NFC North Tour: Bears Get To Work

Chicago's offense has been practicing — meaning Green Bay is the only team in the league that has not held some sort of large-scale organized practices. Meanwhile, linebacker Keith Bulluck would like to join the Lions and the Metrodome roof is right on schedule.

Chicago Bears

The Bears are a team that has been working out together consistently even though it hasn't been talked about a lot.

Wide receiver Earl Bennett said the offense has been practicing four or five teams a week to continue getting familiar with Mike Martz's offense.

Bennett said this week, "I feel like right now we're going through OTAs because we're going through plays, we're going through different defensive structures. We just don't have a defense over there against us. We're getting a lot of good work going on right now."

As for Bennett's developing role, Martz was quoted on the team Web site noting that Bennett has to become more involved in the offense.

"We didn't throw it to him enough," Martz said. "That will be remedied. He will figure in a much larger role than he did last year. He came to us late. He was injured. I wasn't really sure where he was with all the stuff. But he established himself as a guy who needs to get a lot more balls than he did.

"He's extremely reliable. I know (quarterback) Jay (Cutler) feels comfortable with him in the slot doing some of those things. But he should be able to play outside for us as well."

Bennett said he's ready to contribute in any way possible.

"If I get the opportunity, I just have to take advantage of it," he said. "I'm a team player. Any way I can help the team out, I'm willing to do it. I'm just look forward to having a great year as a team. We gotta get to that Super Bowl and win it."

Bennett also said Cutler has looked "awesome" following the knee injury he suffered in the NFC Championship Game.

"He's been out there throwing the ball well, moving around good. He's ready to go," Bennett said. "We know the type of player Jay is. We just look forward to this year because we know he going to have a great year."

Briggs, Bears keep waiting: Linebacker Lance Briggs says he won't believe there is progress being made in talks between players and owners until there is a deal.

Said Briggs, "To me, it is what it is. The thing that's bothersome is not knowing what our schedule is going to be. Whether this thing is done in two weeks or done in a month, then where do we go from there? We obviously must start the next day.

"I don't like the gray area. Not a fan of the gray area. I guess we just have to stay strong."

Briggs also wonders about a $250,000 workout bonus he was scheduled to receive had this been a normal offseason.

"I don't know what is going to happen with that bonus," he said. "I could use that money just as much as anybody else. That was definitely factored into my budget this year. But if I don't get it, I don't get it.

"More than anything else -- more than any bonus -- I just want to play football."

Detroit Lions

Linebacker Keith Bulluck will be a free agent when the lockout ends, and he named three teams he would consider joining: The New York Giants, Detroit Lions and New England Patriots.

Bulluck played 10 seasons with the Tennessee Titans before signing with the Giants last season. He played 13 games, and started eight, and said he will only continue playing if he's an every-down participant.

"(A full-time role) is the only way I'm playing football next year," Bullock said previously in the offseason. "This (2010) is the first time I've ever, since my rookie year and my second year in the league, come on and off the field. I'm someone that needs to be on the field all the time. That's just how I feel, so yeah, that's the only way I'd play football next year."

His reasons for singling out those three teams is:

"First and foremost, New York because they gave me an opportunity to come and continue my career, really get healthy, where I needed to be," Bulluck said on SiriusXM Radio. "Detroit. I like what (coach Jim) Schwartz is doing up there. Last year, I wasn't prepared physically to play and do the things that they would need me to do, but now I feel I am. New England is always veteran-friendly, and I know, every year, they're in contention of winning.

"Like I say, I want to win, really. At this point in my career, financially, me and my family are fine. But I definitely would like to be in a position to play myself into maybe possibly being one of the top-paid linebackers in the league again. Definitely one of the top players in the league."

Schwartz was his defensive coordinator in Tennessee, and Bulluck said he can see similarities between the Titans of then and the Lions of now.

He said, "In Tennessee, we always had horses up front. We had (Albert) Haynesworth, and we had Tony Brown, Robaire Smith, a plethora of guys that will get it done. Now they have two big first-rounders (Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley), and with Kyle (Vanden Bosch) up front, I know his veteran leadership is definitely going to have his D-line in order. For them to be taking up double teams and have the linebackers run sideline to sideline, I think that's very important."

Bulluck said he loves Schwartz's "desire to win."

He said, "I remember one year, I think it was his first year as a coordinator, we got beat real bad in Minnesota, and the look that he had on his face, he felt like he let down like the whole state of Tennessee. And some of our losses, when our defense didn't play so well, I can see it in his eyes.

"As a football player or as an athlete, you can look into a competitor's eyes and see what's going on, at some point, and I know that he's definitely a competitor. He worked his way up to be one of the top coordinators, and now he's trying to be one of the top head coaches, rightfully so. Someone like Schwartz ... he's going to give it his all, so it makes the players want to give it their all."

Minnesota Vikings

Replacement of the roof at the Metrodome is expected to be completed in time for the team's Aug. 27 preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.

The roof was damaged during a December snowstorm when a portion of the Teflon-coated fabric was shredded.

The new roof will be comprised of a stronger fabric and will also be lower. It is said to be stronger to deal with high winds and less snow will stay on it.

Jim Maki, director of facilities and engineering for the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission said the work is about 80 percent complete.

Minute Rice: Coach Leslie Frazier said he talked with wide receiver Sidney Rice in April when the lockout was briefly lifted and communicated the team's interest in having him back.

Rice is without a contract and has four accrued seasons in the NFL. That would have made him an unrestricted free agent in 2009, but restricted last year.

No one knows yet what the free-agent requirements will be when the lockout ends and there is a new agreement.

Said Frazier, "I talked to him in that brief window we had with that draft weekend and he was enthusiastic about maybe signing back with the Vikings. But he still wants to explore opportunities, and you can't begrudge him for that.

"We'll just have to kind of wait and see what happens. Obviously, we'd love to have him back in Minnesota."

Bring on Plax: Running back Adrian Peterson said he hopes to have the opportunity to have wide receiver Plaxico Burress on his team.

"I would love him to be a part of my team," Peterson told scout.com. "He's a guy -- before he left the game for two years - he was one of the top receivers in the league."

Comparing Burress to quarterback Michael Vick, Peterson said, "You look at Vick, when he came out, how explosive he was. I'm sure (Burress) is going to be on fire and he'll be ready to contribute to whatever team picks him up."


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