NFC North news, notes and quotes

Lance Briggs supports RB Matt Forte's stance to skip workouts while in a contract dispute, the Lions have been talking with Roger Goodell about their troubled players, and Packers DL Mike Neal isn't giving up hope after his first appeal to the NFL was shot down.


Chicago Bears

In 2007, Lance Briggs was in Matt Forte's shoes, staying away from offseason workouts as a ploy/protest in response to a stalemated contract situation.

"It's just rough," Briggs said. "I know he wants to be out here with his team. But you also know what your value is in this league and you work hard and you want that to be recognized. You want that to be recognized with a long-term deal. You know how this business is. It's rough, it can be brutal."

As the Bears' designated franchise player, Forte has been tendered a $7.742 million contract for 2012, which he has yet to sign. He wants a multi-year deal with more than $20 million in guaranteed money.

"Just do what you believe because no one knows you like you and no one is going to take care of you like you," Briggs said. "The toughest part was that I wanted a long-term deal and the organization didn't at that time. So it was a little personal where I put some time in, and I thought that I had earned the right to stay here for a long time rather than give you my services for a year and then potentially be shopped out again. A lot of guys want that long-term security. They want to know that the team wants them for a long period of time."

  • Tight end Kellen Davis led the Bears with five touchdown catches last season, but he had just 18 receptions all year, a total he expects to easily surpass this season.

    "This offense is much more tight end-oriented and there's going to be a lot more production out of me for this year," the 6-7, 265-pound five-year veteran said. "I'm pretty excited about it. I'd like to have between 40 and 60 catches at least. I'm hoping to get out there and put some numbers up."

  • Cornerback Tim Jennings had a diving interception during Wednesday's OTA practice, which passes for a highlight the first week in June.

    "It feels good just to be a part of the team," said Jennings, who was benched in Week 16 last season but back in the starting lineup in Week 17. "It's just fun to have the opportunity to play with the ones and compete to continue to prove myself and get better."

    Jennings is expected to compete with friend and former Colts teammate Kelvin Hayden for the starting job in training camp. He says he's benefiting from practicing against 6-4, 230-pound wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

    "It's a tough task, but it can only make us better as a secondary," he said. "I'm just glad he's on my team this year."

  • Count six-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs among those who believe the Bears need to work out a contract extension with seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher, whose current deal expires after this season.

    "I think that we all, not just me, but this whole city, this organization and the players here, we all better hope that that happens because he means a whole lot to our success," Briggs said. "He's pivotal to our success."

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Well, that's been every year that I've been here, so I don't think that that's really a shock to anybody." -- Bears center Roberto Garza, when asked if it was fair that the line is being singled out as the team's weak link.


    Detroit Lions

    Club president Tim Lewand said he has been in contact with commissioner Roger Goodell regarding the off-field troubles of second-year players Nick Fairley and Mikel Leshoure.

    "We have been active in our participation with the league, we've handled the matter internally and we've made our thoughts known publicly about our expectations and the need for accountability and responsibility," Lewand said. "Beyond that, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to comment on details."

    Leshoure was arrested twice for marijuana possession charges in Southwest Michigan. He has paid his fines, is enrolled in the NFL's substance abuse program and must pass a court-ordered drug test next year before the issue is fully resolved. Fairley was arrested once for marijuana possession and again Memorial Day weekend for a DUI. He has a court date July 31 in Mobile, Ala. Both players could be suspended up to four games next season.

    Leshoure was on the field for OTAs this week but did not participate in any of the drills. He had been doing position drills but he developed soreness in his right ankle.

    "That's pretty typical for guys coming off surgery," coach Jim Schwartz said. "His surgically-repaired (left) Achilles is fine. But you tend to over-compensate a little and the other ankle gets sore."

  • Running back Jahvid Best just wants to play. He's sick of hearing about and talking about concussions. He understands the risks, but he insists he's not worried.

