How the rest of the NFC North WRs stack up

Bears need a No. 1; Lions have two big guns; Vikings steal Berrian from Bears

Chicago Bears

Starters — Marty Booker, Devin Hester. Backups — Brandon Lloyd, Rashied Davis, Mark Bradley, Earl Bennett.

It remains to be seen if there is a legitimate No. 1 receiver on the roster. Booker had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the Bears in 2001-02, catching 100 passes the first year and 97 the next year before being traded to the Dolphins in 2004. Booker may be the go-to guy by default, but he is more of a possession receiver, although one who will make tough catches over the middle. The Bears believe Hester can become a No. 1 receiver in time, but for now, he's a project with phenomenal tools. He caught just 20 passes last season, but 11 came in the final four games, and he's a threat to score every time he touches the ball as evidenced by his record-setting performance as a return specialist. Underachieving Brandon Lloyd was signed in the offseason, and he has a lot of unfulfilled potential, but Davis is the more reliable, consistent player. Bradley has plenty of physical tools and he showed glimpses of greatness as a rookie in 2005, but he caught just six passes last season. Third-round pick Earl Bennett has an opportunity to play a big role if he learns the system quickly and doesn't get buried on a crowded but not extremely talented depth chart.

Detroit Lions

Starters — Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson. Backups — Shaun McDonald, Mike Furrey, Kenneth Moore, Brandon Middleton, Devale Ellis, Reggie Ball, Ronald Bellamy, John Standeford.

The Lions want to be more balanced, but that doesn't mean they don't want to throw the ball frequently. They hope a stronger running game will set up the deep passing game for big outside targets Williams and Johnson. McDonald and Furrey won't catch the same number of balls they did in Martz's offense, when they led the team in receptions, but they will have a role. Moore might be primarily a return man. The question will be if the Lions keep only five receivers.

Minnesota Vikings

Starters — Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice. Backups — Aundrae Allison, Daniel Davis, Robert Ferguson, Jaymar Johnson, Nate Jones, Martin Nance, Darius Reynaud, Bobby Wade.

Berrian was signed to a six-year, $42 million free-agent deal in March in order to give the Vikings the type of downfield receiving threat they were missing last season. He had a career-high 71 catches for 951 yards and five touchdowns and should help loosen up opposing defenses and make it more difficult for them to put eight or nine men in the box to slow the Vikings' rushing game. Rice should help in this area in his second NFL season. He led the Vikings with four touchdown receptions in 2007 and was third on the team with 31 catches. He provides a big target at 6-foot-4 and has good hands. Allison, also entering his second season, has good speed and looked to be a much-improved player during the OTA practices and minicamp. Allison could provide another deep threat to go along with Berrian. Wade led the Vikings with 54 catches last season in his first year with the franchise but this time around can concentrate on his role as a slot receiver. Ferguson lacks speed but is a steadying influence and popular in the locker room. He joined the Vikings after being let go by the Packers in training camp, and his 32 catches placed him second to Wade. Ferguson and Wade placed an emphasis on blocking that seemed to be embraced by the entire receiving corps. Jaymar Johnson, a sixth-round pick out of Jackson State, could have the inside track on winning the final receiver spot.


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