NFC North Notes

The Sports Xchange discusses player-organized workouts in Detroit, the Packers' future without Cullen Jenkins and whether or not Minnesota rookie QB Chritian Ponder will start this season.

Detroit Lions

The Lions held four workout sessions last week, organized by defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch.

He said, "I'm a firm believer in the things you do in the offseason set you up to have a good season. We had a bunch of momentum at the end of last season and I was really happy about our draft. This is just another step for us. It shows the level of our player commitment.

"The guys are excited about getting back and getting around each other again and getting back to working."

About 30 players were in attendance at Birmingham Detroit Country Day. Added Vanden Bosch, "It's good to see that guys are willing to come in, put the team first and really just be accountable to each other. I didn't really know what to expect coming in, but I couldn't really be happier with how things went today. It seemed to go really smoothly."

Said quarterback Matthew Stafford, "You just want to get guys back together, see everybody again, see how everybody's doing. We finished the year with such a great run last year and without being able to come back in the offseason and kind of carry that momentum (over) we've been all in separate places. You want to get back together and realize how we played last year and the talent and the ability that we have coming back."

Stafford played in only three games last season and underwent surgery on his throwing shoulder. He says he now feels "as good as I ever have. I feel like I've done everything I possibly can this offseason to prepare to be healthy and go out there and play. I think if I can stay healthy and the rest of our team can stay healthy, that's a big part of it, we can be pretty good."

As for the surgery, he said, "I just felt like it was the best thing for me. I had the opportunity to kind of fix it and put it behind me and I wanted to go ahead and do it.

"It's always scary when you're facing surgery, but the good thing was, there was no rotator cuff or ligament damage. Nothing really major. They just went in and fixed it up. It felt bad for a week and then I got right after it. It has healed up really well."

Meanwhile, Vanden Bosch was pleased with the number of players present. "For guys to fly here and find a place to stay for a week, it does show a level of commitment and that's what it's going to take," he said. "We have some work to do to close the gap on some teams in this league and in our division. Things like this can help."

--Rookie wide receiver Titus Young is learning quickly about the arm strength of quarterback Matthew Stafford.

After a player-organized workout Tuesday, he said, "My hands are a little bit sore right now. Put these in an ice bucket real quick.

"It's ridiculous, man. I would think that he had surgery to make his arm stronger, not for anything else. That's what I would think. I heard about the arm, but it's kind of like you never know what you're going to get. I just made sure that I looked it all the way in. It was just a warm-up throw and it was already there."

Comparing Stafford to Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, Young said, "No disrespect to Kellen, but he's a left-hander and his ball comes out a little bit different that Matt. It kind of feels like a baseball player out there; a pitcher with 90 mph fastballs and things like that."

Stafford said of Young, "He's learning routes. He not running them full speed with confidence like some of our other guys because he doesn't know them yet. But some of the routes are similar to what he ran in college. He looked great and was catching the ball well and he can run and catch, which is good."

Green Bay Packers

Jenkins knows he might be leaving

Defensive end Cullen Jenkins doesn't think he'll be back with the team next season, even though he wants to.

Said Jenkins, "Green Bay has a heck of a team. The talent level and the depth, especially on defense, they have a lot of big-time play-makers on it. It's a great defense. Green Bay definitely has an opportunity to compete, not just next year but years down the road. And it would be nice to be a part of that."

Jenkins is 30 years old and will be a free agent, so he expects the team to go in a different direction. That became apparent when he said the team showed no interest in negotiating a new contract even when he said he was willing to give a "hometown discount."

Jenkins said, "Heading into last year, I've always been up there and always been a Packer, and I wanted to stay a Packer. So we approached the team and wanted to get some type of security, some type of longer-term deal before the season so I would know I would be there. It wasn't about money, it was about security, about trying to see if we could work something out."

Asked if he' would have accepted less on a deal to stay, Jenkins said, "Yeah. That was the thought then. I knew in going to them, I know Green Bay, I know the market, I know how they handle business, and the thought was if we could get something reasonable worked out, I knew I would take less than what I could've gotten in free agency. But they never approached me with anything and never got any type of negotiations going. It's just how the business is. They had a lot of younger guys and felt they could move forward in that direction."

One of those younger players is Mike Neal, a rookie second-round pick last year that missed most of the season because of a shoulder injury.

Said Jenkins, "Mike has the ability to take over the game. For him, it's just a matter of getting in there and continuing to be a student of the game and learn it and he'll take it over."

The uncertainty over where he will be next is difficult with the lockout situation.

"I'm just waiting for this lockout to be over with so I can figure out what options I'm going to have," he said. "With this dragging on so long, it's almost like you have to put it out of your mind and not think about it.

"It's one of those things that tests your patience. For most players, it's a matter of when they get to get back to work and when they get to start working out with their team. For me, I don't even know that."

Meanwhile, Jenkins is expected to receive interest from the Redskins once the lockout ends, according to The Washington Post.

Minnesota Vikings

Frazier hopes Ponder ready to start

Coach Leslie Frazier has said he hopes rookie quarterback Christian Ponder will be ready to start when the season begins.

Appearing on 1500 ESPN Radio, Frazier said, "Ideally, I'd like for him to be ready to go when we play San Diego (in Week 1). That would be the ideal situation - we've got our Matt Ryan, we've got our (Joe) Flacco, we've got our (Mark) Sanchez right here. But because of the uncertainty of the offseason, it's just hard to determine exactly how you want to approach it. So, we need a little more clarity on what this offseason's going to be like."

Frazier admitted, "It would be tough to be able to send him out there against San Diego if we don't start football, if we don't report until, say, mid-August, or three weeks prior to the season. That would be a tough, tough deal for any young quarterback. It's tough enough just getting through OTAs and preseason games, but if we start this thing without preseason games or one preseason game, I think you have to rethink how you approach it. So, that'll probably answer what direction we go - based on when we start football."

Ponder said he's going to work out soon in Florida with Vikings receivers Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice. Harvin usually works out in Tampa and Rice in Miami.

Said Ponder, "I hope it happens. That's something I'm looking forward to. It'd be great to spend time with those guys on the field."

Ponder received a playbook the day after the first round of the draft, the only day that this offseason that work has been allowed by NFL players at team facilities.

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