NFC North News

The Bears are finding out who will be competing for starting jobs, the Lions are hoping RB Kevin Jones can meet expectations with a starting opportunity, and the Packers are celebrating the accomplishments of Bob Harlan with his induction into their Hall of Fame. Get a look around the division before training camps open.


There will be jobs won and lost during Lovie Smith's first training camp, and some of them will be starting jobs at positions that will be crucial to the success of the new regime.

Smith has a good idea of who will be competing for certain jobs after three minicamps and 14 OTAs, but he claims he hasn't made any permanent decisions yet.

"I think that's all we've done right now is really establish who will be competing for the different jobs," Smith said. "You can't really move the depth chart around too much until the guys get in pads. We're anxious to get in pads and see exactly where they are then, but we have good competition at a lot of positions."

Smith listed offensive left tackle, cornerback and wide receiver as positions that are up for grabs, but he should have also mentioned strong safety.

At left tackle Qasim Mitchell gets first crack at the job, but if he can't handle it, Mike Gandy could be switched back there from his natural guard position or John Tait could move over from right tackle.

At cornerback, Jerry Azumah and R.W. McQuarters will again battle to start opposite Charles Tillman. Both have had their moments in the past, but both have also had costly coverage and tackling lapses, too.

At wide receiver, David Terrell needs to play with much more urgency and attention to detail or he will disappear down the depth chart behind second-year players Justin Gage and Bobby Wade, free-agent pickup Daryl Jones and rookie Bernard Berrian.

The strong safety position is a tossup between Mike Green, who is better in coverage, and Bobby Gray, who is a more physical presence against the run.

"We have a lot of competition that's going to happen once we get to camp," Smith said.

  • Rex Grossman has grown on coach Lovie Smith since he took the Bears' job. "When we started we liked him," Smith said. "We like him a lot more now. Just him going into the huddle; he knows what's going on. A lot of different reps. That only makes you better. He feels a lot more comfortable. The team knows exactly what he can do. He's made excellent throws out here."

  • Bears quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson played nearly two decades in the NFL, but that isn't the reason he was hired to be offensive coordinator Terry Shea's right-hand man.

    "I don't ever believe that that's the X factor involved," Shea said. "Your quarterback coach has to generate some tremendous trust between himself and the quarterbacks, because when all the bullets start flying, that quarterbacks coach and/or coordinator, better be construed as being a very supportive coach and he better be there in terms of the trust factor. That's much more important than 20 years in the NFL."

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "As long as I'm the coordinator here, that's one of my passions is to coach the quarterback, and so I will be involved. But (quarterbacks coach) Wade (Wilson) is obviously a great component to that." — Offensive coordinator Terry Shea on what his involvement will be with the tutelage of quarterback Rex Grossman

    QUARTERBACK: Starter — Rex Grossman. Backups — Jonathan Quinn, Craig Krenzel, Ryan Dinwiddie.

    RUNNING BACKS: Starters — RB Thomas Jones, FB Bryan Johnson. Backups — RB Anthony Thomas, RB Brock Forsey, RB Rabih Abdullah, RB Adrian Peterson, FB Jason McKie.

    TIGHT END/H-BACK: Starter — Desmond Clark. Backups — Dustin Lyman, John Gilmore, Robert Johnson.

    WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters — Marty Booker, David Terrell. Backups — Justin Gage, Bobby Wade, Daryl Jones, Bernard Berrian, Ahmad Merritt.

    OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters — LT Qasim Mitchell, LG Rex Tucker, C Olin Kreutz, RG Ruben Brown, RT John Tait. Backups — T-G Steve Edwards, T Aaron Gibson, G-T Mike Gandy, G-T Terrence Metcalf, C-G Josh Warner.

    DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters — LE Michael Haynes, LT Alfonso Boone, RT Bryan Robinson, RE Alex Brown. Backups — T Tommie Harris, T Tank Johnson, E Joe Tafoya, E Claude Harriott, T Tron LaFavor, T Ian Scott.

    LINEBACKERS: Starters — SLB Joe Odom, MLB Brian Urlacher, WLB Lance Briggs. Backups — Bryan Knight, Hunter Hillenmeyer, Leon Joe.

    DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters — CB Charles Tillman, CB Jerry Azumah, FS Mike Brown, SS Mike Green. Backups — CB R.W. McQuarters, S Bobby Gray, CB Nathan Vasher, CB Todd McMillon, CB Brock Williams.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: PK Paul Edinger, P Brad Maynard, LS Pat Mannelly, H Maynard, KOR Jerry Azumah, PR R.W. McQuarters.


    All Kevin Jones has to do is live up to expectations and the Lions will be happy.

