NFC North Hot News

As teams around the NFC North wrap up the last of their camps, the competition for starting positions and the hopes pinned on veterans are beginning to shape up.

Hot news gathered from our divisional sources: PackerReport.com, BearReport.com and LionsFans.com.

CHICAGO BEARS

Jauron not giving up on Robinson yet

Defensive lineman Bryan Robinson still has a potential 30-day jail sentence to contend with, scheduled to begin on June 27 as part of his sentence for a second DUI conviction, but coach Dick Jauron hasn't lost faith in the six-year veteran. "I believe in Bryan Robinson," Jauron said. "I think that obviously he made some poor decisions, and now he's paying the price for it. We all paid the price for it, and I think he's aware of that, so he knows that his decisions don't just affect himself, they affect all those people around him."

Robinson has missed just one game in the past four years, last season, the week after his Oct. 19 arrest he was declared inactive by the team. Robinson, who turns 29 on June 22, has started all but three games over the past four seasons. He led or tied for the team lead in tackles by a defensive lineman in 2000 and 2001 as a left end but was moved to tackle last season.

"He's still a relatively young man, and I have confidence that he's learned his lesson," Jauron said. "He'll deal with the consequences, and he'll move forward. He's got to if he's going to be a success, and he has been a success in the past, and we're counting on him."

Robinson, who is currently enrolled as an in patient in an alcohol treatment program, fractured both wrists last offseason in a fall down the stairs at his home. Although he started the first six games of the regular season, his strength was impaired by an inability to lift weights while he was rehabbing the wrist injuries. But Jauron singled Robinson out during an early May minicamp as a player who looked to be in outstanding condition.

"Physically, he's so far ahead of where he was a year ago," Jauron said. "He didn't have the strength (last season), but now he's back to where he was in 2001, so we're really optimistic for Bryan."

Bears opt for Kordell
There were rumors that the Bears were interested in signing Brian Griese after the Broncos cut him last week. However, the team has invested time and money in Kordell Stewart and he’s clearly the team’s starter.

If the Bears had tried to sign Griese it would have been as a backup and a quarterback controversy in the making. Chris Chandler is content to tutor Rex Grossman and relieve Stewart, if necessary, which is a perfect combination for the Bears situation.

World Bowl Rep
Bears cornerback Teddy Gaines is one of 48 NFL players will compete for the NFL Europe League championship in World Bowl XI on Saturday at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland when the Frankfurt Galaxy meet the Rhein Fire.

Gaines, who plays for the Fire, is the only member of the Bears that will represent the team.

The game will be broadcast live on FOX at 12:00 p.m. (ET).

Edinger gets some competition
The Bears have signed undrafted free agent Alex Walls, a kicker from Tennessee. Walls will compete with Paul Edinger for placekicking duties, but for all practical purposes he'll be solely a practice player.

Edinger signed a $7 million deal during the offseason that will keep him in Chicago for the next five seasons.

Bears ink 6th rounder
Sixth-round pick LB Joe Odom has agreed to a three-year deal that includes a $65,000 signing bonus, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Glad to be back
David Terrell was on pace to reach double-digit touchdown receptions last year. However, a foot injury in Week 5 ended his season prematurely.

The receiver admitted that sitting through the Bears 4-12 campaign was frustrating, but he plans on helping the team turn things around.

"I expect to be as good as before, and probably even better than I used to be," Terrell said. "I’m ready to come out and to get done what needs to be done. This is going to be the year to accomplish my goals."

The first of which is to become a starter.

Participating once a day
Keith Traylor wasn’t even sure if he’d make it to the Bears June practices, but the veteran defensive tackle is still with the team. At this point the coaching staff doesn’t want to push Traylor, so he’s practicing only in the morning to rest his ailing knees.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Signed to help return game
The Packers keep trying to remedy their big hole at kick returner, and signed with Antonio Chatman. Although a mere 5-9 and 177, Chatman broke the Arena Football League record for all-purpose yards during the 2003 season. Playing for the Chicago Rush, he accounted for 3,678 yards in 18 games, or more than 200 per game.

Will be limited early in training camp
Offensive lineman Mark Tauscher feels he will be ready to practice with the Packers on a limited basis when training camp opens in mid-July. Tauscher is recovering from knee surgery to repair torn ligaments last September.

He told reporters Monday that he has been running and working out with no major setbacks in recent weeks. He hopes to practice at least once a day when two-a-day practices begin, and play in the third or fourth preseason game.

Cornerback injures knee
Al Harris left practice early on Monday after injuring his left knee. But Harris was in the locker room afterward and the injury did not appear to be serious.

Joins team for practice
Offensive lineman Jamil Soriano re-joined the Packers for their June minicamp after missing practices last week. Soriano was unable to practice last week because Harvard's spring semester was still in session.

NFL rules prohibit rookies from taking part in a second minicamp until school is out. Soriano took part in the Packers' post-draft minicamp at the end of April.