    "I don't know, you just go play football," he said. "There's no real point to thinking about it. I mean, I'm not impaired or anything. I'm pretty sure if there was some real damage going on, I would have physical problems or mental problems. And I have no problems. So I'm not worried about it."

    There are a few more hurdles he needs to clear before he will be able to do that. Although he has been a full participant through the organized team activities process and he has looked fresh and fast, he's not been cleared for contact. He won't take that test until right before training camp starts in August.

  • Second-year receiver Titus Young spoke to the media Monday for the first time since he sucker-punched teammate Louis Delmas in a voluntary workout.

    "Any time you get time away from something, whether in a relationship or football, you get time to see what's really important and put things into perspective," said Young, who missed the first week of OTAs. "Time heals all wounds, I believe. Sometimes you need to sit back, think and reflect. Think about the city of Detroit and people who wish they were in my position. To think about the owner, Mr. (William Clay) Ford and what he's invested in me. You think about a lot of things."

    Young stood up before the entire offensive unit last week and apologized for any distraction he may have caused.

    "I felt it was important for me to get it off my chest, to get that burden off my heart," he said. "Just seeing the guys, I kind of felt things were uneasy. I felt it was just not right, that my spirit wasn't right. I have never been one to let the past hold me back. But I feel like this is a family here and what we have here is bigger than me."

  • Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham wasn't initially enamored with rookie linebacker Tahir Whitehead, but he is now. "Tahir is by far the biggest surprise I've had in quite a while," he said. "Matt Burke (linebackers coach) and the scouts did a great job on him. I kept looking at him and I said, ‘Matt, I am not sure.' I have always struggled with linebackers because of the way the college game is (played). But Matt said, ‘Gun, I believe this guy can play,' and he was right. He's much better than a fifth-round pick."

  • Punter Ryan Donahue, battling veteran Ben Graham for the job, hasn't kicked yet during OTAs. He is working mostly on his own, still coming back from the quadriceps injury that ended his rookie season after eight games. He said he was hopeful of participating fully in the mandatory minicamp next week.

  • The Lions didn't seem overly stressed about the possibility of playing with replacement referees next season.

    "To be honest, until yesterday I didn't even know that was going on," said quarterback Matthew Stafford. "We're going to play games, that's all I know. And whoever is out there reffing them will be out there reffing them. The guys we know and have been out there in the past, it would be nice to have them out there. But if they are not, then we have to adjust and keep moving."

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "He knows this is going to be personal between the two of us. And I say that like a father. I am going to do whatever I can to help him ... I have committed myself as much as I can. I told him, wherever he is I am going to find him. If I have to go see his family, whatever I have to do to get him squared away, that's what I will do." -- Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham on troubled DT Nick Fairley.


    Green Bay Packers

    Defensive end Mike Neal isn't ready to take a seat at the start of next season.

    Neal said during organized team activities June 5 that he plans to file a second appeal with the NFL office for the four-game suspension he received in March for a violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

    "I'm getting ready for Week 1 because I'm going to appeal my situation and I plan on playing Week 1 until further notice," Neal said. "I've already appealed it once, and the NFL didn't give me a fair chance. But, I'm pretty sure that most guys would try to appeal after not getting a fair chance. I think that once everything is finalized and we go from there, I think there's a chance that I might be able to play."

    Neal revealed to reporters what he had confirmed to at least one Green Bay media outlet the previous week that he tested positive for the prescription drug Adderall.

    The amphetamine is commonly prescribed to patients who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy and obsessive compulsive disorder. Neal acknowledged he was diagnosed with the latter.

    He said the Adderall, which is on the NFL's banned-substance list, was prescribed by his doctor without the knowledge of the Packers.

    "If I would have known (the drug is banned by the league), I wouldn't have had this problem," Neal said of the suspension. "We're going through everything right now to get my prescription finalized with the NFL and hopefully be able to re-appeal my situation.

    "I never took any steroids," Neal added. "I've never done any HGH. It was an Adderall situation. That's unfortunate. But, hey, whatever. It's over and done with now, so I can't do anything about it."

