NF North Tour: WR Breakdown

The 53-man rosters are set for Week 1. Let's continue examining, by position, how the four NFC North teams stack up against each other heading into 2011. Next up, wide receivers.

Chicago Bears

Starters -- Devin Hester, Roy Williams, Earl Bennett. Backups -- Johnny Knox, Sam Hurd, Dane Sanzenbacher.

There is plenty of big-play ability with speedsters Hester and Knox, and the veteran Williams was added to give the unit a bigger target besides Bennett, who was the only proven member of the cast with any size. Bennett is a solid and reliable possession guy and might wind up being the leading pass catcher even though he's technically only a starter in three-WR sets. He is unafraid to work the middle of the field, and Cutler has confidence in him and his steady hands. Williams as one time was a dominant wideout in Martz's offenses in Detroit, but he was unimpressive in three years with the Cowboys and his play was "underwhelming" during training camp and the preseason leaving many scratching their heads over his promotion ahead of Knox.

Detroit Lions

Starters - Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Titus Young. Backups - Maurice Stovall, Rashied Davis.

The Lions will either lineup with two tight ends or three wide receivers. As Young matures, they will use three wides more often. Young has big-play potential but there have been concerns about his toughness and durability. But make no mistake, Johnson, coming off an All-Pro season, is one of the centerpieces of the offense. He's no longer merely a straight-line threat. He showed the capacity last season to catch balls over the middle and also make plays after the catch. Burleson is invaluable as Johnson's wing man. Not only does he do all the dirty work (playing the slot or the second-receiver spot), he also fills in at flanker when Johnson is out. Stovall and Davis, veterans, provide much needed depth. Stovall, at 6-5, provides another big, steady target. Davis will make his mark mostly on special teams, as will Stovall, but he will back up Burleson in the slot.

Green Bay Packers

Starters -- Greg Jennings, Donald Driver. Backups -- James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb.

The first five guys were roster locks. The Packers have never gone with more than five wideouts to start the season under the Thompson-McCarthy regime since 2006. That could quickly change, however, since undrafted rookie Gurley, the tallest wideout in camp at 6-4, and first-year Chastin West, who spent the entire 2010 season on the team's practice squad, were under strong consideration to stick going down to the wire. The talented core of Jennings, Driver, Jones and Nelson is back together for a fourth season. Jennings is among the league's best big-play receivers; Driver remains dependable over the middle at age 36 but hasn't fully recovered from a high ankle sprain that knocked him out of the Super Bowl; and Jones and Nelson are starting-caliber players but with limitations because of their propensity for drops. Cobb, an exciting second-round draft pick, was an early standout in the preseason as a slot receiver with smooth route running and good hands but was sidelined most of the latter half of camp with bruised knees.

Minnesota Vikings

Starters -- Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin, Michael Jenkins. Backups -- Devin Aromashodu, Greg Camarillo.

Berrian is coming off a disappointing season in which he did not catch a touchdown pass and then was asked to restructure his contract. But he figures to have a chance to turn things around with McNabb now throwing him the ball. Brett Favre just never seemed to look Berrian's way and that has changed so far in the preseason. Berrian still has speed and it's very important that he can present a down-field threat because that loosens up things for Peterson. Harvin is one of the game's best slot receivers but also can play outside and Jenkins is very familiar with this system. Jenkins was released by Atlanta after the lockout and quickly signed with the Vikings. He is expected to catch plenty of passes on intermediate routes. Aromashodu was signed as a free agent from the Bears, two years after having a career-high 24 receptions. Camarillo provides depth as a slot receiver and is a steady veteran. He also can return punts.

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

Bear Report Top Stories