NFC NORTH: What the head coaches are saying

INDIANAPOLIS – NFC North general managers and head coaches finished up their media sessions here at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday.

We heard an update on the status of the four teams in the NFC North from the general managers on Wednesday. Here's an update from the coaches:

(Note: Lions head coach Jim Caldwell did not speak at the Combine)


Headline: Will RB Eddie Lacy be back in Green Bay next season?

The skinny: Lacy, who is still recovering from ankle surgery, is an unrestricted free agent. The bruising back, who's averaged at least 4.1 yards per attempt in each of his four NFL seasons, will know soon enough what the market for him is when free agency starts in little over a week.

Converted receiver Ty Montgomery was good filling in for the injured Lacy, and is staying at running back permanently. But if Lacy signs elsewhere, the Packers will need to boost the depth at the position.

Quotable: "Love to have Eddie back," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. "Eddie is working through his rehab down at the University of Alabama. Had a chance to visit with him about a week or so back.

"Once again, we're in the business phase. I don't really have anything for you. We want all of our free agents back. They're our guys. That's the way we view it from our program to them. But this is a business. It's never easy." MINNESOTA

Headline: Vikings need help along their offensive line

The skinny: Minnesota started 12 different offensive linemen last year and five different left tackles. Expect Minnesota to re-tool an obvious need upfront through both free agency and the draft.

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said upgrading the offensive line is a priority, but it won't come at the cost of weakening some of their other positions of strength, particularly on defense.

Quotable: "Obviously, we're going to look very hard at the offensive line," Zimmer said. "We're going to look in free agency and all these places to fill holes, but I just want to be extremely careful that we don't rob Peter to pay Paul."


Headline: Is quarterback in play for the Bears with the third pick in the draft?

The skinny: It seems unlikely at this point that Jay Cutler returns at quarterback, though GM Ryan Pace told reporters Wednesday that Cutler's situation is "fluid."

This isn't a particularly talented or deep class of quarterbacks, per most draft experts, but one could wow the Bears and head coach John Fox.

The evaluation process and projection of the quarterback position is one of the toughest for NFL personnel and coaches. We see more misses at the position than hits.

Even Fox admitted how difficult it is to evaluate quarterbacks.

Quotable: "I think at the quarterback position, there's a lot of intangible things that go along with it," Fox said. "It's not just the strongest arm or the tallest guy or the quickest guy. There's so much that goes into it. And then it does take a minute to develop. Basically, he has to control everything, especially in the NFL."

So what is Fox looking for in a quarterback prospect?

"Well, a guy that raises all boats, as far as work ethic. When the horn goes off, he's not track shoes out of the building. Same way, we call it, first in, last to leave type of mentality. That raises all boats with your teammates. Successful teams I've been a part of had that intangible and that's something we're trying to build on. This year was tough, just because there was a point where the first two rows of our team room were filled with quarterbacks. That's never a good sign. So that's going to be a key factor going into this season."

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