NFC North: Trumaine McBride
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
Catching up on Thursday’s comings and goings in the NFC North:
- Chicago instituted a bit of a shakeup in its defensive secondary. Cornerback Zack Bowman will replace Nate Vasher in the starting lineup. Meanwhile, the Bears waived injured cornerback Trumaine McBride and claimed cornerback DeAngelo White on waivers from Cleveland. White was Dallas’ fifth-round draft choice this year and spent 10 days with the Browns.
- Green Bay left guard Daryn Colledge sprained his foot in practice Thursday. Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters that he doesn’t think the injury is serious. Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press-Gazette outlines two options if Colledge can’t play Sunday against Cincinnati. Rookie T.J. Lang could replace him, or the Packers could move center Jason Spitz to left guard and start Scott Wells at center.
- On the other hand, Packers defensive lineman B.J. Raji (ankle) and kick returner Will Blackmon (quadriceps) have full participated in practice the past two days. That makes it likely, but not certain, they’ll be available this weekend.
- Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril has missed the past two days of practice because of a hamstring injury. He started last Sunday’s game and is probably the Lions’ best pass-rusher. Jason Hunter would be one candidate to replace him this weekend against Minnesota.
- Minnesota tailback Adrian Peterson’s 180-yard output last Sunday at Cleveland puts him on pace for a 2,880-yard season. Maybe that’s why he had this to say Thursday when speaking with Minnesota reporters: “As far as rushing yards, I always say I am shooting to get over 2,000. I am not setting my bar at 2,000 and that is it. No, I am shooting to get over 2,000. ...”
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
Check here for a full list of Chicago’s roster moves.
Biggest surprise: The Bears kept 11 defensive backs and nine defensive linemen. That means those two positions make up almost 40 percent of the entire roster. More than anything, the figure reflects health concerns in those areas. No one knows how much defensive tackle Tommie Harris (knee) will play, and the Bears are hoping that safety Danieal Manning (hamstring), along with cornerbacks Charles Tillman (back) and Zack Bowman (hamstring) will be ready to go. But in case they’re not, the Bears kept safeties Josh Bullocks and Craig Steltz. They also have four backup cornerbacks in Nate Vasher, Trumaine McBride, Corey Graham and rookie D.J. Moore.
No-brainers: One of the final roster battles was tailback Adrian Peterson vs. tight end Michael Gaines. But tailback Kevin Jones’ season-ending ankle injury rendered the decision moot. For now, Peterson will join Garrett Wolfe as the primary backups to Matt Forte. Gaines won a job, at least for now, as the Bears’ No. 4 tight end behind Greg Olsen, Desmond Clark and Kellen Davis.
What’s next: You wonder if the Bears are satisfied with their backfield depth or whether they’ll seek another tailback to join Wolfe and Peterson. Among the runners available is Dominic Rhodes, whom Buffalo released Saturday. Chicago will almost certainly sign a quarterback to the practice squad after releasing Brett Basanez. That’s the typical course of action for a team that keeps only two quarterbacks on the active roster.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
According to multiple reports, Chicago plans to sign veteran cornerback Rod Hood, who was released Monday by Cleveland. The big question: Will Hood simply provide depth, or are the Bears concerned about the prognosis for one of their injured cornerbacks?
Charles Tillman (back) and Zack Bowman (hamstring) haven’t played this preseason, and some of the Bears’ backups have struggled. Tillman, meanwhile, told Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune that he still doesn’t know if he’ll be ready for the Sept. 13 season opener against Green Bay. Originally, the Bears’ goal for his return was the final week of the preseason.
Tillman: “Am I back for the [Green Bay] game? I still don't know. It's a tossup. I'd like to play Thursday. Shoot, I'd like to play right now. I'm glad I'm not in charge because I would have played two weeks ago, played in camp. And it wouldn't have been the smartest thing because I probably would have gotten hurt."
Hood nearly signed with the Bears during the offseason, and he’ll be in the mix either to start or play nickel along with Corey Graham, Nate Vasher and Trumaine McBride.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris was happy with the way he played Sunday night in Denver, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
- Matthew Stafford was the Lions’ only healthy quarterback Monday at practice, notes John Niyo of the Detroit News. Daunte Culpepper was sidelined by a toe injury, while Drew Stanton was having an MRI for what is believed to be a minor knee injury.
- Did veteran safety Lawyer Milloy turn down a contract offer from the Lions? Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press looks into it.
