Key Personnel Decisions Around North: Part 2

Packer Report examines the possible impact of the biggest transactions from the Packers and their division rivals from this offseason. We're counting them down from 10 to one with a Packers spin.

Free agency and the draft are complete and offseason practices are under way. What were the biggest moves that will impact the NFC North race? Packer Report counts them down. If you missed Part 1, click here.

5th: Packers re-sign Clifton

Having Bryan Bulaga certainly helps, but there's nothing like experience at left tackle, and Chad Clifton has that in spades. Yes, Clifton suffered through a painful 2009 season. He missed four games and left four other games because of injuries. The Packers' offense was a mess when Clifton was either out or limited because of a sprained ankle in the first half of the season, but when he got into his groove, so did the offense. In the final eight regular-season games, the Packers went 7-1. Aaron Rodgers was sacked 13 times during that stretch compared to 37 in the first eight games. Were last season's injury problems a sign of things to come or just a blip on the radar for Clifton, who turns 34 next month? With coach Mike McCarthy limiting his reps during training camp and the regular season, you might be surprised to know that Clifton started 94 of a possible 96 games from 2003 through 2008. The misses? An allergic reaction to medication before the Tennessee game in 2008 and some bad sushi before the Miami game in 2006.

4th: Taylor from Vikings to Bears

Any move that weakens the Vikings is good news to the Packers, but that gain is mitigated by Chester Taylor going to Chicago. Taylor will turn 31 early this coming season but he's a young 31, considering he's worked behind Adrian Peterson the last three seasons. Taylor is lethal as a receiver, with 160 receptions in his four seasons in Minnesota, including 89 over the last two years. His career average per rushing attempt is a solid 4.3 yards, and he's averaged a whopping 9.1 yards per reception over the last three seasons. Considering how offensive coordinator Mike Martz used Marshall Faulk with the Rams, the Bears have a new dynamic with Taylor reprising his role behind another good pass-catching back, Matt Forte.

3rd: Lions sign VandenBosch and draft Suh

A great quarterback and passing game is the ticket to success in today's NFL. How do you stop a high-octane offense like the one guided by Aaron Rodgers? With a great defensive line that is stout against the run on first-and-10 and can rush the passer on third-and-long. The Lions, the laughingstocks of the NFL since Barry Sanders called it quits, look like a legitimate NFL team in part because of the signing of free agent end Kyle VandenBosch and selecting once-in-a-generation tackle prospect Ndamukong Suh. VandenBosch might be a declining player, with just 7.5 sacks combined over his last two seasons after 31 over his previous three, but he's still got something to add. Suh was a man among boys at Nebraska with 12 sacks during a senior season in which he placed fourth in the Heisman voting.

2nd: Bears sign Peppers

Monsters of the Midway? Not for a while. Chicago tied for 22nd in the NFL in points allowed in 2009, tied for 18th in 2008 and 16th in 2007. They've allowed more points in each of those seasons. Enter Julius Peppers, who is coming off a monster 2009 campaign in which he tallied 10.5 sacks (10th in NFL), forced five fumbles (tied for second) and picked off two passes. The five-time Pro Bowler has 81 sacks in his eight seasons, including 14.5 in 2008. However, the last time he wasn't concerned about a contract, Peppers had a career-low 2.5 sacks in 14 games in 2007. He lined up about an equal number of snaps at left and right end at the Bears' recent minicamp, according to Bear Report's John Crist, so the Packers must be sound at left tackle (Clifton or Bulaga) and right tackle (Mark Tauscher or T.J. Lang).

1st: Favre has ankle surgery

In case you've been vacationing on Mars, you probably know that Brett Favre had surgery on his injured left ankle last week. With that, Favre apparently has sent up some Vatican-like white smoke to inform the world of his intention to play again. Favre, who turns 41 in October, is coming off arguably the best season of his Hall of Fame-worthy career with 33 touchdowns against seven interceptions. That's a ratio of 4.71 touchdowns per interception. That's easily the best of his career, with his 112 touchdowns against 42 interceptions during his three MVP seasons being "just" 2.67 touchdowns per interception. His age and penchant for making big mistakes in key situations notwithstanding, the Vikings are Super Bowl contenders with Favre. They're not without him.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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