NFC North player wire

Summary of news and notes from the first week of training camp on individuals within division

GREEN BAY PACKERS
QB Brett Favre showed no ill effects from missing a couple days of training camp, turning in a mostly pinpoint performance during the Aug. 4 intrasquad scrimmage before a sold-out crowd of 59,362 at Lambeau Field.

Favre completed 13 of 15 passes for 156 yards. He directed long touchdown drives in his first two possessions with the No. 1 offense, albeit against the No. 2 defense. The first series culminated with an 11-yard TD strike from Favre to Donald Driver. The second series featured a 24-yard catch by rookie halfback Brandon Jackson, who subsequently scored from the 1.

Favre was 9-of-9 for 128 yards in the two drives. However, in a two-minute drill against the No. 1 defense, Favre underthrew Driver in the end zone, allowing safety Nick Collins to intercept the pass for a long return. Save for the miscue, which was attributed to miscommunication, head coach Mike McCarthy had high marks for the Favre-led top unit.

"I thought the play calling was exceptional. I thought the execution was good. I thought Brett was in a good rhythm. I thought he had a polished evening," McCarthy said. "Brett looked very sharp. I liked the tempo of the first offense. I was very pleased with the performance of the first offense."

Favre was excused from camp practices July 30 and 31 so he could return home to Mississippi to mourn the loss of his stepfather-in-law.

QB Aaron Rodgers did some positive things in the August 4 scrimmage. Rodgers often felt pressure working behind the No. 2 offensive line against the No. 1 defense for some segments. Still, he showed poise and made some big throws in the face of a relentless rush, leading the offense on a drive that ended with a field goal.

Like starter Brett Favre, Rodgers' only significant blemish came on an interception in the two-minute segment against the No. 2 defense. Penalties backed the offense into a second-and-long situation inside the defense's 30, and a desperation heave to wide receiver Ruvell Martin from Rodgers with the clock running out was picked off by Tramon Williams in the end zone.

Rodgers finished 12-of-22 for 134 yards. He was sacked once.

"I thought Aaron threw the ball very well. I thought he looked sharp. He threw into some tight spots," McCarthy said.

CB Al Harris was held out of the intrasquad scrimmage Aug. 4 because of tightness in his back.

CB Charles Woodson was kept out of the scrimmage, as McCarthy sided with giving his two starting cornerbacks extra rest early in training camp.

MLB Nick Barnett dropped out early in the scrimmage after he appeared to be shaken up on a block leveled by RB Noah Herron in a blitz pickup.

FB Brandon Miree was knocked out of the scrimmage with a stinger.

WR Shaun Bodiford made a strong early bid to be a return man this season with his efforts in the scrimmage. He had a 53-yard kickoff return negated by a penalty. He returned a punt 30 yards. The second-year player, whom the Packers claimed off waivers from Detroit last October, suffered a season-ending leg injury on a kickoff return in November.

Offensive tackle Tony Moll, a converted tight end in college, lined up as a pass-eligible blocker in goal-line situations during the scrimmage.

WR James Jones, a third-round draft pick, was cast as a big unknown after the Packers took him out of San Jose State, but he's been receiving big cheers from the team's fans each and every day at training camp. Perhaps Jones' biggest supporter is quarterback Brett Favre, who has more than once compared the rookie to former Packers receiving standout Sterling Sharpe. Like Sharpe, the 6-foot-1 Jones has suction cups for hands, grabbing almost everything within reach (he had one drop in the first week of camp), and has been displaying deceptive quickness with his separation after the catch.

DT Justin Harrell (first round) has been slow to make the slightest of impact in training camp, in part because he admittedly wasn't in tip-top football shape after rehabbing a ruptured biceps tendon most of the off-season. Harrell, a projected starter, has been relegated to some second- and mostly third-string duties.

He was quiet in the intrasquad scrimmage Saturday night, though he stopped fellow rookie DeShawn Wynn for only a two-yard gain and batted down a pass.

RB Brandon Jackson (second round) figures to be the starting halfback for most, if not all, of the preseason in the wake of Vernand Morency's suffering a knee injury on the first day of training camp. Jackson had six carries for 20 yards, including a touchdown, and two catches for 48 yards in the scrimmage.

