NFC North News

The Bears are settling in on their offensive line, the Lions are hoping for more consistency from their backup QB, and the Packers are getting a "new" scout. Get all the notes from preseason camps around the NFC North.

The Bears' maligned offensive line got a boost toward improved continuity when coach Lovie Smith announced that John Tait would play only right tackle.

Tait had been splitting time between left and right tackle in training camp - when his nagging groin injury permitted - and he didn't practice at all for a week prior to the preseason opener, which he sat out. The offensive line committed 10 penalties in that game and the group obviously needs more cohesiveness.

Tait has said all along that he would play wherever needed, but he is more comfortable on the right side.

"When I was at Kansas City, I didn't really practice much at left (after switching to right before the 2002 season)," he said. "When they switched me over, I was exclusively there. I definitely think I could have played left and got in the rhythm. But I feel pretty good about playing at right and I feel like I'm comfortable there and I can keep going and play at a high level."

Locking Tait in at right tackle means three pieces to the five-piece offensive-line puzzle are in place. Three-time Pro Bowl pick Olin Kreutz is a fixture at center. At left guard, eight-time Pro Bowl choice Ruben Brown has replaced Rex Tucker, who is out 8-10 weeks with a dislocated elbow.

Mike Gandy is currently starting at right guard, but Terrence Metcalf, who has been out for the past week with a sprained ankle, could still challenge for that job. Metcalf has played well since the start of camp, and he performed well vs. the Rams, until his injury.

"He's had a great camp so far," Smith said of Metcalf, "but this is going to throw him behind a little bit. We were pleased with how Ruben Brown stepped up. He really played hard and played well when he was out there."

Metcalf was lost in the shuffle his first two years after being drafted in the third round in 2002, but he is having his best camp by far this year and had been playing ahead of Brown at right guard.

"Right now that position is open," Smith said. "You can put a lot of different guys competing for that job; Mike Gandy and everyone else.

At left tackle, Qasim Mitchell needs to play much more consistently than he did in the preseason opener if he wants to keep the starting spot.

"He was inconsistent," offensive line coach Pete Hoener said. "But the things he did well, he did like an all-pro player. I won't say they're mental mistakes, but (they're) mental lapses of technique and getting used to the speed of the game on that turf."

Gandy was flagged for holding three times against the Rams, but offensive coordinator Terry Shea said the four-year veteran played better than those infractions would indicate.

"From an offensive line standpoint, one guy I thought played consistently was Mike Gandy," Shea said. "There was one obvious, legitimate (holding) call. That's a tough break, but he played very well in spite of all those things."


  • Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera blew up and unleashed a profanity-laced tirade during one of the Bears' final training camp practices at Olivet Nazarene University.

    Rivera challenged defensive players to be more accountable for their performance on the practice field. He referred to the defense's effort as embarrassing and unacceptable and concluded by telling players if they didn't like it, they "could leave."

    "I've got nothing to say," Rivera told reporters as he stormed off the field.

    Having cooled off only marginally after lunch, Rivera said, "It was something that I just felt they needed to hear."

    His mood wasn't much better during the afternoon practice. After yet another defensive lapse, Rivera snapped: "Get in the huddle," Then, a little louder, "Get in the huddle." Finally, he barked: "(Blank-blank) it, get in the huddle."

    Lackadaisical play goes against what Rivera said is the most important characteristic of his defense.

    "I think the biggest thing is just being aggressive," he said. "That's what we want to do."

    According to players, there was no specific area of play that irritated Rivera but more a general lack of emotion.

    "We came out there flat," safety Mike Brown said. "We didn't have any intensity, so we got our (butts) handed to us early on in the practice (by the offense). But we turned it around, which is the positive."

    But not enough to satisfy Rivera, who is in his first season as a defensive coordinator after spending the past five seasons as the Philadelphia Eagles linebackers coach. Rivera played linebacker for the Bears for nine years from 1984-92, and he didn't consider what he saw Sunday morning to be up to Bears standards. He said he believes he will be held to a higher standard by fans and by the organization because of who he is.

    "And I think rightfully so," Rivera said. "I'm going to go out and give it the best I can, give it my best effort, and in a few years, if it's not good enough, well then I should move on. And if it is good enough, then we'll just continue to build on, and hopefully we'll get better and be competitive like we need to be. Be a team that competes every year to get into the playoffs (like the Eagles) and get to the Super Bowl."

