NFC North Notes: Bears, Lions, Packers, Vikings

     

Bears

Bears WR Anthony Miller missed spring practices as he continued to rehab the shoulder injury he battled through his rookie year. Miller has also been sidelined with an ankle injury for the past two weeks in training camp. The second-year wideout says he’s not concerned about that impacting his chemistry with QB Mitch Trubisky, though. 

“I know everything’s going to click because we work so hard just to make things right and go over things during meetings, so it’s not just on the field,” Miller said via the Chicago Sun-Times per Pro Football Talk. “Our chemistry, I think, is going to be on-point this year.”

Lions

According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Lions DT Damon Harrison‘s new one-year extension includes: 

  • 2019: $7.5 million signing bonus and $1 million fully guaranteed base salary, $250,000 workout bonus and $500,000 total in per-game roster bonuses. 
  • 2020: $8.5 million base salary, $3.5 million of which is guaranteed for injury, $250,000 workout bonus and $500,000 total in per-game roster bonuses.
  • 2021: The Lions have a team option for 2021 that must be exercised by the last day of the 2020 league year. If they do, Harrison will make a base salary of $8.5 million and have $500,000 total in per-game roster bonuses. 

Packers

Rams LB Clay Matthews was expecting to re-sign in Green Bay as a free agent this past offseason, albeit at a much more reduced salary than the team had paid to that point. However, after the Packers made a big splash in free agency with LB’s Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith, the team told Matthews it had moved on.

“I was kind of taken aback because I thought I’d always be back there, whether it was at a cheaper price [or not],” Matthews said via NFL Media’s Mike Silver. “So that was kind of a shock, because [my family] stayed out there and had our third child in the offseason, and I was hanging in town training there and everything. And yeah, that was kind of a surprise to me because I just figured I would be out there a few more years. People say, ‘You chose to go to L.A.’ I didn’t choose. They told me there was no room for me.”

Matthews said while he and the team had agreed Matthews would test free agency in 2019, the veteran thought he’d return once the market set his price. Instead, the Packers moved on. 

“We’d had some negotiations throughout the latter part of the [2018] season, talks between my agent and the G.M. [Brian Gutekunst],” Matthews said. “It had been a while since a — some people say ‘older’; I say an accomplished, veteran pass rusher — hit the market, probably not since DeMarcus Ware left Dallas [in 2014]. So we said, ‘Alright, we’re gonna hit the market and kind of see what the value is.’ And then the Packers were on board, going, ‘Alright . . . then we’ll figure something out.’ So I always felt like I would probably end up back there; we just needed to figure out what the going rate was. But that wasn’t the case.”

  • ESPN’s Rob Demovsky doesn’t expect the Packers to find immediate help at inside linebacker on the waiver wire, as GM Brian Gutekunst said it would be hard to get that player ready by Thursday: “It depends on who it is. Even we’re playing on Sunday, it’s pretty hard. When we make those decisions, it’s not about Week 1.” 
  • Packers QB Aaron Rodgers said he’ll know when it’s time to retire when his body breaks down or he loses his love for the game: “I think it’s when the love affair with the game is not there and or if your body is not functioning the way you want it to. But hopefully, that’s many years from now.” (Matt Schneidman)
  • Gutekunst acknowledged the Packers and S Josh Jones just weren’t a good match: “He might not have been the best fit. He’s a talented player. It just came to a point where it was time.” (Tom Silverstein)
  • Gutekunst said the battle for backup quarterback between DeShone Kizer and Tim Boyle is “really close.” (Schneidman)
  • Packers LB Oren Burks says he has a partial pectoral tear which should allow him to play again this season: “I don’t think months. I think it’ll be a couple weeks.” (Ryan Wood)
  • Gutekunst won’t take into account the chance that the loser of the battle between Mason Crosby and Sam Ficken for starting kicker could sign with the Bears and play against the Packers Week 1: “I learned from Ted [Thompson] that you really have to focus on what’s best for you and your team.” (Demovsky)

Vikings

The Vikings paid a premium for K Kaare Vedvik, trading a fifth-round pick to the Ravens for a player they thought would solve their issues on special teams, either as a kicker or punter. Vedvik has started slow, however, missing two field goals in the Vikings’ Week 3 preseason game. 

“Disappointing,” Vikings ST coordinator Marwan Maalouf said via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. “It’s unacceptable. He knows that and hopefully this weekend we’ll get more opportunities. We plan on playing all the guys as much as we possibly can.”

Vedvik and K Dan Bailey will split kicking duties in Minnesota’s fourth and final preseason game. Bailey has also struggled during camp and the preseason, but has been solid since the addition of Vedvik. Vikings HC Mike Zimmer said he’s learned some lessons this preseason about handling kickers. 

“It’s a good question,” Zimmer said via Cronin. “I guess the biggest thing Is I’ve got to have more patience, probably.”

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