NFC North: Dave Redding
A new idea has emerged late in the Minnesota Vikings' push for stadium approval in 2011. Instead of razing the Metrodome and rebuilding on that site, officials have suggested an alternate vision: Buying adjacent land to build a new stadium, allowing the team to continue playing in the Metrodome until its completion.
The plan would eliminate the contingency of playing at the smaller TCF Bank Stadium for up to three years. The adjacent land is currently owned by the Star Tribune newspaper. Dave Orrick of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has more.
At some point soon, a single vetted plan needs to emerge to give legislators something tangible to consider. As it stands now, there are plans to study the Arden Hills site in Ramsey County, and there is support for at least three different sites in downtown Minneapolis -- the Metrodome, the Star Tribune land and space near baseball's Target Field on the west side of downtown.
Discussion is good. Distracting noise is bad. Without a unified plan, there is no chance of legislative approval this year.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- The Vikings know they are going to be a younger team in 2011, writes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
- This draft might not have an immediate, impact starter at quarterback, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
- A cornerback or a tackle are the most likely positions the Detroit Lions will target in the draft, according to Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
- Lions coach Jim Schwartz tweeted that "I must not be snooty enough" to understand the movie "The King's Speech."
- The Green Bay Packers have hired Zac Woodfin as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.
- Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette on outgoing strength guru Dave Redding, who is retiring: "Redding, 58, can recite in his sleep the benefits of free weights, position-specific conditioning and the importance of balance and coordinated movements rather than maximum lifting. But what makes him special is his ability to motivate players in the weight room, which led to greater on-field success."
- Former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, who committed suicide last week, was having a hard time remembering names and putting words together, his ex-wife told Alan Schwarz of The New York Times.
- Former Bears safety Doug Plank estimates he had 30 concussions in his NFL career, writes Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Shortly after he suffered a season-ending wrist injury in 2009, we debated whether Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher had done enough in his career to merit enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Our conclusion: Borderline.
But what about now, after Urlacher returned for a Pro Bowl season in 2010? In an interview with the Bears' website, coach Lovie Smith said: "I don't think there's any doubt."
Smith: "He's the face of the franchise here for a good reason. He's been [defensive] MVP of the league. I think it would help for us to be able to win a championship with him. But his body of work is worthy of being in the Hall of Fame. He's one of the [best] all-time players to play the game. Judging him against other great linebackers, I'd say that Brian is deserving."
The 2010 season certainly helped Urlacher narrow the gap. Time will tell.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times on the suicide of former Bears safety Dave Duerson: "Now, Duerson has raised the stakes. He has apparently martyred himself for a cause. And if he properly identified his symptoms, and the Boston University doctors confirm this in the next several months, no amount of rationalizing or [preservation] on head-injury issues -- past or present -- will be acceptable. The ticket-buying, TV-watching public, as shallow and oblivious as it can be about anything that disrupts its game-watching and team-worshiping, will not keep funding the future agony of athletes it adored. If the Duerson incident is as it seems, and we do not pressure it to be addressed in much more than lip service and phony studies that take months or years, then shame on us. A man apparently killed himself to be heard. What more does it take?"
- Minnesota Vikings officials met last Friday with Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak about the possibility of building a new stadium on the current site of the Metrodome, according to Dave Orrick of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway on the team's decision to place the franchise tag on him, via Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune: "My initial reaction is I'm excited to be a Viking for at least another year."
- The Green Bay Press-Gazette has a video preview of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
- The Packers announced the retirement of assistant strength and conditioning coach Dave Redding.
- The Detroit Lions might want to target an offensive tackle in the first round of the draft, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
- Lions coach Jim Schwartz explains why he doesn't provide injury details, via Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
Left tackle Chad Clifton was coming off surgeries to both shoulders and knees, and he entered camp without a clear-cut backup. Ultimately, the Packers moved left guard Daryn Colledge to left tackle when Clifton was injured early in the year, with disastrous results. Rookie T.J. Lang later took some turns. Here’s a portion of what Thompson said:
“The thing that I think is overlooked sometimes is you can't have a left tackle ready to play that's sitting on the bench in the NFL. There's not that many of them. There's not 32 of them. We happen to have one and we actually have a couple of young guys, including T.J. Lang, that we think can play out there. But when you get hurt at a position as valuable as left tackle, you're going to take some lumps. Now, we've done that in the past and we've been able to play our way through it and win some games. We struggled a little bit more this year.”