    If there was any doubt in his player's minds about Rivera's commitment, there shouldn't be anymore.

    "He said what he felt that he needed to say," Brown said. "I think it was warranted. He just let us know how he was feeling, how he feels that we should come out, how he feels we should be performing every day."

    Head coach Lovie Smith agreed with Rivera, after pretending he wasn't aware of the diatribe.

    "What lecture?" Smith said. "Oh, that lecture. Well, they got it, so evidently they did (deserve it). There's a learning curve. We're a game past right now, and we would like for that growth to speed up a little bit. Coach Rivera was letting the guys know.

    "I wouldn't say it was our best practice that we've had, but we made progress in a lot of areas. The defense didn't play as well as they needed to. I thought the offense did some good things out here today."

    The defense allowed just 306 yards and 10 points in the preseason-opening 3-point victory over the Rams, but that's in the past, according to cornerback Charles Tillman.

    "It's a preseason game," Tillman said. "Don't start letting up now. We haven't done anything."

    Rivera made sure they knew that.

  • Coaches have not been pleased with Ruben Brown's failure to practice with the same intensity that he displays in games.

    Not until starting left guard Rex Tucker was lost for 8-10 weeks with a dislocated elbow did the eight-time Pro Bowl pickup from Buffalo get elevated to the first team.

    "You go to practice to prepare for a game; you don't go to practice to play a game," Brown said. "I don't think it's about turning it up a notch. It's just knowing game speed and things of that nature."

    Brown said he doesn't know if coaches wanted him to practice harder before they promoted him to the first team.

    "You have to ask them about that," Brown said. "I have no idea. I just go and do what I'm told. I don't know what's going on. All I know is when they call my name I go in, and I do what I can do."

    Brown was asked if he's still the same player who has been voted to the Pro Bowl the past eight seasons.

    "I'm still Ruben Brown, yeah," he said. "But I don't make the depth charts; (the coaches) make those decisions."

  • Defensive end Alex Brown has not practiced in more than a week, and he sat out Saturday night's second preseason game.

    Brown's absence means more playing time for undrafted rookie Alain Kashama, from Michigan; and first-year player Israel Idonije, who spent half of last season on the Bears' practice squad. Both played high school football in Canada.

    "The longer guys stay out, the more you find out about different guys," Smith said. "Alain Kashama is getting better every day."

    Neither the 6-foot-4, 270-pound Kashama, who started just six games at Michigan; nor Idonije, who was undrafted out of Manitoba University, arrived at camp with great expectations, but that's unimportant to a team desperate for pass-rush help.

    "Once they get here, it doesn't matter whether you were first round or free agent, or whatever," Smith said. "I just know (Kashama) is a fast guy, he's got good height, he's got very good speed, and he's got some power. He's making plays. Izzy Idonije and him, both of them did a good job of playing the defensive end position when they got reps. "Neither one has played a lot of ball; that's kind of how it happens. That's the beauty of training camp. You find guys like that that can contribute and help you."

    After finishing dead last in the NFL in sacks last season, the Bears will take help anywhere they can find it, and the 6-7, 290-pound Idonije had two of their three sacks in the preseason opener.

    Kashama helped force both those sacks by putting initial pressure on the quarterback, however, he suffered a sprained ankle late in the game and did not play in Saturday's second preseason game.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Guys jumping offsides, that'll cost a guy somewhere down the road; or cost the coach a job." — Bears offensive coordinator Terry Shea, after the Bears had seven false-start penalties in their preseason opener.

    BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Ahmad Merritt wasn't happy about losing the kickoff-return job to Jerry Azumah last season after three games, but he made a move in the preseason opener to reclaim the job that has opened up with Azumah sidelined for 3-4 months with a herniated disk in his neck.

    "We had a couple bad games (returning kicks), but before that we were doing pretty good," Merritt said of the 2003 season. "In the preseason we had like a 30-yard average. We just started off pretty bad in the first couple games."

    Merritt averaged 32.1 yards in the preseason but just 20.3 in the regular season before the Bears switched to Azumah, who averaged 29.0 yards, scored twice and went to the Pro Bowl.

    But Merritt's 87-yard return vs. the Rams set up the winning field goal in overtime and gave him a leg up on rookie wide receiver Bernard Berrian, who averaged just 20.0 yards on three returns. However, coach Lovie Smith wasn't exactly effusive in his praise of Merritt.

