NFC North Notes: Lockout Days

The Sports Xchange discusses how Detroit coach Jim Schwartz will dole out defensive line reps, Green Bay's rookie receiver Randall Cobb and the plight of Minnesota cornerback Chris Cook.

Detroit Lions

--Coach Jim Schwartz admitted he was surprised when he saw the outfit defensive tackle Nick Fairley was wearing at the draft in New York City.

With thick glasses and a bow tie, some described the defensive tackle as "looking like a nerd out of central casting."

Schwartz said he never saw Fairley's outfit until after the team had drafted him with 13th pick in the first round.

Joked Schwartz the following day, "First, if we had seen what he was wearing ... with those glasses, we might have passed on him at 13. I got more texts yesterday after we picked him that said, 'Why did you pick that big guy that looks like Urkel?'"

Getting serious, Schwartz noted that those making fun of Fairley wouldn't do it face-to-face.

"None of those people are here," Schwartz said, "and I think if they were here, none of them would say the same thing, and I know no quarterbacks said that last year."


DT Nick Fairley
Chris Trotman/Getty

--How does coach Jim Schwartz plan on finding enough snaps for Suh, Williams and now Fairley? "We play around 130 defensive tackle snaps a game," he said. "You rotate three guys at 45 snaps a person and you are going to be really fresh. We can keep rolling in waves and waves.

"I thought Suh played too much last year. Not that he wore down, but it was too many snaps. You are taking on 700 pounds of man every time you take on a double team."

--General manager Martin Mayhew said before the draft that based on the opinion of the team's medical staff, they were not overly concerned about the condition of Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers' surgically-repaired knee. Well, most teams were. Bowers, once considered a top 15 pick, slipped all the way to 51, taken finally by Tampa. "What I said was, our doctors were not concerned about his ability to play football in the future and I think that's a fact," Mayhew said.

--WR Bryant Johnson, who had 18 catches all of last season, might be wondering about his job security after the Lions drafted Young. Said Mayhew: "Young will have an opportunity to step in and be our third (receiver). We haven't had great production from that spot the last couple of years and we think Titus is the kind of player who can solve that problem." Johnson still has one year ($3 million) left on his contract. "Any time we draft a player at somebody's position, it doesn't mean anything for that player," Mayhew said. "They should be doing what they do all the time - which is giving 100 percent effort and trying to win a position."


Green Bay Packers

--Quarterback Matt Flynn has heard some of the chatter about moving to another team, but the backup to Aaron Rodgers says he's happy where he is.

Said Flynn, "I love being a Packer and I'll be here as long as they want me. It's all kind of speculation right now, of what people want to write or whatever they want to say. You can't say that anybody wants me or doesn't want me. We'll see what happens. I just like where I am right now."

Acknowledging that the Packers are "Aaron's team and it will be for a long time," Flynn added, "Everybody wants to play, but I know my role on the team. I know if I need to step in there I'm always prepared because I work just as hard as the next guy."

Flynn played well in the team's loss to New England on Dec. 19 when Rodgers was out, gaining some notoriety because it was a Sunday night game.

He said, "I've always been a confident person. I think my teammates and coaches always knew I could step in and do it. It was definitely nice to go out there and be able to do it, have the opportunity to have some success.

"It probably did more for my teammates than it did for me personally because I've always been confident. It probably gives them a little bit more confidence if I need to step in."

--With the NFL back in lockout mode, head coach Mike McCarthy's plan to hold a rookie orientation camp the weekend of May 13-15 may not materialize.


WR Randall Cobb
Andy Lyons/Getty

"It doesn't help them," McCarthy said Saturday of the 10 players the Packers added in this year's draft. "I think that's obvious, if you cannot get your rookie class in here to get to work. Hopefully, they'll be able to participate."

After the draft ended Saturday night, teams are prohibited from having contact with their players, including the rookies, for the duration of the lockout. Team facilities also are off-limits for all players.