- It’s still not clear if Green Bay linebacker Nick Barnett will have a starting job when the season begins, write Tom Silverstein and Greg A. Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- But it does look like Barnett will bump A.J. Hawk from the nickel defense, writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
- Brett Favre was the story, but don’t forget that Minnesota tailback Adrian Peterson rushed for 117 yards on 11 carries Monday night at Houston. Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press looks at Peterson’s night.
- Rookie receiver Percy Harvin had an active night, writes Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune.
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- As we move through training camp and into the regular season, it'll be incumbent on me to make sure we don't duplicate the fine Bears coverage we're now getting from Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago. So make sure you check out his Monday practice notes, which leads off with the surprising ascent of rookie safety Al Afalava. It's impressive to see how much progress Afalava has made since missing most of the Bears' offseason program.
Here are a few other observations from Day 1 at Bears camp:
- I spent a decent amount of time watching pass rush/pass protection drills between the offensive and defensive lines. To little surprise, left tackle Orlando Pace was dominating. When he's healthy, no one can get around him. On the other side, I was also impressed with right tackle Chris Williams. He stopped Israel Idonije in his tracks and engulfed him on one play. Williams followed it up by doing the same to Mark Anderson on another. Last year's top draft choice looked quick and fundamentally sound to me.
- I won't pile on the Jay Cutler bandwagon -- too much. But I did see him throw at least one pass that makes you realize why the Bears paid so handsomely for him. During a team drill late in practice, receiver Devin Aromashodu had perhaps a quarter-step on cornerback Corey Graham as they sprinted down the right sideline. Cutler tossed the ball with perfect loft and distance, and Aromashodu caught it in full stride despite Graham being in pretty decent position. The pass was Exhibit A for how a really good quarterback can make receivers better. Cutler made the play work with only the slightest bit of separation.
- I got lost trying to keep up with the variations of defensive backs the Bears rotated in an out of the first team. With cornerbacks Charles Tillman (back) and Zack Bowman (hamstring) out, Trumaine McBride and Graham appeared to be rotating opposite Nate Vasher. Danieal Manning seemed to be the nickel back, when Afalava replaced him opposite Kevin Payne. I think. What that all means is the Bears secondary remains significantly unsettled with the first preseason game approaching.
Check back for more Bears camp coverage Tuesday. For those planning your schedule around it, my official Bears Camp Confidential report is scheduled to appear Thursday afternoon.
Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman hasn't practiced because of back surgery. Free safety Danieal Manning was sidelined briefly by cramps. Cornerback Zack Bowman strained his hamstring Wednesday and isn't expected to practice Thursday night.
Although none of the injuries are believed serious, the cumulative result could set back the development of the Bears' secondary. In this blog entry, Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago explores the domino effect created by absence of two of the team's top three cornerbacks.
In short, Trumaine McBride is now getting a chance to work with the first team at cornerback. Corey Graham and rookie D.J. Moore are also mixing into the rotation.
This isn't cause for panic. But it's worth keeping an eye on how long it takes for the Bears' primary lineup -- Tillman, Nate Vasher and Bowman at cornerback, Manning and Kevin Payne at safety -- to get on the field together.
It might not happen for several weeks. Tillman is expected to be ready for the regular season, but it's not clear whether it will be much earlier. Here's how general manager Jerry Angelo put it on the Bears' Web site:
"Unless something really freaky happens, Charles will be fine. When will he be fine from a football conditioning standpoint? That remains to be seen. He's doing pool work. He's doing a lot of cardiovascular work with our medical staff. But in terms of him healing and coming back from this, we feel very confident about that."
We had a little action last week in the NFC North, but as expected, the news certainly slowed as all four teams enjoyed some time away from their practice facilities. We got an update on the Williams Wall story, debated the pressure on Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford and argued over the identity of the NFC North's breakout player in 2009. (I say Minnesota receiver Percy Harvin, you say Chicago tight end Greg Olsen.)
But there's always material for the mailbag, thanks to your intrepid participation. Remember, you can contact me through said mailbag, our lightning-fast Facebook page or Twitter. Phones? They're, like, sooooo 2008. I don't even know why I have one.
OK, let's get on with it:
Kevin Seifert: Thanks for the assignment, Brad. Seriously, it's a good idea. As it turns out, the Lions rank last among the four NFC North teams in this category. The Packers lead with 33 players. Of course, these numbers can be skewed based on the total number of draft choices. But over time, it's at least a decent gauge of overall draft success.
