As a rookie, Bears LB Roquan Smith made a strong first impression as a first-round pick, notching 121 total tackles, five sacks and an interception in his debut season. Chicago expected even more from Smith in his second season but instead he took a step back, dealing with injuries and a mysterious absence due to personal reasons. Entering 2020, the Bears want Smith to put it all together.
“I just think we’ve seen Pro Bowl-caliber play, now it’s just gotta be consistent,” Bears DC Chuck Pagano said via the Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain. “Do it week-in and week-out and stay consistent. Coming into Year Three, he’s going to have a phenomenal year.”
So far, so good, according to Pagano.
“He’s in probably the best shape of his life,” he added. “He’s changed his body. He’s really, really lean. Looks really good. He’s moving around good. Again, his focus right now and his mindset is off the charts.”
- Pagano is also excited for Bears second-round CB Jaylon Johnson who could seize a starting job at corner: “Moving around out there, he’s been a little bit limited because he’s coming off of a shoulder deal and stuff, but he’s got a bunch of dominant traits that should equate because he’s got good work ethic and I think he’s passionate and loves football.” (Fishbain)
Lions OT Taylor Decker says the Lions haven’t put a contract offer on the table and he’s unsure of where talks stand as they’re in “uncharted territory” because of the pandemic.
“I haven’t considered anything because there hasn’t been anything put on the table,” Decker said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “However those conversations go, I’ll speak with my agent about that, he’ll speak with the organization about that and then however they go, they go. But obviously anything could be considered. I feel like I’m a broken record saying it’s just uncharted territory, it’s weird times, so I think there’s possibilities everywhere. So yeah, I guess short answer, would I consider something? I’d consider all options.”
- Per ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, a veteran NFC scout believes the Packers should look hard at potentially signing WR Antonio Brown, as after Devin Funchess opted out Green Bay is basically back to square one at receiver.
- Green Bay likely will rely on WR Allen Lazard as its No. 2 receiver, which is less than ideal per a younger AFC scout: “As a starting outside receiver in the NFL, I’d say he’s below that line of what you would want as a starter. Ideally, he’s a third, and on a really deep team he might be a fourth receiver… [Aaron Rodgers] makes him better. He’s shown he’s a guy you want in your lineup, but he’s not like the guy that you want as the 1 or the 2. Those guys have to have more tools.”
- The NFC scout thought Green Bay should have made a run at WR Robby Anderson, who signed with the Panthers, in free agency to be their deep threat. Instead, the Packers will rely on WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling again in that role: “He is their vertical guy, but I guess he had issues last year. Did he fall out of favor with Aaron or something? I was a big fan of his coming out of college.”
- While the AFC scout likes Packers WR Jake Kumerow, he’s not sure he’s anything more than a depth player: “I actually liked him; I did his report the year he came out of Whitewater. I’m glad he finally made it because I liked him, but he’s another one of those guys who, when you don’t have a dominant trait, it’s hard to get over the hump at that position.”
- The Packers also bring back 2018 sixth-round WR Equanimeous St. Brown who missed most of last year with an ankle injury but the NFC scout doesn’t anticipate him being a difference-maker: “He’s soft. Inconsistent. Just a guy. But Aaron can make him have a 66-reception, 1,000-yard season. But it would be because of Aaron, and that’s Aaron having to work hard to make him good. Every now and then you want a receiver to make you look good.”
- Packers HC Matt LaFleur confirmed the team will keep three quarterbacks on the final roster — Rodgers, first-round rookie Jordan Love and Tim Boyle: “The three guys we wanted to focus on, the three we know we’re gonna have, I believe, on our roster.” (Matt Schneidman)