NFC North Notes: Bears, Packers, Vikings

     

Bears

  • Bears LB Roquan Smith returned to practice Wednesday after missing Sunday’s game due to a personal issue. (Biggs)
  • Smith told reporters he’ll play this week. He declined to elaborate more on the issue that kept him out last week: “It’s over with and it’s behind me. …. I’m fine. You see me here.” (Adam Jahns)
  • Nagy, however, was less definitive about Smith’s status, saying, “We’ll see,” when asked if the linebacker will play. (Dan Wiederer)
  • The Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs writes that it’s not a “slam dunk” the Bears decide to bring back LB Danny Trevathan when his contract runs out following this season. 
  • Biggs adds the team’s decision about OL Kyle Long, who’s been limited with a hip injury, will likely depend on his health, while CB Prince Amukamara, who is also in the final year of his deal, is more likely to be retained. 
  • Biggs notes Bears WR Javon Wims has likely earned more playing time. 
  • Biggs mentions he doesn’t believe the Bears are interested in Dolphins QB Josh Rosen
  • Bears HC Matt Nagy confirmed QB Mitchell Trubisky is out for Sunday against the Raiders but will be day-to-day with a shoulder injury following that. (Kevin Fishbain)

Packers

There was a lot of speculation this past offseason that the Packers would move on from 32-year-old TE Jimmy Graham only a year after signing him to a three-year, $30 million deal. The team apparently felt Graham could rebound from the two touchdown catches he had in 2018 after having 10 the year before in Seattle.

Despite scoring in the season opener, Graham’s impact so far has been minimal. He missed a chance at a game-tying touchdown last Thursday against the Eagles when he failed to go up with two hands for the ball. However, the Packers maintain they have trust in him. 

“The trust is high with Jimmy,” Packers QB Aaron Rodgers said via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. “I’ve got a lot of faith in him. He made a great adjustment on the touchdown in the first half, the two-minute drive. Not something we talked about — he just wheeled it up. I saw him, and he made a nice catch on the ball. I know he probably expects to make one of those two plays there [from the 1-yard line], but I have a ton of confidence in Jimmy.”

  • If Packers OT Bryan Bulaga can’t play again, Packers HC Matt LaFleur says OT Alex Light would be in line to start again, though the team could shift Billy Turner from guard to tackle: “That’s something that we’re working through as the week goes, but we’ve got a lot of confidence in Alex.” (Demovsky)
  • The Packers are planning to re-sign TE Evan Baylis to their practice squad if he clears waivers on Thursday. (Matt Schneidman)

Vikings

Part of the issue with the Vikings offense a quarter of the way through the 2019 season is their inability to connect on deep passes down the field despite having two of the best receivers in the league in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has missed both receivers at times, while at other times the offensive line hasn’t given him enough time. But there have also been a number of plays where Cousins has checked the ball down despite open players down the field. 

“There’s times where you’ve just got to pull the trigger, you’ve just got to believe that you’re going to make the throws,” Vikings HC Mike Zimmer said via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. “There were some times where he got the ball out really good. The one behind Adam, just a little bit behind him, he got that ball out good. There were some other ones. We’ve just got to keep working on it.”

Cousins later apologized publicly to Thielen after reviewing the tape and seeing the missed opportunities. 

“I really want to apologize to [Thielen] because there’s too many opportunities where we could have hit him on Sunday,” Cousins said on KFAN via NFL Media. “Postgame when I talk to the media I always say, ‘Hey, until I watch the film, it’s hard for me to really give you a straight answer.’ Well, now it’s Tuesday night. I’ve watched the film and the reality is there were opportunities for [Thielen]. The one that’s most obvious is the third-and-10 at the beginning of the game. We’re near midfield. That’s arguably seven points. If you put the ball where it needs to be, he’s shown … that he will make that play and he’ll probably finish the play in the end zone and pull away from the defender.”

  • Zimmer doesn’t think Cousins’ lack of deep passing is due to a lack of confidence: “No, I don’t think that. I don’t see that. I just think he needs to go play and just play the game. That’s usually what I tell him. Just go play the game. Don’t worry about consequences, do what you do.” (Cronin)
  • Vikings WR Stefon Diggs missed practice on Wednesday for non-injury reasons.
  • There has been recent speculation about Diggs potentially being a trade candidate, but Tom Curran of NBC Boston, citing a league source with knowledge of the situation, reports that the Vikings have no plans to trade Diggs.

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