Here's the team-by-team breakdown:
2001: 2 (Tackle Jeff Backus, center Dominic Raiola)
2004: 1 (Smith)
2006: 2 (Linebacker Ernie Sims, safety Daniel Bullocks)
2007: 5 (Receiver Calvin Johnson, quarterback Drew Stanton, defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis, guard Manny Ramirez, cornerback Ramzee Robinson)
2008: 7 (Tackle Gosder Cherilus, linebacker Jordon Dizon, tailback Kevin Smith, defensive tackle Andre Fluellen, defensive end Cliff Avril, fullback Jerome Felton, defensive tackle Landon Cohen)
2000: 1 (Linebacker Brian Urlacher)
2002: 2 (Defensive end Alex Brown, tailback Adrian Peterson)
2003: 2 (Cornerback Charles Tillman, linebacker Lance Briggs)
2004: 2 (Defensive tackle Tommie Harris, cornerback Nate Vasher)
2006: 5 (Safety Danieal Manning, receiver Devin Hester, defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek, linebacker Jamar Williams, defensive end Mark Anderson)
2007: 6 (Tight end Greg Olsen, running back Garrett Wolfe, guard Josh Beekman, safety Kevin Payne, defensive back Corey Graham, cornerback Trumaine McBride)
2008: 9 (Tackle Chris Williams, tailback Matt Forte, receiver Earl Bennett, defensive tackle Marcus Harrison, safety Craig Steltz, cornerback Zackary Bowman, tight end Kellen Davis, defensive end Ervin Baldwin, linebacker Joey LaRocque)
GREEN BAY PACKERS
2000: 1 (Offensive tackle Chad Clifton)
2002: 1 (Linebacker Aaron Kampman)
2003: 1 (Linebacker Nick Barnett)
2004: 1 (Center Scott Wells)
2005: 4 (Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, safety Nick Collins, linebacker Brady Poppinga, defensive end Michael Montgomery)
2006: 7 (Linebacker A.J. Hawk, guard Daryn Colledge, receiver Greg Jennings, center Jason Spitz, cornerback Will Blackmon, offensive tackle Tony Moll, defensive tackle Johnny Jolly)
2007: 9 (Defensive end Justin Harrell, running back Brandon Jackson, receiver James Jones, safety Aaron Rouse, offensive tackle Allen Barbre, fullback Korey Hall, linebacker Desmond Bishop, placekicker Mason Crosby, running back DeShawn Wynn)
2008: 9 (Receiver Jordy Nelson, quarterback Brian Brohm, cornerback Pat Lee, tight end Jermichael Finley, linebacker Jeremy Thompson, guard Josh Sitton, offensive tackle Breno Giacomini, quarterback Matt Flynn, receiver Brett Swain)
2002: 1 (Left tackle Bryant McKinnie)
2003: 2 (Defensive tackle Kevin Williams, linebacker E.J. Henderson)
2004: 2 (Defensive end Kenechi Udeze, tight end Jeff Dugan)
2006: 5 (Linebacker Chad Greenway, cornerback Cedric Griffin, offensive lineman Ryan Cook, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, defensive end Ray Edwards)
2007: 5 (Running back Adrian Peterson, receiver Sidney Rice, cornerback Marcus McCauley, defensive end Brian Robison, receiver Aundrae Allison)
2008: 5 (Safety Tyrell Johnson, quarterback John David Booty, defensive tackle Letroy Guion, center John Sullivan, receiver Jaymar Johnson)
Dictionary Guy objects to our use of "apocryphal" in a post about Brett Favre's appearance in the iconic "There's Something About Mary." Writes DG: Think about your demographic for about 5 seconds, then think about whether they know what apocryphal means. If you're not sure about the intelligence of your readers, try reading the comments sections. I have a college degree and I had to look it up. might want to dumb it down at least a LITTLE.
Kevin Seifert: What "college" did you go to, DG? Seriously, I get this type of note more often than you might care to believe -- and I hardly consider myself a wordsmith. My reading of the comments section reveals pretty much what we already know: The world is made up of geniuses, yokels and a lot of people in between. On this blog, we'll cater to everyone. And if you occasionally have to consult a dictionary, by gosh, consider making it a habit. It won't bite you.
VikingJ of Wausau, Wis., writes: Saw an ESPN story yesterday about certain teams allowing seasoned vets to go home during camp and not force them to stay in a college dorm room. You then hear coaches say that training camp is a period to build team unity (whatever that means). What are your thoughts on this subject, and what direction are the NFC north teams taking?
