NFC North Hot News

Many NFC North Division teams have or will soon be wrapping up their final offseason practices before training camps open in July. Here is the latest news and notes from each team within the division.

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Change of heart

Keith Traylor is on the last year of his contract and is making too much to be a backup, but the club is talking as though he'll still be on the roster this summer. He still might be a target to redo his contract so the team can save some money under the cap.

White a starter, for now

Dez White started 14 of 16 games last year and finished the season second on the team with 51 receptions. However, his production must improve if he's going to remain a starter.

Marty Booker will be double-teamed, which means the receiver opposite of him has to take advantage of single coverage. White and David Terrell will battle for the role in training camp.

Make or break time

Roosevelt Williams isn't out of the picture yet, but he will be if there is a repeat of last year's wasted campaign.

"If you ask me what do you not have going into next season right now," defensive coordinator Greg Blache said, "I do not have a third corner. I cannot line up in nickel and know for certain that I have quality players that I want to have on the field.

"We need a third corner. We're in need of a third corner right now. Ro didn't come through last year like we hoped he would -- he still may. But I can't sit around waiting another year. He has to step up to the plate and do it now."

One of a few veteran backups

Bernard Robertson started four games last year at left tackle before being replaced by Marc Colombo. Now, Robertson is the backup at left guard and tackle as well as center. While Robertson's versatility helps the club, it shows their lack of depth on the offensive line.

The Bears could be on the lookout for veteran help at left tackle depending on who becomes available following the June 1 cuts.


Wide receiver Charles Rogers says his only goal for the 2003 season is to earn the respect of his Lions teammates. Although he is aware of the impact a number of quality NFL receivers made as rookies, that is not where his focus is.

"I don't think about that," Rogers said. "I'll just go out there and play to the best of my ability, do the best Charles Rogers can do. It's always going to have pros and cons -- the good receivers doing this, the other receivers doing that -- so I'm always thinking about the positive side, thinking what the best receivers have done. Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison. I'm always thinking positive."

Moss had a major impact in his first season with the Minnesota Vikings, catching 69 passes for 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns, but Lions all-time leading receiver Herman Moore had only 11 receptions for 135 yards and no touchdowns in his first NFL season. Rogers joined the rest of the Lions rookies this week for the start of offseason workouts at the team's practice facility in Allen Park, Mich.

Cornerback helps star rookie

It's isn't often that a defense intentionally helps an offense, but Dre' Bly and Charles Rogers have become fast friends and Bly is helping speed up Rogers' development as a pro.

"Dré Bly helped out tremendously," said Rogers. "He's a great corner himself, he makes big plays. Just by going up against him, it's just going to make me a better wide receiver. I try to learn a lot – watching Dré is a good teaching lesson."

For his part, Bly is happy to do what he can to assist Rogers.

"I told him when he first got here that I was going to work him. He's got a lot of ability. A great receiver in college, he's got to make that adjustment to the league. It's not really that hard, but you've got to be willing to work. I'm just constantly in his ear, just trying to give him some advice because I have, coming up into my fifth year, faced a lot of guys and been able to play alongside Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, Ricky Proehl, and see how those guys work, I know what it takes. I'm just trying to encourage the young guy. He's doing fine and making progress. I'm going to show him rather than teach him. He's learning; he's adjusting. From the first day we were out here working, he's picked up some things. I mentioned some things to him. He will adjust to it, he will learn."

Defensive end agrees to deal

The Lions and restricted free agent James Hall agreed to terms of an undisclosed contract. Hall will likely battle with second-year pro Kalimba Edwards for the Lions starting left end spot opposite Robert Porcher. Hall led all Lions' defensive lineman with a career-high 72 tackles (43 solo) while playing in 16 games (14 starts) in 2002.

Told to stay home

WR Scotty Anderson, who was stabbed outside a Houston nightclub on May 26, has been told by Lions coach Steve Marriuci to take care of his personal business and not attempt team workouts for now. Anderson's brother was also stabbed and remains in critical condition.


May face suspension

Defensive end Joe Johnson, who was arrested May 22 in Tifton, Ga., and charged with possession of marijuana, has violated the National Football League's substance abuse policy for the second time, according to a report.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Johnson violated the league's substance-abuse policy on at least one other occasion when he was with the New Orleans Saints. But it is unclear when that violation occurred. If it was less than two years ago, Johnson could be suspended for four games without pay this season. He would not be suspended if his first violation occurred more than two years ago, according to league rules.

On 2,000-yard pace

Quarterback Craig Nall, allocated by the Packers to play for Scotland in NFL Europe, has passed for 1,696 yards in eight games in the spring league. With two games remaining, Nall is on pace to top 2,000 yards.

Nall has completed 124 of 221 passes and thrown for 14 touchdowns for the Claymores. He will be competing in training camp against Doug Pederson for a backup spot behind Brett Favre.

Never gave up on school

Green Bay running back Ahman Green graduated from Nebraska on May 10 with a degree in geography. He was 73 credits shy of his degree when he turned pro in 1998. He took correspondence courses during his two seasons in Seattle and attended the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay after being traded. He finished his course work last summer at Nebraska.

"A lot of guys make it to the NFL and say, 'OK, I'm successful. I don't have to get my degree,'" Green said. "This is something I can always use at any time, and I can use it as a tool to help shape my kids and my younger family members. I can say, I'm successful at my sport, but I've also got a degree to fall back on."

Turning the corner

Defensive back Jeremy Unertl started for the second straight game at cornerback last weekend for the Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europe. Unertl, a free agent who re-signed with the Packers this off-season after getting cut in training camp last year, finished the game with three tackles in the Galaxy's 47-13 victory over F.C. Barcelona.

Unertl has played most of the NFL-E season at safety before recently switching to cornerback.

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