittsburgh.

    "He'd not been practicing very well, quite honestly," Schwartz said of Willie Young . "His brain was slowing his body down, so to speak. He sort of got paralyzed by all the different things we were throwing at him like special teams and blitz packages and stuff like that, and he wasn't able to show his athletic ability.

    "In the game, that just sort of flipped. He cut loose in the game."

    Young had five solo tackles and dominated the left side of the Steelers' second-team offensive line.

    "He made a couple of really nice plays and that was good to see," Schwartz said. "He really affected the game."
    Extra points

    The Lions put tight end Richard Dickson on the waived-injured list.

    ... Sitting out both sessions: fullback Matt Clapp (undisclosed), defensive end Jared DeVries (knee) and kicker Jason Hanson . Sitting out the morning session: running back Kevin Smith (knee), tight end Brandon Pettigrew (knee) and receiver Tim Toone (undisclosed). Sitting gout the afternoon session: offensive tackle Jason Fox .

    From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/2010...-secondary-numbers-are-thinning#ixzz0x0s1LmfR
  22. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity


    Defensive Line. Brian Robison and Jimmy Kennedy could start on 8 or 9 other teams in the NFL. The Vikings pressure, regardless of who was applying it, was relentless. Oh, and the Welcome to the NFL, Sam Bradford.

    Sage Rosenfels. 300 yards passing is 300 yards passing, especially when you’ve been jacked around like Rosenfels has. He made some very good throws, and yeah, although it was pre-season, it was a bit reassuring to see him do well after a shaky opening to training camp. He had some zip on his short and intermediate throws, and nice touch on his two deep TD passes.


    Toby Gerhart, RB. Not a great debut, but did okay. His first NFL action was highlighted by a nice 20+ yard run in the second quarter. I haven’t re-watched the game (yes, I do that for you people…I accept PayPal), but nothing jumped out at me in a negative way regarding Gerhart. The line didn’t do him or any of the backs any favors, but he seemed to be okay in pass protection.

    Secondary. I thought it was an overall good performance. No big plays given up, aggressive coverage, for the most part, and everyone came out healthy. Chris Cook made a couple of good plays, I thought, and like Gerhart didn’t do anything that jumped out in a negative way.

    Joe Webb, QB. Very promising display from the rookie. He’s still young, and a couple times he reverted to relying on his natural ability, but I thought he looked calm and poised in the pocket, and had a nice TD drive in the fourth quarter.


    Rhys Lloyd, K. Are the Vikings really going to waste a roster spot with two kickers? Lloyd didn’t do anything terrible in his brief appearance, but he wasn’t any better than Ryan Longwell, either. Maybe once he gets in a dome he’ll get…more…distance…never mind.

    Ian Johnson, RB. Although Albert Young had the worst stat line, he did it in the position of the #2 RB. I feel Johnson’s days are numbered, as 6 yards on 4 carries just won’t get you moved up on the depth chart. Johnson was a feel good story at Boise State, but I think his time as a Viking will be coming to a close.

    Offensive Line. The offensive line, as a unit, was as bad as the defensive line was good. Other than three runs I can think of off the top of my head, the backs were met on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage all night. The pass protection, for the most part, was good, but there were no running lanes all night. And when a running back did get some daylight, there was either a holding or false start penalty called.


    Buy: Darius Reynaud, RB. I thought he was the most impressive back of the evening, and looked faster than either Albert Young or Toby Gerhart. He had a couple nice blitz pickups as well as a couple of special teams plays, and went a long way to make up ground between him, Young, and Gerhart. His stat line wasn’t that impressive, but he had two very good runs that were called back on penalty.

    Buy: Logan Payne, WR. If the Vikings carry five receivers, I agree with Chris’ assessment from the game wrap that 1-4 are pretty much set. Lewis is the ‘savvy vet guy’ that can play any of the receiver positions for a short term injury substitute, so I can see why Mayock thinks he’s a lock. But if they go with five, it’s between Jaymar Johnson, Logan Payne, and Ray Small. Of those three, I thought Payne had the best night. Jaymar Johnson might have the inside track due to his use on special teams, but Payne seems to be making a move on the outside.

    Buy: Garrett Mills, TE. I thought Mickey Shuler might make a push for a roster spot, but Mills played well. He looked way out of position on the Danny Amendola punt return, but had a nice TD reception, and over 200 yards receiving. The Rams announcers insisted it was blown coverage, which it might have been, but if your secondary can’t track down Garrett Mills, it’s going to be a long season, fellas.

    Sell: Ray Small, WR. I was intrigued by Small when the Vikings signed him, but I don’t think he’ll make it. He didn’t do anything to lose a job, but he didn’t do anything to take a spot away from someone, either. And that’s what he has to do. It was an okay night, but okay won’t cut it for a guy that’s currently on the outside looking in.

    Sell: Albert Young, RB. Young came into the game as the #2 RB on the depth chart, and he didn’t do himself any favors. He looked very slow, and although the line was terrible, it was equally terrible for everybody, and Gerhart and Reynaud were still able to make something happen. Logic tells me that if the trend lines keep going in their current direction, at some point Gerhart and/or Reynaud will overtake Albert Young.

    So, those are your stock tips for the week. Check back in next week for more tips. Unless, of course, Chris thinks this is stupid, and he fires me, which is probably long overdue.

  23. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin(notes) was taken to a hospital by ambulance after collapsing at Thursday’s practice, and coach Brad Childress said Harvin suffered another migraine headache attack.

    Harvin, who has dealt with migraines most of his life, has been unable to practice for most of training camp because of the headaches and their debilitating symptoms.

    Harvin returned to the field on Monday after missing more than two weeks, but at the beginning of Thursday’s workout he experienced another episode that was scary enough for the Vikings to halt practice while their teammate received medical attention.

  24. BuckeyeKing

    BuckeyeKing Wolves DYNASTY!!!!

    Dec 6, 2007
    The NFL should let Harvin smoke weed. If they wont I would retire his life isn't worth losing over this bull****.
  25. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity
    His are the worst Ive ever heard of. I thought Terrell Davis had bad migraines but Harvin's seem like another category. Must suck. Does weed help :lol:
  26. BuckeyeKing

    BuckeyeKing Wolves DYNASTY!!!!

    Dec 6, 2007
    Well I didn't hear anything about his Migraines while at Florida. I know he smokes weed and was caught at the combine so I can only assume he medicates himself.
    adamprez2003 likes this.
  27. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    The Bears left San Diego feeling good about the pass blocking while wanting to see improvement opening holes in the running game.

    Coming out of Saturday's 32-17 exhibition loss to the Raiders, they feel just the opposite. It's a shame it won't be as easy as matching one with the other starting Monday when the team returns to work at Halas Hall.

    The offense rushed for 174 yards against the Raiders but surrendered six sacks, five on starting quarterback Jay Cutler in the first half.

    Growing pains were expected. They've moved to a new offense that calls for more seven-step drops than they've used previously, and new line coach Mike Tice has been charged with reshuffling the deck.

    But left tackle Chris Williams, the 14th pick of the 2008 draft, was supposed to be one of the sure things. The questions resided on the other side of the line, and some wondered if major surgery on his Achilles' tendon would make a difference for 33-year-old center Olin Kreutz.

    Then, the Raiders' Kamerion Wimbley raced around Williams for four sacks on only 21 drop-backs.

    No one had to turn to the tape to know what happened. Wimbley simply beat Williams around the corner, sometimes dipping his shoulder and going under to cut down the path to Cutler. They were one-on-one battles that Wimbley won, twice in three-man pass rushes when teams don't expect to bring down the quarterback.

    Williams never looked this dominated against Julius Peppers in practice. Cutler said it's not a scheme issue, although you can bet tight end Brandon Manumaleuna will be lined up next to Williams plenty come Week 2, when the Cowboys are plotting the downfall of Cutler with their own outside linebacker, DeMarcus Ware.

    Williams took blame and talked repeatedly about going back to work before finally thanking a PR staffer for cutting off a Q&A session at his locker.

    "I got beat. No surprises. Just didn't play well. Keep working," Williams said. "It's not going to happen again. I don't know what to tell you besides I'm going to keep working hard.

    "There is no time to pout or be sad. We've got Detroit in three week when the real show starts. We'll be ready."

    Things looked so good on Matt Forte's 89-yard touchdown run. Tight end Greg Olsen came in motion and blocked Wimbley. Tight end Kellen Davis blocked defensive end Lamarr Houston to the ground. Right tackle Frank Omiyale sealed defensive tackle Tommy Kelly inside and pulling center Kreutz and right guard Lance Louis sprung through with Kreutz chopping down linebacker Rolando McClain and Louis taking out safety Tyvon Branch. That left Forte to make free safety Michael Huff miss, which he did. You'll see more of Kreutz and the guards pulling this season.

    "Statistically, it looked like (we run blocked better)," Williams said. "We won't know until we watch the tape. You like the big runs, they jump the stats up and stuff."

    Omiyale appears set but some questions linger for Louis, who allowed Kelly to make the first sack of the game. He's aggressive but raw.

    "Lance is going to be an animal," Kreutz said. "But we like to talk as a group and as a group we need to play better."


    So watching the first half of tonight's game, I ran the gamut of emotions. But I'll break down my thoughts. First, special teams. No worries here, though it'd be nice if the Bears had a backup long snapper.

