NFC NORTH: Preseason round-up

Posted Aug 13, 2014

Week 1 of the preseason is in the books. What are we starting to learn about the Packers, Bears, Vikings and Lions? Tim Twentyman shares his impressions.

One preseason game is in the books for each of the four teams in the NFC North. Here are a few first impressions:


Tennessee 20, Green Bay 16

Preseason record: 0-1

What happened:

--Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, running back Eddie Lacy and receiver Jordy Nelson did not play, so the Packers were a little short on offense.

James StarksRB James Starks (Photo: AP Images)

--The Packers signed James Starks to a two-year contract this offseason because they like his experience and abilities as a backup to Lacy. Starks ran hard vs. Tennessee and finished with 49 yards on just six carries (8.2 average) with a touchdown and a long of 20 yards.

--Julius Peppers had an uneventful night in his debut at outside linebacker in this defense. He played 10 plays and did not record a statistic. The converted 4-3 defensive end is still learning the 3-4 outside linebacker spot and had a couple plays where he got too far up the field, allowing some inside running lanes for Tennessee running backs.


Chicago 34, Philadelphia 28

Preseason record: 1-0

What happened:

--Quarterback Jay Cutler was sharp in his debut, completing 9-of-13 passes for 85 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. His touchdown pass came on a 10-yarder to tight end Zach Miller

--The Bears still have a little work to do on special teams. They allowed a 102-yard kickoff return, had a field goal blocked, muffed a punt and even had a penalty for illegal touching on punt coverage. The Bears are replacing a number of special teams players and apparently have some kinks to work out.

--Defensive end Jared Allen missed the game because he was attending the birth of his child, so the Bears are still waiting to see what that revamped defensive line will look like with all its parts together. Allen is expected to play this week.


Minnesota 10, Oakland 6

Preseason record: 1-0

What happened:

--The Vikings have three quarterbacks vying for the starting spot and the first preseason game was a chance for one of them to take a step ahead. That turned out to be veteran Matt Cassel, who completed 5-of-6 passes for 65 yards and led the Vikings to a touchdown in his one series of action.

First-round pick Teddy Bridgewater completed 6-of-13 passes for 49 yards and was sacked twice. Christian Ponder was 3-of-7 passing for 39 yards and was sacked three times.

--The Vikings offensive line has some work to do after giving up six sacks for a total loss of 41 yards and that doesn’t include another sack of Bridgewater that was negated by a defensive holding penalty.

--The first-team offense scored a touchdown on their first possession and remnants of the starters managed a field goal on their second possession. After that, however, it was an uneventful night on offense. The Vikings went punt, punt, punt, missed field goal, punt, punt, punt, punt, and punt on their next nine possessions


Detroit 13, Cleveland 12

Preseason record: 1-0

What happened:

--Third-string quarterback Kellen Moore led three fourth-quarter drives into Cleveland territory, including his final drive of the night, where he threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Corey Fuller to win the game. He finished 11-of-13 passing for 121 yards with a passer rating of 131.1. Will it earn him some reps with the second team?

--The Lions defensive line didn’t have a great showing. They failed to record a single sack in the game and Cleveland quarterbacks Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel and Tyler Thigpen had plenty of time to operate most of the night.

--Nate Freese kicked field goals of 37 and 32 yards, respectively, and Giorgio Tavecchio made the game-winning 33-yard extra point, as both kickers compete for a spot on the roster.