Returns to practice
Rookie DeAndrew Rubin has returned to practice with the team. The Packers' second of four seventh-round draft picks missed all four practices in the team's minicamp last week because of a hamstring injury, but he took part in practices Monday and today.

Rubin participated in some drills but was limited. He is competing for a spot as the team's fifth wide receiver and return specialist.

Coach impressed with development
Craig Nall's performance in NFL Europe this spring did not go unnoticed by Packers coaches in Green Bay. Mike Sherman and his assistants kept a close eye on Nall, who led NFL-E in passing for the Scottish Claymores.

"Watching him in Europe, he certainly has demonstrated some qualities you look for in your quarterback," said Packers coach and GM Mike Sherman. "I think he has shown that he has leadership capability. He was microphoned during the game, and I've always been on him about his demeanor, playing a little bit faster, like Brett (Favre) does. I think he's improved that. I think he has improved his accuracy."

Nall will be competing against Doug Pederson for the top backup spot behind Brett Favre when training camp begins.

Sits out of practice again
Javon Walker, who twisted his knee and ankle during practice on Monday, did not practice today as the Packers concluded their June minicamp. Walker also sat out of practice on Tuesday.

The injury is minor, according to coach and general manager Mike Sherman.

Named to All-Europe team
Craig Nall, NFL Europe leader with a 95.9 passer rating, today was named as the quarterback of the All-NFLEL team, voted for by a combination of NFL Europe coaching staffs, media and fans voting online at NFLEurope.com.

Nall threw for 2,050 yards with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 10 games.

Stands out
Cornerback Chris Johnson, selected by the Packers with the first pick of the seventh round in the April NFL draft, was among the most impressive of Green Bay's rookies in the team's recent minicamp, coach and GM Mike Sherman said.

Johnson lined up at left cornerback with the third team defense. He probably will get a chance to return kickoffs in the preseason because of his speed. Johnson was clocked under 4.2-seconds in the 40-yard dash prior to the draft.

"Late-round draft pick but has come here – not just from the physical standpoint but from the mental standpoint – has picked up things extremely fast," Sherman said. "Has a long way to go. We have a lot of football to play before we make the final evaluations, but he has done a very good job to this point, and has showed some maturity as well. I'm excited to see how he continues to progress."

Johnson injured his hamstring in practice on Tuesday and did not practice Wednesday.

Works out w/ Packers
WR Willie Jackson had a tryout with the Packers on Wednesday following the team's final minicamp practice. If signed, Jackson would most likely compete for the fourth, and possibly the third, receiver spot.

Flanagan not moving
Coach Mike Sherman said Mike Flanagan will stay at center during training camp despite tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher still recovering from injuries. Flanagan started seven games at left tackle after Clifton was hurt last season. As he waits for offensive tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher to complete their recoveries from serious injuries, Sherman plans to keep Mike Flanagan at center during training camp.

Nickerson retires
Linebacker Hardy Nickerson Thursday annouced that he will retire from football. Nickerson played 16 seasons in the National Football League, including last year with the Green Bay Packers.

Akili Smith signed
QB Akili Smith has agreed to terms on a deal with Green Bay after also visiting New Orleans and the N.Y. Jets. Terms of the deal were not immediately known.

DETROIT LIONS

McDougle getting motivated
Three years into his NFL career, tackle Stockar McDougle has decided it's time to get serious about his job. “I just figured it was time to grow up and really apply myself, not only on the field during the season but in the off-season as well,” McDougle said during a recent Lions minicamp. “I really dedicated myself to my diet and my conditioning.”

Those off-season efforts have paid off in a 25-pound weight loss for McDougle, who was listed last year in the Lions press guide as 6-feet-6, 367 pounds. McDougle has started 22 games in three seasons and has missed considerable playing time because of injuries. At times, his intensity and committment to the job have been questioned by Lions coaches and front office. His sudden awakening in reducing his weight and getting into shape have been warmly welcomed by team president Matt Millen and new coach Steve Mariucci, who expect McDougle to be the starting right tackle when the Lions open the 2003 NFL season.

One of the factors in McDougle's conditioning binge might have been the fact his younger brother, Jerome McDougle, was drafted in the first round by the Philadelphia Eagles. Stockar and Jerome grew up competing against each other and the competition has just moved to another level.

“He's always callling me and telling me what he's doing,” Stockar said. “I'll be taking a nap and he'll call me. `What you doing? Taking a nap? I'm working, baby, I'm working.' That's what he would tell me. “I guess you could say we motivate each other. I do the same type of thing to him but it's all in fun. It's just brotherly love.”

According to the NFL's scheduling formula, the Lions and Eagles will meet in the 2004 regular season, and there's a good chance the McDougle brothers will be lining up against each other. Stockar is a right offensive tackle and Jerome is a left defensive end.

Lazarus aiming for return
Defensive lineman Shawn Lazarus has a patellar tendon injury and the Lions are hoping he will be ready for the start of training camp.

Getting limited action
WR Az-Zahir Hakim is running and catching passes but is being held out of situations in which he could get tangled up with a defender.


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