NFC North: Lawrence Okoye

We're Black and Blue All Over:

The Chicago Bears will become the first NFC North team on the field this offseason when a voluntary three-day minicamp begins Tuesday at Halas Hall. The team is scheduled for three two-hour practices, one a day through Thursday, to give new coach Marc Trestman and his staff a preview of the roster before the draft takes place next week.

Under NFL rules, new coaches are permitted this second minicamp, in addition to the traditional mandatory one that the Bears will hold June 11-13. Trestman told the Bears' website that the practices will be "a hard-working environment, but a tempered environment being that they're really not in training camp condition and we want to be very mindful of their safety over the three days."

Coaches plan to lay a "foundation" of the team's new schemes in anticipation of organized team activities (OTAs) that begin May 13, Trestman said. If nothing else, this week's camp will allow team officials to make a more informed judgment about roster needs before the draft and college free agency.

Continuing around the NFC North:
We're Black and Blue All Over:

We discussed the possibility of the Minnesota Vikings drafting Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o as recently as last Friday, and over the weekend, Sports Illustrated's Peter King added a more grist to the mill. According to King, Te'o had dinner the night before the Notre Dame pro day last month with Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.

The Vikings need a new middle linebacker, and at the very least we can say they have thoroughly investigated Te'o. In addition to the private dinner, they spoke to him at the NFL scouting combine and hosted him on a visit at their practice facility.

The Vikings have a deep history with Notre Dame players under Spielman, who has drafted four of them -- center John Sullivan, tight end Kyle Rudolph, safety Harrison Smith and safety Robert Blanton -- while also signing free-agent tight end John Carlson last year. Te'o is considered by many media analysts to be a late first-round pick, and the Vikings have picks at No. 23 and No. 25.

We must always be on the lookout for smokescreens this time of year, but it's hard to believe that even "Crazy Rick" Spielman would go to such lengths to feign interest in a player.

Continuing around the NFC North:

BBAO: Double chat alert!!!

April, 9, 2013
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Good morning. We're going to have not one but TWO opportunities for interaction Tuesday in various places here on (For some of you, it will be two chances rather than one to complain about lack of interaction time, but such is life.)

We'll start off with in a live chat module here on the blog at 12:15 p.m. ET, where AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky and I will discuss some ideas for improving the game-day experience at NFL stadiums. Last week, you might recall, the NFL announced it would add cameras to the locker room to give fans at the stadium an exclusive look.

Kuharsky's response: If you want to improve the experience, lower concession prices. On Twitter, I suggested cracking down further on aggressive drunks in the stands, a topic I'll post more about on the blog in a few hours.

You are cordially invited to join that discussion once the chat module appears on the blog. We'll chat for about 45 minutes, and the entire string will be archived for those who miss it.

Then, at 2 p.m. ET, we'll have our regular SportsNation chat for those who want to discuss any other topic. It should be an interactive day.

For now, let's check out some local coverage around the NFC North:




Thursday, 9/4
Sunday, 9/7
Monday, 9/8