    "He's a good player; we knew that coming along," Smith said. "We expect big plays out of him like that. We're going to need somebody to do it while Jerry's out."

    Merritt and Berrian are also competing for the No. 5 spot at wide receiver, and if Merritt doesn't beat out the third-round pick for that position or the kickoff-return gig, he could be gone.

    "No question the fight for the receiver position (is key)," offensive coordinator Terry Shea said. "Whether we carry six or five is really very intense competition right now."

    In the second preseason game, Merritt got just one KOR attempt, but he took it 34 yards. Berrian picked up just 17 yards on two returns.

    OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Offensive coordinator Terry Shea liked what he saw during Thursday night's preseason game from a couple players who had not been consistently impressive during the first two weeks of training camp.

    "(Running back) Adrian Peterson had a real flash in practice about a week ago, and he showed that same thing the other night," Shea said of the third-year player who is fighting for a roster spot.

    Peterson, who is competing with Brock Forsey for the No. 3 running back spot, picked up 52 yards on 10 carries. Forsey had 10 yards on five carries.

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Backup QB Jonathan Quinn continued his impressive preseason play, completing 8 of 12 passes for 74 yards Saturday night. Quinn has silenced training camp critics who focused on his deliberate mechanics with efficient play in both preseason games and even in the scrimmage with the Rams midway through camp.

    ROOKIE REPORT: Even with limited practice reps and playing time behind starter Rex Grossman and backup Jonathan Quinn, No. 3 quarterback Craig Krenzel has had an impressive training camp.

    "He has a lot of athletic ability," coach Lovie Smith said of the fifth-round draft choice from Ohio State, where Smith coached linebackers in 1995. "He can really run. He has more speed than the rest of the guys in the group. The Hail Mary pass (vs. the Rams) — just to be able to have the speed to get away to throw it last week (Was impressive), and his first pass throwing out of the end zone (showed) his poise."

    Krenzel completed 4 of 7 passes for 33 yards in the preseason opener in St. Louis. He has quickly grasped the offense, which isn't surprising for a molecular genetics major.

    "Of course he's an extremely intelligent guy," Smith said. "He's an Ohio State grad, so that tells you an awful lot right there. Of course, I'm biased. But he's exactly what you're looking for in a third quarterback, to grow each day. He knows that he's not going to play right away, and he knows that he's just getting ready for the future."

    Krenzel, though, struggled Saturday night, going 0-for-5 in mop-up duty during the Bears' 20-13 victory.

  • DT Tommie Harris appeared much more active in Saturday night's second preseason game, making two tackles and putting pressure on the quarterback.

  • WR Bernard Berrian had just one catch for 15 yards in the second preseason game, but that tied for the Bears' longest pass play of the game. Berrian had one punt return for 12 yards, but he continued to look tentative on kickoff returns, picking up just 17 yards on two attempts.

  • Cornerback Nathan Vasher had an interception Saturday night, two pass break-ups and a team-best six solo tackles.

  • DE Claude Harriott, nearly invisible most of camp, had an interception vs. the 49ers Saturday night, which he returned 14 yards.

    INJURY REPORT: OLG Rex Tucker is out 8-10 weeks with a dislocated elbow suffered during the final week of training camp.

  • OG Terrence Metcalf has been out for the past week with a sprained ankle but should return to practice this week.

  • Brian Urlacher (hamstring) is running but is not expected to play in the preseason.

  • Tight end Robert Johnson (foot) and offensive tackle Marc Colombo (knee) remain on the active physically-unable-to-perform list.

  • Tight ends Desmond Clark and John Gilmore are both still out with hamstring injuries suffered at the end of July, although they could return to practice sometime this week.

  • Jerry Azumah (herniated neck disk) is out 3-4 months.

  • Running back Anthony Thomas (abdomen) is into his third week of missed practices and continues to be classified as day to day. He may be back this week.


    As coaches do from time to time, Lions coach Steve Mariucci has seen something in backup quarterback Mike McMahon and he's not about to give up on it.

    What Mariucci sees in McMahon is his athletic ability, his leadership swagger and his ability to scramble to keep an offensive play alive.

