NFC North Notes

The Bears were not among the teams that drafted a tight end despite their need, the Lions just think Ernie Sims is a playmaker, not a freelancer, and the Packers are hoping Charles Woodson can make at least a short-term impact. Plus, get numerous other notes from the Vikings' rivals in the NFC North.


Nine tight ends were selected among the first 98 draft choices and 17 altogether. But the Bears didn't get any of them, even though their tight ends last season caught 28 passes for 251 yards.

As Bears general manager Jerry Angelo continued to answer questions Sunday about not addressing what has been a sore spot for years, he seemed to grow increasingly perturbed.

"We wanted to put somebody else in there to create competition," Angelo said. "The other positions we've done that. It's hard to do that for every position. But you've got to look at us. We've got a lot of players back.

"Don't get so fixed on this tight end because you're looking for holes. Every team has holes. Every team has an area which they need to address and get better at. We've done as good a job as you can possibly do. We will address the tight end."

Angelo said he will continue to seek improvement at tight end in the off-season, but he believes the Bears can be successful without an upgrade.

"Let's not get fixated with this tight end," he said. "I mean, we haven't seen a tight end here since (Mike) Ditka, so I don't want to say we haven't been able to play without one. I mean, somehow, some way, we still line up, and we're going to have to find ways to win ballgames.

"So again, let's not make that the bull's-eye."

  • Third-round pick (73rd overall) Dusty Dvoracek of Oklahoma has had several alcohol-related problems in the past, including a 2004 brawl in which he knocked his best friend from high school unconscious, resulting in his dismissal from the team after two games.

    But Dvoracek and the Bears believe the defensive tackle's problems are history.

    "I will stake my reputation personally on his character at this point," Angelo said. "Obviously I have, or else we wouldn't have taken him. We felt really good given where he is now in his life. We all make mistakes."

    Dvoracek admits his college transgressions were all alcohol fueled, but he found a simple solution.

    "I just quit drinking," he said. "I had to grow up and take responsibility for my life. It was a tough time. It wasn't that I drank all the time, it was just a matter of acting dumb when I did."

    The 6-2 3/4, 306-pound Dvoracek completed a six-week outpatient program for alcohol counseling and anger management and was reinstated last season.

  • Angelo said he isn't worried that, because Ricky Manning Jr. was on probation at the time of his recent arrest for assault in a Denny's parking lot, that he will miss any time.

    "He'll be fine," Angelo said. "The information that we got we feel very solid about. It's unfortunate, but we feel we'll let that run its course. In the end, everything should work out well."

  • The Bears traded veteran safety Mike Green to Seattle last Tuesday (April 25) in exchange for the Seahawks' sixth-round draft choice on Sunday (No. 200 overall).

    Green, out of Northwestern State (La.), played six seasons with the Bears after being the 254th and last player chosen in the 200 draft. The 6-0, 195-pounder played all 16 games four times and started all 16 games in 2002 and 2004. Over the previous five seasons (2001-05), only Brian Urlacher (956) had more tackles among Bears defenders than Green's 437. The Ruston, La. native had a career-high 138 tackles in 2002 and also posted 132 tackles in 2004, ranking second to Urlacher both times.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Devin is a little bit of a mystery. He never really established himself at a position. People are intrigued with his skills, especially as a kick returner. The Bears took a risk, and hopefully Devin will do well, whether it is on offense or defense. That's what NFL teams were questioning. He certainly has an opportunity to be a great NFL player once he gets established." — Miami Hurricanes coach Larry Coker on Bears second-rounder Devin Hester.


    Defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson isn't buying into the theory that Lions first-round draft pick linebacker Ernie Sims is undisciplined and freelances too much.

    "That's what playmakers do — they go after the ball," Henderson said. "You like that. I know one thing: It's easier to pull them off them than to sic ‘em on them. If you've got to sic ‘em on them, we've got problems."

    There is no doubting Sims' aggressive style of play. Coach Rod Marinelli describes him as "a collision hunter" and a player who can do many things operating out of the weakside linebacker position in the Lions' defense.

    But some personnel observers feel Sims might be almost too aggressive, saying that he frequently went roaming in search of a knockout blow when he was at Florida State.

    Henderson, whose aggressive approach was well-known during his two years as the New York Jets defensive coordinator before he was hired by the Lions, said he doesn't see Sims' aggressive nature as a problem.

    "That's common with football players," Henderson said. "Guys that try to make plays — the good ones — are undisciplined because they're trying to make things happen. What you would try to do is make sure you don't impede them from making plays, but at the same time you've got to keep them structurally sound so they don't hurt their teammates."

  • The draft is history and quarterback Joey Harrington is still a Lion, though obviously in name only.

    Team president Matt Millen gave the disgruntled former first-round draft pick permission to shop himself to other NFL teams, although he has two years remaining on his original six-year contract. Harrington issued a statement last month saying he would play with the Miami Dolphins after being traded or released by the Lions.

    Harrington's decision to play only for the Dolphins left the Lions in an awkward position of trying to get trade value from a team that knows it can simply outwait them and sign Harrington as a free agent after he is cut in June.

    There was speculation during the second day of the draft that the Lions would try to deal Harrington to the Cleveland Browns, but nothing came of it.

