NFC North Hot News

Notes from around the division on free-agent players, new coaches, surgeries and keys to success for certain teams, as we compile Hot News from around the NFC North.

Hot News compiled from, and


Robinson's last hurrah

Marcus Robinson finished the season 15th in Bear annals with 187 catches and 13th with 2,695 receiving yards. For the 2002 season the receiver had just 21 receptions for 244 yards and four touchdowns, which are his lowest totals since his rookie campaign.

Accurate passer
Chris Chandler turned in the second-most accurate passing season in Bear history. Chandler completed 64 percent of his passes (103 of 161), second on the team's single-season list to Shane Matthews' 65.1 clip in 2001.

Interviews with 49ers
Greg Blache is one of several candidates being considered for San Francisco's head coaching vacancy. Blache will interview for with the organization on Monday.

Jeff Garcia didn't have kind words for the Bears defensive coordinator.

"I don't even know who he is, and I don't know much about Chicago's defense,'' he said. "That's just another candidate that probably doesn't do a lot for our fans.''

Rehab slow
Jim Miller is looking at a six-month rehab after undergoing shoulder surgery to repair a partially torn right rotator cuff. He may be able to throw by the start of training camp. He probably will not be the Bears' No. 1 quarterback by then, even though he was clearly the most effective of a bad bunch last season.

Wanted to return
Defensive coordinator Greg Blache doesn't want to lose his leading sack man of the past two seasons. But strong-side linebacker Rosey Colvin will become a free agent on March 1.

"Economics will play a big part in that," Blache said. "In football, you have to be mentally prepared for that. I'm from a big family. There were a lot of bicycles I wanted, a lot of ponies I wanted that I never did get. You kind of learn sometimes that you can't always get what you want because there's only so much money that can go around. We'd love to have him back. He and I talked before the (Bucs) game that I hope this wasn't our last game together."

Colvin, who had 10.5 sacks in each of the past two seasons, is expecting to receive offers in the $4 million-a-year range. "If he can be rich somewhere else, I'll always be proud of what he turned out to be," Blache said. "I saw him when he came in as a kid out of college and watched him grow as a professional. We're very proud of him. We'll appreciate the time we had with him."


Mooch likes Joey's style

New coach Steve Mariucci stopped far short of naming Joey Harrington his starting quarterback, but did have kind words. "You've got a guy in Joey Harrington that may not run around quite like Steve Young or Jeff Garcia or Michael Vick, but nevertheless certainly can be a great West Coast type of quarterback," Mariucci told the Detroit News. "I know a lot about Joey Harrington. The 49ers at the time felt just like the Lions did, that he certainly was a top-shelf quarterback coming out in the draft. We felt at the time he was going to be a heck of a quarterback in this league for a long time. I think he's got a lot to offer."

In hunt for starting role?
Everyone assumes Joey Harrington and Mike McMahon are the future of the team under center, but when asked about who would start next season, new coach Steve Mariucci told the Detroit Free Press: "You forgot about Ty Detmer. I've been around Ty with the Packers and 49ers, and here he is again."

A nice surprise
It looked like the return game was finished when Desmond Howard suffered an early-season neck injury but rookie WR Eddie Drummond stepped in nicely, averaging 26.0 yards on kickoff returns (third in the NFC) and 7.7 on punt returns. More important, Drummond had numerous big plays in the second half of the season -- a 73-yard punt return TD against Arizona, a 91-yard kickoff return against Tampa Bay and an 88-yard kickoff return against Atlanta.

Re-signs for three years
Mikhael Ricks: Tight end Mikhael Ricks, an alternate for the NFC Pro Bowl team, re-signed with the Lions for three years.


Key to defensive plan

Green Bay is horribly weak up the middle on defense and it must be rectified. If defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt leaves as an unrestricted free agent, the Packers must re-sign defensive end Vonnie Holliday and then kick him inside to Hunt's position at "eagle" tackle.

Has interest in Vikings
Defensive end Vonnie Holliday, whose contract with the Green Bay Packers expires at the end of the month, has an interest in signing with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are about $25 million under the salary cap. Holliday's agent said if he cannot work out a contract extension with the Green Bay Packers by the time free agency begins on March 1, Holliday will test the market.

Ahman, Part I
Running back Ahman Green allegedly failed to report a traffic accident Jan. 28 after he spun out of control in snowy conditions between Green Bay and Milwaukee. No other cars were involved, but police said his SUV crashed through a fence separating two highways. He could face up to a $450 fine and have his driver's license revoked.

Ahman, Part II
With 3,802 yards the past three season, Ahman Green already ranks seventh on the team's all-time rushing list. With 1,240 more, he'll move to second, behind only Jim Taylor's 8,207. "For me, all that makes me think is basically my hard work is paying off," Green told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I'm very honored to be mentioned in the same sentence with those guys, but I feel I've still got a long way to go. They did a lot of great things when they were here, but if I want to be just as good as they were, I've still got to do a lot of things around here myself."

Ahman, Part III
Ahman Green, by rushing for 1,240 yards in 2002 owns three of the top six 1,000-yard rushing seasons in Packers history. His '02 total ranks fifth, behind his 2001 season of 1,387 yards (third-best in Packers annals) and ahead of his 1,175 in 2000 (sixth overall).

Jim Taylor, with a club-record 1,474 yards in 1962 and 1,307 in 1961 (fourth), and Dorsey Levens with 1,435 in 1997 (second) have "out-rushed" Green over a single season.

Undergoes arthroscopic knee surgery
Pro Bowl guard Marco Rivera underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Wednesday. Rivera played the latter half of last season with torn medial collateral ligaments in both knees. He is expected to be ready to participate in Green Bay's post-draft minicamp.

Rivera played in his first Pro Bowl Sunday, rotating every other series at guard with Jermaine Mayberry.

A decent showing
Ryan Longwell, who ranked 28th in field-goal percentage during the regular season last year at 64.5 percent (20 of 31), improved to eighth this year at 82.4 percent (28 of 34). Also, Longwell averaged 62.76 yards and 3.73 seconds of hang time on 82 kickoffs, about a yard less than in 2000 but 1 1/2 yards more than last year.

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