    What Mariucci does not want to see is McMahon's lack of accuracy throwing the football. In three NFL seasons, including seven starting assignments, his completion percentage has dropped from 46.1 percent to 42.2 percent to 29.0 percent, giving him a career mark of 42.3 percent.

    Playing in a West Coast offense, where 60 percent is adequate but 65 percent is preferred, McMahon's accuracy is a major cause for concern, but Mariucci says he wants to give him every chance to develop.

    "I want to force the issue right now and see development from him," Mariucci said. "I want to see him progress, so he's been getting a few more reps than Rick (Mirer) has."

    Mariucci followed up his proclamation by giving McMahon a full practice working with the first offense before the Lions broke camp and seemed to get the results he craved in the second preseason game Saturday at Cleveland.

    Although McMahon didn't get the Lions into the end zone, he had one of his best days throwing the ball - connecting on 11 of 17 passes for 86 yards without an interception. And equally encouraging, he did not take off on any of the helter-skelter scrambles that have frequently been his downfall in the past.

    "He was more poised and in control," Mariucci said. "And he seemed to be good on the sideline, good in the huddle. I just want to see him play with the (starters) here at some point."

    In the past, McMahon has turned in exciting plays - even some good plays - but they have mostly been improvised plays when he tucked the ball under his arm and took off in a mad dash, rather than playing under control within the offense.

    If Mariucci can get him to play within that framework of discipline and self-control, he might have something. And he is obviously determined to try.


    — Rookie running back Kevin Jones got just six carries for 29 yards in his first NFL game action but - after missing 10 days of training camp with a strained hamstring - he was happy and excited to get any playing time at all against the Cleveland Browns.

    "I gained a little bit more confidence in what I could do," Jones said. "I was real nervous before the game but after my first carry I felt normal again."

    Jones couldn't - or wouldn't - say how many carries per game he would like in his rookie season with the Lions.

    "How many did I get today?" he asked. "Six? I wasn't really in my rhythm yet. It was still early in the game but I knew I was coming out early anyway. I'll carry however many times they give it to me."

    Jones is expected to get a major chunk of the carries when the Lions get to the regular season with Artose Pinner and Shawn Bryson getting the remainder.

    — Safety Terrence Holt knew the split second the ball clanked off his hands and hit the turf that he was going to be doing pushups for muffing his chance at the interception.

    "That's something we do - any balls we drop in drills, we've got to do pushups," Holt explained.

    It could be a 10-pushup drop or a 20-pushup drop, depending on the degree of difficulty involved.

    "It depends on the toughness of the pick, whether you try to one-hand it or whether the ball was bad," he said.

    After his drop in the Lions' opening preseason game, Holt was sentenced to 20 pushups by his fellow defensive backs, or in his case his jurors. He could have appealed their sentence, of course, but that would have risked being fined double.

    "There was no way you could appeal that one," said cornerback Fernando Bryant. "You might have just been going through paper work."

    — Lions coach Steve Mariuicci doesn't go for rookie hazing, except at its most elementary level.

    "I had to carry in a couple helmets and shoulder pads one time but I haven't had to do anything out of the ordinary," rookie wide receiver Roy Williams said. "I know those days are coming when I have to get the donuts and get the chicken for the away games, that's a rookie thing."

    Williams said he tried a reverse hazing approach with a Lions veteran before training camp broke.

    "I actually asked Kelvin Pritchett to take my helmet in yesterday," Williams said, laughing. "That didn't work out too good. He didn't say anything. He just looked at me and rolled his eyes."

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's what springs the running back for big gains. Once he gets into the second level - which is the safeties - that's our responsibility. And that's where the 40- or 50-yard runs come from." — Lions rookie wide receiver Roy Williams on the need for wide receiver blocking.

    BATTLE OF THE WEEK: The top four WR positions have been obvious since last spring - Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, Tai Streets, Az-Zahir Hakim - and the fifth job will probably go to the kick returner. The final receiver job, however, has developed into a competitive situation involving Reggie Swinton, Trevor Gaylor, Scotty Anderson and David Kircus. Judging by the playing time Swinton appears to have the edge, both as a receiver and a backup kick returner.

    OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: The Lions traditionally seem to be low on defensive backs, so the competition going on at the corners is a welcome change of pace. Dre' Bly and Fernando Bryant are the starters but while they have rested injuries, the competition among Andre Goodman, Chris Cash, Rod Babers and rookie Keith Smith has gone on. In addition, Chris Kern has played well enough on special teams to rate consideration. ... DTs Marcus Bell and Colin Cole are competing for what might be the final defensive line position. Both have played well at times.

