NFC North Notes: Bears, Lions, Packers, Vikings

     

Bears

  • Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline says the Bears have had multiple video conferences with James Madison QB Ben DiNucci

Lions

For how short it was, former Lions DT Damon Harrison‘s time in Detroit was a bit of a rollercoaster. He was traded midseason from the Giants in 2018, helped turn around Detroit’s run defense, signed a one-year extension last offseason and then was released this offseason. In an interview, Harrison revealed he was never excited about the trade sending him to the Lions in the first place. 

“When I got there last year it was fresh, it was new and I was a bit angry. And to be completely honest with you, I didn’t want to go to Detroit because of some things that I heard from some guys in the past and some guys who were there,” Harrison said on the Green Light Podcast with former NFL DE Chris Long. “When I got the call that that’s where I was traded, I didn’t answer the phone for a couple hours. [Lions GM] Bob Quinn was calling me and I didn’t pick up the phone because I was trying to figure out a way to get out of it.”

Harrison added he and Lions HC Matt Patricia instantly butted heads over the coaches’ scheme and Harrison’s best fit. Harrison has played his best as a nose tackle but the Lions wanted him to play three-technique. That combined with missing OTAs because his wife was ill helped tank his second season with the Lions. 

“We had some conversations about not doing it anymore, and they kind of incorporated some of that zero nose, shade to kind of fit my play style. But it was something that I wasn’t comfortable with,” Harrison said. “I had some success doing it, but this past year I think it kind of came back to bite me in the ass. I wasn’t prepared for the season mentally. I came into camp in shape, but during the first three weeks of camp I think I kind of worked myself out of shape because I wasn’t doing anything.”

“Matt Patricia’s a great coach, a great guy,” Harrison added. “I have a lot of respect for Matt Patricia. It had nothing to do with him personally.”

However, Harrison said the fit was so bad he was trying to find a way to get the Lions to trade him. Despite saying he planned to retire, he now says he was emotional at the time and plans to try to continue his career with another team. 

“That was a time where, to be honest with you, we were trying to facilitate a trade. I was hell-bent on getting out of there,” he said. “It’s nothing against the people of Detroit, the city or anything like that. I’ll forever love the city of Detroit. But I just had to go try to put myself in a situation where I saw myself there for two or three years to end my career, and I just didn’t see myself in Detroit for that long.” 

Packers

Vikings

Minnesota saw an exodus of players this offseason. Some departures were due to a tight cap situation, others were more of the team’s own volition, like the trade of WR Stefon Diggs. Regardless, there’s a leadership void on the team that RB Dalvin Cook says is up to younger players still on the team to step up and replace. 

“Now, it’s time for some of the younger guys to step up and time for us to go out here and still be contenders,” Cook said via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “I was close to a lot of those guys but that’s part of the business, and you’ve got to move forward. I just think the Vikings, we’ve just got to come together and I think we’ll still be contenders at the end of the day. It’s just going to be some new faces that you’ve got to get used to.”

Cook acknowledged the team’s decision to trade Diggs was painful but it’s part of playing football in the NFL. 

“That one hurt. It hurt. That’s my brother. You know how close me and Diggsie were,” Cook said. “… It hurt a lot of guys in the locker room but it’s part of the business. We’ve got to accept that Diggs wanted to be happy and be happy for him as a player.”

  • ESPN’s Courtney Cronin says not to rule out the Vikings using a relatively high pick on a quarterback even with starting QB Kirk Cousins under contract through 2022. 
  • Cronin adds cornerback, wide receiver and edge rusher are priorities for the Vikings in the draft. 
  • The Vikings are reportedly high on Ohio State CB Damon Arnette. (Cronin)
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