    Offense. Clearly the pass-blocking is going to be the focal point of this performance, with Lance Louis being blown off the ball by Tommy Kelly and Chris Williams looking like he'd never played left tackle before. (I'd be surprised if Louis is the starter next week.) I will be cautious with my overall negativity as I just don't see the Bears using the formations you saw tonight as frequently as you saw them tonight. And if the Bears have struggled to block early, they've always been quick to add help to a side of the line.

    An issue that has now emerged in two consecutive games is Jay Cutler's tossing the ball well over the head of Johnny Knox on both complete and incomplete passes. If Knox is going to be the #1 guy, Cutty is going to need to get the ball down. On the flipside, the receivers need to catch the ball. Olsen and Hester both had silly drops that could have resulted in big gains.

    The positive notes? Jay Cutler has the best scrambling ability we've ever seen in navy and orange. And the running game looks in midseason form, with the addition of the Chester Taylor screen pass bringing a much-needed dimension to the offense. I'd like to see Matt Forte cut more balls to the outside but he looked like the forte of 2008 tonight.

    Defense. Ugh. I'll start with the positives. I liked Julius Peppers' work against the run. I liked our linebackers very much, especially after Brian Urlacher took to the bench. Nick Roach has become a real player. I liked seeing Chris Harris, a safety, coming up to make hard hits.

    I didn't like much else. The plague of the Lovie Deuce was on display tonight. A lack of pass rush. Wide open tight ends over the middle. Screens going for distance. Failure to get off the field on third-and-long. Danieal Manning trying to tackle professional football players. On and on and on. This defense has a lot of work to do to keep the offense from needing thirty a game to win every week.

    Overall. Still a glorified practice but the pressure escalates next week against the Cardinals. (Side note: the last Bears v. Cardinals third preseason game was that which spawned Denny Green's brilliant midseason rant.)

  28. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    Denver -- The Lions seemed to keep their 25-20 victory over the Broncos on Saturday in proper perspective.

    It's only an exhibition game. It doesn't stop the 20-game regular season road losing streak. It doesn't mean anything other than a step in a positive direction.

    But right now, that's enough.


    "It feels good to get a win," said center Dominic Raiola. "I mean, we've got to take it and we've got to build on it. But there are so many guys on this team, they don't know that feeling I've felt the last 10 years. We are trying to create a new feeling here, a winning feeling, and we will take every win we can get."

    The winning drive was engineered by third-team quarterback Drew Stanton. He took the Lions 80 yards in the final five minutes and scored on a 25-yard quarterback draw.

    "We had a good feeling there that they were either going to be in a two-man coverage or an all-out blitz and on either one, if you crease it, you are gone," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "We wanted to keep the clock running and keep us in field goal range and Drew broke a couple of tackles and scored a touchdown. That was good to see."

    What was better to see, though, from the coaches' viewpoint, was another strong effort from the first offensive unit. Quarterback Matthew Stafford directed four drives in the first half, and all four netted points.

    Unfortunately, three times those drives netted three points.

    "I thought we moved the ball well all game," said Stafford, who was 13-for-18 passing for 130 yards. "We moved the ball and we played at a good pace and I thought we cleaned up a lot of the little things that slowed us down last week."

    Stafford led drives of 72, 27, 34 and 69 yards. Three of them resulted in field goals by Steven Hauschka (28, 27 and 29 yards). The other, the 27-yard drive which was set up by an interception and 52-yard return by Dre Bly, ended with a 20-yard laser strike to Calvin Johnson.

    "It is disappointing (to only get one in the end zone), but at the same time we didn't spend any time game-planning for their red zone coverage or anything like that," Stafford said.

    In his defense, two would-be touchdown passes were dropped, one by Brandon Pettigrew and the other by Tony Scheffler.

    "You're not going to come out with seven points all the time, but we need to convert more than we did," Schwartz said. "With a little better pass or a little better catch on a couple we would have had a chance to get seven. The bottom line, though, is if we got sevens there, the game wouldn't have been close."

    The Lions also featured Kevin Smith and Jahvid Best in the backfield at the same time.

    "The sky's the limit for us when we use that," said Best, who had 49 yards on eight carries and caught two passes for 10 yards.

    Smith, seeing his first action, had 6 yards on three carries and caught two passes for 13 yards.

    Hauschka added 27-yard field goal in the fourth and he boomed all six of his kickoffs into the end zone.

    The defense, though, wasn't quite as stingy as it was at Pittsburgh. If the Lions' defensive line didn't get into quarterback Kyle Orton's face and disrupt his throws, they were usually complete for sizable gains.

    Orton, 16-for-22 for 177 yards, took the Broncos on two 80-yard scoring drives. On the first, he exploited cornerback Eric King, who was starting for Jonathan Wade (finger) for two completions of 19 yards and another, on fourth-and-6, for 14.

    The second 80-yard drive came in the final 59 seconds of the first half against mostly the second defensive unit.

    "We were weak on some stuff there," Schwartz said. "We need to get some of our guys back in there."

    Safety Louis Delmas didn't play.

    But, a win is a win; especially on the road.

    "This is a totally different Lions team," Bly said. "It's not the same Lions team I played on when I was here four years ago. It's totally different. We've got some pieces in here now. But we still have work to do. We're not getting all excited.

    "We know it's still preseason. But it's just good to see us get rewarded for all the hard work we've been putting in."

    From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100821...impresses-as-Lions-beat-Broncos#ixzz0xOMCMGEu
  29. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    Last week QB Jake Delhomme had a strong TD drive against the Green Bay Packers first-team defense. This week it was QB Matt Hasselbeck who went 11 of 15 for 127 yards and 1 TD. However it wasn't actually their first-team defense since CB Charles Woodson, LB Clay Matthews, and LB Nick Barnett were held out. The only starting linebacker was LB Brandon Chillar, and he really LB Brad Jones should be starting.

    On offense, it's amazing what a difference it makes having both LT Chad Clifton and RT Mark Tauscher back, plus LT Bryan Bulaga rotating at left guard with LG Daryn Colledge. QB Aaron Rodgers could have finished reading a book he had so much time to throw. Rodgers and the first-team offense was in for two possessions, and made it look easy as they marched down the field for two touchdowns. It doesn't mean it will be that easy during the regular season.

    I wasn't able to watch the entire game yet, I missed most of the 2nd quarter including the play that got S Derrick Martin ejected, but here's a look at some of the players I noticed on Saturday night:


    The Good

    TE Jermichael Finley. Every pass he caught went for a 1st down or scored a TD. Rodgers was great again at getting him the ball.

    CB Sam Shields. He botched another kick return and this time it was recovered by Seattle. His bad hands as a returner is really clouding his otherwise solid game. I saw him get lost in coverage on at least one play, but he had an INT and made a huge hit on punt coverage. He's up in The Good section because I'm hoping this finally convinced them to take him out as a returner and he can focus on the stuff he's doing well.

    LB Frank Zombo. He knocked QB Colt McCoy out of the game last week, and registered their lone sack this week. And he made some big hits in the open field and in pursuit. He looked like a starter playing alongside backups.

    RB Brandon Jackson. He accounted for almost the entire yardage on the game winning TD drive. He showed some speed, however he got a lot of help from the backup offensive line, which dominated Seattle's second-team defense.

    The Ehh...

    QB Matt Flynn. He can hold the ball too long, and he was late on a few throws in addition to taking a couple sacks. However the backup receivers he was throwing to didn't seem to offer much assistance. The offense was able to move the ball with him under center, and during the 2nd quarter he appeared to do it against Seattle's first-team defense. He looks good, for a backup.

    S Morgan Burnett and CB Brandon Underwood. I'm lumping them in the same catagory as two players who haven't impressed yet. Both show potential, but are better suited for the bench, at this point.

    Chillar. He's playing outside LB and showing zero pass rush skills. On Hasselbeck's TD pass, Chillar started over the left tackle, but was shoved inside which gave Hasselbeck the room to roll to his left and find WR Deion Branch in that corner of the end zone. Can't he go back to inside LB?

    S Will Blackmon and CB Pat Lee. They weren't disastrous but they each took some bad angles in run support and pass coverage.

    The Bad

    CB Jarrett Bush. Wow. I'm not sure that I adequately kept track of all the times he messed up with penalties and blown coverage. I doubt he has many fans here, but this game was so bad that it might have been his low point.

    The special teams on punt returns and kick returns. Bad once again. As far as the punters go, the Packers only had to punt the ball twice, each player had one attempt, so there wasn't much to see from them.

    LT Allen Barbre. He got burned on the sack which led to a fumble. He got beat on at least one more play too. Why did he get moved to left tackle this preseason?

    QB Charlie Whitehurst. Considering all the players in the Packers secondary that struggled, for him to 9 of 20 for 73 yards and 1 TD/2 INT is amazingly bad. Only 3.7 yards/attempt? What do the Seahawks see in this guy? Despite the Packers many struggles on Saturday night, Whitehurst was so bad that they managed sneak away with a victory.

