NFC North Hot News

Signings came in a flurry this week for all four teams in the NFC North, while a number of divisional players were also placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

CHICAGO BEARS
Haynes agrees to six-year deal

DE Michael Haynes, the 14th overall pick in the draft by Chicago, has agreed to a six-year deal.

Grossman agrees to five-year deal
QB Rex Grossman, one of Chicago's two first-round draft picks, has agreed to a five-year deal.

Columbo not ready for action
Starting offensive tackle Marc Colombo is being held out of the early sessions of training camp due to a slow recovery from knee surgery. Indications coming from the team to The Insiders are that Columbo may not be ready to participate in camp practices until possibly mid-August.

Highest draft pick to sign deal
The Bears inked fourth-round pick Ian Scott to a four-year deal hours before players were due to report to Bourbonnais for the start of training camp.

The fourth-round selection (116th overall) is the seventh of 12 draft picks to sign and is the highest overall choice to agree to a deal with the team.

The advanced age of Ted Washington (35) and Keith Traylor (34) along with Bryan Robinson facing a possible suspension from the league could force Scott into duty as a rookie.

Signs four-year deal
The Bears have agreed to terms on a four-year contract with fifth-round draft pick Tron LaFavor. The defensive tackle received a $112,000 signing bonus.

LaFavor (5th round, 171st overall) was a part-time starter at defensive tackle throughout his four-year career at the University of Florida (1999-2002), starting 13 of 44 games played and recording 112 tackles with three sacks, 13 tackles for losses, three fumble recoveries, two passes defended and one interception. The 6-2, 290-pounder started nine games as a junior, recording 42 tackles and improved his stops his senior season despite only three starts in 12 games, making 51 tackles with two sacks, five tackles for losses, one fumble recovery and one pass defended.

Underrated talent
Warrick Holdman will never get the publicity that Brian Urlacher does, but he was greatly missed when he was lost for the season with torn knee cartilage in the fourth game.

With Rosevelt Colvin gone, Holdman will be expected to play a bigger role. Holdman has great speed and range, can rush the passer, play the run and drop into coverage.

Judge goes lenient
A judge gave DT Bryan Robinson credit for 17 days he spent in a rehab center and suspended the remaining 13 days of his jail sentence as long as he completes 300 hours of community service. It stems from Robinson pleading guilty to his second DUI arrest in a year last month, and he still faces a possible suspension by the NFL.


DETROIT LIONS
Edwards among many added to PUP list

On Thursday, the Detroit Lions placed the following players on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list: Running back Shawn Bryson (knee), defensive end Kalimba Edwards (sports hernia), wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim (hip), safety Corey Harris (groin), tight end Mikhael Ricks (knee) and linebacker Brian Williams (leg).

The team also placed defensive tackle Luther Elliss (pectoral) and rookie running back Artose Pinner (ankle) on the non-football injury list.

The above players still count against the Lions' 80-man NFL limit, thus are ineligible to practice. However, these players can be activated at anytime before August 31. If a player cannot return before August 31, the Lions must either cut, trade, or place the player on the regular season PUP list.

Lions add another receiver to the mix
On Thursday, the Detroit Lions picked up street free-agent T.C. Taylor, a former standout wide receiver with Jackson State.

The 6-4, 220 pound signed with the New England Patriots in 2002 as an undrafted free agent. In his last two collegiate seasons at Jackson State (2000 and 2001), Taylor grabbed 118 passes for 1,793 yards and 15 touchdowns in just 19 games.

During his senior campaign in 2001, he was named to a second-team All-American and first-team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference. Still holds Tigers' school season record with 84 receptions. Taylor's first two years at JSU was spent as a quarterback.

Lions sign defensive tackle
The Detroit Lions signed street free-agent David Viger, a 6-4, 281 pound defensive tackle. Viger, who last played with the New York Jets (1998-2001), recently completed his military obligations and can now compete for a roster spot with Detroit. Viger was a four-year letterman at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he started every game as a senior.

Lions shed an offensive lineman
The Detroit Lions have waived offensive tackle Tywoin Breaux.

Lewis waived in Detroit
The Detroit Lions have released rookie wide receiver Jermaine Lewis of Western Michigan.

Thornhill release along with two UDFA's
The Detroit Lions announced the release of linebacker Josh Thornhill, a two-year player, and undrafted rookie free-agent's Tywoin Breaux (OT) and Jermaine Lewis (WR).

Lions sign FB Drumm; all rookies signed
The Detroit Lions have signed seventh-round draft pick Brandon Drumm to a three-year deal, with terms yet to be disclosed. Detroit has signed each of its 11 draft picks.

Bailey signs five-year deal
Following up the signing of second overall pick Charles Rogers, the Detroit Lions also inked second-round pick Boss Bailey. The deal spans five years with terms yet to be disclosed.

Lions sign 2nd overall pick Rogers
The Detroit Lions announced the signing of first-round pick Charles Rogers to what is believed to be a six-year deal with a reported $13.7 million signing bonus.

Anglin contract terms
Lions' seventh-round pick Travis Anglin signed a three-year deal on Tuesday, worth $933,000 that included a $23,000 signing bonus. First year: $225,000, second year: $305,000, third year: $380,000.