  • As identical twins, Daniel and Josh Bullocks were frequently mistaken for each other — even by coaches and teammates when they were playing at Nebraska.

    Daniel, a safety and the Lions' second-round draft pick, said the brothers seldom tried to impersonate each other but admitted they did it for laughs once during the 2004 NCAA season.

    Josh walked onto the practice field wearing Daniel's number 14, lining up at strong safety. Daniel came out of the locker room wearing Josh's number 20, lining up at free safety.

    "We did it for one practice but it was just a walkthrough practice, it wasn't like an actual practice," Daniel said, laughing as he told the story. "Two or three of our teammates knew it but most of the people didn't."

    Josh eventually left Nebraska a year early for the NFL, going to New Orleans with the 40th pick in the 2005 draft. Daniel stayed at Nebraska for another season and was taken by the Lions with the 40th pick over the past weekend.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "When I tackle a person, they don't ask me how tall I am." — Lions first-round draft pick Ernie Sims on questions regarding his height, listed as 5-111/2


    With ample buying power under this year's salary cap, the Packers upped the ante to make what could be a short-term investment in four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson.

    Woodson, one of the few premier free agents left on the market, agreed to a seven-year, $52 million contract April 26. The front-loaded structure of the deal, however, doesn't bind the Packers for the long haul to the 29-year-old, injury-prone Woodson, who played his first eight years in the league with Oakland.

    The Packers reportedly will pay Woodson upward of $10.5 million in the first year in lieu of a signing bonus. Thus, the team is protected from having to count exorbitant prorated bonus money against the cap should it be compelled to cut bait after next season. Woodson stands to make $18 million in the first three years of the deal.

    General manager Ted Thompson acknowledged there was a sense of urgency to get Woodson signed prior to the draft to fulfill one of the team's top needs. He accurately reasoned that the well of quality cornerbacks would dry up by the time the Packers would have considered taking one in the second or third rounds.

    Woodson, 29, will become the sixth Heisman Trophy winner to play for Green Bay, a list that includes fellow Michigan alumnus Desmond Howard.

    Quarterback Brett Favre's decision made a day earlier to return for another season played a part in Woodson's choosing the Packers over Tampa Bay.

    "That was one thing Charles was interested in," Poston said. "Another point is that they agreed to let Charles play offense as well as defense. That proved to be very beneficial to them. They wouldn't let him do that in Oakland."

    The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Woodson also will remain at cornerback and is the projected starter on the left side. The Buccaneers wanted to move Woodson to safety.

    The Packers are confident Woodson won't be a liability from a health standpoint. He missed the final 10 games of last season with a broken right leg and hasn't held up for an entire season since 2001.

    Meanwhile, the coaches have discussed with Ahmad Carroll what Woodson's signing means for the incumbent starter at left cornerback. Carroll, the team's first-round draft pick in 2004, has been inconsistent and plagued by penalties his first two years in the league. He'll be relegated to the nickel and dime packages.

    "He'll definitely be a contributor for our football team," coach Mike McCarthy said.

  • McCarthy indicated that Favre will participate in the team's first mini-camp, May 5-7.

    McCarthy's predecessor, Mike Sherman, caught flak for allowing Favre to skip all of the team's off-season activities last year. McCarthy said it's critical for Favre, who's not taking part in the team's ongoing conditioning program, to be on the field during portions of the spring work since a modified West Coast offense has been installed.

    "The most important thing is that he's exposed to the whole offense," McCarthy said. "That's what he and I have talked about. We'll break that down into how many days he needs to be there. He's 36; he doesn't need to be there all through May and June."

    The Packers have another mini-camp in late May, then 14 days of organized team activities in June. Favre is expected to be on hand for most of the latter sessions.

  • On the same day Green Bay made the big splash with the acquisition of Woodson, it signed free-agent defensive tackle Kenderick Allen.

    The New York Giants set Allen free when they rescinded a qualifying offer they gave the restricted free agent.

    The Packers signed Allen to a one-year contract with a $600,000 base salary and a modest signing bonus. The 6-foot-5, 328-pound Allen will be part of a nose tackle rotation with free-agent acquisition Ryan Pickett and Colin Cole.

    Allen had 21 tackles, two sacks and two fumble recoveries in a backup role with the Giants last season.

    "He's a big guy," general manager Ted Thompson said. "He can hold up the inside; he can play the run; and he has some ability to push the pocket. He's somebody that when he became available, we thought it was important to throw our hat in the ring."

  • Thompson said the team has no assurance that linebacker Brady Poppinga will be ready for training camp. Poppinga suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while making his first pro start in December.

    "He is pretty much a nail-eater, and you have to pull him back. But he's coming on very good," Thompson said. "You just never know when that time is going to be. It could be he's OK some time during camp. It could be he might be a PUP (physically unable to perform) candidate. But we're a long way from getting to that point."

    If he can make a full recovery, Poppinga would be in the running for the starting spot at strong-side linebacker.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "With the history and the tradition that they have here, it's unbelievable, especially compared to a lot of the other NFL teams. Coming from Ohio State with the tradition and the fans you have there, I knew if I had a choice, this is the place I would be. You couldn't ask for better fans. Everyone here wants to win, and they expect to win. That's how it was for me in Columbus. That's how I think it is here." — Linebacker A.J. Hawk on arriving Green Bay after the Packers made him their first-round selection

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