NFC North: Jay Culter
Martz traveled to Nashville, Tenn., Saturday to meet with quarterback Jay Cutler. David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune termed that trip “ridiculously awkward” because it suggested Cutler was in position to pass judgment on Martz rather than the other way around. In some ways, however, Martz needs to demonstrate his willingness to be a team player as much as Cutler does.
Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times reports there could be some disagreement in the Bears' hierarchy over this job. Ultimately, however, coach Lovie Smith should get the final decision. It’s his coaching staff, and the on-field product is his responsibility.
Continuing around the NFC North as we ramp up Super Bowl hype week:
- Minnesota special teams star Heath Farwell played extensively at linebacker Sunday night in the Pro Bowl, notes Mark Craig of the Star Tribune.
- Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie offered a conciliatory statement Saturday night about his dismissal from the Pro Bowl, but he was defiant Sunday night -- and Monday morning -- on his Twitter page. McKinnie wrote: “What I realize is ppl like negative that's what sells @ the end of the day!” Also: “HATERS MAKE ME STRONGER SO THANX 4 THE FAVOR! I DON'T BREAK SUCKAS!”
- Detroit general manger Martin Mayhew is excited about the class of more than 50 juniors who declared themselves eligible for the draft, according to Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press.
- Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has learned to deal with the Brett Favre questions, writes Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Could Jermichael Finley unseat Donald Lee as Green Bay's starting tight end? That will be an under-the-radar camp battle as the Packers look to "reintroduce firepower to the position," writes Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Finley was a 21-year-old project last year but has made progress in learning the offense and with his blocking skills. Finley's top camp priority, according to tight ends coach Ben McAdoo, is to develop better chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. If that happens, Finley's speed and athletic ability will make him a natural downfield threat and provide the Packers with a new threat on offense.
The Packers' reconstructed defense and offensive line will get the majority of attention during the early part of training camp. But the rate of Finley's progress will be just as significant.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- The Packers have full confidence in their current stable of running backs, write Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
- Chicago is hoping to have cornerback Charles Tillman (back) in the lineup by the final preseason game. But the long end of his recovery timetable is 10 weeks, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune notes that Tillman had surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back in 2007.
- Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times believes the Bears should pursue quarterback Michael Vick, who the NFL conditionally reinstated Monday. Mulligan: "Getting [Jay] Cutler was the hard part, but to truly stabilize the position, the Bears need more than good thoughts about second-year man Caleb Hanie and kind wishes for Brett Basanez. They need the kind of cover only Vick can provide."
- In lieu of a formal depth chart, John Niyo of the Detroit News looks at the Lions' offensive positions.
- Missed this from over the weekend: Mlive.com's Tom Kowalski believes Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is on the fast track to starting the team's opener at New Orleans. Kowalski: "The truth, though, is people in the organization believe Stafford is even better than they thought."
- The ankle dislocation that forced Minnesota to waive cornerback Charles Gordon is a "major, major injury," according to agent Kenny Zuckerman. Chip Scoggins and Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune have that story and also note that the Vikings are trying to sell naming rights to the field at the Metrodome.