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NFC NORTH: OTA storylines for each team

The Lions, Vikings, Packers and Bears have begun the OTA portion of their offseason training program.

What are some storylines starting to develop out of each camp?


OTA offseason workouts: May 22-24, May 29-31, June 4-7

Mandatory minicamp: June 12-14

Headline: What will the offense look like under new quarterback Kirk Cousins?

What it means: Cousins has been able to throw with his new receivers during the first two phases of the offseason program, but OTAs will be his first chance to do meaningful 11-on-11 work with his new pass-catching weapons.

The Vikings' offense ranked 10th last season in scoring, so Cousins is stepping into a nice situation in Minnesota. He's also expected to have running back Dalvin Cook back after Cook tore his ACL Week 4 vs. Detroit.

Ben Goessling of the Minnesota Star Tribune made a good point in a recent column that the Vikings thrived at times last season on Case Keenum's ability to make plays outside the pocket. Goessling mentioned that Cousins isn't really that kind of quarterback, so developing timing with Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph and his other pass catchers will be key the next few weeks leading into minicamp and then training camp.


OTA offseason workouts: May 21-22, May 24, May 30-31, June 11-12, June 14

Mandatory minicamp: June 5-7

Headline: Getting a first look at the Lions' new defense

What it means: New head coach Matt Patricia comes to Detroit after being New England's defensive coordinator the last six seasons. The Patriots' defense was very multiple in their sets, and could look very different from week to week.

Where the Lions view their strengths on defense could play into how many players they keep on the 53-man roster at a particular position. Watching who lines up where and which guys can play multiple spots – and how the Lions deploy those versatile weapons – will be fun to watch early on in OTAs.


OTA offseason workouts: May 21-23, May 30-31, June 1, June 4-7

Mandatory minicamp: June 12-14

Headline: Will the resources put into the secondary pay off?

What it means: The Packers ranked 26th in opposing passer rating (98.8) last season and gave up the seventh most 20-plus yard passes (38).

The first two picks in each of the last two drafts have been cornerback Kevin King, safety Josh Jones, cornerback Jaire Alexander and cornerback Josh Jackson. The team also brought back veteran cornerback Davon House and re-signed cornerback Tramon Williams in free agency this offseason.

That's a lot of resources thrown into the secondary. At what point do the Packers start to see the returns? Will the improvements start to show as early at OTAs?


OTA offseason workouts: May 15-17, May 22-24, May 29-31, June 1

Mandatory minicamp: June 5-7

Headline: What do we see from Mitchell Trubisky in year two?

What it means: The Bears began their OTAs last week, and reports out of Chicago are that Trubisky is taking on more of a leadership role for the Bears.

The Bears spent a lot of resources this offseason giving Trubisky more weapons in the passing game. He already has a very steady rushing attack led by 1,000-yard running back Jordan Howard.

The expectations on Trubisky will be much greater in 2018. Players are supposed to take a big leap between their first to second seasons, and that expectation – fair or not – is even greater in that regard for quarterbacks.

The Bears ranked last in passing last season (175.7 ypg). Everyone in Chicago is expecting significant improvements in that department, and the ground work for those improvements begin in the spring during OTAs.

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