  30. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity


    EJ Henderson. Had this been any other pre-season game, and had this performance been from any other player, it would have been a fairly pedestrian night. But it wasn’t, because it was the return of EJ Henderson, emotional defensive leader for the Vikings. He had a couple of tackles, and he looked pretty damn good back in the middle of the defense. One thing I noticed is that there seemed to be no hesitancy and no shying away from contact. His tackles weren’t arm grabs or a pile-on at the end of the play. They were head up, shoulders squared, laying the wood tackles. It looked, for the limited time he was in, that there were no ill effects from his injury. Easily the highlight of the night.

    Defensive Depth. So far, the 2010 defensive unit looks to be solid at just about every position two deep. Now, I’m not saying that the second team could play well for extended periods against an opponent’s first team week in and week out, but I am saying that the depth on defense causes me no worries. There seem to be answers to our questions about the secondary, and although the Vikings will have to cut several defensive linemen, I think all of them will land on an NFL roster.


    Brett Favre, QB. His only series was inauspicious, much like his pre-season debut against Kansas City last year. It doesn’t matter. There were a lot of stories about Favre not respecting Childress, his commitment to playing, blah blah blah. Those questions were answered—emphatically—during an interview broadcast at halftime, where it was revealed the Vikings had a team meeting where that issue was addressed and put to bed.

    Chris Cook, CB. His play continues to impress me, and even though it’s pre-season, he looks and feels like a guy that can be good in this league for a long time. He is tall enough to match up against guys like Calvin Johnson, broke up a couple of passes, and scooped up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown, although it was called back on replay. The early returns on him are good, and it looks like he might be pushing for a starting job. I mean, when your primary competition to replace an injured Cedric Griffin (Lito Sheppard) gets burned by Ted Ginn and the third string QB, you look better in the eyes of the coaches.

    Joe Webb, QB. All the hoopla about Favre aside, Webb was the best quarterback on the field last night. Favre only had four plays, Tarvaris Jackson was okay, but played conservatively, and Sage Rosenfels was as bad last night as he was good last week. The athleticism of Webb just jumps out, and he really carries himself confidently. His late touchdown run was impressive, but he still has a lot of work to do as a passer. And for a 6th round pick, that’s okay. Oh, and I give Rodney Harrison the ‘Dumb Comment of the Night’ Award when he mentioned that if Webb really has a desire to make the team he’ll volunteer to be a wedge buster on the kickoff team. It’s comments like that that make me miss Howard Cosell.


    Viking Wide Receivers Not Named Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, or Bernard Berrian. Uh, they looked good in their uniforms, I guess. Take out Berrian’s 1 catch for 10 yards, and the wide receivers had five catches for 25 yards. TE Garrett Mills had one catch for 15 yards all by himself. I sincerely hope that Percy Harvin finds something to help him cope with his migraines, and if it needs to be away from football for him to do that, then I will wish the man well and hope he has a great life. But if Harvin is out indefinitely, and Sidney Rice can’t play because of his hip, what is left isn’t very inspiring. They can’t get separation, and they’re not big enough to go get a football if it’s just chucked up there. Bernard Berrian is the only threat, much like 2008. Let’s put it this way. If I can talk myself into Javon Walker as a good signing, the backup WR’s are a serious issue going forward.

    The Entire Offensive Line. Well, that was monstrously craptastical, wasn’t it? I’m the first one in line to say pre-season results don’t mean a hill of beans, and I still believe that. But what pre-season IS good for is to see what kind of depth you might have at certain positions. I still don’t think the offensive line was as bad as everyone else thought last season. There was most certainly a drop off from 2008, but they were still okay, considering they had injuries and experience issues, along with super sub Artis Hicks. Let’s go left to right on the line and do a quick review:

    Bryant McKinnie: STILL can’t handle an outside speed rusher.

    Hutch: Still a road grader

    Sullivan: Did not play. His replacement was terrible.

    Herrera: Terrible, at guard and center

    Loadholt: A big pile of meh

    Backups: Freaking horrid. I know the Vikings were trying to see if guys like Herrera could play multiple positions, and that’s fine. But let’s pull the plug on Anthony Herrera at center, along with the Jon Cooper era. Chris DeGeare looks like a rookie, and Ryan Cook, who was a center in college, looks like he’ll be the top backup at tackle. No one has stepped up to claim the top backup spot, and Cook’s career has been mostly underwhelming. He was serviceable as a right tackle, but would be my last option as a backup left tackle. Oh, and let’s not get into the ‘well, we can move this guy from guard to center, the center over to left tackle, and the left tackle over to the right side’, because that NEVER works. Once the season starts, Sullivan will play, and the line play will be no worse than last year. I will be petrified if somebody gets hurt, because this line could resemble the Packers line from last season if one or two guys go down.

    Sage Rosenfels, QB. What a difference a week makes, huh? Rosie looked tentative, indecisive, and inaccurate. I think some of it had to do with the lack of ability from the backup receivers, but Rosenfels didn’t do himself any favors, either. With Joe Webb ‘putting it on tape’, as they say, I thought Rosenfels was the odd man out at QB this year. His pre-season playing time seemed to be an audition for other teams to see if he could generate trade interest, but after last week I thought he might make the cut. No more. There’s no way Webb gets cut and then re-claimed for the practice squad, as I feel he’ll be claimed by someone, and Rosie just doesn’t have any trade value at this point, unless a team needs a vet as injury insurance.


    Buy: Jasper Brinkley, LB. Brinkley was put in an unenviable position following Henderson’s injury last year, and he did well, for the most part. He continues to play well this pre-season, and seems surer of himself and what he is doing. Henderson’s return is important to the Vikings defense, but Brinkley adds even more depth to a talent rich defense, and if he has to spell Henderson, the drop off won’t be as significant as it was last year.

    Buy: Jamarca Sanford, S. When training camp opened, this didn’t appear to be a job where the incumbent was in jeopardy. That has changed with Jamarca Sanford getting the nod to start over Tyrell Johnson last night. Tyrell Johnson had the hit of the pre-season last night, but it was well into the second half, when reserves and Albert Haynseworth are on the field Seriously, can we put the ‘let’s trade for him’ talk that was rampant in the off season to bed now? Sanford looks like he has gone out and taken the starting job, with Johnson as the primary backup.

    Sell: Albert Young as a Kick Returner. Watching Albert Young run through quicksand once he fielded a kick made me long for a speedy return of Percy Harvin. Man, was he slow. Having somebody, anybody, other than Harvin return kicks makes you realize how valuable he is in that role. Darius Reynaud looked good as a punt returner, but kickoff return is a black hole without #12. Get well soon, Percy.

    Sell: Adrian Peterson, Pass Protector. Adrian Peterson the running back is a ferocious beast who would make Chuck Norris piddle himself. Adrian Peterson the pass protector/blitz pick up guy better figure it out soon or he will make Viking fans piddle themselves with fear all season long. One the first offensive series 49ers LB Patrick Willis broke through on an inside blitz, and Peterson was as effective as the Iraqi Republican Guard in stopping the breakthrough. Peterson has to make that block, and he knows he does. But can he do it as consistently as Chester Taylor did? We’ll see.

    Again, I don’t want everyone to over-react too much. A loss is never fun to watch, especially in the brutally boring fashion we saw last night. It’s still the pre-season, and none of these are major concerns yet. Well, the depth along the o-line is, and I think it might be time to look and see who can be brought in, but that’s just me. The third pre-season game is essentially the dress rehearsal, so we’ll know where this team stands next Sunday morning than we do now, and although I see a lot of good things, there are definitely things that can be worked on.

  31. finyank13

    finyank13 Reality Check

    Jan 6, 2010
    although u might want to cool your jets on Rice.....fantasy wise too...

    Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star-Tribunes reports Sidney Rice may undergo hip surgery that would knock him out for half the season.

    Yikes. Rice visited a specialist in Colorado for a problem that only seems to get worse with rest. We should get clarity regarding Rice's status soon, but we'd stay away from Rice as a fantasy starter in the meantime, while bumping up Bernard Berrian quite a bit.
    adamprez2003 likes this.
  32. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity
    add the fact that brett favre is going to be hard pressed to repeat what he did last year. they may go back to being a running team. adrian peterson might have a good year
  33. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    For a fan base as football starved as we are, thus far our Chicago Bears have not given us much to be excited about.

    Three pre-season games, three loses. But more important so than the final game outcome, is the level of play from our team.

    With everything to lose and only a Super Bowl to gain, the 2010 Bears have started awfully slow this pre-season.

    But that’s just it, it’s pre-season. Remember Bears faithful, the NFL is all about who is playing well in winter, not summer.


    We knew the offense would have some growing pains. When learning maybe the most complex offensive system around, you have to expect some foul ups. The receivers are still young and raw. Not only are they and quarterback Jay Cutler trying to learn Mike Martz’s offense, but they are also still trying to learn each other.

    Three meaningless games in August will in no way get this system and the players running the system to look sharp. I suspect early on in the season, the Bears will look to their running game to steal a few victories.

    Run blocking and the Bears duo at running back, Matt Forte and Chester Taylor, have been a bright spot for a struggling offense. We all know how Coach Lovie loves to run the ball. For his sake, the running game had better carry the offense early in the season.

    With four home games in the first seven, two division games/two very winnable games, the Bears have a chance to revert to their old brand of football while still perfecting the passing game; all while winning.

    Week eight brings the BYE, followed by a trip to Toronto to face the Bills. With a winning record to start the season, the Bears offense could then start to take flight and really be in mid-season form, by mid-season.