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK: TE Casey FitzSimmons has played well since the start of training camp and, although he isn't likely to unseat Stephen Alexander for the starting job, he has developed nicely in his second season. His improvement is even more impressive considering he played eight-man football in high school and wasn't drafted after coming out of Carroll College in Montana. He isn't a dominating blocker but he is willing to work at it and catches the ball well. He had a touchdown catch in the first preseason game and had three receptions for 33 yards in the second.

    ROOKIE REPORT: WR Roy Williams had a very good rookie camp but has played two preseason games and still doesn't have a reception. He should have caught one of four balls thrown his way Saturday by QB Joey Harrington, although it was slightly behind him. ... RB Kevin Jones missed 10 days of training camp with a strained hamstring but looked good on his return last week and carried six times for 29 yards in his debut against Cleveland. ... LB Teddy Lehman is getting a crash course in NFL linebacking and learning to play under control. He hasn't displaced MLB Earl Holmes but he is getting a lot of playing time in base defense and packages. ... CB Keith Smith might be a long shot to make the team but he's making a pretty good case for himself, learning in the defensive secondary and playing on special teams. ... OLB Alex Lewis is nursing a high ankle sprain and hasn't been able to compete for the weak side LB job. ... OT Kelly Butler has shown promise. Ideally, he'd get a year of experience on the practice squad to develop.

    INJURY REPORT: OLB Boss Bailey, the starting strong side linebacker, is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery and isn't expected back until at least October. ... CBs Dre' Bly (hip flexor) and Fernando Bryant (hamstring) resumed practicing last week but were held out of the second preseason game in a precautionary move. ... OLB James Davis, the starter at the weak side in the first two preseason games, is expected to miss a week of practice with a sprained right ankle.


    Red Cochran, 82, has seen just about all there to see in an NFL career that has spanned parts of six decades. Now he wants to see more.

    Last fall, Cochran thought his 56-year career as an NFL player, assistant coach and scout was coming to a sad end. Cataracts were giving him double vision, and for a scout used to logging hundreds of miles each year in his old pickup truck the ability to get behind the wheel meant job or no job.

    Despite his age, Cochran didn't want to hang up his stopwatch. But eye surgery had been recommended and the ravages of time seemed to be making his decision for him.

    "I told Mike that I was a danger on the highway and probably should go ahead and retire," Cochran said.

    Coach Mike Sherman, the sixth general manager or personnel director whom Cochran has worked for Green Bay since 1975, sensed just how much the job and the organization meant to Cochran.

    "He said, ‘No, don't do that,'" Cochran said. "‘Instead of driving, come in the office and do your film work and your phone work. Then we'll decide after the draft what we want to do about next year.'"

    Knowing there was a chance of getting back to work, Cochran optimistically underwent cataract surgery on his right eye in September and then on his left eye in October.

    The operations were successful. Cochran could drive. He would work. Again.

    Now Cochran faces another physical hurdle. On Sept. 1, he will undergo hip replacement surgery.

    If you think a bad hip will threaten Cochran's capacity for scouting, think again.

    "The doctor said it would be four to six weeks," Cochran said matter-of-factly. "I've already got my schedule fixed. I'll get film in here latter part of September that I can work on until I can get back on the road."

    At some point in October, Cochran will climb into his new red Dodge pickup and set sail across the Upper Midwest. He will visit colleges throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, northern Illinois and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and if there isn't a well-known prospect at a school in his area he will talk to the coach and determine if there are any in the future.

    "I know all these guys out there," Cochran said. "I can go in and sit down and bull---- with (St. John's John) Gagliardi and (Minnesota's Glen) Mason. They're all old-time friends and I find out about who's what. If I see a guy I can talk to them and get an answer."

    Cochran files reports just like the Packers' eight other scouts who crisscross the country evaluating college players. What he doesn't do is use a computer.

    He writes his reports by hand in a pithy, concise fashion.

    In late February, Cochran will spend a week in Indianapolis stationed at the 10-yard marker in the RCA Dome where more than 300 draft-eligible players will run the 40-yard dash. Each year, the National Football Scouting combine enlists Cochran to provide one of two hand-held times at the 10.

