NFC North Daily Breakfast Links: August 16, 2012

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2012

EDEN PRAIRIE, MN - MAY 04: Head coach Leslie Frazier of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during a rookie minicamp on May 4, 2012 at Winter Park in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

We're at the end of training camps and fully into "preseason mode" now, and teams are taking a hard look at their players to see who can fit and who gets cut.

We start off this week's action on Thursday with the Green Bay Packers facing the Cleveland Browns. I did my take on what to watch, so check it out for a few ideas of who to take a close look at.

We'll start with an excellent training camp recap by ESPN's Kevin Seifert. During his camp tour this summer, Seifert saw up close a lot of the things we've all been talking about. It's a great read. 

Minnesota Vikings

Tom Pelissero over at ESPN 1500 writes that while they may lack the "big names" (Favre, McNabb) of the last few years, the players with the team care and work harder than some of those names.

I don't know that agree Favre didn't work hard when there, though he skipped camp and did have, as Pelissero points out, some off-field stuff to contend with. While they sold their souls for a shot at the Super Bowl, they didn't fall short because Favre didn't care.

McNabb is a whole other issue, as is Bernard Berrian (another name Pelissero brought up).

I will totally agree that the guys there now appear focused on winning and working as a team—yes, even Percy Harvin. That's a great sign for the next few years.

Another fantastic edition of the Chris Kluwe blog Out of Bounds is up (via, wherein the Vikes punter describes what he's doing to gain abs like Adrian Peterson.

Also over at the Pioneer Press, Brian Murphy says that Christian Ponder has some bold hopes for the 2012 season, such as a playoff berth.

While the notion is probably a little premature, I'll give him this—there were some games which could have gone either way last year, and they have improved this offseason.

Is it crazy? Maybe. However, this team is focused and positive, and you have to like it.

Chicago Bears

Whenever we talk about Brandon Marshall going to the Bears, inevitably someone says something about his general attitude and how bad a teammate he can be.

Not so with the Bears, according to the Chicago Sun-Times' Joe Cowley. In fact, he's acting in a leadership role already, and his fellow players are excited by it.

We've talked about how I think his being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and his steps to treat it will make a huge difference on the field. Well, it makes a lot of sense that it would do the same off it. So this doesn't surprise me, and I'm really not waiting for the other shoe to drop either.

Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune takes a close look at the myriad of red-zone options the Bears have at their disposal this season. Whether it's running the ball with Michael Bush, tossing it to Brandon Marshall or hitting Kellen Davis with a throw in the corner of the end zone, this team has far more going for it on offense then it has had in a decade. 

Detroit Lions

Mikel Leshoure was back practicing yesterday for a little bit, but that doesn't mean he's full go yet, per the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett. According to Birkett, head coach Jim Schwartz says not to read too much into it—Leshoure still has a ways to go.

This is no cause for worry. As has been reported before, Leshoure is essentially two weeks behind his teammates. He can't play until Week 3 anyway, so the team is bringing him along slowly. There's no rush—so there should be no worry.

The Lions already have a talented defensive line, and this camp has shown that it might be deep as well. Anwar Richardson discusses two pieces of previously undiscovered depth at

With Cliff Avril out, Willie Young stepped up and performed fantastically, earning himself more playing time. While not quite as productive in camp, Jackson seems to be finally taking a big step forward in his development and could be a bigger than expected factor in rotation.


Green Bay Packers

There has been an undercurrent of concern all offseason that Graham Harrell is not a reliable backup to Aaron Rodgers. Harrell had an OK game last Thursday night, though he made some bad throws and missed on some others. Keep in mind he had no offseason in 2011, and so this is really his first full year with the Packers—his development is bound to be a little hindered.

Currently, and with that in mind, the Packers are not worried.

Other people are though, and so the rumor that Colt McCoy could be traded to the Packers has been drummed up again—only brought into sharper focus since the Browns and Packers play on Thursday.

B/R's own Zach Kruse has a debunking piece I like on why a move for Colt McCoy doesn't make any sense. It is interesting to note that in his poll, the vote is nearly dead even between yes they should trade for him and no they shouldn't.

When it comes to linebackers, we've mostly talked about Nick Perry, Nick Perry and some dude drafted out of USC called Nick Perry.

What we may have missed is the solid play of D.J. Smith, which has earned him a spot as middle linebacker in the 4-1 defense, according to Bob McGinn of the Journal-Sentinel.

With Desmond Bishop down for the foreseeable future, Smith will be in his spot until he loses the job.

He's getting a lot of responsibility and has stepped up perfectly, which will only help this defense rebound in 2012. 

Check out the writers on Twitter:

@AnwarRichardson, @freeplions, @espn_nfcnblog, @tompelissero, @bmurphPiPress, @chriswarcraft, @vxmcclure23, @BobMcGinn, @zachkruse2

Check out the B/R NFC North Facebook page—like us and keep up with everything NFC North on Bleacher Report! Follow me on Twitter at@andrew_garda.