    Running the same defensive system for years now, you would think that the Bears would have it down pat. Add in new faces Julius Peppers and Chris Harris, it looked like our problems with pass rush and the secondary were solved.

    Peppers has been everything that we had hoped for. I kinda like the 2006 version of Harris better.

    Lovie does not have his team tackle in training camp, so I’m hoping the missed tackles so far in the pre-season will be a moot point once September 12th rolls around.

    Third downs continue to kill this defense. This has been a problem for the past two seasons. You would think that the Bears great defensive minds would be able to correct this by now. To us, it seems like an easy fix. So it must be, right?

    Fix the defense on third down and fix the defense. It’s that simple.

    Defense is more of an attitude than anything else. These Bears have been growling about how this team is taking it back to the 60’s and the Monsters of the Midway. Prove it. Get mad, get nasty, and execute.

    With all of the talk about how the new offensive system is going to revolutionize the Bears, it may be the same old formula that gets us out of the gates winning games: running the ball and defense


    The Bears may have been close to beating the Cardinals on Saturday, but a review of the tape shows they are not close to being the type of team they think they can be.

    There were critical breakdowns in many areas, none more glaring than on third down.

    The goal of any defense is to create third-and-longs. The Bears did that well, putting the Cardinals in third-and-7 or longer nine times in 14 third downs, not including a kneel-down at the end of the game. But they allowed the Cardinals to convert all but three of the third-and-longs through a virtual blooper reel of mistakes.

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    Here's a sampling:

    • On third-and-13, they dropped seven men to cover four Cardinals who ran routes. Yet no one was within 7 yards of Steve Breaston, who accepted the gift and ran it in for a touchdown.

    • Somebody forgot to account for the check-down on third-and-8, and after catching a pass 1 yard off the line of scrimmage, Tim Hightower had enough real estate in front of him to build a subdivision. He picked up 11.

    • On third-and-5, Israel Idonije beat his blocker, then whiffed on the quarterback, allowing Matt Leinart to complete a 7-yarder.

    • Onrea Jones found the seam in the Bears' Cover-2 zone on third-and-10 when cornerback Joshua Moore released Jones too soon and failed to sufficiently re-route him. Result: 28-yard gain.

    All together, the Bears allowed 116 yards on third down. If they continue to play like that, the NFL will bestow them with one of the best players in college football next April.

    Here's how some key performers fared:

    Chris Harris: A good player had a disastrous performance. Harris could have prevented both Cardinals touchdowns. What's more, the safety had Hightower pinned at the line of scrimmage but missed the tackle and watched Hightower run for 29 yards. He missed Hightower a second time at the line, resulting in a 13-yard gain.

    Danieal Manning: In a case of role reversal, Manning was as consistent and reliable as Harris usually is. He was responsible for two tackles for no gain and forced a fumble that probably took points away from Arizona.

    Jarron Gilbert: You might want to think twice about cleaning out his locker because he was the only player who made a big play on third down. The previously invisible 6-foot-5, 285-pounder took an outside rush on third-and-7, beat his man and strip-sacked quarterback John Skelton.

    Pisa Tinoisamoa: If he isn't in the starting lineup at linebacker for the opener, somebody needs to call for an investigation. His speed and explosiveness were evident, and he had a pair of tackles for no gain.

    Jay Cutler: When Cutler is the sixth most effective quarterback in the game, the Bears usually are not going to have much of a chance. His decision-making was shaky and his accuracy was off on seven of his 20 throws, including one of his two interceptions. Even on Cutler's best play — a 41-yard completion to Johnny Knox — the wide receiver had to adjust to an underthrown ball. Cutler should take the blame for two of the Cardinals' four sacks.

    Dan LeFevour: The kid played like a veteran, managing the game beautifully. He hit some big plays when he had openings, and he also was content to take what the Cardinals were giving him. Hard to figure where it came from all of a sudden, but LeFevour showed poise and confidence. He gave the Bears a reason to believe they have a player worth developing.

    Kahlil Bell: He might have made the 53-man roster with some hard runs and yards after the catch.

    Juaquin Iglesias: Maybe there is hope after all. On his touchdown catch, Iglesias used his body to shield cornerback Jorrick Calvin and showed nice concentration.

    Chris Williams: Better, certainly. But still not good enough. Williams was beaten for a sack by Calais Campbell and was responsible for a 2-yard loss when he let Joey Porter get around him.


    Pisa Tinoisamoa approached fellow linebacker Lance Briggs at halftime Saturday night expecting to get an update on Briggs' injured right ankle. Instead, Tinoisamoa got a lecture about the sloppy play of the Bears' defense.

    "He was like, 'We have too many missed opportunities,' and I was thinking to myself that's how a true captain speaks,'' Tinoisamoa said. "I mean, I'm checking in on him, and he's telling me what to do. That was good to see. That showed he was in good spirits and that the injury shouldn't be too bad.''

    Briggs, who was replaced by newcomer Brian Iwuh, left Soldier Field in a walking boot following his team's 14-9 preseason loss to the Cardinals. Several people close to Briggs said he immediately indicated he would be fine. But injuries are starting to take a toll on the defense's strongest unit.

    When the Bears opened the preseason at San Diego, Brian Urlacher, Nick Roach and Briggs lined up as the starting linebackers. By the time the Bears hit the second half Saturday, all three were out with injuries.

    Urlacher, who strained his left calf against the Raiders a week ago, did not dress Saturday. Neither did Roach, who underwent minor arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to remove debris in his left knee.

    The Bears expect Urlacher and Roach to be ready for the Sept. 12 opener against the Lions. In fact, Urlacher said he wants to play in the final exhibition game at Cleveland this Thursday because he "feels fine.'' But it would be wise for the Bears to hold him out to make sure he is 100 percent for the regular season.

    Last season, Lovie Smith went with six different combinations at linebacker as a result of injuries. Urlacher dislocated his wrist in last year's season opener at Green Bay and missed the rest of the season. Tinoisamoa, the likely starter at strong-side linebacker ahead of Roach, played in just two games during the '09 campaign after suffering two serious knee injuries. Backup Hunter Hillenmeyer, who suffered multiple cracked ribs, missed a few games. And even Briggs, who started 15 games, missed one game with a knee sprain and a hip-pointer.

    "We certainly dealt with our share of injuries a year ago, so this is nothing new,'' said Hillenmeyer, who replaced Urlacher on Saturday. "The silver lining is with these guys who have missed time now, none of them sound like anything serious."

    The Bears can ill afford to have Briggs and Urlacher out of the lineup. It showed Saturday as the Cardinals converted 53 percent (8 of 15) on third down.

    Although the addition of defensive end Julius Peppers has helped up front, the defense still has some noticeable issues, particularly on third down. Urlacher might not be his old self, but he remains the leader of the defense and the unit often appears in disarray without him. Briggs, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, continues to be one of the team's top playmakers.

    "The injuries are something we can't control, just the nature of the business,'' Roach said. "That's why all of the backups are ready to go. Just like last year. At any time, you can get the call.''


    Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has played four quarters and two series through three exhibition games, and he has looked as uneven as he ever did playing for Ron Turner.

    But the former offensive coordinator isn't here to kick around any longer, and the offseason good feeling generated by the arrival of Mike Martz and his high-tech playbook is eroding. Confidence is chipping away at Halas Hall as the Bears seek answers for an offense that is supposed to vault the franchise back into contention.

    Preseason is never a time for panic, but things have pretty much run their course for the starters after Saturday night's 14-9 loss to the Cardinals at Soldier Field.

    The first team will get one, maybe two possessions Thursday at Cleveland. What's cause for concern is the Cutler-led unit has yet to show any semblance of consistency.

    Cutler and his playmakers rarely have created anything big. Devin Hester dropped a bomb. Mental errors short-circuited drives. The line has been spotty, and Cutler made two poor reads.

    In what amounts to an overtime game's worth of action, Cutler has had 16 possessions and led two touchdown drives. He has completed 19 of 37 passes for 275 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions and 10 sacks, four pinned to left tackle Chris Williams.

    His passer rating of 62.4 is three points better than Dan LeFevour's after the sixth-round draft pick had a nice showing against the Cardinals, completing 10 of 12 passes for 100 yards and a 3-yard touchdown to Juaquin Iglesias.

    Could the Bears come out Sept. 12 and erupt for 48 points against the Lions? Sure. They scored that many against them in the first meeting a year ago. It wouldn't be a sign what we've seen in the preseason are false indicators either. The Bears need to be consistently productive or they're going to be the same wobbly offense they were under Turner.

    Coach Lovie Smith was bothered by missed field-goal opportunities against the Cardinals and called it a "glorified practice." Really? Why go for a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter?

    The Bears talked last week about the significance of playing well with game preparation taking place. But they couldn't score in seven Cutler possessions against the Cardinals, who lost safety Antrel Rolle and linebacker Karlos Dansby in free agency.

    In the last two games the Cardinals played that counted, in the 2009 playoffs, they surrendered 90 points. The Bears (0-3) and Jets have scored 36 points through three exhibition games. Only the Panthers (30) have fewer.

    "We've got 15 days left, so we've got to make the most of those opportunities and clean this up as much as possible and start watching tape on (the Lions) and really get everything dialed in," Cutler said.

