NFC Notes: Bears, Lions, Packers, Vikings


Bears LB Khalil Mack emphasized the importance of everyone on the defense playing together.

“The thing about a team sport is everybody’s got to carry each other,” Mack said, via Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun Times. “It’s about everybody being of one accord and everybody doing what it takes to win ballgames, whether it’s them scoring 17 points or 14 or 12 or us shutting another team out. Whatever it takes to win a ballgame is definitely what we’ve got to step up and be able to do on defense.”

Mack is confident the team can play better than it did last year.

“But for me personally, I know I can play better. So ultimately, what I can control is what I can control….. But what you bring to the table, we’ve got to bring it all together and be what we know we can be — and that’s a great defense.”


  • The Athletic’s Chris Burke thinks Lions third-round DT Alim McNeill has the early edge to start at nose tackle. 
  • Lions HC Dan Campbell keyed on the position battle at inside linebacker and safety this offseason: “I’m not just talking about starting. Who’s the next guy in?” (Burke)
  • Campbell said Lions DT John Penisini required an operation to repair calcium deposits in his shoulders, which made Pensini’s shoulders look like “softballs” and limited the ability to use his arms. (Justin Rogers)


  • Regarding personnel decisions over veteran players which Packers QB Aaron Rodgers mentioned he disagreed with in Wednesday’s press conference, Packers GM Brian Gutekunst said he understands why there may be “hurt feelings” over difficult business decisions but added exceptions to keeping veterans longer than typically expected don’t happen “very often.” (Ryan Wood)
  • When asked again on player input on personnel matters, Gutekunst said this will be exclusive to Rodgers: “Every player is not going to have that kind of input. It’s going to be Aaron.” (Wood)
  • Gutekunst added Rodgers has “always” had a say on decisions: “He’s always had it, it’s how we incorporate it.” (Albert Breer)
  • As for Rodgers’ comments about a desire to avoid being a “lame-duck quarterback,” Gutekunst responded that he’s never viewed Rodgers as such: “I’ve never looked at it like that. At the moment, he has three years left on his contract, so he’s not going to be a lame duck. We may alter that, but even still it’s not going to be one year left.” (Wood)
  • Gutekunst told reporters Rodgers was the primary impetus behind their trade for Texans WR Randall Cobb: “I think that’s a big part of it. Without Aaron, we probably wouldn’t be pursuing it. Randall’s still a good player. … This is what Aaron wanted, that’s why we did it.” (Breer)
  • Cobb confirmed that Rodgers contemplated retirement this offseason: “That was a real thing.”  (Wood)
  • Gutekunst said they signed veteran OT Dennis Kelly in order to “bolster the tackle depth” rather than it being a reflection of David Bakhtiari‘s potential unavailability for Week 1. (Matt Schneidman)
  • Gutekunst mentioned that the Packers were interested in Kelly earlier in free agency, but didn’t have the cap space until recently: “Obviously we didn’t do much in free agency this year, because after we signed all our guys — Kenny [Clark], David [Bakhtiari], Aaron [Jones] — we didn’t have the cap dollars and had to sit that one out.” (Wood)
  • Although Gutekunst acknowledged it’s justified for Davante Adams to be the game’s highest-paid receiver, he added he has a different evaluation of what “highest-paid means,” but declined to elaborate on the matter. (Schneidman)
  • Packers HC Matt LaFleur said Cobb will play a key role in third-round WR Amari Rodgers’ development: “You can never have enough good players. It’s always great when you bring in a veteran that’s been in some big-time moments.” (Schneidman)
  • As for the Packers’ offensive line, LaFleur said Elgton Jenkins will continue getting reps at left tackle: “I prefer him to be anywhere on the field. He’s such a dynamic player. Not too many guys play all five positions.” (Wood)
  • Cobb was overjoyed to return to Green Bay: “I had tears yesterday. I definitely have tears yesterday when I got in the car and headed to the airport. I think it sunk in for me then.” (Ryan Wood)
  • Cobb called himself a small piece to the puzzle of the Packers’ 2021 Super Bowl run: “I’m a piece to this puzzle. Not the whole picture. A very small piece … I’m here to win a championship.” (Schneidman)
  • Cobb compared playing with the Texans to returning to Green Bay: “I can breathe again. I’ve seen the other side. Green Bay is like a Fortune 500 company and Houston is like a start-up.” (Rob Demovsky)


  • The Athletic’s Arif Hassan reports Vikings OL Oli Udoh took first-team reps at right guard.  
  • The Athletic’s Chad Graff believes Vikings TE Brandon Dillon should have the third spot on the depth chart locked up. 
  • After missing his rookie season due to heart surgery, Vikings LB Cameron Smith has a great shot to lock up a roster spot, per Graff. 
  • Vikings HC Mike Zimmer they’ve had conversations with RT Brian O’Neill, who is entering the final year of his deal, about a contract extension: “We’d love to get Brian done. I think they’ve had conversations; I don’t know where it’s at.” (Ben Goessling)
  • Vikings CB Patrick Peterson said he’s taking a leadership role this offseason and gave some pointers to CB Kris Boyd: “Just showing these young guys how to study and understand their opponent.” (Chris Tomasson)
  • O’Neill is confident that his contract situation will work itself out and confirmed his interest to stay in Minnesota: “It will play itself out. I want to be here. I love it here.” (Chris Tomasson)
  • O’Neill responded “yeah” when asked if he’s excited about the large contracts at his position, but must continue playing well: “Yeah. But I need to have a good practice today. Danielle [Hunter] is back so I’ve got my hands full.” (Chad Graff)

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