Bears coach Lovie Smith says he isn't concerned by running back Matt Forte's absence at minicamp.
"It's not an issue for me, and it can't be," Smth said. "I look at it (like this): "During the course of the year, you have guys that aren't here for whatever reason - injuries, whatever. You coach the guys that can go, that can practice. We have been spending all of our time with that. I know Matt Forte. I'm sure he has been spending all of his time getting ready to go. But in the meantime, the best thing we can do for the Chicago Bears is keep this train going, which we've done."
Smith was asked if he was disappointed that Forte wasn't participating in the final offseason activity before the team reports to training camp in late July.
"I can't speculate on that," Smith said. "I'm having a blast coaching the guys that we have here right now."
The Bears coach also didn't choose to hazard a guess on whether Forte would be on hand for the start of training camp.
"I wouldn't speculate on that," he said. "When he shows up, we'll be ready to coach him up then."
Again, it's a situation that doesn't alarm coach Lovie Smith.
"There's not a lot to explain," he said. "He's not ready to go yet. Our plan was to take it slow with him. We know what Brian can do. It's not like he's going to tell us an awful lot out here. He's right on pace. He should be good to go for training camp."
"We've been very pleased with what he has done, getting back in, getting back out there, and he hasn't had any trouble with the knee," coach Lovie Smith said.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Well, we love Michael, he's a really good back, and I think you need to have two good backs and we have two good backs. Of course we love Matt, and we're excited about having Mike." – Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice on running back Michael Bush, who's getting most of the first-team carries in the offseason, and Matt Forte, a no-show as he protests his franchise player designation.
Running back Mikel Leshoure will be suspended without pay for the first two games next season and be docked two additional game checks, the NFL ruled Wednesday. Leshoure was arrested twice within a month on marijuana-related charges this offseason in Southwest Michigan, thus violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substance Abuse.
"We support the commissioner's decision regarding Mikel and appreciate the dialogue that we have had with the league office concerning the matter," said president Tom Lewand in a statement. "As we have previously stated, we expect every member of our organization to uphold a greater standard of behavior. If that standard is not upheld, those responsible will be held accountable. Our belief and expectation is that Mikel will continue to learn from this experience and use it as positive motivation moving forward." The suspension and fines will cost Leshoure more than $109,000.
"He's been cleared but we just want to take away as many opportunities for wear and tear on his neck as we can," coach Jim Schwartz said. Vanden Bosch did all the individual work and ran on the side during team drills. "We cut out his reps entirely on Wednesdays during the season," Schwartz said. "That was designed just to take wear and tear off of him. We have done the same in the offseason and we will have a plan for him in training camp. We saw good results with that. He had one of his best years last year (35 tackles, eight sacks). He means a lot to us and we have to keep him going. We will do whatever we can to keep him on the field."
"I think (Lions president) Tom (Lewand) is doing an outstanding job with that," Mayhew said. "I think Brian Mackler (Avril's agent) is doing an outstanding job. I think Cliff is being very level-headed in his thought process. So there's a lot that goes on with that. It's very a complicated deal. It takes time to get some of these deals done. I wouldn't say that I'm surprised that it's not done now, you know?"
Avril, who has not signed a $10.6 million franchise tender and hasn't attended any offseason workouts, has until July 16 to work out a long-term deal.
"I said from the very beginning, our goal is to have a long-term deal done with Cliff Avril. That's what our goal is," Mayhew said. "We've been working toward that the entire time. So I don't think the ball's in anybody's court. I think the ball's in everybody's court. We're trying to get a long-term deal done with Cliff."
Fox is facing a make-or-break training camp in August. Drafted in the fourth round in 2010, Fox was expected to eventually take over the left tackle spot once Jeff Backus retired. But injuries have kept him off the field and in the meantime, the Lions used their first-round pick this year on left tackle Riley Reiff.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The key thing is to continue to perform at a high level, to get to the playoffs consistently, and then let the chips fall where they may. It's hard to win a championship. Things have to line up for you the right way. We expect to do that eventually, but we just want to keep being there, keep knocking on the door." – General manager Martin Mayhew.
Green Bay Packers
Per his routine of recent years, veteran cornerback Charles Woodson made his belated debut in the Packers' offseason workouts during the mandatory minicamp, held June 12-14.
The two practice days, which bracketed a canceled workout for a team-building trip called by head coach Mike McCarthy, did little in the way of substantiating the speculation this spring that Woodson would be moved to safety on a full-time basis.
"I just continue to do the things I've done in the past," Woodson said. "I play a little bit here, a little bit there, where I'm needed each week, and just try to make this team better."
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers opened eyes on the first day of the minicamp by having Woodson off the field in the base defense and then having him in his customary slot position with the nickel and dime units.
Woodson insisted he was just being eased back into the defense after he didn't participate in the preceding organized team activities.
However, Capers and head coach Mike McCarthy made comments that have added fuel to the notion of utilizing the versatile, 35-year-old Woodson as more of a safety. The Packers are teeming with capable cornerbacks but are in need of a dependable replacement for Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, whom the team cut in April out of concern he wouldn't be able to play again after last season's neck injury.
"Charles' role on our football team may change somewhere between 6 and 8 percent, compared to where he's played in the past," McCarthy said. "I don't want to really get too detailed schematically because that really is something that we should watch and see and let our opponents see. But, we're not recreating the wheel with him, that's for sure.
"I would define him as a playmaker in our defense, and it's our responsibility to make sure he's lined up in those positions to make plays."
Capers was more forthcoming about what might be in store for the defensive scheme going into next season. He alluded to his "Corner Okie" package, in which three cornerbacks are used in a base concept. Woodson is used as a rover on the inside in that package.
"Corner Okie is just Charles Woodson playing safety," Capers said. "So, you could see a little bit more Corner Okie."
Wynn, who has continued to participate in football activities, said he has a mild case of the condition that causes paralysis or weakness on one side of the face.
Wynn said he is sensitive in one eye to light. Consequently, he's been wearing sunglasses in lighted areas inside and wore a dark visor on his helmet during the minicamp.
The fourth-year veteran is being treated with an antibiotic and a "light steroid" prescribed by doctors.
"Other than that, I'm good. It hasn't slowed me down at all," Wynn said. "Hopefully it'll clear up sooner rather than later. They say it should be six or seven weeks it should clear up on its own. But you never know."
McCarthy bagged the June 13 minicamp practice and sent the team on coach buses to a lodge outside Green Bay for a few hours of clay shooting.
"Don't know how safe this is but it beats practicing," receiver Greg Jennings tweeted.
Left guard T.J. Lang reported good news after the excursion. He wrote "Well nobody got shot today. #success" on his Twitter account.
An outing during minicamp for the purpose of team camaraderie has been a nearly annual tradition with the Packers the last several years. Previous functions under McCarthy and predecessor Mike Sherman have included bowling, golf, dodge ball, paintball and a home-run derby on the practice field.
The team released the full camp schedule June 14. Camp practices at Ray Nitschke Field across the street from Lambeau Field will start July 26 with the first of six 8:15 a.m. CDT workouts slated in the opening week.
Green Bay then will hold seven of its next eight practices in the evening, including the traditional Family Night scrimmage at Lambeau on Aug. 3.
The Packers have 21 practice days in the preseason from July 26 to Aug. 28.
Players will report for camp July 25.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't need things like that, necessarily, to drive me. I'm very self-motivated and driven to be a great player on my own and realize that it took a lot to get to this point and it's going to take even more to stay at this point." - Quarterback and reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers, on whether the Packers' quick exit from the playoffs in January has whetted his hunger for next season.