    Although Jones wasn't the first running back taken in the draft last April — Steven Jackson of Oregon State and Chris Perry of Michigan both went ahead of him — he already has surfaced as a top candidate for offensive rookie of the year.

    That might be because it is obvious the Lions (32nd in the NFL in rushing last year) are in dire need of a running game, and he will get every opportunity to carry the football.

    It might be because of the impressive numbers Jones posted at Virginia Tech — 1,647 yards and 21 touchdowns in his final season as well as a career average of 5.6 yards per carry.

    Or it might be because Jones isn't afraid of hard work, as Lions president Matt Millen and coach Steve Mariucci discovered soon after Jones began offseason workouts at the team's training facility in Allen Park, Mich.

    "Our program is different than the one he's been on, so our weight program is going to take some getting used to," Mariucci said. "But he does have that work ethic, that drive. He knows how to work until he's exhausted."

    With the departure of James Stewart, the Lions have no veteran incumbent at the running back position. Jones is the favorite to win the starting job against second-year back Artose Pinner although Mariucci has indicated he might use both backs in a rotating system that worked for him at San Francisco.

  • The average age of the Lions offensive line will drop significantly with the retirement of guard Ray Brown. Brown, who became one of the team's most popular players and strongest leaders in the two years he played in Detroit, played 18 NFL seasons and celebrated his 41st birthday late in the 2003 season.

    Damien Woody, signed as an unrestricted free agent, is expected to replace Brown at right guard. Woody, a six-year veteran, is 26.

  • The Lions' 10-victory total over the last three years (2-14 in 2001, 3-13 in 2002 and 5-11 last year) is the team's worst since the 1947-48-49 teams won only nine games. The Lions were 3-9, 2-10 and 4-8 in those three seasons.

  • Dre' Bly is the Lions' first Pro Bowl cornerback since 1977. Lem Barney, an eventual Hall of Famer, played in seven Pro Bowls in the early and mid-1970s.

    Barney's final Pro Bowl was in 1977, and the Lions didn't have another Pro Bowler at that position until Bly made it after the 2003 season, in which he had six interceptions.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I remember when I was younger, I was in the living room and I would make cuts between the couches." — Rookie running back Kevin Jones on the training regime established for him as a youngster by his father, Thomas Jones.

    QUARTERBACK: Starter — Joey Harrington. Backups — Mike McMahon, Rick Mirer, Curt Anes, Jason Fife.

    RUNNING BACKS: Starter — Kevin Jones, FB Cory Schlesinger. Backups — Artose Pinner, Shawn Bryson, Olandis Gary, Paul Smith, Avon Cobourne, FB Stephen Trejo, FB Keith Belton.

    TIGHT END/H-BACK: Starter — Stephen Alexander. Backups — Casey FitzSimmons, John Owens, Matt Brandt.

    WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters — Charles Rogers and Roy Williams. Backups — Tai Streets, Scotty Anderson, Az-Zahir Hakim, David Kircus, Reggie Swinton, Eddie Drummond, Trevor Gaylor, Tim Van Zant, George Wilson.

    OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters — LT Jeff Backus, LG Matt Joyce, C Dominic Raiola, RG Damien Woody, RT Stockar McDougle. Backups — C/G Tyrone Hopson, G Josh Lovelady, G David Loverne, G David Miller, T Kelly Butler, T Ben Johnson, T Victor Rogers, C Dave Pearson, G Branden Hall, G Kaulana Noa, G Zach Wilson, T Matt McCoy.

    DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters — LE Robert Porcher, DT Dan Wilkinson, DT Shaun Rogers, RE James Hall. Backups — DE Kalimba Edwards, DE Jared DeVries, DT Kelvin Pritchett, DT Cory Redding, DE Patrick Kabongo, DE Andrew Shull, DT Ahmad Chidress, DT Colin Cole.

    LINEBACKER: Starters — OLB Boss Bailey, MLB Earl Holmes, OLB James Davis. Backups — Teddy Lehman, Wali Rainer, Donte' Curry, Alex Lewis, Andrew Battle, Scott Genord.

    DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters — LCB Fernando Bryant, RCB Dre' Bly, SS Brian Walker, FS Brock Marion. Backups — S Terrence Holt, CB Chris Cash, CB Andre Goodman, CB Rod Babers, CB Charles Drake, CB Kenny Heatley, CB Chris Kern, CB Jeff Sanchez, CB Dainon Sidney, CB Keith Smith, S Julius Curry, S Bracy Walker, S Clifford Johnson.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: PK Jason Hanson; P Nick Harris; LS Bradford Banta; H Nick Harris; KOR Eddie Drummond; PR Eddie Drummond. Backups — LS Jody Littleton; PR/KOR Reggie Swinton.


    Bob Harlan, perhaps the most revered man in Packerland, was inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame.