    "We're putting in a new offense, and guys are a little uptight about making mistakes out there. We've just got to relax and go out there and play. With the talent we have and Mike calling plays, we're going to be hard to stop if we're clicking."

    The line has been a convenient target, but Cutler had more time to throw against the Cardinals and fell once on his own in the pocket. He needs to make plays or he'll be the same player in a different offense.

    The Bears have to feel good about running backs Matt Forte and Chester Taylor, who each had a highlight dash the last two weeks. All of it must come together soon.

    "When everybody is doing their job, it's hard to stop us," Hester said. "We know what we're capable of doing. When we buy into that and realize it, we're going to do a lot of good things."

  34. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    It was only one play. But when you think about it, that's exactly the point.

    That one play is what has been missing from the Lions' offense for far too long.

    So, yes, from center Dominic Raiola's vantage point, that one play -- Saturday night, it was a 51-yard run by Jahvid Best on the first play from scrimmage -- means a lot.


    "I didn't even see the play, how he got through the line," Raiola said in the postgame locker room after a 35-27 win over the Cleveland Browns. "But I heard he made one cut and he was off to the races."

    And before anyone says, "Oh, here they go again," let's all say it together. It's only the exhibition season.

    Raiola knows that as well as anyone -- this is his 10th NFL season, after all. But when he looks in his rearview mirror these days and sees the Best backfield tandem he's ever seen in Detroit, he can't help but be encouraged about what it means for the Lions' annually-maligned offensive line.

    "For us, we want to fly under the radar," Raiola said. "Just hold up our end of the bargain and do our job: Keep 9 clean, give 44 a crease, and things can happen."

    Things like that first play Saturday night, a simple outside zone toss that Best -- the dynamic speed back whose YouTube highlight video went viral in Allen Park during last winter's draft prep -- turned into a field-tilting explosive run.

    In last season's 2-14 finish, the Lions ranked second in the NFL in runs of 4-plus yards, a sign that maybe the offensive line was doing something right. But Detroit's backs managed only three runs of 20 yards or more, and only one of 40-plus yards -- both NFC worsts. (By comparison, the league-leading Tennessee Titans had 24 and eight.)

    Don't be surprised if Best doubles those totals by mid-October. In just six offensive series this preseason, he has 15 carries for 129 yards -- including three runs of 15-plus yards -- and four catches for 49 yards.

    Couple that with Stafford's August line -- 34-of-46 for 332 yards and three touchdowns with one interception -- and you start to understand why Raiola can't wait for the regular-season opener at Chicago.

    "We don't want to look too far ahead," he said. "But that's when we're gonna find out what the 2010 Lions are about."

    That's a 73.9 percent completion rate and a 106.4 passer rating for Stafford so far, by the way. That's also largely irrelevant, since these stats during the exhibition season mean only slightly more than the records.

    But here's one that's not.

    "I think I've hit the ground three times in three games," Stafford said Saturday.

    Trust me, after the punishment he took as a rookie, he's keeping track. And Stafford's right: You can count on one hand the number of times he has had to pick himself up off the turf.

    Sure, there was no Shaun Rogers on the field Saturday, and no Elvis Dumervil the week before in Denver. (And there will be a Julius Peppers in a couple weeks at Soldier Field.)

    But the first-team offensive line has played a dozen series -- all but one with Stafford under center -- and they've allowed just one sack in 51 pass plays. (That sack actually came from the likely backup at right tackle, Jon Jansen, against the Broncos.)

    "They've done a great job of protection," Stafford said. "And we've had some success running the football. I'm pleased with those guys. The second year in the system is going to help everybody out."

    No one more than those guys up front, however. The Lions finally might have found their left guard in Rob Sims, who was acquired from Seattle in April. The healthy return of right guard Stephen Peterman means more than most fans think. And the competition at right tackle appears to have gotten the attention of starter Gosder Cherilus, though it was his late holding penalty that negated a scrambling, 50-yard completion from Stafford to Nate Burleson against the Browns.

    But the reality is the Lions don't need them to play like All-Pros. They simply need them to play largely error-free football. If they can, as Raiola says, good things can happen, with a quick-trigger quarterback in full command of an offense that finally has the talent to match his own.

    "When you start putting some weapons around them, you protect the offensive line," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan explained. "When Matt has a guy getting open quick at the line of scrimmage, he's protecting the offensive line. Because he can get rid of the football -- he's not having to wait on a guy. It all goes hand in hand.

    "The offensive line takes the brunt of all that. But our offensive line is gonna have a great year if our skill has a great year."

    From The Detroit News: http://detroitnews.com/article/2010...st-give-Lions--O-line-big-boost#ixzz0y8dCY6Sx


    • RB Jahvid Best: Can we put an end to all talk of a "battle" for the No. 1 running back job? Kevin Smith will get stronger as the year progresses. It takes time to get all the way back from a knee injury. But he's never going to hit the hole or get to the edge as quickly as Best. Nor is he ever going to be the constant big-play threat that Best is.


    • QB Matthew Stafford: How good has he been? In three games he has completed 34 of 46 passes for 332 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception. He has led the offense to scores in 10 of his 14 drives.

    • Third-quarter drive: The Lions were down 24-14 at half and the offense did what it absolutely had to do to start the third quarter --march 60 yards in nine plays to get the momentum back. Stafford was knocked down twice in the drive, but still completed 5 of 7 passes for 49 yards and set up two pass interference penalties.

    • DT Ndamukong Suh : He has been a presence in the exhibition season, but he was his most productive on Saturday with two tackles (one for loss) and a pass deflection. He also chased Jake Delhomme around the pocket twice. His one mistake was a loud one -- face-masking Delhomme in the red zone -- but nobody will disparage him for errors of aggression.

    • OLB Julian Peterson : The veteran was one of the few bright spots of the back seven on defense. He had nine tackles, one for loss, and almost singlehandedly thwarted a touchdown drive in the third quarter. With the Browns at the Lions' 25, Peterson broke up a pass (nearly picking it off), then nailed Jerome Harrison for a two-yard loss and then applied pressure on Seneca Wallace, forcing a third-down incompletion.

    • RB Aaron Brown : He might have won himself a roster spot, carrying five times for 34 yards, catching a pass for 16 and returning four kicks for an average of 23.8 yards.

    • DE Willie Young : The rookie continues to force turnovers. He had a sack-fumble to seal the win at Denver and then Saturday whacked Browns quarterback Colt McCoy to set up the Lions' winning score.

    • S Louis Delmas : He was on the field for 21 plays and said he felt no ill-affects. If he can return to practice on Monday, the Lions will breathe a bit easier.


    • MLB DeAndre Levy : Losing the quarterback of the defense on the first play from scrimmage is never a good thing. And if the groin injury keeps Levy out for an extended period of time, the Lions are in trouble. General manager Martin Mayhew, if he isn't already, might have to start scanning rosters for available linebackers.

    • The back seven . The Lions have a legitimate front four, but one position group doesn't a complete defense make. And the Browns smartly neutralized the Lions' aggressiveness up front with screens and quick-hitting passes, and picked apart the linebackers and secondary. The Browns top two quarterbacks combined to complete 30 of 39 passes for 228 yards. Short chunks, for sure, but they led to four long scoring drives.

    • CB Eric King : He's solid against the run and is rarely beaten badly when he's one-on-one with a receiver. But he never seems to see the ball. Several times the last two games he has been beaten on plays solely because he didn't turn around to see the ball and make a play.

    • WR Derrick Williams : You don't like to give up too soon on third-round picks, but Williams hasn't shown much, either in the offense or in the return game, to warrant a roster spot at this point. Aaron Brown might have won the kick returner spot on Saturday.

    • Penalties : It's going to be something the Lions live with all season because it's a thin line between aggression and recklessness. The Lions helped keep two Browns scoring drives alive with penalties -- a face mask against Suh and a personal foul (albeit a cheapy) against Kyle Vanden Bosch.

    From The Detroit News: http://detroitnews.com/article/2010...fense--Ndamukong-Suh-look-ready#ixzz0y8dKoNcS

    Allen Park -- Making an odd big play is like applying makeup to a blemish. You look better for the time being but the blemish is still there.

    There are still plenty of blemishes to rookie defensive end Willie Young's game. One only has to spend about a half-hour at any Lions practice to see, no, to hear that. Young's name often can be heard being shouted, usually followed by an expletive or two, by defensive line coach Kris Kocurek.

    But the big plays keep coming and the blemishes keep fading.


    "Willie, he's a really good athlete," veteran defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. "He's got the tools to be a really good defensive end. He flashes and makes really good plays in the games. The thing I like is he's not afraid. He puts his head in there and hits guys and he likes contact."

    For the second week in a row, Young made a game-changing play. Against the Broncos, he sealed the win with a sack-fumble. On Saturday against the Browns, he set up the Lions' winning drive by whacking Colt McCoy and forcing another fumble.

    "I just do it," said the affable Young. "When it's time to show up, it's five o'clock today, it's time to play ball. Just wait for my opportunity."

    There's much to like about Young, other than his engaging personality. He's a physical specimen, 6-foot-4 with long arms and a decent combination of speed and power coming off the end. He isn't as solid against the run, a fact that has been exploited quite a bit in practice.

