NFC North news, notes and quotes

Bears LB Pisa Tinoisamoa talks about the harsh realities of NFL business, two Michigan natives return to the troubled economic area to play for the Lions, and the formerly talkative Aaron Kampman offered short answers that probably tell of his unhappiness with a defensive change. Get news, notes and quotes from the Vikings' NFC North rivals.

CHICAGO BEARS

Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, the newest Bear, has been around long enough to know football has a business side. But he admits it was still a jolt when the Rams cut him after six seasons, even though he was their leading tackler in four of those years.

"It is a shock because, even though you see it happening around the league, you say, ‘It's not going to happen to me,' " the seventh-year veteran said after Wednesday's OTA practice at Halas Hall. "It's like when you say, ‘If I eat all these vegetables and Acai berries and fruit and stuff, then I'm going to live forever.' But the reality is you're not going to live forever. That's how it was in St. Louis.

"I saw last year with Brett Favre, all the drama that was going on with him and I thought, ‘That could be me one day.' And then it happened to (former teammates) Torry (Holt), it happened to Orlando (Pace), and there was talk about me."

And then it happened to Tinoisamoa. The Rams cut him on May 8, even though he had a team-best and career-high 104 tackles last season. But he also had a $4.25 million base salary, and new head coach Steve Spagnuolo decided to go in a different direction.

A different direction is exactly what Tinoisamoa had in mind after suffering through the last two years on Rams teams that went 5-27. That's why he gladly accepted the Bears' offer, even though he could have made more money elsewhere. The Bears' offer did not include any guarantee of a starting spot, although Tinoisamoa is expected to win the spot on the strong side.

"Just the chance to be on a winning team is worth it to me, he said. "I've been fortunate to get paid in this league, and that was good, but I still had to go home a loser. I'd give all the money back if I could win again."

For now, Nick Roach, who won the job from Hunter Hillenmeyer halfway through last season, is still the Bears' starter. That's fine with Tinoisamoa. He wouldn't have felt right being handed someone else's job.
"There were opportunities to go to other teams," he said, "(and) it was like, ‘We're going to give you the job.' For me, that was awkward. I know there were guys who had been working since the end of last season, and they felt like they were the starter. Now, all of a sudden, somebody comes in and, just because he led another team in tackles, he takes their job?

"I wouldn't appreciate that. So I didn't want to go into a situation like that. The fact that I have to earn a job definitely makes me more hungry because now I know it's not just given to me."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're not going to be as good Sept. 13 as we will be later on in the year, but we'll be good enough to go out and execute and move the ball and score some points hopefully. It's a work in progress. We'll continue to grow, and we'll continue to get better as an offense as the season goes along." — Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner on how quickly QB Jay Cutler is picking up the offense.


DETROIT LIONS

Two of Detroit's Big Three automakers are in bankruptcy. The Michigan economy is hurting badly. The Lions are coming off the NFL's first 0-16 season.

And Larry Foote and Jon Jansen are coming home.

Both grew up in the Detroit area, both played at Michigan, both went on to successful NFL careers and both signed one-year contracts with the Lions in May.

"That's a good feeling, not only for the Detroit Lions," coach Jim Schwartz said. "I think that's a good feeling for the city of Detroit, for the state of Michigan, that you have guys like Larry Foote and Jon that want to come back and want to live here, want to play here, want to play for the fans here. I think that's a strong statement."

This isn't just charity. Foote wanted to leave the Steelers to show he can be a three-down linebacker in the NFL, and he wanted only a one-year deal so he can cash in next year as a free agent. Jansen declined an offer to retire as a Redskin, hoping to prove he can still play offensive tackle at a high level.

But both have strong connections to — and feelings for — the area.

Foote was building a home in Detroit long before the Steelers released him, and wherever he plays in the future, he intends to retire in Detroit. Friends have said he would like to coach at his old high school, Detroit Pershing.

"This is my home always," Foote said. "When I'm done playing, I'm going to be back here and doing a lot of stuff in the community. That's another plus factor of why I wanted to come here. Detroit's hurting a little bit, especially in the inner city. A lot of our young kids, they're going down the wrong direction."

Jansen's family still lives in the Detroit area, and his offseason home has been on a little lake in northern Michigan for the past seven or eight years. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder sent a private plane there to fly him to Washington so they could discuss his future, and before Jansen returned, he had, well, returned.

"We got on the plane back, and before we landed, my agent had called and said, ‘Hey, it's a done deal. You're going home,' " Jansen said. "As soon as I knew I was going to be released, I said, ‘Hey, why don't you call Detroit? I would love to play close to home.'"

Both want to help the Lions and their hometown.

"This is an area that I care deeply about," Jansen said. "I'd really like to come back and be a part of restoring the Lions to where they should be. Am I going to be the answer? No. But I'd like to be a part of the answer."

"Detroit is on the up-and-up," Foote said. "We're starting fresh with the football team. We've got a new mayor. We can't do nothing but go up, to be honest. But people have got to be willing to roll up their sleeves and get to the root of it and turn things around, and I'm definitely one that's on the positive side of that. I'm excited. Just off the field, just doing stuff in the community and reaching these young kids and getting this place turned around."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You 60?" — Lions safety Louis Delmas, a rookie comfortable enough to tease coach Jim Schwartz on his 43rd birthday. Schwartz smiled and fired back that a girl had just asked if he was 35.


GREEN BAY PACKERS

Aaron Kampman broke his unusual silence, but the little he had to finally say to reporters spoke volumes about the Pro Bowl defensive end's disposition toward his move to outside linebacker in the new 3-4 scheme.

Kampman had refused to address the transition until he entertained questions at his locker June 3, following the team's fifth practice in organized team activities.

The typically congenial and loquacious Kampman did an about-face and was terse with his answers in a seven-minute exchange with the media.

When asked about his initial reaction to the late January change in scheme from the Packers' longstanding 4-3 front, Kampman responded vaguely, "Well, historically, the 3-4 has been a sound defense."

As for the perception that he has been hesitant to move to linebacker and the switch maybe isn't the best thing for him, Kampman replied, "I think those are things that the media has talked about."

He continued to be strangely short with his answers.

How is the transition going for you to pick up the scheme? "I'm learning it," he said.

Do you like it? "I'm learning it," he said.

Will you learn to like it? "I'm not saying I don't like it. I'm just saying I'm learning it," he said.

The big change in position comes as Kampman is entering the final year of his contract, but he sidestepped the question when asked whether that has anything to do with his apparent unhappiness.

Kampman acknowledged he is faced with "a learning curve" in the offseason practices as he adjusts to lining up at left outside linebacker without his hand on the ground and dropping into coverage.

"I don't sense that he's unhappy," said inside linebacker Nick Barnett, a longtime teammate of Kampman. "It's an adjustment for him. I think he's doing good in it. It's however he feels, confident-wise, and if he likes it. It's a big adjustment.

"The good thing about him is he's so athletic and he prepares so well that he can do it. If there's any defensive end in the league that can do it, it's him."

Nevertheless, Kampman's most telltale answer regarding the position change he's had to make in his eighth year in the league may have been when he was asked: "If it was your choice, would you still be a 4-3 end?"

"Uh, I'm not at liberty to really make those choices," Kampman said.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think he's well-coached. I think he picks up things well. If you have time to spend with him, I think he communicates very well. I've been impressed with B.J. so far. We're running around in underwear right now (in organized team activities) ... but I think he's off to a good start. I'm happy with what he's brought to the table so far." — Head coach Mike McCarthy on his assessment of the football IQ of nose tackle B.J. Raji, the Packers' top draft pick this year.



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