Lions ink three
The Detroit Lions have signed third-round draft pick Cory Redding to a three-year deal. The Lions also signed seventh-rounders Travis Anglin (WR) and Daniel "Blue" Adams (CB).

Signs three-year deal
RB Artose Pinner, a fourth-round pick by Detroit, has signed a three-year deal worth $1.246 million.


GREEN BAY PACKERS
Wisne sits out with calf injury

Offensive tackle Jerry Wisne sat out of practice this morning nursing a sore calf that he injured during the morning practice on Wednesday. Wisne is the top backup to starter Chad Clifton on the left side of the line.

Rookie Brennan Curtin took Wisne's place with the second-team offense during scrimmages.

Bothered by hip injury
Nose tackle James Lee was held out of practice again this morning because of a hip injury. Lee also missed practices on Wednesday after suffering the injury early in the team's first full-squad practice on Tuesday.

"I was concerned that it was low back pain," said Packers coach Mike Sherman. "Sometimes that can be degenerative pain, or a disk, something like that."

Rookie Kenny Peterson took Lee's spot with the first- and second-team defenses during scrimmages this morning.

Practicing at both tackle positions
Kenny Peterson, Green Bay's third-round draft pick in the NFL draft last April, has been practicing at nose tackle and defensive tackle (three technique) during the Packers' first two days of practices. Peterson is expected to back up Cletidus Hunt, but Hunt has been ill. Veteran Gilbert Brown has yet to sign a contract, which has provided an opportunity for the coaches to see how Peterson performs at nose tackle.

"He's going to learn out here on the field," said defensive line coach Jethro Franklin. "He's going to get his butt kicked at times and there will be other times when he kicks butt. It's a learning process. When we get into preseason games, it's going to be even more so. The whole thing's going to be a learning experience, and he's going to get better because of it."

Misses second straight day of practices
Cletidus Hunt did not participate in training camp practices Wednesday because of strep throat and gastritis. Hunt also missed the opening day of Green Bay's full-squad practices Tuesday.

Hunt is the team's starter at defensive tackle. He signed a six-year, $25.5 million contract that included a $6 million signing bonus in February.

Fails physical, placed on PUP
Steve Warren, a top backup at nose tackle, failed his physical and was placed on the Packers' physically unable to perform list. Warren has been bothered by a lower back and hamstring injury. He will not be eligible to come off the PUP list until he passes his physical.

Leaves training camp
Eric Crouch, signed by the Packers this off-season, left Green Bay's training camp prior to the first full-squad practice. Coach Mike Sherman said he was "disappointed" that Crouch left. Sherman said Crouch spoke to him last night and said he was leaving for "personal reasons."

Crouch was attempting to make the Packers as a quarterback, but he was a longshot. Green Bay signed free agent Akili Smith in June, which likely further diminished Crouch's chances of earning a roster spot. The Packers had intentions of using Crouch as a punt returner in practices and preseason games as well as developing him as a quarterback, Sherman said.

Linebacker issues apology
Linebacker Torrance Marshall, suspended by the NFL for the first four regular-season games this season because of a substance abuse violation, made a brief statement to reporters after the Packers' first full-squad training camp practice today.

"I want to apologize to the coaching staff, my teammates, the organization and fans for the situation I'm in," Marshall said. "I assure you I'm making progress in that situation. I had two good minicamps, and I want to continue that in training camp, focus on doing that. I will go out of my way to make sure I'm taking care of business so I'm mentally and physically ready, so when I come back I can contribute right away."

Marshall will not be allowed in Green Bay's facilities from Aug. 29 until Sept. 30. He is will be eligible to be activated for the Packers' Oct. 5 home game against the Seattle Seahawks.


MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Busy Vikings sign punter Johnson

The Minnesota Vikings have agreed to terms with rookie sixth-round draft pick, punter Eddie Johnson. Johnson is expected to be the Vikings starting punter in the 2003 season.

Vikings get Williams signed
The Minnesota Vikings have agreed to terms with first-round draft selection, defensive lineman Kevin Williams from Oklahoma State.

Wide receiver signs deal
The Vikings have signed third-round draft choice Nate Burleson.

The wide receiver was selected by Minnesota with the 71st overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft out of the University of Nevada, where he finished with 248 catches for 3,293 yards and 22 TDs during his three-year career. He is expected to compete for the No. 3 spot in training camp, which starts this weekend.

Burleson had 138 catches in 2002, which is the second-best single-season reception mark in NCAA history. He finished the season with 1,629 yards receiving and 12 TDs and led the nation in receptions per game (11.5) and receiving yards per game (135.8). He was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's top receiver, and was an All-WAC selection and a second-team All-America choice by The Sporting News and CNN/SI.

Released
Former second-round pick Willie Howard has been released by the Vikings. The defensive tackle never fully recovered from serious knee and leg injuries in 2001.

Wait-and-see mode
The Vikings will know in a month if running back Michael Bennett will be gone for the year.

Last Tursday Bennett had a procedure done to the stress fracture in his foot. He had some bone marrow, mixed with a protein to promote growth, injected into the fracture to prompt healing. Bennett will wear a cast for the next month, and test performed upon its removal will determine whether the procedure worked.

If it does, Bennett will begin a running and rehabilitation program immediately. If not, he will have a more serious surgery and miss the entire season.


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