    "I'm getting schooled every day by (veteran offensive tackle Jon) Jansen," Young said. "It's to the point where it's kind of funny but I'm learning from it. It's good to have a guy like that to go against in practice."

    The other thing you like about Young is his resiliency and willingness to be coached. No matter how many times he's beaten or blows an assignment and no matter how many times Kocurek gets in his face, he responds positively.

    "As far as mentally, it's about staying positive about everything," he said.

    Young is forcing the Lions to make a hard decision. He's a seventh-round pick who most thought, best-case, would be targeted for the practice squad. But he might be pushing veterans Turk McBride and Lawrence Jackson (who has yet to get on the field for the Lions) for a spot in the rotation.
    Second-year difference?

    Preseason comparisons don't hold a lot of water typically, but as a reference point, compare the efficiency of second-year quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and the Jets' Mark Sanchez .

    Through three games, Stafford has completed 73.9 percent of his passes (34 of 46) for 332 yards. He has a quarterback rating of 106.4.

    Sanchez through three games is at 64.6 percent (31 of 48) for 270 yards, with a rating of 75.9.

    In addition, the Lions have scored on 10 of Stafford's 14 drives.

    "It's amazing the steps that he's taken from last year to this year," center Dominic Raiola said of Stafford. "There's just so much confidence in him. You see it on the field. "

    The Lions will have to decide how much, if any, Stafford will play in the fourth exhibition game Thursday. Stafford said he feels ready to start the regular season, but wouldn't mind some more work.

    "Yeah, I feel great," he said. "I feel like we've done a good job this preseason as a unit, getting out there executing and playing fast. Hopefully, we will get some tune-up time in the fourth preseason game and get ready to go."
    Extra points

    Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme , asked if the Lions looked improved from last year: "They do. It's evident when you watch film from 2009 to 2010. I know it's just the preseason, but it's a different football team."

    ... Kicker JasonHanson looked strong during his pre-game kicking regimen Saturday. He's expected to kick on Thursday.

    From The Detroit News: http://detroitnews.com/article/2010...kie-DE-Willie-Young-s-preseason#ixzz0y8dSOjKT
  35. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    Beyond their top four defensive linemen, the Green Bay Packers have all kinds of questions about their depth up front.

    They don’t know whether Justin Harrell’s back will hold up, and even if it does, they can’t be certain he’ll ever be an effective player.

    They can’t be sure rookie seventh-round draft pick C.J. Wilson is ready to play at an NFL level.

    And nothing second-year pro Jarius Wynn or first-year guys Ronald Talley and Anthony Toribio have done suggest they’re worth counting on, either.

    The absence of their best defensive lineman, end Cullen Jenkins (who has been out since he pulled a calf muscle on Aug. 23), has exposed the lack of depth among the group. Both end Ryan Pickett and nose tackle B.J. Raji, who have flip-flopped positions from last season, have had solid camps. Rookie second-round pick Mike Neal, who has filled in for Jenkins, looks the part and will be expected to contribute this season.

    Some of the questions beyond the top four would not exist if the Packers had the luxury of having defensive end Johnny Jolly around, but his indefinite suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy wiped him out of their plans.

    “We’ve got a lot of talent,” Jenkins said. “Obviously, we miss Jolly. But we’ve got plenty of depth going in. People just need to keep improving and keep getting better.”

    With the regular-season opener at Philadelphia less than two weeks away, there are no clear-cut answers as to who will be their fifth, sixth and perhaps seventh defensive linemen.

    “I really like the younger players,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. “I think they’ve done a very good job coming in here and showing us a lot of information. You’ve got to be very happy with Mike Neal. I like what C.J. has done. Talley is coming on now that he’s healthy. Justin’s been able to stay healthy, and it looks like he’s getting stronger down the stretch of training camp. I feel very good about what those guys have shown.”

    Yet no one in that group is a proven player.

    The best of the bunch is Neal, the 6-foot-3, 294-pounder from Purdue. He vaulted over all the returning ends except for Jenkins and Pickett. He has even started to work in the nickel as one of the two down linemen along with Raji.

    “He’s strong as heck with a lot of quickness and a lot of explosion,” Jenkins said of Neal. “He’s got to be one of the best rookies I’ve seen coming in for a while, especially on the D-line. He just looks like he’s ready to contribute right now. Obviously, he’s going to keep getting better, but he already looks like a good player.”

    Harrell, the former first-round draft pick, appears to have taken steps toward securing a spot on the team simply by staying healthy. Since he missed practice on Aug. 17, when his bad back flared up, he’s been healthy enough to practice and play. His performance hasn’t been anything spectacular, but at least he’s been able to stay on the field. The one-a-day schedule of the last two weeks of camp has helped take some of the stress off his back.

    Harrell has the makings of a decent run stopper but has shown nothing in the pass-rush department. Keeping Harrell, even if the Packers think he’s good enough to contribute, is a risk because his back could go out at any moment.

    “I think I can help this team,” Harrell said. “It’s not for me to decide other that just knowing all the calls and just playing hard and trying to make plays. That’s what it boils down to, just going out and showing the coaches you can be accountable.”

    Wynn, a sixth-round pick in 2009, has been ahead of Wilson but neither has made many plays. Talley, a practice-squad player all last season, was slow to come back from offseason knee surgery. Toribio, who was elevated from the practice squad for the final regular-season game of 2009, plays mostly nose tackle and because Raji and Pickett can both play there, there’s little need for a third nose.

    Wilson appears to be the least ready to play among that group, but the Packers might feel inclined to keep him on the roster for fear another team would claim him off waivers before they could stash him on the practice squad.

    “From the first day of camp, I would say no, I wasn’t ready (to play),” Wilson said. “But as far as right now, I feel like I could go in there and give them a couple of snaps. I still have a long ways to go, but I’m very happy with my progress. Whether I’m on the team or the practice squad, they haven’t told me anything.”

    If the Packers don’t like any of those options, it’s a position that could be helped through the waiver wire after the final cuts are made on Saturday or perhaps via a cut-day trade.

    Last season, General Manager Ted Thompson kept six defensive linemen on the opening-day roster and only added a seventh, Toribio, when Pickett had a late-season hamstring injury.

    Only once in 17 games, including the playoff loss at Arizona, did the Packers have more than five defensive linemen active on game day. They had six active against Dallas on Nov. 15, when three linebackers were out with injuries.

    “I feel our numbers are very good at the defensive line,” McCarthy said.


    The Packers aren’t going to keep a third quarterback on their roster, but they finally have one worth keeping around.

    Somehow, undrafted free agent Graham Harrell has turned out to be more worthy of a spot than second-round pick Brian Brohm, who was abysmal in training camp in 2008 and 2009.

    Matt Flynn isn’t in any danger of losing the backup job, but Harrell will be on the practice squad if he doesn’t get claimed off waivers by another team after the Packers cut their roster to 53 on Saturday.

    More than any other skill position player, Harrell has made the biggest improvement in camp. He began the summer playing tentatively, opting for the check-down pass or short throw whenever possible. But over the past couple of weeks, Harrell has exhibited a confidence that has transformed his play. He’s just as likely to throw down the field as he is to dump it off.

    With his improved confidence, he has shown off arm strength that wasn’t evident when the Packers first signed him during the organized team activities. He zipped a pass to rookie tight end Andrew Quarless for a touchdown during a red-zone drill in practice Monday.

    Despite setting all sorts of passing records at Texas Tech, no one drafted him coming out of college. He spent last season in the Canadian Football League with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who didn’t play him but stashed him on the injury list even though he wasn’t hurt. Only the Packers and Cleveland Browns gave him tryouts this offseason.
    Thumbs down

    General Manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy keep insisting the punting job remains wide open despite the fact Tim Masthay has seemingly broken the tie with his recent kicks.

    If that’s the case, then Chris Bryan did nothing to help himself Monday.

    They didn’t punt in practice after a lengthy session that Masthay dominated on Sunday, but Bryan did work as the holder for Mason Crosby during an eight-kick field goal period. After Crosby made his first five kicks — from 28, 33, 36, 40 and 43 yards, all downwind — he missed wide left from 45 and 53 yards, both from the left hashmark.

    After the second miss, special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum yelled at Bryan about the spot of the hold. Crosby then finished the drill by nailing a 57-yarder.

    One of the downsides of dragging out the punting competition for so long is Crosby has had to work with two holders. Whoever wins the punting job is expected to be the holder.
    Did you notice?

    ♦ Monday’s practice was originally scheduled to be in full pads but at the last minute McCarthy changed it to just helmets and shorts. Tuesday’s 10:15 a.m. practice is the final one open to the public this season.

    ♦ Cornerback Jarrett Bush was back on the No. 1 kickoff team after losing his spot last week. He replaced cornerback Brandon Underwood, who is out because of a shoulder injury.

    ♦ Keeping five tight ends seems unlikely, but the fact Tom Crabtree remained on the No. 1 kickoff return and punt return teams suggests it’s possible he’ll stick. Veteran tight end Donald Lee also is on both units.

    ♦ Jason Chery, who will get all the punt and kickoff returns in Thursday’s preseason finale at Kansas City, fumbled a punt off the JUGS machine.


    In a rare moment, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was left virtually speechless.

