NFC North Update

Veterans around the NFC North are becoming accustomed to their rookie competition, and the rookies are finding out what it takes to be competitive in the pros. We take a stroll around the NFC North.

Hot News from the past week around the NFC North Division, with notes from, and


New stadium could hurt accuracy

In three seasons Paul Edinger has hit 69 of 86 field goal attempts. The Bears let him test the open market and decided to match the Vikings¹ five-year $7 million offer to keep the most accurate kicker in franchise history

However, it will be interesting to see if the wind off the lake hurts Edinger¹s accuracy. Two years ago Pittsburgh had placekicker problems at the open end of Heinz Field. The new Soldier Field is in a saucer shape, so winds shouldn¹t have as much of an impact, but the Bears¹ most consistent offensive weapon could have to make some adjustments.

Encouraging words
Bears head coach Dick Jauron on QB Rex Grossman, the team's second first-round draft pick: "I think he's going to get more accurate as time goes by, and I think he's accurate now. Very strong arm, very compact motion, things that we liked on tape. Watching him play in college, you know that he's competitive. And he likes to play."

Not intimidated by first-round pick
Phillip Daniels isn¹t bothered by the fact that the Bears spent their first-round pick (14th overall) on DE Michael Haynes.

"It just adds depth, that's how I look at it," Daniels said. "I'm not insecure about anything. This is a guy that's going to come in and help this team. I know what I can do. He's not pushing me at all."

Daniels is projected to start at left end, while Alex Brown will compete with Haynes on the right side. Haynes and Daniels have the ability to play either left or right end.

Getting time at safety
Travis Coleman, a cornerback by trade, picked off a pass and added three tackles while continuing to start at safety for the Berlin Thunder. The team¹s normal safety is out with an injury and Coleman spent time at the position during training camp with the Bears.

The fact that Coleman can play both cornerback and safety will only help when rosters have to be trimmed. He has also been returning kicks and punts in Europe.

Picked up
Undrafted free agent rookie S Cameron Worrell has been added to the Bears' roster.



Looking good at safety

Green Bay cornerback Jacoby Shepherd, 6-1 1/2 and 208, never had played safety in his life until a shortage of safeties prompted secondary coach Bob Slowik to request that he make the move in the post-draft minicamp. Shepherd has appeared to be so natural that the team plans to keep playing at both.

"I like Shepherd," coach Mike Sherman said. "He has shown some pretty good instincts and excellent ball skills." Shepherd is trying to resurrect a career that has included all kinds of academic woes, two years of junior college, one year as a nickel back at Oklahoma State, two years as a backup in St. Louis after being the Rams' second-round pick in 2000 and a lost '02 season.

"At one point in Houston last year I was 215 pounds," Shepherd said. "I wouldn't have a problem with tackling. I'm a good tackler."

Faster and quicker?
Secondary coach Bob Slowik says CB Bryant Westbrook, 28, appears faster and quicker than he did in 2002. If Westbrook keeps his weight in check, vice president of football operations Mark Hatley says he can more effective than Tod McBride.

"I don't know if you'd say he was slow last year or was slowed by his injury problems," Slowik said. "He's a big dude and he's under 10% body fat. He's competing his butt off."

Case ended with fine
RB Ahman Green will pay a fine of around $200 after pleading guilty to one of two citations stemming from a driving incident in January. The other citation was dropped as part of the agreement.


Pencil him in as No. 3 WR

Who will be Minnesota's No. 3 receiver? Kelly Campbell is the clear leader in this clubhouse. Campbell showed real signs of big-play ability last season. He also showed a knack for getting hurt if he's on the field for too many plays. His fragility is still a concern.

After Campbell, the Vikings were using Nate Burleson as the No. 4 receiver, but he's a rookie. Derrick Alexander, who took a pay cut to stay with the team, is coming off knee surgery and won't be cleared until training camp, when the real competition for the No. 3 receiver will commence.

Shooting details slowly coming out
The Michael Bennett shooting saga took another turn Wednesday. Although a 911 call was made to the state patrol May 11 on the night of the shooting incident, questions are being raised as to why it took 10 days for Bennett to officially file a police report.

St. Paul police said Wednesday the incident began with an argument Bennett had with a female patron who allegedly lifted his wallet -- leading to an escalation of the incident with some male patrons at Club Cancun and eventually shots being fired. Bennett has yet to return calls asking for his side of the incident.

Another NFL Europe honor
For the second time in the NFL Europe season, Minnesota Vikings QB Shaun Hill was named the league¹s Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Amsterdam Admirals¹ 27-24 win over the Frankfurt Galaxy on Saturday.

Hill, who originally signed with the Vikings as a rookie free agent last April out of the University of Maryland, completed 25 of 42 passes for 274 yards and two TDs. Both of his TD passes were to former Vikings WR Matthew Hatchette, including a 5-yard TD pass with one second remaining in the game to give Amsterdam the victory. With three weeks of the season still to play, Hill leads NFL Europe in pass attempts (244), completions (148) and yards (1,470).

"That was a huge win for us in Frankfurt because it keeps us in the World Bowl race," Hill said. "We have to win every week - one down, three to go."

Amsterdam has a 3-4 record, trailing F.C. Barcelona (5-2), Frankfurt (4-3), and Rhein (4-3).

Hill won Offensive Player of the Week honors in Week 4 when he completed 25 of 39 passes for 261 yards and two TDs in the Admirals¹ 20-16 win over Frankfurt.

Hill was the Vikings¹ emergency QB for all 16 games during the 2002 season.

Inside the numbers
A little more light has been shed on the 10-year contract extension signed by quarterback Daunte Culpepper. The total potential value of the deal is $102 million, but he has to meet a number of incentives (a number of them unlikely, such as a $900,000 bonus for appearing on 75 percent of the team's special teams play). Culpepper will reportedly get $11 million guaranteed in the first three years of the deal, and receive roster bonuses of $2.5 million during the fourth and fifth years of the extension.

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