I agree with the first part. There aren’t even 32 good left tackles in the NFL, let alone enough to staff the bench as well. But I’ll repeat this: Upending multiple positions to replace one player, no matter who it is and where they come from, was a shaky first choice. If you’re going to be worse at left tackle when your starter gets hurt, to me it didn’t make sense to get worse at two positions.
Thompson said he hopes to re-sign Clifton and right tackle Mark Tauscher, but it’s early in the offseason to really know how that will play out. As we’ve discussed before, Lang seems in line for a starting role -- somewhere.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- The Packers have flipped the jobs of their strength and conditioning coaches, making Mark Lovat the primary coordinator and Dave Redding the assistant. According to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, that plan was hatched last year when Redding first joined the team.
- Chicago’s insistence that numerous coaches would be eager to join the team as coordinators created the current anxiety level surrounding the Bears’ search, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
- Bears receiver Johnny Knox never thought he would be in the Pro Bowl as a rookie, writes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Minnesota cornerback Asher Allen could figure prominently in training camp next season because of starter Cedric Griffin’s knee injury, writes Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune.
- Via Sportsradiointerviews.com, Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton rips Brett Favre. Again.
- Detroit right tackle Gosder Cherilus worked with doctors at Wayne State to help them fly to his native country of Haiti to help with relief efforts. Here’s the wire service story, via the Detroit Free Press.
- John Niyo of the Detroit News heard nothing during the Senior Bowl festivities to suggest the Lions won’t draft a defensive tackle at No. 2 overall.
Arguably the most important event of the draft season -- at least between the scouting combine and the draft itself -- will take place Thursday on the University of Georgia campus.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford will headline a Georgia Pro Day that is expected to be attended by every NFL team. Stafford, the top-rated quarterback in the draft and a leading candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick, will throw publicly for the first time since the end of the college season.
Stafford skipped the throwing portion of last month's combine, increasing the importance of Thursday's event. As you might expect, a number of Detroit officials are expected to be in attendance. But the Lions also plan a private workout with Stafford at a later date. He visited their practice facility last week.
We'll keep you updated on the Pro Day as best we can. But in the meantime, here is a link to the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Georgia blog, which reporter Chip Towers will be updating live from the event. Stafford is expected to throw at about 12:15 p.m. ET.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Quarterback Drew Stanton, the Lions' second-round pick in 2007, is in danger of getting lost in the shuffle in Detroit. Daunte Culpepper is the top candidate to open training camp as the starter, and the Lions have said they plan to sign a veteran backup. But Stanton has been told he has a clean slate with the new coaching staff, according to Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
- The Lions hosted a visit Wednesday for Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji and Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew. David Birkett of the Oakland Press has the details.
- David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune shifts focus from the Bears' right tackle spot to the left side, where former first-round pick Chris Williams has been inserted as the starter.
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times takes an early look at the work of new Bears defensive line coach Rod Marinelli.
- Dave Redding is a "Hall of Fame strength coach," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiles the man running the Packers' offseason workouts.
- Former Minnesota safety Darren Sharper, who signed Wednesday with New Orleans, had a parting shot for the Vikings' coaching staff. Here's what Sharper told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, via Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune: "You love to play for coaches who don't just get caught up in saying, 'This is my system and this is how it's done.' That's how it was in Minnesota."
- The Vikings have agreed to terms with former Cincinnati receiver Glenn Holt, according to ESPN's John Clayton. Holt would have been a restricted free agent this offseason, but the Bengals did not make him a contract tender. He had three receptions in 15 games last season.
One more thought on Detroit's decision to part ways with cornerback Leigh Bodden, as first reported Wednesday by John Niyo of the Detroit News.