WR David Clowney (fifth round) returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown in the scrimmage. However, it came during a thud period, and Clowney was tagged by Will Blackmon on the return. The speedy Clowney is in contention as a kick returner.

FB Korey Hall (sixth round) took reps with the No. 1 offense in the scrimmage after Brandon Miree was sidelined with a stinger. Hall, a converted linebacker, also is contributing to the top coverage units on special teams.

RB Vernand Morency is expected to miss most of the preseason because of a strained patellar tendon in his right knee. Morency, who opened training camp as the starting halfback, suffered the injury on the first day, July 28.

TE Bubba Franks suffered a scratched cornea in practice July 31 and did not participate in Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage.

RB P.J. Pope sustained a knee injury in the scrimmage. The extent of it hadn't been determined after the scrimmage.

TE Clark Harris suffered a sprained ankle Aug. 2 and remained sidelined as of Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage.

LBs Abdul Hodge and Desmond Bishop sustained dislocated fingers in the scrimmage.

CHICAGO BEARS
WLB Lance Briggs, who boycotted off-season activities in protest of being franchised, was back with the first team on the second day of camp.

RB Cedric Benson was rested during Saturday's practice after taking nearly all of the first-team reps during the first week of camp.

WLB Jamar Williams, displaced from the starting lineup by the return of Briggs, returned an interception 90-plus yards in the goal-line session of Saturday's practice and also forced a fumble.

QB Rex Grossman, who had been making the defense look bad most if camp, was intercepted three times during a Friday night practice.

S Brandon McGowan, who has been injured for most of his three-year career, moved up to the No. 4 safety spot with the trade of Chris Harris to Carolina.

WR Mike Hass has caught everything thrown his way in camp this year. While newly converted wide receiver Devin Hester and rookie TE Greg Olsen have been the offensive stars of training camp so far, they haven't caught the ball any better or more consistently than Hass. He spent last season on the practice squad when the Bears snapped him up after the Saints drafted him in the fifth round but then waived him, hoping to sneak him back onto their practice squad.

After eight days of practices, no one can recall Hass dropping a pass. Not in 11-on-11 team segments, seven-on-seven work or individual receiving drills. Still, with starters Muhsin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian ahead of him, plus Mark Bradley, Hester and Rashied Davis, Hass is competing with Drisan James, David Ball, Brandon Rideau and Timon Marshall for, at the most, one spot. He's the early leader based on his flawless hands and good size (6-foot-1, 206 pounds).

"I'm pleased, but I still have a ways to go learning some hot (reads) and protections and those types of thing," he said. "I just have to keep making plays. If I make enough plays, I'll open enough eyes and good things will happen for me." Hass was in a similar situation when he enrolled at Oregon State as a walk-on, and that worked out pretty well for him. The Portland, Ore., native won the 205 Fred Biletnikoff Award as the top receiver in the nation after catching 90 passes for 1,532 yards.

TE Greg Olsen continues to catch the ball extremely well, especially downfield and has also demonstrated that he can be a weapon in the red zone with several end zone receptions.

DE Dan Bazuin has lots of catching up to do. He missed most of the spring practices with a sprained knee and then reinjured it early in camp and has already been out a week and could be out another week.

RB Garrett Wolfe displayed impressive quickness on the first day of camp but was sidelined on Day Two with a hamstring injury, which he just returned from on Saturday but in a very limited capacity.

LB Michael Okwo got a full day of work at strong-side linebacker when starter Hunter Hillenmeyer was sick. OG Josh Beekman is a mild-mannered gentleman off the field but shows a feisty side on the field. He has been a willing pupil of coaches and of veteran linemen like Olin Kreutz, often staying long after practice to fine-tune his technique.

S Kevin Payne had an impressive sideline interception on a deep route and moved up the depth chart when veteran Chris Harris was traded.

WR Muhsin Muhammad missed a fourth straight day of practice, and coach Lovie Smith still insists on referring to his "injury" as general soreness.

DT Antonio Garay remains sidelined with a hamstring injury that has lingered for more than a week.

DETRIOT LIONS
DE Kalimba Edwards is making some moves he simply wouldn't have made last year. He is more decisive and finishing better.

DT Langston Moore has caught coach Rod Marinelli's eye with his explosiveness. Marinelli wants to find a good fourth tackle to follow Cory Redding, Shaun Rogers and Shaun Cody.

