NFC North Coverage: What We Learned This Week

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2012

As we wrap up the inaugural week here at the NFC North blog, it's time to take a look back at some of the stories we've seen and what they can tell us going forward.

Before we do that, I wanted to thank everyone for hopping on board here, commenting and reading. It's been a wild week, and as I settle in, we'll get the chaos down to a lower-level alert color.

Again, let us know what you like, don't like and what you'd like to see more of, and we'll see what we can do.

With that bit of pandering out of the way, let's review the week, team by team. At times, this week left us with more questions than answers.

Detroit Lions

I could be smarmy and say that we learned that you can't swallow marijuana...crap, I just did.

OK, bad jokes aside, we definitely got the sense that the Lions have some internal issues that might need to be resolved.

One incident of an arrest for drug possession might be written off. Three in three months? That's more of a concern.

How big of a concern remains to be seen. Neither Nick Fairley nor Mikel Leshoure are so integral to the team (yet) that losing them would destroy the season. However, the Lions should take steps to make sure that this isn't a bigger issue—before it is one, and they lose someone more critical.

On another note, I've begun to wonder how much of a concern the running back situation should be. Hopefully, Leshoure gets his act together and is healthy enough to contribute the way I thought he would last year. Hopefully, Jahvid Best's concussions do not become an issue again.

I'm not sold on either. So the question we'll look at between now and the draft is: Should the Lions spend another high draft pick on a back?

Green Bay Packers

The Packers are still waiting for an answer as to whether Nick Collins can play this year, or indeed, ever again. This is a problem—the waiting—because his availability affects not just draft plans, but a direction for the season as well.

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 18:  Play is stoped as Nick Collins #36 of the Green Bay Packers is injured against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The domino effect includes: Will Charles Woodson get moved to safety? Will the Packers then draft a cornerback to replace him? Or will they keep Woodson at cornerback and draft a safety?

There is word that Collins and his agent will talk to the Packers next week, so hopefully those answers will start coming.

Personally, I learned that Boise State OLB Shea McClellin's draft stock is far higher than expected. There is a good chance that he goes late in the first or early in the second round now, according to B/R's own Sigmund Bloom.

And if the Packers like him, they'll have to grab him with their first pick.

Chicago Bears

Apparently, against all evidence to the contrary, Lovie Smith and Phil Emery are happy with the offensive line.

Bears fans have been split on this, at least in what they've said to me. Some think that while things aren't fine, it's less of a priority than its 32nd ranking over at Pro Football Focus.

Others think the Bears are insane to keep doing the same thing and expect change.

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 11:  Gabe Carimi #72 of the Chicago Bears awaits the start of play against the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field on September 11, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Falcons 30-12.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Imag
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

My take?

While Gabe Carimi is a good player, and the Bears have some talent on the line, the left tackle is a huge concern that needs to be addressed, and soon.

I know I say this often, but there is no reason to have Jay Cutler as your quarterback if he's lying on his back all game. At that point, you might as well just have John Beck or David Garrard back there.

Not to mention that Cutler, pretty much the most frequently hit quarterback in the league over his career, is going to keep getting hurt if they don't help him. As a team that doesn't use a fullback, even to help in pass protection, there is little to no room for error here.

The good news is Carimi's rehab is going well, as is Johnny Knox's. I like Knox, but his return doesn't preclude more wide receiver help, by the way.

Minnesota Vikings

Three big things on the Vikings front this week.

First, Adrian Peterson's rehab is coming along fine, and he has been running. Peterson is one of the most driven, hard-working backs in the league. We all assumed he'd start 2012 on the PUP list. It's beginning to look as if he won't.

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 24: Running back Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings is helped off the field after being injured in the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on December 24, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Pat
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

We also learned that Percy Harvin has had shoulder surgery, though it is expected that he will be ready for training camp. That gasp you heard is definitely a sign that we all recognize that without Harvin, the Vikings may have some wide receiver issues.

Finally, I was forced to take a second look at the Vikings offensive line when I looked at's offensive line rankings for the NFC North. Their seventh ranking took me by surprise.

As I say in the linked article, it's that sort of thing that should always make a reporter or analyst look again. Do the Vikings have some offensive line issues due to age and other concerns? Yes.

Are they as horrible as they looked at times in 2011? It would appear not.

That said, Matt Kalil still makes the most sense for that No. 3 pick.

Oh, yeah. They might trade that bad boy, too.


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