NFC North Notes: Bears, Lions, Packers, Vikings

     

Bears

The Bears made revamping their running back room one of their offseason priorities this year, shipping out Jordan Howard for a late-round pick while signing Mike Davis in free agency and trading up to draft David Montgomery. Both have the versatility for Chicago to take more off RB Tarik Cohen‘s plate in 2019. 

“We moved [Cohen] around a lot last year, and I do feel like there was a time — probably later in the season — where we probably gave him a little bit too much,” Bears HC Matt Nagy said via Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “And when you mentally drain them, it pulls them back physically.”

The other big change in Chicago comes on the defensive side of the football, where Chuck Pagano steps in as defensive coordinator to replace current Broncos HC Vic Fangio. Pagano knows expectations are high and he’s kept much of the defensive scheme the same to try and earn credibility with the players. 

“There’s going to be high expectations for anybody coming into this,” Pagano said via NBC Sports’ John Mullin. “…And I have great respect for coach Fangio. I’ve known Vic for a long time and he’s done a phenomenal job for a long time, calling defenses, building this defense, working with coach Nagy. But anytime you come in, you’ve got to look at, ‘Here’s what the expectations are and I’ve gotta prove myself.’

“I think it’s a challenge we all face and address and embrace. It’s not the thing that keeps you up at night, but I understand what the expectations are. And we’ve got a bunch of really good football players and assistant coaches, and if we keep working like we’ve been working, get lucky and stay healthy, things’ll work out.”

  • Over the Cap’s Brad Spielberger projects Bears G Cody Whitehair will receive an extension in the neighborhood of four years for $49 million, with potentially $22.5 million fully guaranteed at signing. 
  • Whitehair is entering the final year of his rookie deal and the Bears restructured OT Charles Leno‘s deal on Wednesday to create some additional cap space, suggesting an extension could be on the horizon. 
  • Bears WR Anthony Miller missed his fourth straight practice after suffering a right-foot injury 10 days ago but the injury is not considered serious.  (Rich Campbell)

Lions

  • Lions DE Trey Flowers is hoping to be ready to play in the team’s third preseason game, as he finds it valuable for his regular-season preparation: “You can never replicate a game, so a game is important. The speed of the game, going against an opponent, things of that nature.” (Justin Rogers)
  • Flowers had offseason shoulder surgery and was placed on the PUP list to start training camp before being recently activated: “I’m working hard, going through all the things that they’re putting me through, and I just do what they say is the best for me,

Packers

Packers G Lane Taylor has been a starter for most of the past three seasons. However, this year he faces a challenge for his job from second-round rookie Elgton Jenkins.

“Obviously, it’s not the most exciting thing to ever hear in the world,” Taylor said via Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, “but on the other hand, you’ve got to earn your spot. To tell you the truth, when it really comes down to it, you take all the emotions out of it and all of that stuff. You’ve got to earn your spot.”

Vikings

Vikings HC Mike Zimmer said second-year DT Hercules Mata’afa will play in their nickel packages this preseason and expects him to appear predominantly during pass-rushing situations this season. 

I just want to see him in this next week, he’ll probably just be in on the nickel. I want to see if he can just pass rush. We’ll just kind of go from there, because I think that’s what his role will be this year, if that is his role,” said Zimmer, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press

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