    When asked in the visitors’ locker room about the interception he threw to Morgan Burnett in the Colts’ 59-24 preseason loss to the Green Bay Packers Thursday night at Lambeau Field, the best Manning could do was shake his head in disgust, frown, and mumble a couple of inaudible words under his breath.

    That the Green Bay Packers defense could have that kind of effect on the four-time NFL MVP, who seems to never be at a loss for words as a pervasive television commercial pitchman, is saying something.

    The Packers’ defensive performance against the Colts’ high-powered offense was far from flawless. Manning and Company produced 258 first-half yards and scored on three of the first four possessions.

    But there were some positive signs considering the Packers were playing without starters Clay Matthews, Cullen Jenkins, Brad Jones and Al Harris.

    Burnett’s interception, which was set up by a blitzing Charles Woodson, was chief among them. In addition, the Packers forced the Colts’ No. 1 offense – which was playing without three starters – to punt three times and settle for a field goal after marching for a first down inside the red zone.

    Even the Packers’ second-string defense made its mark on Manning when linebacker Frank Zombo’s sack and forced fumble set up a third-quarter Packers touchdown.

    Conventional wisdom suggests that if anything prevents the talented Packers from making a legitimate Super Bowl run, it will be the defense. That unit’s overall solid season in 2009 was marred by a first-round playoff game collapse against Arizona.

    Less than stellar performances in preseason outings against Cleveland and Seattle did little to alleviate the fears about the defense’s vulnerability. But defensive coordinator Dom Capers used mostly vanilla schemes and his best pass rusher – Matthews – didn’t play, rendering those games all but meaningless.

    Even at full strength the Packers’ defense will give up big plays this season, especially against some of the better quarterbacks it will face like Brett Favre, Tom Brady and Tony Romo. Manning completed passes of 36, 35 and 33 yards on the way to a 199-yard first-half passing effort.

    The key for the defense will be how it responds after getting gashed. Against the Colts it rose to the occasion.

    Following the 35-yard completion to Reggie Wayne in the first quarter, the defense forced consecutive Manning incompletions and gave up just three points instead of seven. Following a 49-yard run by Joseph Addai on the first play from scrimmage, the defense allowed 10 rushing yards on the Colts’ eight other first-half carries. Three straight Manning incompletions, on two different drives, preceded Burnett’s stunning interception.

    For all of its blemishes, there’s still a lot to like about the defense, which has nine returning starters from the end of last season. It led the NFL in forced turnovers and rushing yards allowed in 2009.

    But it doesn’t have to be perfect, especially with the offense operating at high efficiency.

    The Packers defense is going to bend at times this season. But if it can leave a quarterback like Manning muttering to himself, that’s a promising sign.


    Crazy story evolved after practice from one of the least likely sources…

    Coach Mike McCarthy announced after that receiver Jason Chery would take all of the returns (punt and kickoff) against the Chiefs in the final exhibition game Thursday. Remember, Chery joined the team on Aug. 5 when Jeff Moturi was put on injured reserve.

    Chery has been near the bottom of the depth chart at receiver and in special teams phases. Last week, he enters the game late in the fourth quarter to field a punt and ends up returning it 75 yards for a score.

    Chery said he had to convince special teams coach Shawn Slocum into letting him on the field. Third down came around he started working on Slocum.

    “I saw one of our receivers was a little winded, and it was his turn to do the punt return,” Chery said. “I told coach that he’s a little winded. Give me a chance because I’m right behind him. Give me a chance and put me back there. He said Ok, we’re going to give him a chance. But he wasn’t sure to put me in yet because he wasn’t sure of what I could do.

    “I asked another coach to pull for me and tell him to give me a chance. He finally gave me a chance. … I took it and rolled with it.”

    “I was on the sideline just waiting, stretching, waiting for a chance. By the time I finally went out there, everybody was on me. The whole team was rooting for me. Telling me to catch the ball, just make sure you catch the ball. Be calm and this (and that). I’m like, it’s like college all over. … I’m back there and I’m already nervous. My adrenaline is pumping. My eyes are red because I was emotional. I was like, yea finally! About time!”

    “Then I said catch the ball. Soon as I caught the ball, now, what am I going to do? I just caught the ball and made one move. Coach said just make one move and hit it. I did exactly what they told me to do. I hit it and let my abilities work for itself. … That one opportunity really sparked things. Opened their eyes, like wow. They’re saying wow, and I’m saying see, see. I was here all along, just hiding.”

    That was the end of hiding for Chery, especially after McCarthy’s announcement on Monday. Chery made appearances on the practice squads for the Panthers and Steelers last year, but was relatively unknown coming to Green Bay. He didn’t garner a whole lot of attention through camp. But when he walked to his locker today, nearly every reporter in the room was waiting.

    “This is another chance to show what I can do,” Chery said. “To show that last week wasn’t a fluke. … Go out there, have fun and pursue my dream.”

    “It was crazy to be last to, like, No. 1 now. Right now, there’s a lot of people looking to help me and push me forward. But then again, if I don’t do good there’s another guy there ready to step up. My mindset is, I’m up. Whoever’s behind me, you’re not going to take the job.”

    Chery still has a lot to overcome to wind up on the 53-man roster. But the one thing he has going for him can’t be taught – speed.

    “He can run. We saw that in his workout,” McCarthy said. “We had him clocked anywhere from 4.29 to 4.32, the day he worked out for us. He has tremendous speed. There’s no question about that. He plays with it in the return game, you can see that just in his time out here on the practice field and also in the game.

    “But that’s a tough situation to come into a multiple offensive scheme, come from somewhere where there’s not a whole lot of carry-over terminology-wise. So it’s been a tough transition for him from a playbook standpoint in the passing game and with our offense. But he’s going to have a big opportunity here on special teams Thursday.”


    You’ve got to hand it to Daryn Colledge. The 6-4, 308-p0und offensive lineman is a hard man to bring down.

    The Packers have tried to bump him out of the starting lineup at least three times over the past four years, and every time Colledge has risen to the challenge.

    His latest triumph was perhaps the greatest when he had to fend off first-round draft choice Bryan Bulaga for the starting left guard job. On Sunday coach Mike McCarthy declared Colledge the winner of that battle.

    Colledge obviously played well since the position became an open competition one week into training camp. But Bulaga’s hip flexor injury also was a factor, and thus some are left with the impression Colledge won the duel by default.

    No matter, because Colledge will be the starter for the Packers’ regular-season opener in Philadelphia. And Bulaga will be the top backup at both left guard and left tackle.

    In talking about being named the starter Sunday in the locker room, Colledge suggested that he had never actually lost the job. He also suggested that he produced a solid season at left guard last year. While Colledge didn’t say it directly, it’s obvious his move to left tackle to spell the injured Chad Clifton last year wasn’t good either for him or the Packers. Colledge struggled at tackle, perhaps the toughest position on the line, and moving back and forth didn’t help him at guard either.

    But Colledge on Sunday said he only had one bad game at left guard last season. Some would say that’s an overly optimistic view of his season. But what matters now is how he will perform in 2010.

    Colledge has started in 63 of a possible 67 games since being drafted in the second round in 2006. After all he has been through, Colledge has learned to take nothing for granted. He might have the starting left guard job locked up for the opener, but he said if he doesn’t perform up to standards, he could lose that standing at any moment.

    Colledge appears to be taking the correct approach, since he performs best when someone is breathing down his neck.


    Sam Shields’ stunning climb up the Green Bay Packers’ depth chart continues.

    The undrafted rookie who opened training camp looking like a good practice-squad candidate not only is a lock to make the 53-man roster but also is a decent bet to be the Packers’ No. 3 cornerback in the regular-season opener against Philadelphia.

    Shields worked with the No. 1 nickel defense in practice Sunday ahead of third-year pro Pat Lee. It’s not clear whether Shields also is ahead of Brandon Underwood, who is out after injuring his shoulder last week against Indianapolis, but all signs suggest if Shields plays well this week in the preseason finale against Kansas City, he’ll be the first cornerback off the bench against the Eagles on Sept. 12.

    “(Shields) is around the ball, he’s gotten his hands on some balls,” said Charles Woodson, the Packers’ left cornerback and reigning NFL defensive player of the year. “He’s missed a couple picks, he’s made a couple picks. Nobody else is getting their hands on the ball, so you’ve got a guy with a nose for the ball and coming up with it, knocking them down and making plays downfield on long balls, then he deserves a shot.”

    With cornerback Al Harris still unable to pass his physical after having his knee rebuilt last year, it’s a given he won’t be ready to play against Philadelphia. The question is whether he’ll stay on the physically unable to perform list after final cuts next week, which would mean he’d have to miss the first six games.

    It appears more likely Harris will be on the final 53-man roster, so he’ll be able to practice immediately when he passes his physical, though it appears he could miss several games. Once he starts practicing, he probably will need three weeks to get game ready.

    The Packers didn’t draft or sign a free-agent cornerback, so all offseason and early in camp it looked like Underwood or Lee would move into the No. 3 job, with Tramon Williams taking Harris’ spot in the starting lineup. But Shields forced his way into consideration with his surprising play.

    Though he only moved to cornerback from receiver his senior year at the University of Miami, Shields has shown flashes of playmaking all camp. It started with an interception on the first day of practice, followed by an interception in the Family Night scrimmage, a couple more interceptions in practices, a dropped interception in the preseason opener against Cleveland and an interception in each of the last two preseason games.

