NFC North Notes: Bears, Lions, Packers, Vikings

     

Bears

  • Per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Bears are seen as a potential destination for Titans QB Marcus Mariota in free agency this offseason by current NFL executives: “[Bears GM] Ryan Pace wants to stick with Mitch [Trubisky], and this way Mariota can start games but isn’t a total replacement, leaving room for Trubisky to regain his confidence and play well.”
  • The Bears announced they’ve hired Clancy Barone as their new tight ends coach. (Twitter)

Lions

  • According to DetroitNews.com’s Justin Rogers, the Lions pick at No. 3 overall is the ideal trade-up spot for the Dolphins (No. 5), Chargers (No. 6) and Panthers (No. 7) who all could be looking to move up for a quarterback. 
  • Rogers writes the Lions would still have a good shot at a top defensive prospect like Ohio State CB Jeffrey Okudah, Auburn DT Derrick Brown or Iowa DE A.J. Epenesa.
  • The Lions seem willing to let G Graham Glasgow leave Detroit for a bigger deal and Rogers says it’s because they don’t want to allocate too much cap space at guard. 
  • Rogers mentions FB Nick Bawden has the leg up on TE/HB Isaac Nauta in 2020. 

Packers

At 36 years old, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers can see the end of his career looming on the horizon even if it’s not imminent yet. As Green Bay prepares to play in the divisional round against the Seahawks, Rodgers acknowledged he feels a sense of urgency to win a second Super Bowl as the clock on his career ticks closer to the end. 

“It’s on my mind every day,” Rodgers said via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. “That’s why we play the game. That’s why you put in the time in the offseason, that’s why you do the little things. It’s to put yourself in this position, where we’re two games away from being able to compete for that. I’m 36, I know what this is all about. This is an important opportunity for us. I feel like I’ve got a lot of really good years left, but you never know. A lot of things happen year to year. We’ve had some great teams that have been an injury away or a play away from being special, so I want to make the most of this opportunity.”

  • According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Packers OT Bryan Bulaga has cleared the concussion protocol and should return to the starting lineup for Green Bay against the Seahawks this weekend. 
  • Packers HC Matt LaFleur said DT Kenny Clark was “really limited” in practice Thursday with a back injury: “Hopefully he’ll be alright.” (Matt Schneidman)
  • LaFleur told reporters it was “absolutely huge” having RB Jamaal Williams back this week: “He’s been such an important part to our offense all season long, not only running the football but having him in there in those passing situations. He’s a heck of a blocker.” (Ryan Wood)
  • Green Bay is still evaluating S Raven Greene, per LaFleur: “When and if he’s ready, we’ll bring him up (from injured reserve).” (Tom Silverstein)
  • The Packers worked out RB James Butler and LB Te’von Coney on Tuesday. (Howard Balzer)

Vikings

Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski said he is focused on their Divisional Round game against the 49ers when asked about his interview with the Browns on Thursday. 

“I’d prefer to just keep the focus on what we’re doing at San Francisco, our players, and really not worry about any periphery right now,” said Stefanski, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. 

  • According to Tomasson, Vikings WR Stefon Diggs (illness) returned to practice Thursday, while WR Adam Thielen (ankle) and S Jayron Kearse (knee/toe) remained out. 
  • Vikings CB Mackensie Alexander was in Florida for his knee surgery Thursday. 
  • The Vikings will wait until after his surgery before making a decision on if to put Alexander on injured reserve. (Tomasson)
  • Diggs is confident he’ll be able to play no matter what on Saturday against the 49ers: “Yeah, even if I was 30 percent, I would be out there. I mean, it’s football, and it’s that time of the year. Nothing’s going to be perfect. A lot of guys have got bumps and bruises, and I won’t let a little flu keep me from the game.” (Courtney Cronin)

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