NFC Notes: Justin Fields, Bears, Lions, Packers


Bears free agent LT Jason Peters said in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio that QB Justin Fields got better with every game he played.

“He got hurt right there in the middle of it,” Peters said, via Pro Football Talk. “He’s going to need his offensive line to block for him, give him some time — because he’s young — to go through his reads. Once he gets older and gets into the groove, because right now he’s going to be like a rookie with the new system pretty much with a new coaching staff, I’m pretty sure they’ve got a whole new system for him, new plays.

“As long as the offensive line gives him some time, he’ll do OK this year. Once he gets that offensive line set, that guy’s going to be special because he can throw, he can run, he can make all the plays he needs to make.


Improving the weapons on offense for the Lions was a big priority this offseason. New Lions OC Ben Johnson says they felt like they exited the 2021 season with an exciting core of young players who could attack the middle of the field, including TE T.J. Hockenson, slot WR Amon-Ra St. Brown and RB D’Andre Swift. Improving their outside receivers was the next step, which is why Detroit made it a point to re-sign WR Josh Reynolds and add WR DJ Chark on a one-year deal. 

“We were looking for guys on the outside that could help us stretch the field both horizontally and vertically,” Johnson said via the Athletic’s Chris Burke and Nick Baumgardner. “…That’s the starting point for both of those guys. But the cool thing, and the other thing I wanted to touch on with these two guys: When I was with Miami — Josh was the 2017 draft, DJ was the 2018 draft — I’m coaching receivers. So, the cool thing about this whole exercise for me is that I know how I felt about them coming out of college. What they did well and what they didn’t do well.

“Four years later, you see them in free agency and, OK, what has held true? How have they grown as a player? Where else could they still develop and what is their true potential? That’s kinda been the fun thing, when I look back at both of these guys. I had in my head, ‘This is who these guys could be in the NFL.’ And to see them bring that to light has been kinda fun to see.”

Reynolds arrived as a midseason waiver claim from the Titans and quickly established himself as the team’s No. 2 receiver. His ball skills made him a trusted target for Lions QB Jared Goff, who had played with him with the Rams, and he had 19 catches for 306 yards and two touchdowns in the final six games. 

“At (Texas) A&M, (it looked like) he was more that 50-50, jump-ball (guy) — he was going to go up and get it, the rebounding type. Sometimes, those guys can translate to the NFL; sometimes, they don’t quite as much. They need a little bit more route-running savvy,” Johnson said. “That’s been the impressive part to me, just how (Josh) has grown in the ability to create separation. He’s got some subtleties in his route running that are unique. He’s more of a technician than I ever thought he would be.”

Chark showed terrific potential at times with the Jaguars, but wasn’t able to put it all together in an admittedly dysfunctional environment. Johnson and the Lions saw his size (6-3), speed (4.3 second 40) and explosiveness (40-inch vertical) as a terrific fit for what they needed. 

“That’s the first thing that stands out to you: He’s going to stretch this field vertically, more so than what we had — not only from a speed standpoint but his ability to go after the football,” Johnson said. “It was flag city when you watched the targets. It was awesome. That’s the first thing that pops. If you talk about his superpower, that’s it. His ability to go deep.”


Packers third-round OL Sean Rhyan believes that he can play any position along the offensive line that the team asks him to.

I put on film, three years at tackle, I went up against some pretty good D-ends, I would say, and held my own. They think I can do this in the league,” Rhyan said, via Packers Wire. “I’m going to play where it best fits, wherever I slide in at. I’m ready to play both guard and tackle. We’ll see, when the season rolls around, where I’m playing at.

Rhyan dismissed his short arms, which happened to be one of the key knocks on him leading up to the draft.

I’m pretty agile. Really good hand placement, which is sometimes better than big arms, because hand placement wins, and angles win, especially on the offensive line. That’s why I’ve been effective,” Rhyan said.

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