NFC North: Tim Bream

We're Black and Blue All Over:

Hello there. I hope everyone had an outstanding weekend.

This week will provide ample evidence of how the NFL has earned year-around interest despite a four-month regular season. Monday marks the earliest possible day for NFC North teams to begin the first phase of their offseason workouts, and you can expect them to be covered deeply in most markets and discussed avidly by fans. Sometime soon we'll also celebrate a national holiday when the league announces its full 2012 schedule.

Over the next two weeks, as Mark Maske of the Washington Post points out, most NFL teams will be restricted to strength and conditioning work. Phase Two of the offseason (how official does that sound!) lasts three weeks and allows players to be on the field for drill work but no "team" 11-on-11 scrimmages. That is reserved for Phase Three, which will include up to 10 organized team activities (OTAs) and one mandatory minicamp. Phase Three lasts four weeks, for those of you scheduling out your next few months.

Hold on and get ready for the ride -- if you dare.

Let's take our morning spin around the division:
  • ESPN's Adam Schefter notes that Chicago Bears tailback Matt Forte won't report Monday to the start of workouts. Forte hasn't signed his franchise tender. Last we heard, Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril, another franchise player, also wasn't planning to attend.
  • Michael C. Wright of takes a look at the Bears' prospects for drafting a tackle and/or guard.
  • The Bears promoted Chris Hanks to head athletic trainer, replacing Tim Bream, notes Jeff Dickerson of
  • Bears safety Chris Conte (foot) has been cleared for all offseason activity, according to Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Former Bears receiver David Terrell was arrested Friday in Chicago on a domestic battery charge. Here's The Associated Press story, via
  • Lions running back Jahvid Best (concussion) will be in Detroit for the start of the Lions' program but hasn't been cleared for full football activity yet, notes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
  • Lions offensive lineman Corey Hilliard, a restricted free agent, is expected to sign his contract tender and participate in the offseason program, according to Birkett.
  • Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette looks at possible late-round quarterbacks the Green Bay Packers could consider drafting.
  • The Minnesota Vikings' stadium bill is set for another committee hearing Monday night. Details for those interested from Mike Kaszuba of the Star Tribune. Supporters are hoping for a voice vote, rather than an official one, to keep the bill moving.
  • Mark Craig of the Star Tribune profiles Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. Here's a quote from Spielman's brother, Chris: "When he was in school, there were endless piles of binders filled with notes. And he wrote so small. I'd ask him, 'Why do you write so small?' And he's say, 'Because I got a lot to write.'"

BBAO: Packers take time in talks

February, 16, 2012
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Here's a smart take from Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that I would love to clip and save as a response to everyone asking for updates on the Green Bay Packers' negotiations with their free agents.

Silverstein notes that historically, once the offseason begins, the Packers don't sign their free agents until the brink of the free-agent market opening or shortly thereafter. That's often the best time for negotiations, as long as you can stomach the risk of pushing the deadline, and it also provides the fullest sense of what the market should be for a player.

So if you're hoping that the Packers will soon sign tight end Jermichael Finley or center Scott Wells, then you might be a little optimistic. History shows a deal is far more likely on March 11 or March 12 than it is on Feb. 16.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • "Creative thinking" is the key to building a good coaching staff, according to Packers coach Mike McCarthy via Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
  • The White Earth tribe is proposing a casino that would help pay for a Minnesota Vikings stadium, according to the Star Tribune.
  • Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton urged state legislators to pass a stadium bill this spring during his annual State of the State address, notes the Associated Press.
  • Michael C. Wright of looks at the future of the Chicago Bears' linebacker position.
  • David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune writes on the departure of longtime Bears athletic trainer Tim Bream. Haugh: "The loss of Bream will affect some players even more than losing a position coach because of the rare bond Bream's personal approach fostered with stars and subs alike."
  • The Bears hosted a forum Wednesday for concussion awareness on the high school level. Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times has more.
  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press examines whether the Detroit Lions could select an offensive tackle in the first round of the draft.
  • Lions receiver Titus Young was named the team's rookie of the year by the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association, notes the Detroit News.