As such, receiver Randall Cobb, the Packers' second-round draft pick out of Kentucky, felt a sense of urgency to reach out to his new quarterback.

"I'm trying to get a hold of Aaron Rodgers," Cobb said after being drafted Friday night. "I want to get wherever he is as soon as I possibly can and start working and start building a relationship and a bond with him on the field."

Cobb already has a connection with the reigning Super Bowl MVP.

Cobb was the last player sitting in the green room at New York's Radio City Music Hall before hearing his name called at the end of the second round, the 64th player taken overall.

Rodgers suffered the same fate until the Packers rescued him from isolation in the green room with the 24th pick in the first round of the 2005 draft.

"Hopefully, I can have the same success he's had," Cobb said.

--The addition of Cobb gives the Packers potentially a multidimensional player they've never had. The converted quarterback not only excelled as a receiver his last two years at Kentucky, but he also had to be accounted for as a running back and even a left-handed thrower in what was coined the "WildCobb" formation, a spinoff of the Wildcat used by some teams.

"This kid has some background as far as a quarterback. It just opens up additional opportunities," said Packers receivers coach Edgar Bennett. "You talk about a guy that's versatile. We're not game planning right now, but I'm pretty sure we'll take full advantage of what this kid is capable of doing."

McCarthy, however, stopped short of saying he would make WildCobb a component of an explosive Packers offense triggered by Rodgers behind center.

"To me, the Wildcat is a package of deceptive play, and how much you want to major in it is really your choice," McCarthy said. "But, Randall was not drafted so we could play the Wildcat. I'll just make that clear. Now, if we line up and do something like that, that'll be part of our deceptive packages that we have in every week."

McCarthy did commit to giving the 5-10, 191-pound Cobb a shot to compete for the punt- and kickoff-return duties, which has been a deficiency for the Packers in recent years.


Minnesota Vikings

--Cornerback Chris Cook had charges dropped for brandishing a firearm in Lynchburg, Va., Friday.

Cook was involved in an argument with a neighbor in March and was accused of pulling out a gun. Cook acknowledged the verbal confrontation occurred, but denied taking out a gun.


CB Chris Cook
Tom Dahlin/Getty

In a hearing Friday morning, Cook said he was riding his bike near where he lives when a man that lives two houses down began screaming at him.

The day after the arrest, Cook said, "You're not going to scream at me like I'm your child so I screamed back at him. He thought that I called the police on his brother for some reason. Why would I do that?"

After being cleared, he said, "I was never concerned. I had good witnesses. All of our stories matched each other. They decided they were basically trying to string this story together and just make me look bad. The judge ruled in my favor. ... The verdict was not guilty and he just dismissed it. I'm just happy to get it over with."

Cook did say he learned one lesson from the experience. He said, "It definitely will make me smarter about how I react to other people and what they say to me or what they try and do to me. It just makes me more cautious."

--Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman had expressed a desire to recoup a third-round pick after the team traded its third-rounder last season to New England in the Randy Moss trade. However, Spielman was unable to get back into the round, in part because he would not move down in the second when tight end Kyle Rudolph was still available.

--QB Christian Ponder said he plans to wear No. 7 with the Vikings. That number has been worn by quarterback Tarvaris Jackson the past five seasons. Jackson won't return to the team and will be a free agent once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.

--DT Kevin Williams likely will be suspended for the first four games of the 2011 season after a court ruling in the StarCaps case went in favor of the NFL. "We'll have to wait and see," coach Leslie Frazier said when asked about his level of concern. "It's always been kind of hanging over our heads regarding that. But I think we'll operate business as usual and we'll find out a little bit later on exactly what's going to happen."

Nose tackle Pat Williams, who has been with the Vikings, also is likely to be suspended but he is a free agent and is not expected to return.


Bear Report: The only publication exclusively dedicated to your Chicago Bears.


Bear Report Top Stories