NFC North: Weekend Training Camp Recap

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistJuly 30, 2012

ALLEN PARK, MI - MAY 12: Chris Greenwood #33 of the Detroit Lions stretches during a rookie mini camp at the Detroit Lions Headquarters and Training Facility on May 12, 2012 in Allen Park, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

As we've hit the start of training camp, there's constant news, and the weekends are no different.

So, as we don't have as much stuff right now on the weekend, now is as good a time as any to talk about what we saw this weekend from each team in a bit more depth than the morning links brings.



The Bears continue to install the newfangled (read: sane) offense and so there are a lot of question marks.

Let's be honest—with a whole new approach by new offensive coordinator Mike Tice, a lot of what we "think" is supposition. We need to see all the parts in play, in pads. We can talk about how J'Marcus Webb, Chris Williams or Gabe Carimi play on the line, but we don't know for sure because things are so wildly different.

I've been critical of both players and will continue to be, but that doesn't mean the new scheme won't make a huge difference to them.

So keep an even keel, as they'll look fantastic and bad in the same day.

Just like Shea McClellin. Earlier today I mentioned he was unsatisfied with his work—he was held up by Webb once, and blew by him a second time later. That sort of up and down is expected both from a rookie and a new scheme, offensively or defensively.

Mark Potash has great recap of day six, though it left me a tad confused. He referred to Chris Williams as getting a good shot at right tackle, after Webb had the majority of the snaps Saturday night.

I can only assume he meant left tackle. I tweeted at him to find out, but no word yet.

Windy City Gridiron has a good recap of Sunday worth checking out. He mentions a good catch by Devin Hester (see I can be nice), a great play by Alshon Jeffery, and some full on hitting by the reserves.

All in all, the first padded practices went well. The Bears are off today (as required by the CBA), so we won't hear too much of them until Tuesday.



So far, the youngsters are impressing. I mentioned Bill Bentley this morning, and it sounds like he's playing a very smart, aggressive type of ball, which the Lions will sorely need this season.

Really, all that aside, my biggest concern continues to be Jahvid Best who was placed on the PUP or physically unable to perform list last week. Nine months removed from a concussion which knocked him out for the season, he's not cleared?

Maybe it's the team being super cautious, but should they need to be now? If there is a lingering issue, there have to be serious doubts about his long-term viability.

Or they could just be acting very slowly, in the same way the Vikings are with Adrian Peterson—just less forthcoming with the press.

Meanwhile, Mikel Leshoure tweaked his hamstring this weekend, while Jeff Backus hurt his thumb. Neither injury is serious, and given his Achilles Injury, it's not a surprise that Leshoure might have some lower leg injuries. Hopefully, this one clears up and stays cleared up.

Still—paging Kevin Smith—Kevin Smith to the white courtesy phone. Don't sleep on Stefan Logan either—he's worked with both WRs and RBs this weekend.

Two other things stand out. First, Nate Burleson is doing some mentoring with both Ryan Broyles and Bill Bentley. I love hearing about vets doing that, even if it's more common than some folks realize.

It can only help the team if the leaders on it step up, like Burleson has.

Second, Titus Young continues to have an outstanding camp. I've said it many times, but the Lions' offense looks incredibly dangerous this year.



Randall Cobb has been getting reps everywhere, according to the Journal Sentinel's Tyler Dunne. I've loved Cobb since the Packers drafted him, and he will be a great tool for this offense. I called him the "next Donald Driver" when he came out of college and contend he will indeed be that guy.

Every time someone asks how I can say James Jones can be traded, I point to Cobb. Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb? What's not to like?

I touched on Casey Hayward's performance earlier as well, and to say it could be critical might be an understatement. Sure, the lack of pass rush is a real issue, but with losing Nick Collins, the safeties are in a little bit of disarray.

Guys like Hayward—or Davon House or Sam Shields or Jarrett Bush—who can rotate in and do well frees the team up to make use of guys like Charles Woodson all over the place.

Of course, good play from rookie Jerron McMillian or second-year safety M.D. Jennings are vital too.

However, Hayward's continued standout play is a great sign for the cornerback position beyond Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams.



Tom Pelissero has a look at the current Vikings' 'Depth Chart' at ESPN1500—as Pelissero said on Twitter, this early in camp it's all conjecture, but I think he has the right of it.

As he notes, a key ingredient to who makes the roster (or at least the guys at the lower end of the draft class) is who can help in special teams.

I talk about this a lot when the draft is going on, but a rookie—especially one in the later rounds—has to be able to contribute on special teams. I've said more than once that guys like Audie Cole and Trevor Guyton could be very good NFL players, but they will have to earn their spurs on the special teams squad, as so many others do across the league.

We focus so much on the big-name players, we forget how vital special teams can be.

Pelissero's partner in crime, Judd Zulgad, says we might see a decision on Adrian Peterson's status this week. What that means isn't clear—the Vikings are having to balance his will to get on the field with what is best for him long term.

Sometimes a player—especially an elite one like Peterson—doesn't actually know what's best for himself. They want to play—period. Sometimes that's a bad choice.

I applaud the team for taking it slow with him. At least with Peterson, we are clear on what is going on, unlike the Lions and Jahvid Best.

That's it for today—we'll have some more training camp stuff a little later.

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