    Shields is raw as a cover man, but he did enough to convince defensive coordinator Dom Capers to look at him with the No. 1 nickel against Indianapolis last week and got an especially long look after Underwood went down with a shoulder injury after two series.

    Shields was hardly perfect. On the first play of his second series against Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, he was beaten on a crossing route by receiver Pierre Garcon for a 24-yard gain.

    But Shields didn’t give up any more completions while playing in three of the final four series that Manning played, then made a noteworthy interception in the fourth quarter against backup quarterback Curtis Painter. On that play, Shields was in tight man-to-man coverage against receiver Dudley Guice along the sideline, with his back to Painter when the ball was thrown. He turned while the ball was in the air and reacted quickly to make the catch above his head.

    That kind of play gets the attention of coaches and teammates.

    “We had him one-on-one quite a bit during the game by plan,” Capers said after the game. “I really liked the way he finished out making that interception. Very nice play.”

    Safety Nick Collins said after practice Sunday: “Special young guy. If you can come into this league and be coachable and understand what the coach is trying to do with you, anything is possible. Right now that’s what he’s doing, he’s playing his role, getting the coaching down, learning the techniques, listening to everybody and is going out there and playing fast.”

    Playing the undrafted rookie in the No. 1 nickel while Harris is out is no small matter, because it probably means he’ll be on the field for 50 to 60 percent of the Packers’ defensive snaps.

    It’s also a sure bet that if Shields holds the job, Eagles coach Andy Reid will go hard after the rookie. Where Underwood and Lee are in their second year in Capers’ defense, Shields has been in the scheme only since May, and also is new to the NFL’s sophisticated and precise passing schemes.

    One of the advantages the Packers have this year is a full season-plus in Capers’ scheme, so the coordinator is not going to want to hold too much back just for the sake of one player. That means Shields could be overwhelmed by what he has to learn in the next two weeks.

    “It doesn’t matter,” Woodson said. “Whatever we have, we’re going to call it, so he’s got to know it. We’ll find out real soon (if he can do it).”

    Coach Mike McCarthy said it’s unclear how long Underwood will be out, which leaves the door open it could be for more than just a week. Underwood had surgery on the same shoulder after an injury that ended his redshirt freshman season at Ohio State.

    Either way, it looks like the No. 3 cornerback job is Shields’ to lose, which is nothing less than a dramatic development. Heading into camp, Shields’ chances of making the final 53 appeared to hinge on special teams, either as a returner or cover man on punts and kicks. He bombed as a return man because of trouble catching punts, but is on both No. 1 cover teams.

    The surprise is his play at cornerback despite being new to the position. He’s gone from a developmental prospect to a guy who could get on the field regularly, at least until Harris returns. What has caught his teammates’ eyes is his compensating for his lack of knowledge with speed and an ability to play the ball.

    “You still have a lot to learn technique-wise,” Collins said, “but if you’ve got that speed, it can make up for some the stuff you don’t have.”

    Lee, a second-round pick from the 2008 draft, has been healthy all offseason and throughout camp. He’s shown some ability for reading routes but was unable to surpass Underwood and then couldn’t hold off Shields last week. He said he thought he got a fair shot at winning the nickel job.

    “Yeah, can’t complain,” Lee said. “Can’t say anything.”

  36. adamprez2003

    adamprez2003 Senior Member

    Nov 27, 2007
    new york ciity

    The best thing that came out of Saturday nights pre-season game against the Seahawks is that it's over, no one got hurt, and that means the pre-season is now 75% OVAH. Yes, the VIkings won. Big deal, although it feels better to write about this game than the San Francisco Crapapalooza.

    With the first round of cuts coming this week, some guys made a statement for making the roster, some didn't, and the first team offense and defense had their dress rehearsal. Since there will be five guys not on the roster by the time I do the next stock market report, my video selection for the week is 'Don't Stop Believing', by Journey. I thought about 'Don't Fear the Reaper', by Blue Oyster Cult, but I figured I'd go the Duckies and Bunnies Route this week. No reason to rub more salt in the wound. Hat tip to those that are no longer a Viking; we thank you for your effort, and may you find an NFL home somewhere.

    The Stock Market Report After the jump.

    Blue Chip Stocks:

    Brett Favre, QB: Yes, he had two picks, and yes, the Vikings went on 16 and 14 play drives that yielded zero points. If this was the regular season, it would be unacceptable. But again, the pre-season is about timing and working on fundamentals. I liked what I saw from Favre, picks aside. The first one was a catchable ball that Bernard Berrian couldn't handle, and the second was a bad pick, but I think it was more to see how accurate he could be on a deep ball in game conditions. Kind of a 'Hey, Sidney could go get this, let's see if Camarillo can' moment. Camarillo didn't, and that's something that will be filed away. This offense is elevated to another level with Favre, and I saw elements of that against Seattle.

    Percy Harvin, WR: What a relief to see Harvin a) on the field, b) make a big play early in the game, and c) take a hit and get up. When you add all of that to the news that doctors might have finally pinpointed what might trigger Harvins' migraines, I have a sense of optimism with Harvin where there was uncertainty. If he is healthy, I have no worries about the WR corps. I'd still like to have Rice, but I am satisfied with what I saw tonight from Harvin, Berrian, and Camarillo.
    Sound Investments:

    Greg Camarillo, WR: If what we saw from Camarillo on Saturday is a preview of things to come, this might turn out to be one of the better trades in recent VIkings memory. Camarillo showed acute situational awareness, sure hands, and a guy that can be Favre's security blanket. I don't see him being a big play guy like Sidney Rice was last year, but he doesn't need to be. The addition of Camarillo will be a good thing for the Vikings.

    Darius Reynaud, RB/KR: A lot of people thought I was nuts when I said Reynaud could make this team. Truth be told, I thought he was a long shot, but I don't think that anymore. Reynaud has been the most consistent running back this pre-season, and had a great kick return to help swing the momentum after the Seattle pick 6.

    Chris Cook, CB: Cook made some very good plays in run support, and improbably secured a starting job tonight. He has looked impressive in every game, and has also improved every game. The CB opposite Winfield was a big question entering training camp, and it looks like that question has been answered. Once Cedric Griffin comes back, what once was considered a position of weakness could be one of the best defensive backfields in the NFL.
    Junk Bonds:

    The Vikings need to cut five guys to get to 75, and the Junk Bonds section is my predictions on who will be asked to turn in the playbook.

    Jon Cooper, C: Okay, when the starting guard gets the nod as the starting center over you, a natural center and the suposed #2 center on the roster, you really need to worry about your job security. I don't like the fact that Herrera is the backup center at all, and hope Sullivan gets healthy soon.

    Tremaine Johnson, DT: I don't see the Vikings carrying more than 4 DT's, and they will be Messrs. WIlliams, Fred Evans (or Letroy Guion), and Jimmy Kennedy. So it comes down to Johnson or Mike Montgomery, who has played better than Johnson. Johnson goes.

    Bill Noethlich, T: I don't write this to be mean or insulting, but I haven't heard Noethlich's name called at all during the pre-season. Has he even played?

    Two Wide Receivers, let's go with Marquis Hamilton and Freddie Brown: Ray Small got the boot earlier this week, and Jaymar Johnson got put on IR. If you assume that Sidney Rice will be put on the PUP list to begin the season, the Vikes can still keep five WR's, because guys on the PUP aren't counted as a roster spot. Let's assume that Harvin, Berrian, Lewis, Camarillo, and probably Javon Walker are the five guys on the roster to begin the season. The Vikes still have approximately 82 WR's left on the roster, and I think that's where most of the roster trimming comes from.

    Buy: Ryan D'imperio's Effort: It was late in the fourth quarter, and D'imperio went the extra effort to get in the end zone, and then showed some serious effort on the kickoff. I don't think he'll make the roster, but an effort like that gets a guy a spot on the practice squad.

    Buy: Toby Gerhart's Night: Gerhart had a decent night, and looks to be getting more and more comfortable in the offense.

    Buy: Javon Walker's TD: That was an experienced veteran going up and getting the ball and making a play. And I think at the end of the day, that's why he'll make the final roster over one of the younger guys.

    Buy: The Entire Defense: This unit will be fun to watch. They pressure the quarterback, pursue to the ball well, and hit hard. I can't wait for them to lay the wood to New Orleans.

    Sell: Turnovers: Can't have it, and although it was pre-season, it was mildly disconcerting.

    Sell: Tyrell Johnson: Wow, has Johnson fallen off the face of the earth. He was playing late in the fourth quarter, with the fringe roster guys.

    Sell: Rhys Lloyd, K. You were signed to kick the ball off into the end zone, and two of your three games have been in a dome. You have yet to do what you were hired to do, and you kick...in...a...dome. You have zero excuses, and if you can't do it, I pray that a roster spot isn't wasted on you. I have a lot of love for you as an ex-Gopher, especially the winning kick over Wisconsin to win the Axe, but get it together dude.

    So, that's your stock market report for the week. Only one more pre-season game to go, and then it's the real thing. Overall, I'm feeling much better about the line this week than I have since training camp began, and like I said earlier, once C John Sullivan comes back, I think the line will be no longer be a position of weakness. Favre is Favre, Camarillo looks to be the Camareal deal, and the defense is going to be really good


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