NFC North issues

Here is some news and notes of other teams in the NFC North gathered from,, and<p>

Chicago Bears

Bears lose backup lineman

Kevin Dogins signed with the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday. The offensive lineman spent the last two years with the Bears mostly in a backup role. However, due to injuries Dogins played in 15 games last season and started eight.

The Bears didn't offer the unrestricted free agent a contract because they have several young players ready to fill a similar role. Terrence Metcalf, Bernard Robertson and Steve Edwards can all play multiple positions.

Quarterback battling for roster position

Henry Burris will be battling for a roster spot in training camp. Trying to gain more experience the quarterback decided to go to NFL Europe. Burris put up decent numbers in the season opener for the Berlin Thunder, but his team lost to the Scottish Claymores.

While splitting time, Burris threw for 149 yards on 12-16 passing to go with one touchdown and interception. He also ran he a score.

At this point Burris is a long shot to be with the Bears next year, but with a good couple of months could latch on somewhere else.

Center visiting Cleveland

Dogins, a center with the Chicago Bears, worked out for the Browns this week. He is one of several offensive linemen who have been in Cleveland this week.

Possible role model in Chicago?

Alex Brown was a dominant pass rusher at Florida, but that translated to just 2.5 sacks in his rookie campaign. Brown will be expected to increase that number in 2003 and could with the help of new assistant defensive line coach Richard Dent. Dent finished his career with 137.5 sacks (124.5 with Chicago).

Minnesota Vikings

Vikes lose corner

CB Tyrone Carter has agreed to a two-year deal with the New York Jets. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Eyeing return specialist

Return specialist Hodges Mitchell worked out for the team on Wednesday. He was an undrafted free agent last season.

Selects Vikings over Pack

The Vikings continued to shore up the defense earlier this week, signing another defensive back. Ron Israel, who was expected to be drafted last year coming out of Notre Dame before suffering a severe hamstring injury, signed a two-year deal for what VU is told is near league minimum with a modest signing bonus. Israel had reduced his wish list to two teams -- the Vikes and Packers -- before opting to come to Minnesota.

While Israel is listed as a cornerback by some, don't be surprised to see him lined up at minicamp playing safety. He is expected to get a shot at earning a starting job at safety, which is looking more like an open competition all the time.

Minnesota calls it quits during negotiation process

The Vikings have officially quit talking with WR Oronde Gadsden. After trying for two weeks to reach a contract agreement, the Vikings have stopped negotiating with his attorneys. Gadsden isn't sitting at home moping, however. He's in Boston today visiting with the Patriots.

Former Lion needs to shed pounds

The Vikings want Chris Claiborne to shed a few more pounds and be more active as an outside linebacker. Apparently the rationale is defensive coordinator George O'Leary's desire to tinker with a 3-4 defense.

Viking is Jamaica-bound

One thing is for sure. Defensive tackle Chris Hovan is going to have to dress better for TV than he does for his workouts at Winter Park, where he wears ripped shorts and muscle shirts. Hovan is going big time. He is one of ten athletes who will compete in the 2003 Rx Superstars in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The format -- famous in the 70s -- is being revived by CBS.

Detroit Lions

A Gary in their future?

RB Olandis Gary visited Detroit this week, even though the Lions have James Stewart and Shawn Bryson. GM Matt Millen said he's fine with a competition for playing time.

Green finds former team reported last Thursday that Jacquez Green has agreed to a one-year contract to return to Tampa Bay, the team that drafted him. The deal is expected to be for the league minimum $535,000.

Holmes inks three-year deal

The Detroit Lions have signed their second middle linebacker in a span of two weeks after reaching a three-year deal with former Cleveland Browns linebacker Earl Holmes.

Last week, the ball club signed another former Brown, Wali Rainer, who spent last season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. While it was believed Rainer would immediately start, the more talented Holmes may be given the nod.

Holmes, 29, led Cleveland with 128 tackles in 2002. He led the Pittsburgh Steelers in tackles the previous three seasons.

The 6'2, 245 pound Florida A&M product will earn $1.75 million this season.

Going strong at 40

At the tender age of 40, guard Ray Brown figures he could get by without some of the off-season staples generally associated with NFL life -- the early mini-camp, the off-season workouts and conditioning runs. But when Lions president Matt Millen called to offer him a contract shortly after the NFL combine wrapped up in late February, what could Brown say? "It's like, `Are you ready?'" Brown said, laughing. "I guess so. I had to start training."

Actually, the training part wasn't that much of an imposition on Brown. The 17-year NFL veteran had already begun his off-season running program at his home in the San Francisco area, and figured the lifting would hurt as he returns for a second year as a starting guard with the Lions. Moreover, Brown feels good about the presence of new coach Steve Mariucci. Brown played five years under Mariucci at San Francisco, so he is familiar with what Mariucci expects of his players.

Move to the middle off ... for now

For a couple of days in minicamp, Barrett Green was excited and enthused about moving from the weakside to become the Lions middle linebacker. ``It's going to be an adjustment, but it's definitely something I feel comfortable with for the simple fact it allows me to use my assets, which are my ability -- as soon as the ball is snapped -- to go and attack,'' Green said. The day after the the minicamp ended, however, the Lions reached agreement with Wali Rainer on a two-year contract worth $1.8 million, giving a pretty good impression they are expecting Rainer to replace Chris Claiborne (signed by Minnesota as an unrestricted free agent) in the middle. That doesn't mean Green no longer figures in coach Steve Mariucci's plans. It is likely, however, that he will be back at the weakside linebacker job rather than trying to patrol the middle. ``Barrett did a nice job inside and we will keep him alive there,'' Mariucci said, ``but he is very well-suited to be that weakside linebacker.''

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