    When the scouting staff reconvenes before the draft, Cochran will sit with them from dawn to dusk. The average age of his colleagues is only 36 but Cochran still goes out with the group once or twice each spring and knocks back more than his share of beers.

    Ron Wolf used to relish comparing former players to current ones, and he often relied on Cochran's sharp memory. Not only did Cochran coach in the NFL for 18 seasons but he also played for the Chicago Cardinals from 1947-50. The team's coach in 1950 was Curly Lambeau.

    "The guy has forgotten more football than we'll know," Packers director of college scouting John Dorsey said. "He's argued with George Halas at halftime, he coached Paul Hornung, he stood up for Joe Montana and he stood up to Ron Wolf. You have to have so much great respect for him."

    Cochran played in the backfield behind Hall of Famer Charlie Trippi, Pat Harder and Elmer Angsman in his first three seasons. The Cardinals won the 1947 NFL championship and lost the ‘48 title game to the Philadelphia Eagles, 7-0, despite Cochran's two interceptions.

    His name would be in the NFL record book for his 20.9-yard average on punt returns in 1949 but his 15 attempts were too few to qualify him as the league leader.

    Cochran coached the backfield for Wake Forest (1951-'55), the Detroit Lions (1956-'58) and Green Bay (1959-'66) under Vince Lombardi before he decided to try his hand in business for one year.

    "I decided I wasn't a businessman and got back into football," he said.

    In 1975, Bart Starr offered Cochran a position in scouting, which he held on a full-time basis until his 65th birthday in 1987. He has been part-time ever since.

    Today, Cochran is the oldest scout in the NFL still out on the road making school calls. New England's legendary Bucko Kilroy, 83, still spends most mornings in the office as a scouting consultant.

    Otherwise, there aren't any scouts older than 75.

    Cochran was hit hard in 2001 when former Packers scout Bobo Cegelski died within a month after retirement at 65. New York Jets scout Bob Schmitz, a native of New Holstein, Wis., also was 65 when he died this spring just after his final draft.

    "It makes you scared to think about retiring," Cochran said.

    Blessed with clear eyes, a keen mind and what soon will be a new hip to replace an arthritic old one, Cochran still is having too much fun to quit.

    "As long as I think I can still make a judgment and come up with a name once in a while ... I can't think of anything I could have had any more enjoyment out of," Cochran said. "Football's been awful damn good to me."


  • Tim Couch was adequate in the first couple days before some of his recurring arm problems popped up. Then he was so-so in the intrasquad scrimmage, utterly awful against Seattle and almost no better against New Orleans. Each time, the adoring throngs at Lambeau have felt compelled to boo.

    The hitch in his delivery is a fairly significant problem. So is his propensity to throw wobbly passes without much on them.

    The company line on Couch is he's learning a new system. The same also could be said for Scott McBrien, the spunky undrafted free agent from Maryland. The difference is that the left-handed McBrien is playing with much more confidence, makes better decisions and delivers the ball more on time and with as much if not more velocity.

    McBrien's drawback always will be his height (6-0). That's basically the same height as Jeff Garcia, Tim Rattay, Jeff Blake, Drew Brees, Seneca Wallace and Ty Detmer.

    Couch's cap salary is $1.25 million, half of which was signing bonus. If Couch doesn't rally, McBrien would be a shocking but also cheaper alternative that the Packers definitely would consider.

  • Defensive end Corey Williams, a sixth-round pick from Arkansas State, has shown more than defensive lineman Kenny Peterson did as a rookie. He's a 308-pounder who moves so well that he isn't the least bit out of place behind Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila at right end.

    Nose tackle James Lee, a man-mountain at 6-4 and 325, hasn't missed a day of practice, tries hard and clogs the middle. Strangely, he might play better on the move than at the point of attack.

    Cullen Jenkins started at end in the dime the last two games but also has rushed well inside. He's on the short side at 6-2 1/2 but is quick and hard to block one-on-one. His weakness comes defending the interior run.

  • Linebacker Paris Lenon has just average speed but over the last three weeks has eased past Torrance Marshall as the No. 4 linebacker. On Monday night, he pancaked Seahawks fullback Mack Strong on an isolation play and then flattened defensive tackle Rocky Bernard on a kickoff, sidelining him with a neck stinger.