    Harlan, 67, was the lone enshrinee this year and the 131st since the hall was created in 1970. For the first time, a sitting NFL commissioner will be at the induction dinner, in the person of Paul Tagliabue.

    A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Harlan joined the Packers as a contract negotiator under Dan Devine in 1971. He replaced Robert Parins as president in 1989 at a point when the franchise was at low ebb.

    Within two years, Harlan fired personnel director Tom Braatz, hired GM Ron Wolf and then stood back and encouraged Wolf when he came to him with the ideas of hiring Mike Holmgren as coach and trading for Brett Favre.

    Harlan remains down to earth and prefers remaining out of the limelight. He continues to answer his own telephone and likes to surprise groups touring renovated Lambeau Field by making himself available to them.

    It was Harlan who went door-to-door for votes in 2000 when a referendum asking Brown County voters to support a sales-tax referendum to fund the $295 million renovation passed by a mere 52-48 margin.

    Today, the Packers are riding high, having posted a record of 126-66 in the last 12 regular seasons, best in the NFL during that span. That success flew in the face of the conventional wisdom that a small-market franchise such as Green Bay would flounder with the advent of unfettered free agency in 1993.

    "The last time the Packers had a streak like this was 1934 to 1947," Harlan said. "That's remarkable. In an era when we were supposed to fall, we stayed strong."

    The renovation of Lambeau has drawn raves from club officials around the league. The Chiefs are using Lambeau as a model for their proposed renovation of Arrowhead Stadium. Representatives of the New York Giants visited Green Bay recently. Officials from the Rose Bowl were in town in early July.

    "He's done it with great ability, great dignity and classiness," Chiefs president Carl Peterson said.

  • Kenny Peterson, a third-round pick in 2003, didn't do much as a rookie and now must play to expectations.

    Peterson might be strictly a three-technique tackle and an undersized one at that (6-3, 295).

    "He's the smallest of the group, so his game is probably more finesse," director of pro personnel Reggie McKenzie said. "But this year he has a better understanding. He's trying to use his hands and plays smarter, not just letting guys get into his body."

  • The Packers' trade of defensive end Jamal Reynolds to Indianapolis for a late-round draft choice was voided when the Colts didn't like the looks of his back or left knee and failed him on their physical.

    Green Bay then promptly cut him.

    Reynolds, the 10th player picked in the 2001 draft, had three sacks in three seasons. He played 147 snaps in eight games as a rookie, 132 in eight games in 2002 and 111 in six games in ‘03.

    He wasn't an instinctive player and sometimes didn't know how to play the defense. He couldn't win with speed, power or persistence and wasn't strong enough to play the run.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "He has hand quickness. I think he's an athlete. He has power. I think he can play three positions." — Director of pro personnel Reggie McKenzie on rookie DL Corey Williams.

    QUARTERBACKS: Starter — Brett Favre. Backups — Tim Couch, Doug Pederson, Craig Nall.

    RUNNING BACKS: Starters — RB Ahman Green, FB William Henderson. Backups — RB Najeh Davenport, RB Tony Fisher, FB Nick Luchey, RB Dahrran Diedrick.

    TIGHT END/H-BACKS: Starter — Bubba Franks. Backups — David Martin, Steve Bush, Tony Donald.

    WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters — SE Robert Ferguson, FL Donald Driver. Backups — Javon Walker, Carl Ford, Antonio Chatman, Scottie Vines, Frank Rice, Devin Lewis.

    OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters — LT Chad Clifton, LG Mike Wahle, C Mike Flanagan, RG Marco Rivera, RT Mark Tauscher. Backups — T-G Kevin Barry, G-C Grey Ruegamer, T Steve Morley, C Scott Wells, T Brennan Curtin, G Atlas Herrion.

    DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters — LE Aaron Kampman, NT Grady Jackson, 3T Cletidus Hunt, RE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. Backups — LE Chukie Nwokorie, 3T Kenny Peterson, NT James Lee, DT Donnell Washington, LE Corey Williams, 3T Cullen Jenkins.

    LINEBACKERS: Starters — SLB Hannibal Navies, MLB Nick Barnett, WLB Na'il Diggs. Backups — WLB Marcus Wilkins, SLB Paris Lenon, MLB Torrance Marshall, MLB Armegis Spearman, WLB Steve Josue.

    DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters — LC Mike McKenzie, RC Al Harris, SS Darren Sharper, FS Mark Roman. Backups — FS Marques Anderson, CB Ahmad Carroll, CB Michael Hawthorne, CB Joey Thomas, CB Chris Johnson, SS James Whitely, SS Bhawoh Jue, FS Curtis Fuller.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: Starters — K Ryan Longwell, P B.J. Sander, H Doug Pederson, LS Rob Davis. Backup — P Travis Dorsch.

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