    Neal's renewed optimism for having the suspension overturned comes after New York Giants running back Andre Brown successfully appealed his four-game suspension for a positive test of Adderall.

    Head coach Mike McCarthy believes Neal has turned a positive corner in the wake of a tarnished first two years in the league. Green Bay's second-round draft pick in 2010 has been a nonfactor on the field, playing a total of only 10 games (including the playoffs) with just one sack.

    The injury-riddled Neal missed the first 2 1/2 months of last season because of a knee sprain he sustained in a non-contact drill during training camp. The heir apparent to pass-rushing standout Cullen Jenkins, who bolted for Philadelphia in free agency last year, contributed all of six tackles with no sacks in eight games.

    "I think Mike's a totally different man today than he was when he came back from the injury in training camp," McCarthy said. "He's more explosive. He's in great shape. He's driven. He's been humbled. He's gone through some challenges. I'm hopeful and I see a lot of signs that he'll continue to grow from the situations he's been through in the past. Mike looks like he's back to full strength. He looks good."

  • Defensive end Anthony Hargrove will get his day in the league's would-be appellate court after the Packers hold their minicamp June 12-14.

    NFL.com reported NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will hear the appeals of the four players, including Hargrove, who were suspended in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal June 18.

    Hargrove drew an eight-game suspension this spring after he signed with the Packers as a free agent. The eighth-year veteran played for the Saints in 2009 and ‘10.

    "We're really just watching his situation, just as you are," McCarthy told reporters after Green Bay's final open OTA practice June 5. "We're preparing him to play football and compete for our football team until the NFL and his team of lawyers make everything clear to us. We're going to wait and see as far as what happens for him in the future, but we're coaching him just like everybody else."

  • Cornerback Tramon Williams has jumped out in OTAs, getting back to his aggressive style in coverage that he had to tone down much of last season because of a shoulder injury.

    "He looks stronger, explosive," McCarthy said.

    Williams suffered nerve damage in the season-opening win over the Saints and had to miss the first game of his five-year pro career the following week. Williams played hurt the rest of the season, during which he had four interceptions after he picked off nine passes (including the playoffs) in his Pro Bowl-earning 2010 season.

    "It was a significant injury he suffered in the New Orleans game," McCarthy said. "He played on it early (in the season), and I know it bothered him throughout the season. He had significant treatment after the season. He definitely looks like he's getting back to where he was prior to that."

  • Count the Packers among the teams that are keeping in step with 21st century technology and transferring their playbook to iPads for the coaches and players.

    "That's pretty cool," tight end D.J. Williams said. "No games on it, though. But, it's a good way to learn (the playbook) pretty fast."

    The Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the first teams to use the tablets for their playbooks last year.

  • Following the mandatory minicamp, four players will turn their attention to golf as the league's oldest rivalry between the Packers and the Chicago Bears picks up on a different playing field.

    Teams of current and former players from both organizations will battle in the inaugural Rivalry Cup, which will be June 18 at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago.

    Similar to the United States-vs.-Europe Ryder Cup golf event that will be played at Medinah in September, the Packers will oppose the Bears in four-ball and singles matches.

    Pro Bowl fullback John Kuhn, kicker Mason Crosby, punter Tim Masthay and tight end Ryan Taylor are scheduled to play for the Packers, along with former quarterbacks Lynn Dickey and Randy Wright and receiver Bill Schroeder.

    The Bears squad will feature former head coach Mike Ditka, Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent, former kicker Kevin Butler and current kicker Robbie Gould.

    The Rivalry Cup will raise money for charities supported by the Packers and Bears.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't think it's feasible to move Charles around as much as we have in the past. I think to the fans and the people probably outside of the football world, you're not going to see a whole lot of change. Charles is going to be close to the line of scrimmage, he's going to also be playing in the secondary. He's a playmaker." – Head coach Mike McCarthy, on the offseason speculation veteran cornerback Charles Woodson will be moved to safety.


