NFC North: Weekend Training Camp Recap

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 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

Lots went on this weekend in the NFC North, unfortunately not all of it sunshine and roses.

We’ll start backward today, with the Minnesota Vikings.

Saturday did not go well for the team, with the loss of Greg Childs, who tore both patellar tendons when he landed on the turf after a nice leaping catch in practice.

A big, sure-handed red-zone target, Childs would have been a great compliment to Percy Harvin and Jerome Simpson when he rounded into form, which looked to already be happening.

Instead he’s gone for the season. The Vikings cut him today, but all that means is they intend to put him on IR, and to do that he needs to be waived and then clear waivers.

Coming back from something like this chancy at best, unlikely at most realistic.

That doesn’t mean he won’t, just that it’s going to be hard especially since it’s the second time he’s torn one of the tendons.

Geoff Schwartz is getting hernia surgery, and that’s two injury-risk players they took a chance with, neither of whom is panning out.

On the other hand, neither were expensive risks.

In terms of good news—and there is plenty—Christian Ponder is doing very well. He’s standing in the pocket longer and delivering the ball. He looks more confident and decisive and in turn has looked more accurate than ever before.

An offseason with a training camp seems to agree with him. He’s also coming into his own as a leader—exactly what they need him to do.

Finally, Adrian Peterson’s rehab is coming along, and he is still bent on coming back Week 1. He’s reportedly almost back from rehab—then it’s all how he does in contact drills.

For the Green Bay Packers, this weekend was a lot about having some fun Friday before their final push to prep for their first preseason game. Friday night was family night and reportedly it was a tremendous time.

Of course, the first-team offense looked sharp, scoring on both their drives.

More notable were the performances of backups Graham Harrell and BJ Coleman.

Both men are still a bit raw, but also threw some nice passes and stood well in the pocket.

While it doesn’t mean that all hell won’t break loose if Rodgers goes down, it should allay some fears that it would be a complete disaster.

Diondre Borel had a good weekend as well and is making a case for a roster spot. As I have said before, with Randall Cobb doing well and the guys like Borel improving, could Jones still get moved? I believe so.

Rookies Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy were both very good in their debut.

As you would expect against backups, Perry made several plays and was able to overpower the opposition.

Worthy showed off a fantastic first step. One of the problems with him in college was consistency, but if he can stay focused and keep his motor running high, he will be devastating at defensive end.

Mostly set up on the edge, it will be hard for tackles to overcome his explosive first step.

The secondary is still coming together though Devon House continues to play well and Woodson continues to adjust to more time at safety.

It should be interesting to see what the team trots out against the Chargers.

One last note—Marshall Newhouse got a concussion on Friday night. He may miss the first preseason game but not much more.

In Detroit, the Lions continue to move Ndamukong Suh around more, most notably getting him into the defensive end position. This is exactly the sort of thing they have talked about doing and very similar to what they did for Suh his rookie year.

What’s more interesting is that they are also shifting Nick Fairley over to the end as well. The move, which the Lions call the Grey Scheme after a Liam Neeson movie, also swaps the defensive ends into the interior.

The Lions want to cause confusion in the offensive line, sometimes standing up, sometimes in a stance. The more variations the better.

The defense continues to look solid overall, though the secondary still has question marks.

Offensively, the Lions lost another running back on Monday, rookie Stephfon Green. Whether he would have made the roster is debatable but still—did someone steal a cursed tiki idol or something?

Offensively, Nate Burleson and Titus Young continue to have outstanding camps, and the Lions appear to be poised for another big season offensively.

Finally, the Chicago Bears are dealing with some hand wringing about Brian Urlacher’s injury—which I have contended isn’t the apocalypse some seem to think it is.

The truth is the rest of the defense is looking good so far and the offense is as well.

You could be looking at a tremendous year if the offensive line holds together. Reports seem to indicate that J’Marcus Webb is looking good at left tackle so, we could see a very big shift in the effectiveness of this offense.

A couple of other quick Bears notes. Kick returner/wide receiver Devin Thomas abruptly retired this weekend, which means Dane Sanzenbacher is getting a chance to prove himself and hang onto the roster spot.

He should, and it shouldn’t have been a question. He did well last year and shouldn’t have had to fight off a glorified return man like Thomas for a spot.

He’s doing very well with his chance and should make the roster. Sanzenbacher might be a dark-horse candidate to sneak in a bunch of reps this year.


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