NFC North Tour: Minicamp Notebook

In Detroit, the Lions want to "keep knocking on the door" of a championship on a consistent basis. In Chicago, Lance Briggs feels Matt Forte's pain. In Minnesota, someone really ought to explain how to call a taxi.

The Lions went from 6-10 in 2010 to 10-6 and a wild-card playoff team last season. General manager Martin Mayhew is done celebrating the team's first postseason trip since 1999.

"It's hard to win a championship," Mayhew said. "And things have to line up for you the right way. We expected to do that eventually, but we just want to keep being there. Keep knocking on the door consistently."

Mayhew's hand in rebuilding the Lions' roster is significant. He replaced Matt Millen, who went 31-97 with Millen as CEO and president. The Lions went from persistent draft misfires -- Charles Rogers, Joey Harrington, Mike Williams -- to steadily building a core around Calvin Johnson (a Millen pick), quarterback Matt Stafford and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

As constituted, the Lions have what Mayhew said is the "most talented team that we've been able to put together."

The Lions have 21 of 22 starters back from their 2011 roster. The one loss -- left cornerback Eric Wright -- appears to be significant given the uncertainty and instability in the secondary.

"I think, the maturity of our football team going into this season, now we're at a point where Matthew Stafford's not a young player anymore," he said. "Ndamukong Suh's not a young player anymore.

— The NFL announced Lions running back Mikel Leshoure has been suspended for the first two games of the 2012 season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

Leshoure, a second-round pick in 2011, has not played in an NFL game. He missed last season with a torn Achilles after suffering an injury in training camp.

Leshoure was arrested twice for marijuana possession in Michigan and pleaded guilty in May to possession stemming from a March 12 incident. Police said Leshoure attempted to consume marijuana as they approached his vehicle during a traffic stop.


In 2007, Lance Briggs was in Matt Forte's shoes, staying away from offseason workouts as a ploy/protest in response to a stalemated contract situation.

"It's just rough," Briggs said. "I know he wants to be out here with his team. But you also know what your value is in this league and you work hard and you want that to be recognized. You want that to be recognized with a long-term deal. You know how this business is. It's rough, it can be brutal."

As the Bears' designated franchise player, Forte has been tendered a $7.742 million contract for 2012, which he has yet to sign. He wants a multi-year deal with more than $20 million in guaranteed money. Because he is not signed, Forte is skipping this week's minicamp.

"Just do what you believe because no one knows you like you and no one is going to take care of you like you," Briggs said. "The toughest part was that I wanted a long-term deal and the organization didn't at that time. So it was a little personal where I put some time in, and I thought that I had earned the right to stay here for a long time rather than give you my services for a year and then potentially be shopped out again. A lot of guys want that long-term security. They want to know that the team wants them for a long period of time."


For his own good and the good of his team's reputation, coach Leslie Frazier needs to get tougher in his conversations with players when it comes to the way they carry themselves off the field.

Fullback Jerome Felton, signed in March to compete for and likely win a starting job, was arrested on June 1 on suspicion of driving while impaired in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie. He's the third Vikings player in the past 10 months to be arrested on suspicion of DWI. The Vikings also own five of the league's 32 arrests or citations since August, according to records kept by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Every team has issues. And the Vikings aren't a team that's out of control off the field. But they have hit a stretch that's beginning to make Frazier look foolish when he talks about how much character means and how often he speaks to players about their off-the-field behavior.

On Wednesday, Frazier was asked to comment - once again about a player in trouble with the law.

"We talked about some things when we got together for our first OTA in our meetings and how we wanted to conduct ourselves," he said. "And then when a new guy (Felton) comes to the club, and he's a veteran guy and something happens like it did over the weekend, it's very disappointing. It's something we'll have to deal with and have to address."

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