NFC North issues

The June 1 cut date came and went without a lot of news within the division. Training camp is still more than a month off, but June mini-camps are under way. Here is the latest news and notes from each team within the division.<p>

NFC North Notes Chicago Bears

Next up?

Will Mike Brown be the next to sign a long-term extension with the team? The team initially offered under $12 million for six seasons, but progress is being made. GM Jerry Angelo told the Chicago Sun Times he expects something "sooner rather than later."

Feels good as a Bill

Left end Keith McKenzie, who's competing for a reserve defensive end spot with Buffalo, said he matches Buffalo's defense better than Chicago's. McKenzie played in Chicago last year, but was cut in-season because he wasn't effective. He said that he just wasn't big enough to play in the Bears' defense.

He also wasn't 100 percent following a broken ankle he suffered as a Brown in 2001. He rushed to come back because he was an unrestricted free agent, and that hurt him.

"I feel great now," he said. "I don't feel quite like I did before I got hurt. I don't think I'll ever feel that way because I have a plate in my ankle right now, and it's not the same. It went through a big trauma when I broke it."

Time has passed

The Bears needed to tender Christian Peter an offer by June 1st in order to re-sign him before July 22, which means the defensive tackle, will play elsewhere in 2003.

Peter played in 12 games, starting three, but missed the final three games of the year because of injury.

Signs extension through 2011

Brian Urlacher agreed to a nine-year contract, which is reportedly worth more than $58 million including a $19 million signing bonus, The three-time Pro Bowler is now the highest paid defensive player in the game.

Time in Europe would have helped

Last preseason Kenny Christian had seven receptions for an average of 15.9 yards per catch, but the Bears cut him in favor of Jamin Elliot. From there Elliot, a sixth-round pick, bounced back and forth between game day inactive and practice squad experiment before playing in the final two games of the season.

However, Elliot didn't catch a single ball during the regular season and caught one during the preseason. Time in NFL Europe could have developed Elliot's game, but the team elected to put him through their offseason workout program.

In April the Bears spent two fifth-round choices on receivers Bobby Wade and Justin Gage, which could spell the end of Elliot's stretch in Chicago.

Could serve time

Bryan Robinson has been sentenced to 30 days in Lake County jail, 360 hours of community service and 18 months probation stemming from his guilty plea to driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor.

There is a chance that Robinson could avoid jail time. He will enter an alcohol treatment program Tuesday in an attempt to have his sentence reduced or commuted.

Robinson will return to court June 27 after completing an in-patient program. If the defensive lineman has to serve the maximum jail sentence there is a chance he could miss the start of training camp, which is July 25.

Part of major question mark

The play of the offensive line, especially the tackles, will be a major factor in QB Kordell Stewart's success. For now, there remain a lot of questions about left tackle Mike Gandy and right tackle Marc Colombo. Gandy never played left tackle until last season, when injuries forced him into that spot. Colombo is not expected to participate in any of the team's mini-camps while he rehabilitates from a dislocated kneecap last season and follow-up surgery after the season.

Gandy and Colombo are both 24 as are backups Bernard Robertson, who started last season at left tackle but was replaced, and Steve Edwards. "We like our young tackles," general manager Jerry Angelo said. "The concern is that they're young, and because of the unknown, obviously that concern is not going to go away until they've gotten out there and done it. "They're young, but for the most part, all but one has played, so it's not like we're playing with no experience. They're talented, so it's just a matter of them going out there and doing it."

Detroit Lions

Takes himself out of last part of practice Rookie receive Charles Rogers pulled himself out of the latter part of the day two mini-camp practice June 3 due to tight hamstrings. Rogers has yet to sign with Detroit.

Suffers separated shoulder

Lions' rookie cornerback Chris Kern, an undrafted rookie free agent, seperated his shoulder during day two of the voluntary Lions mini-camp. He is listed as day-to-day.

Former Wolverine misses second day

Lions' rookie defensive lineman Shawn Lazarus, who signed with Detroit as an undrafted free-agent out of Michigan, was at day two of mini-camp with a brace on his left knee, assisted by crutches. It's unknown when he'll be able to return.

Misses second practice due to hamstring injury

Lions' second year running back Luke Staley was held out of a June 3 practice due to a pulled hamstring suffered on Monday. He's listed as day-to-day. Returns for mini-camp

Receiver Scotty Anderson, who was injured in a brawl outside a Houston, Texas, nightclub, returned for the first day of the Detroit Lions voluntary minicamp. "His brother told him, 'Hey, get to camp,' which was comforting in his mind, to know that his brother felt well enough to say that and feel that way," said Lions head coach Steve Mariucci.

Will battle for strong side job

Rookie outside linebacker Boss Bailey, the Lions' second-round draft pick, is getting an education at the strongside linebacker position in offseason workouts at the team's practice facility in Allen Park, Mich. Veteran Brian Williams, who is coming back from a broken leg suffered early in the 2002 season, will compete for the starting job but is not yet ready to go full speed so Bailey is getting plenty of work. "My goals are pretty simple right now," Bailey said. "I'm trying to take baby steps and not reach out too far. My goal right now is just to be healthy going into training camp and being a starter. "If I can become a starter, I think that's a big jump, so I'm just trying to keep it simple right now."

Minnesota Vikings

Former Vike signs with Pittsburgh

Offensive lineman Calvin Collins, who was with the Vikings in 2001, has signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Collins worked at guard for the Vikings, but he can also play center. He also spent time with Houston last year.

WR could be in purple again

The Vikings have been impressed enough with the rapport between QB Shaun Hill and WR Matthew Hatchette in NFL Europe that the Vikings will likely sign Hatch to come back to the team once the NFLE season ends. Hatchette has also been with the New York Jets and Oakland.

Vikings a suitor?

The Chiefs released CB Ray Crockett and one source close to Crockett's agent said he believes the Vikings are one of the teams that may be interested in bringing the veteran in.

Will get his shot

The possibility that the Vikings will add a veteran safety after June 1 still exists, but it is not likely. The Vikings are committed to trying to develop second-year man Willie Offord. Still, if Offord were to struggle badly during the June developmental camps, the Vikings may change their minds and go after a seasoned vet.


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