NFC North, East Minicamp Notes

As teams conclude their official minicamps around the league, we check in to see how some of the top picks in the NFC North and East fit in and what kind of roles they can expect heading into training camps and the regular season.


Chicago Bears

The team has been looking to deal veteran cornerback R.W. McQuarters for some time and it's almost a certainty that he'll be released after June 1. McQuarters is set to make over $6 million in the final two years of his contract.

One of the more anticipated training camp battles will be for the No. 2 wide receiver job. It's believed that third-year pro Justin Gage holds a slight edge over Bernard Berrian currently, but the job really is wide open. Second-round pick Mark Bradley is down on the depth chart, but if he has a strong training camp he has a chance to have a significant role in the fall. Last year's starter, Bobby Wade, figures to be a candidate for the third receiver role. He's a solid possession type of receiver who fits that role well.

Detroit Lions

While he worked in limited drills, third-year wide receiver Charles Rogers (broken collarbone) looked good in the Lions' post-draft minicamp. Rogers has clearly put on at least 10 pounds of muscle. He's expected to do more in their next camp and he expects to get cleared for contact drills once training camp starts.

Keeping with their receivers, look for first-round pick Mike Williams to be used in a variety of roles. He'll be used as a move player in their offense during training camp. This means he'll play out wide but also play in the slot where he can take advantage of matchups against much smaller defensive backs. With Williams in the fold, look for new offensive coordinator Ted Tollner to use a lot of multiple receiver sets.

Green Bay Packers

First-round pick quarterback Aaron Rodgers had mixed reviews during the Packers' post-draft minicamp.

Rodgers moved around well but his throws were erratic and at times looked stiff. His arm did look fairly strong at times, but he needs to be a little less mechanical.

The signing of former Arizona Cardinal linebacker Ray Thompson will put Na'il Diggs over on the strong side, where he began his career. Diggs never really stood out on the weak side and he's a more natural strongside linebacker. Thompson is stronger in pursuit than Diggs and should prove to be an upgrade on the weak side.

Minnesota Vikings

While prized first-round selection Troy Williamson dropped a bunch of passes during their post-draft camp, he really showed terrific explosion running down field. He'll have to concentrate better in drills and also improve his route running during their passing camps. He also needs to get in the weight room and get stronger. NFL cornerbacks will get physical with him so he needs to show he can get off of press coverage.


Dallas Cowboys

The coaching staff is working several linemen in at right tackle in hopes to find a starter at the position.

The two players to watch at that position are Jacob Rogers, who was mostly inactive last season, and Kurt Vollers, who signed his one-year restricted free agent tender recently.

Rogers, one of the club's two second-round selections from 2004, was supposed to compete for the starting right tackle job last season but only appeared in two games and didn't start any. While he was hurt for part of the season, Rogers still didn't establish himself well enough to get into the lineup.

Vollers, a former undrafted free agent, has started 11 games over the last two seasons. The team is looking for an upgrade there, so they will give Rogers every chance to win the starting job. If they can't find a suitable player on their roster, no one would be surprised if the team signed a veteran free agent tackle to compete for the job.

New York Giants

One of the standout rookies in camp has been running back Brandon Jacobs. The one area where he surprised practice observers was with his speed. The 265-pounder got through the line quickly and show quick feet.

If Jacobs can show the same speed when the pads go on in August, he should easily win the No. 2 job. The key area where he'll have to show the coaches that he can handle the job is in pass blocking where many rookies struggle.

Philadelphia Eagles

Rookie wide receiver Reggie Brown did a nice job in the first few days of the Eagles' post-draft camp and didn't seem to be confused by the plays, but no one should be surprised if the team signs a veteran free agent to come in and compete for the No. 3 job during training camp.

While many were glad to see wide receiver Freddie Mitchell go, he became a pretty solid third-down receiver and made some tough catches in that role the past few seasons. The team may be high on Greg Lewis but he still has to show the coaches that he's more than a situational receiver and that he can make the tough third-down catches.

Washington Redskins

Seventh-round selection Nehemiah Broughton opened some eyes during recent workouts, and it's possible that he works in their short-yardage package during training camp. The team is looking to improve in short-yardage situations and the powerfully built rookie could get a real chance to get some carries in that area during the season with a solid showing this summer.

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