We're Black and Blue All Over:
Now hear this: After a long offseason, we've made it! The first set of NFC North players will report to training camp TODAY. And yes, the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings will take the field Friday for their first practices of the summer. It is so on.
The start of camp always heightens attention on contract negotiations with draft picks, and here's what we can tell you as of Thursday morning: The most difficult contract in this division is likely to be that of Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Lions' negotiations with Suh are moving "slowly." On the other hand, the Green Bay Packers reportedly are in position to strike a deal with offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga in time for their first practice Saturday, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Bulaga is the final unsigned Packers player.
As for me, I'll be departing for my first training camp stop this evening. Details shortly.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel isn't a big fan of the Packers' running back position: "Given the robust health of the Packers' other skill positions, running back rates as just middle of the pack by comparison."
Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "After his rookie season, Clay Matthews already ranks as probably the Green Bay Packers' second-best defensive player, behind only cornerback Charles Woodson."
The Packers will hold their annual shareholders meeting Thursday morning, with an audience that includes NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The presence of quarterback Jay Cutler and defensive end Julius Peppers has Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune bullish on this year's Bears team. Pompei: "[M]aybe I'm caught up a little in this feel-good time of year. But as the players are packing their pillows and gadgets for training camp, I like what I see in this Bears team. In fact, I feel better about this Bears team's makeup than I've felt about any Bears team in recent memory. In hindsight, the 2006 NFC champion Bears were better on paper than this team is today. But this team has the potential to be better than that team."
The Bears are going to need a more consistent ground game this season, writes Michael Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times looks at three of the Bears' key training camp battles.
Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune writes it is "astounding" for the Minnesota Vikings to bring back the same 22 starters for most of two consecutive seasons.
Brett Favre shot at an armadillo during his visit with Vikings coach Brad Childress last week, according to Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. OK then.
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com has a primer on Vikings training camp.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is poised to make a big leap in his second season, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
Lions linebacker Caleb Campbell is ready for his first live hitting in two years, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.