NFC North: Scanning the headlines

Posted May 27, 2014

Senior writer Tim Twentyman scans the headlines coming out of Packers, Bears, Vikings and Lions offseason workouts

The Lions have already begun the OTA portion of their offseason training program and the Packers, Bears and Vikings are slated to start their OTAs this week.

Draft picks are being integrated into their new teams, free agents are learning new schemes and coaches are figuring out just what kind of team they have.

So, what are some of the storylines coming out of each camp?


OTA offseason workouts: May 27-28, May 30, June 2-3, June 5, June 9-12

Mandatory minicamp: June 17-19

Headline: Brandon Marshall gets his extension

What is means: The Bears locked up one of the league’s most productive receivers for another three years and $30 million last week.

In two seasons in Chicago, Marshall has totaled 218 catches for 2,803 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Over the last seven years with three different teams, he's averaged 99 receptions, 1,249 yards and eight scores per season.

In two years in Chicago, Marshall has 79 catches for 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games against Green Bay, Minnesota and Detroit.

Against the Lions specifically, he's averaged six catches and 85 yards with three touchdowns in four games.

Quotable: "I said, 'This is going to be my breakout year,'" Marshall told quarterback Jay Cutler this offseason, via the Chicago Tribune. "Jay said, 'Dude, you had seven of them.' Jerry Rice had his breakout year in Year 11. So, I am in (season) nine. I think I can do it."


OTA offseason workouts: May 20-22, May 27-29, June 2-5

Mandatory minicamp: June 10-12

Headline: Lions new schemes coming together

What it means: The Lions hired a new head coach (Jim Caldwell) and new offensive (Joe Lombardi) and defensive (Teryl Austin) coordinators.

Following the first open OTA session this past Tuesday, players raved about the changes to both schemes.

The offense, which will have concepts from New Orleans, Baltimore and Indianapolis in it, hopes to stretch the field vertically a little more and take advantage of some of the mismatches the Lions think they can create with Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew and Reggie Bush on the field together.

Defensively, they are going to be more aggressive with their front seven and play press-man coverage behind them.

Quotable: “You can just see it,” second-year cornerback Darius Slay told of his early comfort level in the defense. “Even when you’re off the ball, it’s still man. I know when training camp comes we’re going to be all up in (the receiver’s) faces every play.”


Jermichael FinleyTE Jermichael Finley (Photo: AP Images)

OTA offseason workouts: May 28-30, June 3-5, June 10-13

Mandatory minicamp: June 17-19

Headline: Packers hoping TE Jermichael Finley can return

What it means: Finley suffered a serious neck injury last year and the unrestricted free agent has yet to be cleared to play. Finley is a versatile weapon for Green Bay and would be hard to replace if he doesn’t make it back or signs with another team.

The Packers have a plan B, however.

They drafted former California tight end Richard Rodgers in the third round and also signed the talented, but troubled, former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla as an undrafted free agent.

Quotable: “In my mind, he is a Green Bay Packer — hopefully,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy told Sirius NFL Radio, via the Green Bay Press Gazette “(Finley) is going through a tough medical situation. I think we all recognize that it was a serious injury. My understanding is he is doing everything and beyond to get himself ready. We’ll continue to watch that.”


OTA offseason workouts: May 28-30, June 3-5, June 9-12

Mandatory minicamp: June 17-19

Headline: Bridgewater to get first-team reps during OTAs

What it means: Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will get some reps with the first team offense during the team's organized team activities, head coach Mike Zimmer told the Minneapolis Star Tribune last week.

Bridgewater, one of the teams’ two first-round draft selections, will compete with veterans Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder for their starting quarterback job this offseason.

The Vikings are looking for more consistency at the quarterback position in 2014 and moved back into the first round to get Bridgewater.

Quotable: "[Bridgewater] is throwing the ball good," Zimmer told the paper. "I think he's got a good presence, a good command of the way he's taking things. It was good for him to be out here with the veteran quarterbacks a little bit last week for a few days."