  • Viking Update Top Stories

    \r\n\r\n","mobileBody":" In 2007, Lance Briggs was in Matt Forte's shoes, staying away from offseason workouts as a ploy/protest in response to a stalemated contract situation. \"It's just rough,\" Briggs said. \"I know he wants to be out here with his team. But you also know what your value is in this league and you work hard and you want that to be recognized. You want that to be recognized with a long-term deal. You know how this business is. It's rough, it can be brutal.\" As the Bears' designated franchise player, Forte has been tendered a $7.742 million contract for 2012, which he has yet to sign. He wants a multi-year deal with more than $20 million in guaranteed money. \"Just do what you believe because no one knows you like you and no one is going to take care of you like you,\" Briggs said. \"The toughest part was that I wanted a long-term deal and the organization didn't at that time. So it was a little personal where I put some time in, and I thought that I had earned the right to stay here for a long time rather than give you my services for a year and then potentially be shopped out again. A lot of guys want that long-term security. They want to know that the team wants them for a long period of time.\"
  • Tight end Kellen Davis led the Bears with five touchdown catches last season, but he had just 18 receptions all year, a total he expects to easily surpass this season. \"This offense is much more tight end-oriented and there's going to be a lot more production out of me for this year,\" the 6-7, 265-pound five-year veteran said. \"I'm pretty excited about it. I'd like to have between 40 and 60 catches at least. I'm hoping to get out there and put some numbers up.\"
  • Cornerback Tim Jennings had a diving interception during Wednesday's OTA practice, which passes for a highlight the first week in June. \"It feels good just to be a part of the team,\" said Jennings, who was benched in Week 16 last season but back in the starting lineup in Week 17. \"It's just fun to have the opportunity to play with the ones and compete to continue to prove myself and get better.\" Jennings is expected to compete with friend and former Colts teammate Kelvin Hayden for the starting job in training camp. He says he's benefiting from practicing against 6-4, 230-pound wide receiver Brandon Marshall. \"It's a tough task, but it can only make us better as a secondary,\" he said. \"I'm just glad he's on my team this year.\"
  • Count six-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs among those who believe the Bears need to work out a contract extension with seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher, whose current deal expires after this season. \"I think that we all, not just me, but this whole city, this organization and the players here, we all better hope that that happens because he means a whole lot to our success,\" Briggs said. \"He's pivotal to our success.\" QUOTE TO NOTE: \"Well, that's been every year that I've been here, so I don't think that that's really a shock to anybody.\" -- Bears center Roberto Garza, when asked if it was fair that the line is being singled out as the team's weak link. Club president Tim Lewand said he has been in contact with commissioner Roger Goodell regarding the off-field troubles of second-year players Nick Fairley and Mikel Leshoure. \"We have been active in our participation with the league, we've handled the matter internally and we've made our thoughts known publicly about our expectations and the need for accountability and responsibility,\" Lewand said. \"Beyond that, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to comment on details.\" Leshoure was arrested twice for marijuana possession charges in Southwest Michigan. He has paid his fines, is enrolled in the NFL's substance abuse program and must pass a court-ordered drug test next year before the issue is fully resolved. Fairley was arrested once for marijuana possession and again Memorial Day weekend for a DUI. He has a court date July 31 in Mobile, Ala. Both players could be suspended up to four games next season. Leshoure was on the field for OTAs this week but did not participate in any of the drills. He had been doing position drills but he developed soreness in his right ankle. \"That's pretty typical for guys coming off surgery,\" coach Jim Schwartz said. \"His surgically-repaired (left) Achilles is fine. But you tend to over-compensate a little and the other ankle gets sore.\"
  • Running back Jahvid Best just wants to play. He's sick of hearing about and talking about concussions. He understands the risks, but he insists he's not worried. \"I don't know, you just go play football,\" he said. \"There's no real point to thinking about it. I mean, I'm not impaired or anything. I'm pretty sure if there was some real damage going on, I would have physical problems or mental problems. And I have no problems. So I'm not worried about it.\" There are a few more hurdles he needs to clear before he will be able to do that. Although he has been a full participant through the organized team activities process and he has looked fresh and fast, he's not been cleared for contact. He won't take that test until right before training camp starts in August.