    Marshall can play all three positions and should survive for a fourth season provided he plays significantly better than he did against Seattle. He reported in shape and was effective in practice, but in the game he reverted back to not seeing the ball and struggling in coverage. His instincts just aren't very good. He went out early against New Orleans with a hamstring pull.

    Tyreo Harrison, a former Eagle, might be better in the middle than Marshall but isn't as fast, athletic or versatile. For now, he would have the edge as No. 6.

  • Michael Hawthorne continues to start at left cornerback but it's probably just a matter of time before Mike McKenzie reports or rookie Ahmad Carroll takes over. Hawthorne has great height (6-3) but doesn't move well laterally and is a so-so hitter.

    A major surprise has been Jason Horton, a free agent cornerback who sat on the bench for two years in the CFL. He's 6-0, runs 40 yards under 4.5 seconds, has a nose for the ball and continues to impress in coverage. With cover corners in such short supply it's hard to imagine the Packers letting him get away.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm not defending Tim, but I understand. On the sidelines after he came out, he said, ‘Man, there were several plays I only knew what one guy was doing.' And I believe that. That's understandable. I know it's difficult." - QB Brett Favre on QB Tim Couch.

    BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Tyrone Rogers vs. other DL for final roster berth - Rogers stuck with the Browns for the last five seasons but wasn't re-signed. The Packers picked him up on the eve of training camp. After a slow start, Rogers has played much better in the two exhibition games. He had two sacks against New Orleans. Rogers has high character and proved that his legs aren't dead. He is battling free agent Cullen Jenkins and veterans Larry Smith and Chukie Nwokorie to make the club.

    OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Tyreo Harrison has a leg up on Steve Josue for the No. 6 linebacker job. Harrison's edge is smarts and size. Josue doesn't think nearly as well on his feet but is more versatile and a better pass rusher ... CB Jason Horton and Michael Hawthorne might be battling for the last job in the secondary. Horton, a refugee from the CFL, has come from nowhere but gets better all the time. Hawthorne is about as good as he's going to get.

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK: LB Na'il Diggs - Diggs missed the first exhibition game due to a family emergency. He was back Saturday night against New Orleans as if on a mission. First, he slipped through the line and tackled Deuce McAllister for minus-3. Then he slammed into backup fullback Nate Schurman on a third and 1 as he was lead-blocking him. After pancaking Schurman, safety Mark Roman was able to blitz behind Diggs and stop McAllister for minus-5.

    ROOKIE REPORT: D1 Ahmad Carroll continues to be up and down. Against the Saints he appeared intimidated by Joe Horn and had trouble downfield with penalties. ... D3 Joey Thomas is back now from a knee injury but didn't play well against the Saints. He had two long pass-interference penalties but did make an interception in the fourth quarter. ... D3 Donnell Washington appears headed for injured reserve with a partially torn arch. ... D3 B.J. Sander has been as awful as awful can be. ... D6 Corey Williams has been a surprise. Barring injury, he has the team made. ... D7 Scott Wells played well enough to make the team but might be headed for injured reserve because of an elbow problem. ... FA QB Scott McBrien has been the second-best quarterback for much of camp. He's just 6-0, which isn't for everybody.

    INJURY REPORT: WR Robert Ferguson (hamstring) sat out Saturday night against New Orleans but should be back this week. ... T-G Atlas Herrion (knee) sat out the Saints game. ... C Scott Wells (elbow) sat out the Saints game with chronic tendonitis. ... G Mike Wahle (bruised femur) hasn't practiced yet but hopes to work this week. ... C Mike Flanagan (patellar tendonitis) hasn't practiced yet but might be another week away. ... DE Chukie Nwokorie (hamstring) has been out since the first week and doesn't seem close to returning. ... DT Donnell Washington (torn arch) appears headed for injured reserve. ... CB Chris Watson (hamstring) sat out the Saints game. ... CB-S James Whitley (concussions) faces an uncertain future in football. ... CB Chris Johnson (stress fracture) hasn't practiced yet. ... T Brennan Curtin suffered what Mike Sherman feared after the game was a torn MCL in his right knee. ... WR Antonio Chatman has an ankle injury suffered returning the second-half kickoff. X-rays were negative. ... DT Larry Smith (quad) went out early against New Orleans. ... TE Tony Donald (turf toe) left in the second half. ... LB Torrance Marshall went out with a hamstring injury.

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