NFC North tour: Playing Foote-ball

You know what's going on in Green Bay, so catch up with the news Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota. Why did two-time champion Larry Foote sign with Detroit? What rookie carries high expectations in Chicago? You-know-who is the talk in Minnesota

Larry Foote has heard the wisecracks.

He was a starting linebacker on two championship teams in Pittsburgh. But he asked to be traded a couple of weeks after the Super Bowl, and when the Steelers eventually released him, he signed almost immediately with the team that just suffered the NFL's first 0-16 season.

Is he crazy?

"This is my hometown," said Foote, a Detroit native who also played at Michigan. "All along during my career, this idea was always in the back of my head: What would it be like to play for the Lions? This is a great opportunity, a fresh start in my career, new coaches. I'm just excited and just honored to be here."

This wasn't just about a homecoming. This was about opportunity. Foote felt his role was limited in Pittsburgh, with first-round pick Lawrence Timmons pushing for playing time, and he wants to prove his worth as a three-down linebacker so he can cash in next year.

"I'm going to be valued a little higher than I am right now," Foote said. "I'm looking forward to just having a one-year deal and showing the Lions organization what I can do."

The Lions have an opening at middle linebacker, and Foote is expected to start between Ernie Sims and Julian Peterson. But the Lions drafted DeAndre Levy with the idea of moving him from the outside to the inside, and they made no promises to Foote.

"The point we made with him is the same point we made with every player on the team," coach Jim Schwartz said. "When he does sign on that line, he's not signing as the starting middle linebacker. He's signing to compete for the starting job."

Foote thinks his play will take care of everything. He doesn't think adjusting from the Steelers' 3-4 defense to the Lions' 4-3 scheme will be too difficult, and he doesn't believe the Lions must rebuild.

The Lions have added a lot to a defense that ranked last in the NFL the past two seasons -- replacing more than half the starters -- and Foote thinks they can improve quickly.

"I always want to win," Foote said. "If you ask my friends and family, if I don't win, I get angry. I want to win by any means. You go to my house and you see holes in the wall right now from video games. I'm a competitor. I want to win. I didn't look at the record. I said, 'Shoot, I'm going to help them.'"

Bears: Expectations for Iglesias

Wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias, the Bears' third-round pick, isn't yet in quarterback Jay Cutler's "fave five," but the veteran has reached out to touch the rookie.

"I haven't had a chance to meet with him, but as soon as I got drafted, he was one of the first texts I got, which was kind of welcoming," Iglesias said during last weekend's three-day rookie minicamp. "He just said that he's ready to work with me, and he's glad I'm a Bear, just like I'm glad I'm a Bear, and I'm glad to get a chance to work with him. He's a great quarterback, and I'm excited about it."

Iglesias, the 99th overall selection, was a three-year starter at Oklahoma and the Sooners' go-to guy the past two years. Since wide receiver is considered a weakness of the Bears, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Iglesias will have a chance to contribute immediately, unlike last year's third-round pick, wide receiver Earl Bennett, who failed to catch a pass all season.

"Last year, we had a luxury of having two veteran guys there (Marty Booker and Brandon Lloyd) and we could slow Bennett's progress down some," Bears receivers coach Darryl Drake said. "We may accelerate (Iglesias') progress a little."

And, while no one cracks the starting lineup during rookie minicamp, it was a great opportunity for skill-position players to make a good first impression on coaches.

Iglesias, and especially fifth-rounder Johnny Knox, got noticed as much as any of the 43 rookies on the practice field at Halas Hall. Knox, who ran a 4.34-second 40-yard dash at the Combine, was the fastest player on the field, and he might also have the softest hands, a nice combination.

"Some of the guys that stood out, I thought (were) Johnny Knox," coach Lovie Smith said, "and you notice Juaquin Iglesias, too, catching the football."

Devin Hester is the only receiver on the Bears' roster guaranteed a position in the starting lineup, so both rookies have a chance to make an immediate impact, either as a starter or as a situational substitute in three- and four-wide receiver formations.

Even though veterans have the weekend off from the voluntary offseason workout program, Hester stopped by to watch the rookies after hitting the weight room.

"Devin's a gym rat," Smith said. "He got a good workout in on his own. This (was) a day that the (veteran) players are off, and he's out here working out trying to get better."

Vikings: Favre's arm

One reason Brett Favre struggled late in his only season with the New York Jets in 2008 was he was playing with a partially torn biceps in his right (throwing) arm.

Making sure that injury is in good enough shape for Favre to play in 2009 is one key to him potentially ending his second retirement and joining the Vikings.

While Favre reportedly could continue to play with the partial tear and hope it tears fully and thus speeds up the recovery process, there also appears a good possibility that Favre would be willing to have a minor surgical procedure performed, according to ESPN.

That surgery would allow doctors to complete the cutting of the tendon. The recovery period would not be extended and Favre would be expected to be ready long before training camp.

However, Favre most likely would not throw many passes before the Vikings open training camp this summer in Mankato, Minn.

That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing for Favre, who often stayed away from the Packers' offseason program and instead worked out at his home near Hattiesburg, Miss.

This likely would mean that quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, expected to compete for the starting job in a training camp that wouldn't include Favre, would take the majority of the offseason snaps.


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