NFC North: Jimmy Raye

We're Black and Blue All Over:

The Minnesota Vikings' search for a new defensive coordinator hasn't yet turned up an answer.

The first known candidate they interviewed, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris, joined the Washington Redskins on Wednesday. Their second candidate, Mel Tucker, is wanted back in his old job as the Jacksonville Jaguars' defensive coordinator. Former St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has been rumored as a third candidate, but other teams are competing for his services.

That would leave Vikings assistant head coach/linebackers Mike Singletary as a potential fallback candidate. Singletary is a close friend of coach Leslie Frazier dating back to their playing days with the Chicago Bears.

I wouldn't assume that Tucker is headed back to the Jaguars, who promoted him to interim head coach last season but then passed over him for their head-coaching job. And for what it's worth, the team still hasn't confirmed any move on incumbent Fred Pagac. Stay tuned.

Continuing around the NFC North:
The Chicago Bears have released a preliminary list of candidates to replace former general manager Jerry Angelo. All four have been granted permission to interview with the team, but a statement on the Bears' website made clear that additional candidates have not been ruled out and that current director of player personnel Tim Ruskell remains in play.

The four outsiders are:
I don't want to pass much judgment on this list because I don't totally know what the Bears are up to. It's unusual for a team to announce its full slate of candidates for such an important job. Is this a new era of transparency? Or could there be a stealth candidate they're distracting us from? Call me a conspiracy theorist, but lots of crazy stuff happens this time of year. Could it be an attempt to demonstrate due diligence before ultimately hiring Ruskell?

There have been rumblings that Ruskell has a better-than-even chance to get the job. Let's just say that the Bears haven't stacked the deck with this pool. None of the four has experience as a general manager.

The most intriguing candidate might be Ross, who has been a rising star since the Philadelphia Eagles made him the league's youngest college scouting director in 2000, when he was 27. He is a Princeton graduate and has a master's degree from the University of Massachusetts.

Stay tuned.

BBAO: Training camp in a month?

June, 27, 2011
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Imagine this: If all goes as planned, at least one NFC North training camp will be underway one month from today.

The Chicago Bears are scheduled to begin practice at Olivet Nazarene University on July 23, and the rest of the division would open camps by the end of the following week. It's all contingent, of course, on the NFL agreeing to a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with its players soon and the lockout being lifted by early July. It would be a tight timetable but would probably allow for a week or so of free agency before the Bears report to camp.

Two NFL teams, the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets, have already canceled plans for off-site training camps because of lockout uncertainty. The Bears apparently face no deadlines along those lines, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.

The Minnesota Vikings, the other NFC North team with an off-site training camp, have said they will inform Minnesota State University, Mankato, of their plans by July 15.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune profiles Ed McCaskey, 24, grandson of the former Bears chairman and a media relations manager for an independent league baseball team.
  • Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy will speak at a Fayetteville, N.C., sports banquet Monday at the request of longtime NFL assistant Jimmy Raye. Earl Vaughn Jr. of the Fayetteville Observer has more.
  • Packers fans are rallying around former player Fuzzy Thurston, who is selling his Super Bowl II ring to pay back taxes. Scott Venci of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has the story.
  • Detroit Lions guard Rob Sims is talking playoffs, via Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press: "I agree. I think it's time. I don't think it's premature. I think we put the work in last year and went through the bumps. We took the licks that we needed to take last year. It is time for us to think that way. It's time for us to get ready to play that way. Attitude is everything. If you set those goals high, you can reach those goals."
  • Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder will wrap up his work at the IMG Academy this week, notes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
  • Michael Rand of the Star Tribune profiles Matt Mitrione, a former Vikings player who is now a prominent mixed martial arts fighter.
  • Vikings athletic trainer Eric Sugarman is a member of the Hazleton (Pa.) Area Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2011.