NFC North Notes: Bears, Lions, Vikings



For the second straight season, Bears WR Anthony Miller will be rehabbing a shoulder injury for much of the offseason. Miller dealt with the fallout from a dislocated shoulder for much of his rookie season. After having the issue repaired last offseason, he reinjured it again during the final week of the season. Miller acknowledged it was discouraging but he since he can’t do anything about it, he’s learned to embrace the challenge. 

“Just knowing I had to go through this again . . . another series of seven months getting everything right again [is the challenge],” Miller said via Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. “I have to spend the offseason rehabbing. I would like to do other things, but this is what’s going on now. So this is what I deal with. I’ve learned to be more patient, especially with the healing process. I’m just making sure everything heals the way I want it to so I can contribute the way I want to on the field.”

While he heals, Miller has taken a lot of time to watch the way other receivers play. He’s studied Steve Smith, Isaac Bruce and Stefon Diggs as he looks to be a much bigger part of the Bears offense in his third season. 

“I feel like this is going to be my best year yet,” Miller said. “I’ve matured a lot on the field and I’ve gained a lot of knowledge, especially this offseason. I’ve been studying up a lot on other players and seeing what they do so I can enhance my game.”

  • Bears WR Ted Ginn‘s one-year, $1.187 million contract includes a $137,500 signing bonus and $750,000 of his $1.05 million base salary is guaranteed. (Aaron Wilson)


A clear theme that emerged from the Lions’ offseason additions was a familiarity with the current coaching staff. Detroit signed LB Jamie Collins and traded for S Duron Harmon, both players HC Matt Patricia worked with in New England. Teams tend to lean towards players they know because of the difficulty in changing systems in the NFL, but that’s become especially crucial with the shutdown affecting normal offseason work this year. 

“I think one of the things that certainly comes up in those quick decisions, especially in free agency, is how is the player’s fit, and how does he fit into the system, and does he have familiarity with the system,” Patricia said via Tim Twentyman of the official team website. “Those are the questions that then come up where there might be some guys that are familiar or have the same techniques or learning that maybe we’re teaching that it’s going to be quicker from that standpoint.”

Patricia cited backup QB Chase Daniel as another example. While the Lions didn’t have any coaches who had worked directly with Daniel, though he overlapped with Lions DC Cory Undlin when the two were with the Eagles together, the veteran has a lot of experience in the West Coast offense Lions OC Darrell Bevell runs. 

“For instance, Chase Daniel who has a West Coast background – he’s been in that system for a while so the vernacular from Bev’s to the stuff that he knows, that transition is going to be quicker,” Patricia said. “He’s going to be able to pick the information up faster. So when we’re in that situation, we’re looking for some depth at the quarterback position, a guy that we’re familiar with a guy that we think helps us and fits our needs, plus on top of that, he’s not going to spend all that time trying to learn the language – because it really is like learning a new language I think when you change systems. He’s going to be able to pick up the information a lot faster. That is definitely maybe one example of where that comes into play for guys that have some background in it, and it does help.”


  • ESPN’s Matt Bowen lists the Vikings as a strong fit for free-agent QB Joe Flacco.
  • Jeremy Fowler writes the Vikings are also a good landing spot for free-agent WR Taylor Gabriel.
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