NFC Notes: Bears, Packers, Vikings


  • Packers HC Matt LaFleur said QB Kurt Benkert is making a case for a roster spot: “I think Kurt has done a really nice job and definitely is going to make it tough on us to decide which way we want to go.” (Ryan Wood)
  • However, LaFleur maintains that QB Jordan Love is the backup despite Benkert’s success. (Wood)
  • Benkert said QB Aaron Rodgers has been extremely helpful thus far and told him: “Just keep slinging it, and you’re doing a good job. You’re putting the ball in the right place at the right time.” (Wood)
  • LaFleur says Benkert has handled himself well so far in the preseason: “I thought he did a really good job handling himself, which gave confidence to everyone else around him.” (Wood)
  • Packers’ GM Brian Gutekunst on if Benkert could make the 53-man roster: “He certainly has the talent to do that.” (Wood)
  • Gutekunst says LB Za’Darius Smith‘s situation is not contract-related and that he is working through a back injury which “flared up on him” in practice: “With this specific thing, he’s got an injury that we’re working through.” (Wood)
  • LaFleur says Smith “could potentially” miss Week 1: “He’s injured right now. I know he wants to be out there, but we’re going to be smart with him.” (Wood)
  • Packers’ OLB coach Mike Smith on Za’Darius Smith: “He’s eager to get out there, he just needs to take his time and get ready and not have any setbacks.” (Rob Demovsky)


  • Chad Graff of The Athletic mentions that Vikings’ G Oli Udoh will likely be the starter following the poor performance by G Dakota Dozier during the preseason. Udoh could also serve as the team’s swing tackle as rookie T Christian Darrisaw continues to miss time with injury.
  • While returning DE Danielle Hunter has one side of the defensive line locked down, Graff notes that D.J. Wonnum and Stephen Weatherly continue to compete for the opposite starting job.
  • Graff thinks that DT Michael Pierce has been the most impressive addition to the Vikings’ defensive line despite Pierce having opted out last season: “I’m super excited,” Pierce said. “I’m just counting down the days and making sure I tighten everything up for Saturday.”
  • As the preseason rolls on, Graff expects that QB Jake Browning will continue to battle with rookie QB Kellen Mond for the backup spot behind starting QB Kirk Cousins.
  • With LB Anthony Barr injured and LB Cam Smith retiring, the Vikings are likely to play other linebackers to see who is the most polished among rookie LB Chazz Surratt, Nick Vigil, Troy Dye, Blake Lynch, and Ryan Connelly.
  • Vikings fifth-round WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette continues to receive high praise from those involved with the team, including Cousins: “He’s a playmaker, which you’re always looking for playmakers,” Cousins said. “I just told him the other day, there are parts of his game that we can improve. He can improve. He knows that and he’s going to work at that. But he can run a post, he can make things happen, he can make big plays. I think he’s going to do that. In preseason games and practice, you will see and have seen that he’s a guy that can bring some juice.”
  • With backup TE Tyler Conklin injured, Graff expects that TE Brandon Dillon and TE Zach Davidson would get more chances.

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