NFC North notes

After weeks of hectic signings in the initial stages of free agency, most teams in the division are beginning to gear for the draft and wait for answers on a few remaining contract proposals.<p>


Yet another position

Mike Gandy started at left guard and tackle in 2002. All signs pointed to him remaining as the Bears1 left tackle for the upcoming season, but at the NFL Owners Meetings Coach Dick Jauron said Gandy would go into training camp at right tackle.

Will protect Stewart's blindside

The speculation of where Marc Colombo would line up next year began to clear up when Bears Coach Dick Jauron said he1s the team1s left tackle heading into training camp. It looked as if Colombo would go back to the right side where he played the majority of his college career, allowing Mike Gandy to remain at left tackle, a position he started the final six games of the season.

For now, the two will flip-flop, but that could change by the time the season starts.

Suggs to run again

After straining a muscle in his leg during this week's workout, Terrell Suggs will again be working out for NFL scouts on April 18. The Bears are said to have an interest in drafting Suggs.

Bears could have a family feel

Brian Urlacher may not be the only Urlacher on the team come next season. His younger brother Casey is eligible for the draft and is being pursued by several teams, including the Bears. Casey Urlacher will work out at Halas Hall in mid April.

There is a chance the fullback might not be drafted, but the Bears might take a chance because the team has five selections over the last two rounds.

Hopes to turn some heads

Jacques Cesaire, the standout Southern Connecticut defensive lineman, worked out for a number of teams on Tuesday. Attending the workout, according to the New Haven Register, were the Browns, Dolphins, Patriots, Bears, Jets, Colts, Redskins, Vikings, Seahawks, Cowboys and Chargers. "They know who I am now and that1s really important," Cesaire told the New Haven Register. "I hope I solidified myself as a free agent pickup after the draft. If I1m lucky enough, I1ll be drafted. This is step one in a big process."

Should gain valuable experience

Travis Coleman is one of three players allocated by the Bears to NFL Europe that finished the season on the team's active roster. Coleman showed well in training camp and stuck with the team on the practice squad before spending the final seven games of the season as a backup defensive back. He1ll suit up for the two-time defending NFL Europe champion Berlin Thunder.

Coleman has a good shot to make the 53-man roster in 2003, and the chance to play in Europe could be a springboard to being the team1s nickel cornerback.

Works out for NFL clubs

Phil Bogle, the well-regarded tackle from University of New Haven, worked out for a number of clubs on Tuesday. Attending the workout, according to the New Haven Register, were the Browns, Dolphins, Patriots, Bears, Jets, Colts, Redskins, Vikings, Seahawks, Cowboys and Chargers. Also working out for the clubs were Southern Connecticut State defensive lineman Jacques Cesaire and SCSU standout (1996-99) Rashaan Dumas.

Moving up on the depth chart

Adrian Peterson showed well in limited action as a rookie, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. The running back displayed enough that the Bears management is confident that Peterson can be the team1s second back.

With Leon Johnson going to the St. Louis Rams, that leaves Peterson as the backup to Anthony Thomas. Although the Bears will add a change of pace back at some point, Peterson could even be given a chance to supplant Thomas as the starter.


Moving up draft boards

After yet another sizzling workout, Kevin Curtis continues to improve his draft stock. The belief is he could end up with either Kansas City or St. Louis in the second round.


OG Josh Lovelady and LB Donte1 Curry have been re-signed.


Getting a look

The Vikings were taking a look at Wisconsin quarterback Brooks Bollinger earlier this week. While he would seem to be a longshot for the Vikings to draft, they may be looking at him as a free-agent signing if he isn1t drafted. He could provide the team with another developmental prospect for insurance behind Shaun Hill.

Bollinger had a good Pro Day earlier this month at the University of Wisconsin, running a 4.75 in the 40. Some project him going in the middle rounds of the draft, but it is unlikely the Vikings would be willing to select him that early.

Foot surgery

Running back Michael Bennett had foot surgery Friday to repair a fracture in his foot. He started feeling pain earlier this week during the Vikings1 off-season conditioning program.

"While training Tuesday at the Winter Park facility Michael felt some discomfort in his left foot," head coach Mike Tice said. "He came in the next day and it was diagnosed as a Jones Fracture. The foot will be surgically repaired. The prognosis is for a full recovery and the down time is approximately six weeks."

Safety still an option

Talk continues to swirl at Winter Park that, if Ken Irvin plays as well as anticipated, cornerback Brian Williams will be shifted to starting strong safety.

Vikings still waiting

The Vikings are still interested in signing WR Oronde Gadsden, but he is still balking at the size of the contract and the Vikes are starting to say he would be used as the No. 3 receiver. Neither of those should be perceived as a good sign and are perhaps more gamesmanship in the negotiation process than fact. If signed, Gadsden would likely open the season as a starter.

Fails physical

WR Kenny Clark was slated to play in NFL Europe, but failed the league's physical exam. He missed last season with a back injury, and has recovered, but the league has a strict policy for insurance purposes.

Signs two-year deal with Vikings

Four-year veteran middle linebacker Chris Claiborne signed a two-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings worth $5 million. Claiborne even agreed to play the strong side linebacker position for Minnesota, something he didn't want to do, in order to get a deal done with the Vikings. He could replace Greg Biekert at middle linebacker in the future.

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