  • Second-year receiver Titus Young spoke to the media Monday for the first time since he sucker-punched teammate Louis Delmas in a voluntary workout. \"Any time you get time away from something, whether in a relationship or football, you get time to see what's really important and put things into perspective,\" said Young, who missed the first week of OTAs. \"Time heals all wounds, I believe. Sometimes you need to sit back, think and reflect. Think about the city of Detroit and people who wish they were in my position. To think about the owner, Mr. (William Clay) Ford and what he's invested in me. You think about a lot of things.\" Young stood up before the entire offensive unit last week and apologized for any distraction he may have caused. \"I felt it was important for me to get it off my chest, to get that burden off my heart,\" he said. \"Just seeing the guys, I kind of felt things were uneasy. I felt it was just not right, that my spirit wasn't right. I have never been one to let the past hold me back. But I feel like this is a family here and what we have here is bigger than me.\"
  • Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham wasn't initially enamored with rookie linebacker Tahir Whitehead, but he is now. \"Tahir is by far the biggest surprise I've had in quite a while,\" he said. \"Matt Burke (linebackers coach) and the scouts did a great job on him. I kept looking at him and I said, ‘Matt, I am not sure.' I have always struggled with linebackers because of the way the college game is (played). But Matt said, ‘Gun, I believe this guy can play,' and he was right. He's much better than a fifth-round pick.\"
  • Punter Ryan Donahue, battling veteran Ben Graham for the job, hasn't kicked yet during OTAs. He is working mostly on his own, still coming back from the quadriceps injury that ended his rookie season after eight games. He said he was hopeful of participating fully in the mandatory minicamp next week.
  • The Lions didn't seem overly stressed about the possibility of playing with replacement referees next season. \"To be honest, until yesterday I didn't even know that was going on,\" said quarterback Matthew Stafford. \"We're going to play games, that's all I know. And whoever is out there reffing them will be out there reffing them. The guys we know and have been out there in the past, it would be nice to have them out there. But if they are not, then we have to adjust and keep moving.\" QUOTE TO NOTE: \"He knows this is going to be personal between the two of us. And I say that like a father. I am going to do whatever I can to help him ... I have committed myself as much as I can. I told him, wherever he is I am going to find him. If I have to go see his family, whatever I have to do to get him squared away, that's what I will do.\" -- Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham on troubled DT Nick Fairley. Defensive end Mike Neal isn't ready to take a seat at the start of next season. Neal said during organized team activities June 5 that he plans to file a second appeal with the NFL office for the four-game suspension he received in March for a violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. \"I'm getting ready for Week 1 because I'm going to appeal my situation and I plan on playing Week 1 until further notice,\" Neal said. \"I've already appealed it once, and the NFL didn't give me a fair chance. But, I'm pretty sure that most guys would try to appeal after not getting a fair chance. I think that once everything is finalized and we go from there, I think there's a chance that I might be able to play.\" Neal revealed to reporters what he had confirmed to at least one Green Bay media outlet the previous week that he tested positive for the prescription drug Adderall. The amphetamine is commonly prescribed to patients who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy and obsessive compulsive disorder. Neal acknowledged he was diagnosed with the latter. He said the Adderall, which is on the NFL's banned-substance list, was prescribed by his doctor without the knowledge of the Packers. \"If I would have known (the drug is banned by the league), I wouldn't have had this problem,\" Neal said of the suspension. \"We're going through everything right now to get my prescription finalized with the NFL and hopefully be able to re-appeal my situation. \"I never took any steroids,\" Neal added. \"I've never done any HGH. It was an Adderall situation. That's unfortunate. But, hey, whatever. It's over and done with now, so I can't do anything about it.