NFC North: Mike Vrabel
And down the stretch we come. By the time this week is over, the entire NFC North will be in training camp in preparation for the 2009 season. But there is plenty of work to do before we get there.
- By my count, there are 10 unsigned draft choices -- including four first-rounders. Twenty-two of 32 Black and Blue picks are signed.
- We have that little issue of the quarterback position in Minnesota. Brett Favre's agent said last week it would be reasonable to expect a decision by the middle of this week. Vikings players have a mandatory meeting Thursday morning.
- We have the latest installment of ESPN.com's power rankings to reveal. More on that later Monday.
For now, let's catch up on the highlights of weekend coverage in the NFC North:
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press takes a thorough look at the life and times of quarterback Matthew Stafford. Here is Part I and here is Part II. Interesting tidbit: Stafford not only attended the Dallas-area high school of former Lions quarterback Bobby Layne, but he also grew up in a house on the same street that Layne did. The houses are about six blocks away.
- John Niyo of the Detroit News offers 10 questions on the Lions. Niyo also notes the Lions still have interest in veteran defensive lineman Kevin Carter.
- On his Twitter feed, NFL Network reporter Jason La Canfora reports the Lions will work out receiver D.J. Hackett on Tuesday.
- Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald suggests Chicago's training camp could be "the most interesting ever."
- The Chicago Tribune's David Haugh on the Bears: "Perhaps not since 1986 has an NFL season in Chicago been anticipated with such a mixture of hope and hyperbole. The arrival of this season has the feel of what it used to be like counting down to a space-shuttle launch."
- Defense is the top issue facing the Bears as they approach training camp, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times. The Bears are banking on the fact that coaching, not personnel, was the root of the team's 2008 problems.
- As Aaron Kampman transitions to linebacker, Green Bay is using the successful transitions elsewhere of Greg Ellis in Dallas and Mike Vrabel in New England as models. Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette looks at the challenge ahead for Kampman.
- Mike Vandermause of the Press-Gazette wonders if the Packers' season would have ended differently last season had linebacker Nick Barnett not suffered a season-ending injury.
- Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel opens his position-by-position Packers preview with quarterbacks and then moves on to the offensive line.
- Minnesota coach Brad Childress kept smelling salts on hand for the recent wedding of his daughter, Cara. Literally. Here's Rick Alonzo's nugget in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- Gad. Minnesota state legislators are already lining up to say the Vikings have little chance of having a new stadium approved during the 2010 legislative session. Here's what House Minority Leader Kurt Zellers told Bill Salisbury of the Pioneer Press about the Vikings' chances in 2010: "Probably about the same as the odds of me starting at cornerback for the Vikings." The Vikings' lease at the Metrodome expires in 2011.