TE Darnell Sanders has been getting a lot of reps with the first team, with Dan Campbell nursing an elbow problem and Eric Beverly retired. QB Jon Kitna praised him.

WR Troy Walters is fighting for the fifth receiver spot. He is increasing his chances by making himself useful on returns.

RB T.J. Duckett has gotten some reps as a fullback, but so far it's just to see what he can do.

WR Calvin Johnson ended his holdout, reported to camp and jumped right in with the first team.

QB Drew Stanton went on injured reserve with a knee problem. The injury isn't serious, but Stanton was going to miss the valuable practice time in training camp. He'll sit and learn this season, which was the plan, anyway.

CB Keith Smith has played well since the Lions have simplified things for Smith, asking him to play right corner and nothing else. He seems more confident and decisive. "No. 23 every single day is making plays," defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. "So I'm really happy with where Keith Smith is at."

MINNESOTA VIKINGS
DT Alex Guerrero, who is battling for a spot at defensive tackle, did not hurt his cause when he jumped to tip a ball thrown by quarterback Drew Henson during a team drill and then completed the play by intercepting the pass. It was a pretty athletic play considering Guerrero is listed at 6-1 and Henson is 6-4.

WR Troy Williamson spent countless hours this off-season working on his pass catching and even has been doing exercises to help improve his vision. Nonetheless, Williamson has still averaged about one drop per practice. The one thing the Vikings have been doing, however, is making sure Williamson gets a pass thrown his way almost immediately after he fails to catch a ball.

Williamson sat out both the Friday and Saturday practices with Kansas City because of an infection in his left arm.

NT Howard Green has been getting some reps with the first team in place of Pat Williams. Nothing is wrong with Williams but the Vikings already know what they have in the veteran. The key is finding out what Green can do. Green received almost all the time at nose tackle in last weekend's two practices with Kansas City.

DT Spencer Johnson received reps with the first-team defense in the Chiefs practices as Kevin Williams did conditioning work on the side, along with Pat Williams and CB Antoine Winfeld. Third-round corner Marcus McCauley replaced Winfield, who like both Williams is perfectly healthy.

LT Bryant McKinnie returned after missing the first nine training camp practices because of a strained hamstring. That enabled Artis Hicks to move back to right guard and bumped Anthony Herrera to the second team.

LB Ben Leber was sidelined for a second time because of a strained calf that has bothered him for much of training camp.

LB Dontarrious Thomas, who is subbing for Leber at the strong-side spot, once again will be the primary backup for all three linebackers.

DE Erasmus James (knee) remains on the physically unable to perform list. With James out, Ray Edwards has been getting most of the work with the first team at right end.

CB Ronyell Whitaker, who began last season serving as the nickel back but quickly lost the job, suffered a sprained ankle last Thursday in practice. Whitaker was not hit on the play but rather fell to the ground after twisting his ankle.

CB Marcus McCauley, a third-round pick, has been impressive throughout training camp, picking off four passes and breaking up numerous other throws. McCauley is behind Cedric Griffin and Antoine Winfield on the depth chart but at this rate he's definitely going to see plenty of time in the nickel package.

RB Adrian Peterson suffered a hip pointer only four days after signing with the Vikings. The injury is considered minor but the team certainly will be careful.

WR Sidney Rice has flashed on very few occasions to date. Nonetheless, given the Vikings situations at receiver he figures to get plenty more opportunities to prove himself.

DE Brian Robison had been getting reps with the first team before being slowed by a hamstring injury. Robison is back on the field but it's clear Ray Edwards is the first-team right end.

WR Aundrae Allison was impressive early in camp but a hamstring injury has forced him to the sidelines. Allison could be the sleeper of this receiver group if he can stay on the field.

LB Rufus Alexander has been working with the third team. He mainly will contribute on special teams.

QB Tyler Thigpen continues to battle with Drew Henson for the No. 3 job.

WR Chandler Williams suffered a concussion last Friday in a practice against the Kansas City Chiefs.

G Dan Mozes suffered a serious injury to his right knee in last Friday's practice with Kansas City and is expected to miss the season.

DE Khreem Smith hurt his knee in the Friday practice with K.C. and sat out on Saturday.


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