The Lions gave the players the day off today, which gives us an opportunity to check in with the Bears, Packers and Vikings to see what story lines are developing from their respective training camps.
The Lions are back on the practice field Wednesday morning.
Item: Injuries mounting for the Packers
The Packers were forced to shorten a practice this week because injuries, according to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, are hitting their numbers hard.
Dougherty notes that Packers head coach Mike McCarthy’s practices so far in training camp have ranged anywhere from 2½ hours to about 2:45, but on Monday night with 17 players not practicing and two more dropping out during practice, he shortened the session to 1:45.
The Packers play the Chargers on Thursday night, and McCarthy ruled out eight players for the game: running back Du’uane Bennett (knee), guard Ray Dominguez (ankle), receiver Tori Gurley (groin), fullback Jon Hoese (hamstring), receiver Greg Jennings (concussion), tight end Eric Lair (knee), tackle Mike McCabe (hip) and tight end Ryan Taylor (concussion).
McCarthy has not ruled out Marshall Newhouse (concussion), according to Dougherty.
The two players who dropped out of practice with injuries Monday night were cornerback Sam Shields (elbow) and running back Brandon Saine (hamstring).
Twentyman comment: That’s a pretty long list but we’re not talking about Aaron Rodgers or Charles Woodson or Clay Matthews here. Greg Jennings and Sam Shields are probably the two biggest names on that list. It’s still early in training camp and the Packers still have over a month to get healthy.
The one drawback with so many players injured though, is that you can’t go through practice with the same tempo and pace with backups. Preparation could suffer in the long run, though I don’t suspect it will have much of an impact in the grand scheme of things.
Item: Former Lions receiver Rashied Davis finds a home with the Bears.
After spending last season with the Lions, wide receiver Rashied Davis signed a one-year deal with the Bears on Monday. Davis got the roster spot when Devin Thomas suddenly retired from football at the age of 25 on Sunday.
"Somebody walked off the field; he didn't want his job," Davis, 33, told Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago. "I guess I want it. So it's all good with me."
Davis spent his first six seasons in the NFL with the Bears from 2005-10. He had his best season in 2008 when he started 12 games and caught 35 passes for 445 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bears jumped at a chance to try and fix their mistake last year by letting Davis hit the free agent market so they could sign Sam Hurd, who was arrested in December on federal drug charges. Davis adds veteran experience to the Bears receiving corps and is a terrific special teams performer.
Twentyman comment: A foot injury limited Davis to 11 games with the Lions last year but his contributions to the team in those 11 games went above and beyond the call of duty in most cases.
He had four catches for 63 yards and made four special teams tackles last season.
In the Lions’ Thanksgiving Day game against the Packers last year, Davis was forced to play in the secondary because of injuries and had two defensive tackles. Lions head coach Jim Schwartz raved about his versatility at the time.
Davis is one of the NFL good-guys who is willing to do anything to help the team win. He was good in the locker room, too. Lions fans should wish him the best – except maybe twice a year.
Item: What will the Lions do at running back?
Lions coach Jim Schwartz alluded to the fact that Leshoure was getting closer in his recovery on Monday.
Twentyman comment: There’s been a lot of talk from fans that the Lions should go out into the free agency market and pick up a player like Ryan Grant or Cedric Benson. In my opinion, it’s not necessary as long as Leshoure is on the mend.
Bringing in Grant or Benson is not an upgrade to what they have in a healthy looking Kevin Smith, in my opinion. If the Lions think Leshoure is close to returning to practice, and are optimistic Best will return before the season starts, then they are set at the position and don’t need to add the salary on an already tight salary cap.
Item: Vikings overhauling the middle of their defense
ESPN’s Kevin Seifert says the overhaul of the middle of the defense remains a work in progress.
The Vikings are debuting new starters at nose tackle (Letroy Guion) and middle linebacker (Jasper Brinkley) and Seifert notes that it isn’t expected to be long before rookie first-round pick Harrison Smith assumes a starting role at one of the safety spots.
"We knew we needed to get better up the middle," Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier told Seifert.
Brinkley, who missed last season because of hip surgery, is replacing E.J. Henderson in the middle of that Vikings defense. He played in all 32 games his first two years with the Vikings (2009 and 2010) with 45 tackles.
Guion played in 16 games for the Vikings last season with three starts. He had 21 tackles. Right now, the starting defensive line for the Vikings consists of Jared Allen and Brian Robison at the ends and Kevin Williams and Guion at tackle.
Twentyman comment: The middle of the defense is so important to the other moving parts. If a team is good up the middle, it makes everyone else’s job on that defense that much easier. By the sounds of it, the Vikings will be young and fairly inexperienced there. Expectations aren’t real high outside of Minnesota after a three-win season in 2011 and these players can grow into their roles and get some good starting experience.
Around the NFC North:
Jason Campbell gives the Bears a huge upgrade at backup QB
Sean Jensen – Sun-Times
Bears going with Webb, Carimi at OT
Jeff Dickerson – ESPNChicago.com
Packers secondary goes back to school
Tom Silverstein – Journal Sentinel
Bishop impresses in return to practice
Rob Demovsky – Press Gazette
Childs determined to come back
Dan Wiederer – Star Tribune
Rookie kicker making positive early impressions
Judd Zulgad – 1500ESPN