"I'm pretty well established as the leader of this football team and the quarterback, and Rod has never wavered from that," Kitna said. "So, I don't expect that to be any different from that, and I'm pretty excited about where we're going as a football team."
Kitna is looking forward to having more control at the line of scrimmage, after having virtually none under former offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
"I'm kind of a control freak by nature, and so it's a good thing," Kitna said. "The other thing is, I think it will encourage more dialogue between myself and the receivers and the linemen and what they're seeing, and I can take input from them. There also has to be a line that says, 'OK, I got you, and we'll try to get to it, but we've got to do what's best for the team.'"
Kitna, in a replay from last year, is predicting a 10-win season.
"Our expectation is we will be disappointed if we don't win 10 games, because that will mean we're not in the playoffs, and that sucks. I can't make it any simpler than that. Anybody who says that's not their expectation level is unfortunately not very much of a competitor."
Stanton free of Martz
Stanton is starting from scratch as the Lions begin their organized team activities.
After the Lions drafted the quarterback in the second round last year, offensive coordinator Mike Martz immediately altered his mechanics.
"He changed everything, and I didn't really understand why and I never really got explanations on how to work on it," Stanton said. "It was one of those things, 'Well, you're just doing this wrong.'"
Stanton said he "felt robotic" and struggled to think about the offense while thinking about his mechanics. On the third day of training camp, he had stiffness and swelling in his knee. He had surgery and went on injured reserve, ending his season.
Vikings playing for today
The Vikings clearly have taken a win-now approach entering Brad Childress' third season as coach.
If an aggressive plan early in free agency wasn't convincing enough, the Vikings' brass made its intentions for 2008 clear when they traded three draft picks (a first- and two third-rounders) to Kansas City in order to obtain the rights to Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen.
Allen, who led the NFL last season 15.5 sacks in 14 games and fills a glaring need for the Vikings, received a monster $74 million, six-year contract that guarantees just over $31 million.
Doing the right thing
Defensive end Kenechi Udeze won't play a single down for the Vikings in 2008, but the franchise is showing its support for the veteran as he fights an acute form of leukemia.
The team recently put Udeze on the reserve/non-football injury list and also informed him that he will be paid his $807,500 base salary for the season.
The Vikings were not obligated to pay Udeze but the decision by owner Zygi Wilf and Co. probably wasn't too difficult.
The Vikings took a major public relations hit last season when receiver Troy Williamson was docked one paycheck after missing a game following the death of his grandmother. The Vikings later reversed the decision and ended up paying Williamson.
Bears' free-agent QBs
Neither SIU's Nick Hill nor Colorado State's Caleb Hanie impressed NFL teams enough to get drafted. But both showed the Bears enough to warrant free-agent contracts, and each has an opportunity to make the final roster or at least the practice squad. Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton are the only other quarterbacks on the roster, and the Bears haven't gone into a season in recent memory with less than three quarterbacks.
Both rookies struggled with their accuracy in last Friday's first day of the weekend rookie minicamp, but both were more accurate Saturday, when the Bears hopefuls were able to practice outside despite intermittent light rain.
"I thought the quarterbacks threw the ball better," coach Lovie Smith said "Both have a fairly good arms and both have played at a pretty high level. Both have good leadership ability and all that, and this is a great opportunity for them. We have two quarterbacks on our roster right now, so there's a good chance one of them will be our third quarterback. There's an opportunity, and they seem like they're going to make the most of it."
Hanie, a two-year starter who led the Mountain West Conference with a 144.6 passer rating last season by completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 2,455 yards with 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, has demonstrated a stronger arm than Hill, who also started two years, during which he threw 43 TD passes and just 11 interceptions.
The next Lynch?
Fourth-round safety Craig Steltz picked off six passes last season and 11 in his college career. And at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, and the LSU all-American also has enough size and strength to provide physical run support and an intimidating presence in the secondary like some of his favorite NFL safeties.
"(I like) guys like (Denver's) John Lynch and (Dallas') Roy Williams, guys who come up and hit," Steltz said. "And (the Bears') Mike Brown. That's three tremendous safeties that get to the ball and get to the ball in a bad mood. Good things happen when you get around the ball, whether it's an interception or it's a fumble recovery."
Steltz, who also forced three fumbles last season, is expected to be a leading contender for playing time at a position where the Bears have lots of depth but also plenty of questions because of Brown's injury history and other players' lack of experience.
With the addition of Steltz and the presence of injury-prone Mike Brown, the Bears released Adam Archuleta.