NFC Notes: Bears, Saints, Vikings

     

Bears

Last preseason, Bears HC Matt Nagy made the decision to rest nearly all of his starters for the entire preseason. Looking back, he thinks that might have been a contributing factor to Chicago’s struggles in 2019. This year, Nagy intends to take a different approach and not just because his starters won’t have the benefit of OTAs or because of the quarterback competition between Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky

“As we talk, that’s one of the things that I look back at from last year that I’m not happy about that I made a decision to do in the preseason,” Nagy said via NBC Sports’ Bryan Perez. “Number one, I think it’s good for them to have it, but number two it sets the mentality. So that’s not going to happen this year.”

Saints

Perhaps influenced by his own bout with the virus, Saints HC Sean Payton is handling the impact of the pandemic on OTAs a little differently than other NFL coaches. While most are trying to conduct business as normal — at least as much as possible — via virtual sessions and workout guides, Payton has taken a hands-off approach. Other than sessions with a few rookies and younger players, Payton has told his team to take this time to focus on their families, get in shape and be ready to go when they open training camp later this summer. 

“I didn’t want them thinking, ‘Oh, next month, honey, the facility may be back open and then we’re gonna be going into minicamp,’” Payton said via Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. “Because, honestly at that time, and even still today, no one really knows if that can happen. We think we’re gonna have a training camp, but no one knows anything about the offseason, relative to OTAs or minicamp. So I wanted them to focus on two things: Handle your family and their well-being, and begin to get yourself in fantastic shape.

“Don’t worry about the X’s and O’s right now, you’ll have plenty of time for those. So our players are lifting at home, and getting credit for it. But we’re not gonna spend all afternoon on Webex meetings with Drew Brees and Michael Thomas and Marshon Lattimore. We’re just not gonna do that. . . . And even if the skies parted and the league said, Hey, guess what? In the month of July, we’re allowing this. Well, we’re not gonna be interested in doing that. We’ll be ready when training camp starts.”

  • Payton acknowledged the decision to sign QB Jameis Winston was to improve their odds of finding a successor to Brees if QB Taysom Hill doesn’t pan out: “Absolutely, absolutely. You’re looking at the statistics, the analytics of it, well, now you have two candidates coming in.”
  • Saints GM Mickey Loomis said of the possibility of holding training camp: “I would say this right now, we’re planning on having our normal training camp. What that looks like in terms of the logistics and what is different from normal? We do not know yet, but we are having discussions about that.” (Katherine Terrell)

Vikings

  • The Athletic’s Chad Graff and Arif Hasan write that it appears the Vikings changed course and franchise-tagged S Anthony Harris to help cover up for their inexperience at cornerback. 
  • Vikings HC Mike Zimmer had previously mentioned it would be difficult to keep Harris while already having S Harrison Smith on a major deal but Minnesota moved on from its top-three cornerbacks from 2019 this offseason. 
  • The hope is Harris and Smith can help cover up for any growing pains as Vikings CBs Mike Hughes and Holton Hill step into starting roles and rookies Jeff Gladney, Cameron Dantzler and Harrison Hand adjust to the pros. 
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