NFC North weekend mailbag

Verse No. 2 from a tune reflecting our pending shift from offseason to training camp mode -- and other looming transitions:

Six o'clock TV hour, don't get caught in foreign towers

Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn

Locking in, uniforming, book-burning, blood-letting

Every motive escalate, automotive incinerate

Light a candle, light a votive, step down step down

Watch your heel, crush, crushed uh-oh this means

No fear cavalier, renegade, steer clear

A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies

Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives

And I decline

It's the end of the world as we know it

It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)

It's the end of the world as we know it

And I feel fine

Some of us University of Virginia types would argue the transcription of line seven, but Michael Stipe couldn't immediately be reached for comment. Like the rest of you, he can hit the mailbag portal, Facebook or Twitter to contact me.


Corey of Evans, Ga., wants us to revisit our 2009 discussion on the NFC North's skilled group of tight ends.

Kevin Seifert: Last year, we followed the progress of the four promising (and starting) tight ends in this division: Greg Olsen, Brandon Pettigrew, Jermichael Finley and Visanthe Shiancoe. Corey's question intrigues me because it helps illustrate how much depth NFC North teams have assembled behind those starters this offseason.

Check out the chart below.

The Bears signed Brandon Manumaleuna to a substantial free-agent contract. The Lions traded for Tony Scheffler to help them navigate Pettigrew's knee rehabilitation, while the Packers drafted talented pass-catcher Andrew Quarless from Penn State. The Vikings drafted Quarless' backup, Mickey Shuler, but at this point I don't think he ranks higher than No. 5 on the Vikings' depth chart.

It's going to be fun to watch this group's progress in 2010 and find out how the new additions will impact the incumbents. Olsen, for instance, has been dropped into an offense that traditionally hasn't made much use of pass-catching tight ends. Manumaleuna has played for Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz and is known for his blocking prowess, but he has disappointed some people with his slow recovery from offseason knee surgery.

In Detroit, it's not totally clear when Pettigrew will be cleared to return after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament last November. Even when he does play, Scheffler is too good of a receiver to leave on the bench. Finally, I'm wondering what Quarless' arrival will mean for veteran Donald Lee in Green Bay. Assuming Quarless is good enough to make the team, and that Spencer Havner's versatility remains valued, would Lee lose his roster spot? Do the Packers need four tight ends?

Those questions are among the issues we will be following this summer and fall.

Yukonjack of Carrington, N.D., writes: With all the rumors flying around up here about Adrian [Peterson] not attending minicamp, do you think it could be as simple as the Vikings embarrassed him on the NFL Network with running backs coach Eric Bieniemy constantly getting after him in that film study? Adrian's answers kept getting shorter and by the end, he was not answering at all!! What's your take??

Kevin Seifert: Interesting point, Yuk. I don't think the video itself is what caused Peterson's absence, especially considering it didn't hit the airwaves until after minicamp. (If you haven't watched it yet, by all means do so.)

But I'm also not ready to brush aside the video as a non-issue, either. Bieniemy is always blunt and a straight shooter, but I'm wondering if Peterson knew he was going to be so harsh with the cameras rolling. I agree with your assessment. It got pretty uncomfortable watching Peterson's reaction, especially because you could tell he knew the cameras were seeking his reaction.

That's not to say Bieniemy's analysis was wrong or undeserved. But there is a big difference between delivering it in the private sanctity of an NFL film room and in front of NFL Network cameras. By the end, Peterson looked like he wanted it to be over. Not many players, superstar or otherwise, prefer to be dressed down by their coaches in front of a camera.

And I was especially interested to note that none of the (aired) conversation was about Peterson's fumbling issue. It was about Bieniemy's belief that Peterson left 200-300 yards on the field last season through fundamental lapses and impatience.

Keep in mind that this was one of the few (if only) film sessions Peterson had with a Vikings coach all offseason. I'm not sure how productive it was.

Thatkuhlkid of Madison, Wis., writes: What will happen with the Packers if there is an owners lockout? They are a publicly-traded company and I can't imagine the stock holders/team president wanting to lock them out. Is there a scenario that the Packers would have the opportunity to take the field at all?

Kevin Seifert: I've gotten this question from more than a few people. It's true from a technical standpoint that some 112,000 shareholders own the franchise through voting stock. But the reality is the Packers don't operate their daily business in that regard. Their Executive Committee and CEO/president Mark Murphy are empowered to make the organization's decisions.

Given Murphy's role on the NFL's Management Council Executive Committee, which will negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement on behalf of owners, it's safe to assume he will involve the Packers in a lockout if one comes to pass. And if he didn't, who would the Packers play?

Mike of Raleigh, N.C. writes: I've heard a lot about how Rob Sims should help anchor the Lions' line, now that we have a quality LG. I've repeated it myself to friends without really thinking too much about it. In unrelated articles however, I've read about how it's relatively easy for coaches to mask deficiencies in the interior of the line. If that is the case, how much improvement should we really see with Sims in there? Is it the case that he is so vastly superior, or is more wishful thinking from Lions fans?

Kevin Seifert: No, I think this is a big deal -- if for no other reason than having continuity at the position. A team might be able to compensate for a weaker offensive lineman, but there is no way to cover for constantly changing personnel. If Sims can lock down the position, developing some chemistry with left tackle Jeff Backus and center Dominic Raiola, then the Lions will have made a significant upgrade regardless of his skill level.