\" Neal's renewed optimism for having the suspension overturned comes after New York Giants running back Andre Brown successfully appealed his four-game suspension for a positive test of Adderall. Head coach Mike McCarthy believes Neal has turned a positive corner in the wake of a tarnished first two years in the league. Green Bay's second-round draft pick in 2010 has been a nonfactor on the field, playing a total of only 10 games (including the playoffs) with just one sack. The injury-riddled Neal missed the first 2 1/2 months of last season because of a knee sprain he sustained in a non-contact drill during training camp. The heir apparent to pass-rushing standout Cullen Jenkins, who bolted for Philadelphia in free agency last year, contributed all of six tackles with no sacks in eight games. \"I think Mike's a totally different man today than he was when he came back from the injury in training camp,\" McCarthy said. \"He's more explosive. He's in great shape. He's driven. He's been humbled. He's gone through some challenges. I'm hopeful and I see a lot of signs that he'll continue to grow from the situations he's been through in the past. Mike looks like he's back to full strength. He looks good.\"
  • Defensive end Anthony Hargrove will get his day in the league's would-be appellate court after the Packers hold their minicamp June 12-14. NFL.com reported NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will hear the appeals of the four players, including Hargrove, who were suspended in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal June 18. Hargrove drew an eight-game suspension this spring after he signed with the Packers as a free agent. The eighth-year veteran played for the Saints in 2009 and ‘10. \"We're really just watching his situation, just as you are,\" McCarthy told reporters after Green Bay's final open OTA practice June 5. \"We're preparing him to play football and compete for our football team until the NFL and his team of lawyers make everything clear to us. We're going to wait and see as far as what happens for him in the future, but we're coaching him just like everybody else.\"
  • Cornerback Tramon Williams has jumped out in OTAs, getting back to his aggressive style in coverage that he had to tone down much of last season because of a shoulder injury. \"He looks stronger, explosive,\" McCarthy said. Williams suffered nerve damage in the season-opening win over the Saints and had to miss the first game of his five-year pro career the following week. Williams played hurt the rest of the season, during which he had four interceptions after he picked off nine passes (including the playoffs) in his Pro Bowl-earning 2010 season. \"It was a significant injury he suffered in the New Orleans game,\" McCarthy said. \"He played on it early (in the season), and I know it bothered him throughout the season. He had significant treatment after the season. He definitely looks like he's getting back to where he was prior to that.\"
  • Count the Packers among the teams that are keeping in step with 21st century technology and transferring their playbook to iPads for the coaches and players. \"That's pretty cool,\" tight end D.J. Williams said. \"No games on it, though. But, it's a good way to learn (the playbook) pretty fast.\" The Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the first teams to use the tablets for their playbooks last year.
  • Following the mandatory minicamp, four players will turn their attention to golf as the league's oldest rivalry between the Packers and the Chicago Bears picks up on a different playing field. Teams of current and former players from both organizations will battle in the inaugural Rivalry Cup, which will be June 18 at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago. Similar to the United States-vs.-Europe Ryder Cup golf event that will be played at Medinah in September, the Packers will oppose the Bears in four-ball and singles matches. Pro Bowl fullback John Kuhn, kicker Mason Crosby, punter Tim Masthay and tight end Ryan Taylor are scheduled to play for the Packers, along with former quarterbacks Lynn Dickey and Randy Wright and receiver Bill Schroeder. The Bears squad will feature former head coach Mike Ditka, Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent, former kicker Kevin Butler and current kicker Robbie Gould. The Rivalry Cup will raise money for charities supported by the Packers and Bears. QUOTE TO NOTE: \"I don't think it's feasible to move Charles around as much as we have in the past. I think to the fans and the people probably outside of the football world, you're not going to see a whole lot of change. Charles is going to be close to the line of scrimmage, he's going to also be playing in the secondary. He's a playmaker.\" – Head coach Mike McCarthy, on the offseason speculation veteran cornerback Charles Woodson will be moved to safety.
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