You could look at this as one of the first significant unravelings of the Matt Millen personnel disaster, one of many that likely will have to take place as the offseason progresses. Millen gave up the Lions' best defensive player, Shaun Rogers, to get Bodden and a third-round draft pick. But as Tom Kowalski of the Mlive.com alludes to, there was a disconnect between the front office and the coaching staff about Bodden's place.
Millen and his advisors no doubt saw Bodden as a long-term fixture for the defense, a classically cocky but talented cornerback who had six interceptions for the Browns in 2007. But former coach Rod Marinelli did not guarantee him a starting job, engendering a mistrust that continued throughout the season. That was Marinelli's policy for all new players, but Millen didn't foresee it being a problem for Bodden despite his personality.
It was an oil-and-water mixture that was never destined to work out, something that might have been clear with more pre-trade research into the matter. It was an example of the type of the disconnect between the front office and coaching staff that new general manager Martin Mayhew has alluded to several times.
If you're wondering, the only thing the Lions have to show for the Rogers trade is defensive tackle Andre Fluellen, who was selected with the third-round pick the Browns included in the trade. Fluellen played in eight games and started two as a rookie in 2008.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times and Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune provide a transcript of an interview that pending free agent receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh gave a Chicago radio station. The key quote from Houshmandzadeh: "I'm open to everything, I promise you that."
- Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analyzes the Packers' shift from Rock Gullickson to Dave Redding as strength and conditioning coordinator. Coach Mike McCarthy said he was looking for "a change in environment and attitude." Redding is known as an intense character.
- Here's what Minnesota tailback Adrian Peterson said when Philadelphia coach Andy Reid asked him how many times he wanted to carry in the Pro Bowl this weekend: "You can give it to me every time." Here's an Associated Press story on the exchange from Hawaii.
Two of the more prominent names circulating as possible quarterback targets for Chicago are pending free agents Chris Simms (Tennessee) and Byron Leftwich (Pittsburgh). Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times takes the pulse of both situations in his Inside the Bears blog.
Leftwich is two years removed as a starter. But speaking to reporters in Tampa this week, he said his year with the Steelers has made him a better quarterback:
"Just picking up from a Pro Bowl quarterback like Ben [Roethlisberger], the way he does things. And just being around good football players, any time you are around good football players, the Troy Polamalus and Hines Wards, you become a better player by understanding guys who have been in this league longer than you and what they do on a day-to-day basis."
Meanwhile, Simms' father said he is unaware of any interest the Bears might have in his son but said he is the "wrong guy to ask." Phil Simms, who was in Tampa this week as part of his broadcasting duties with Inside the NFL, also said he believes that potential free agents won't view Chicago as a place they can go to win a job:
"I was on the record all year, I know Kyle Orton. I followed him through college, I saw him early with the Bears and I thought he grew up. He was a different-looking guy this year. I thought he had a little moxie to him. There is a little something he has that I like. Whoever goes in there, it would be awfully tough to think that you're going to take Kyle Orton's job. I know that.''
Orton will be the Bears' starter in 2009, but backup Rex Grossman is likely to depart and the Bears probably don't want to enter training camp with second-year player Caleb Hanie as their backup. Simms is right: Whomever Chicago signs will almost certainly be in line for a role as a strict backup.
Continuing around the NFC North on a Thursday morning:
- Former Bears defensive tackle Bryan Robinson, who now starts for Arizona, said he knows what most Bears fans are asking: "I know people may be like, 'How is Bryan Robinson still in the league?'" David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune checks in with Robinson at the Super Bowl.
- Green Bay will hire Dave Redding as its new strength and conditioning coach, according to Greg A. Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Redding is considered one of the pioneers of modern strength training in the NFL. He worked for Kansas City when current Packers coach Mike McCarthy was the Chiefs' quarterbacks coach.
- Former Packers defensive coordinator Bob Sanders has surfaced as Buffalo's new defensive line coach. Here is the Bills' press release on the news.
- Former Detroit president/general manager and current NBC broadcaster Matt Millen isn't talking to the media during the Super Bowl buildup, but he did take a blimp ride with Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.
- Minnesota tailback Adrian Peterson won the FedEx NFL Ground Player of the Year award. FedEx will donate $25,000 to Safe Kids USA in Minneapolis in Peterson's honor.