Kevin Seifert: You probably were reading about Washington coach Jim Zorn following in the footsteps of what ex-Baltimore coach Brian Billick once did with the Ravens.
I have often heard veterans complaining about off-site training camps. Some players don't like being away from their families. Many are uncomfortable in tiny dorm rooms and old mattresses, a legitimate concern when you consider how much energy they must expend during practice. For those reasons, I can see how it might help to sleep in your own home and bed. And to me, relationships can be formed during training camp whether you're sleeping at home or in the dorms.
Because let's be clear: Regardless of where you sleep, camp is a daily 18-hour affair. Typically, players are scheduled from about 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. If you're not practicing, you're either eating or in meetings or napping. For that reason, some players would prefer staying and sleeping in dorms because they're the closest thing to them. The long hours wouldn't really give them much chance to see their families anyway.
I'm not aware of a sleep-on-your-own policy in the NFC North. Everyone sleeps in dorms (Chicago, Minnesota and Green Bay) or in a hotel (Detroit).
Jimbo of Chicago writes: Kevin, what's the inside scoop on the other Adrian Peterson? With Matt Forte and Kevin Jones getting the bulk of the carries, and the Bears talking about how they need to get Garrett Wolfe on the field more this year, where does that leave a veteran like AP? Does he even have a spot on this team? Do they really hold a spot for him just to play special teams?
Kevin Seifert writes: Jimbo, there are a couple of interesting factors in play here. First, you wonder if the Bears really would keep four tailbacks on the 53-man roster. If they only keep three, the competition conceivably would be down to Wolfe and Peterson. To me, we'll find out once and for all if the Bears are serious about using Wolfe on offense. That would be the primary reason to keep him over Peterson.
Second, Wolfe showed proficiency as a special teams player last season, leading the team with 21 tackles. The Bears put a strong emphasis on coverage and wouldn't part easily with Peterson. But at least they would know that Wolfe can handle coverage assignments.
Randall of Monoma, Wis., writes: If the Williams Wall wins, why couldn't the Wisconsin legislature pass legislation forbidding the calling of penalties against the Packers in home games at Lambeau Field, as a violation of their employee rights?
Kevin Seifert: Haha. (I think. I'm presuming you're joking.) Randall, of course, is referring to the lawsuit filed by Minnesota defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. Essentially, the players are arguing that the NFL's steroid testing policy violates Minnesota state law. (The NFL contends the policy, which is part of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, should be subject only to federal laws.)
But I cordially invite the Wisconsin legislature to take a break from its busy schedule to pursue such a law. Just to see what happens. And I'm guessing there would be more than a few legislators willing to take up the issue. Revolution!
Joseph of Fort Meade, Md., writes: As a Bears fan I'm glad to see the "Williams Wall" case delayed. At the end of the day, the NFL doesn't care about the state of Minnesota's stance on drug testing. The wall will lose. So hopefully they can be suspended at a more critical time in the season.
Kevin Seifert: Joseph, you actually bring up a good point. We have no way of predicting how long the legal process will take here. One month? Three months? Six months? Who knows with these things. But if you strictly go by the regular season schedule, the Vikings' first four games might represent the best stretch for them to miss if it comes to that.
None of their first four opponents -- Cleveland, Detroit, San Francisco and Green Bay -- had winning records last season. And from a preseason perspective, at least, the only running game I would fear in that group is the Packers'. If the players' legal case ultimately results in them missing games later in the season, it could play a more important role in the Vikings' playoff aspirations. No doubt.
The Rod Hood sweepstakes, won Tuesday by Cleveland, means that at least two NFC North teams will continue to seek depth at cornerback. Hood visited both Chicago and Detroit in recent weeks, revealing some level of concern in both markets.
The Bears are practicing without two incumbents, Charles Tillman and Trumaine McBride, who continue to recover from offseason surgery. Cornerback Corey Graham has been moved to safety, leaving Zac Bowman and rookie D.J. Moore as the team's top backups. Veteran Ken Lucas visited earlier this offseason before signing with Seattle, and it's clear the Bears would like to add some extra bodies at the position.
The Lions, meanwhile, have been collecting bodies at cornerback since the moment the NFL rang the free agency bell. They acquired Anthony Henry from Dallas and signed Phillip Buchanon and Eric King; Hood and Chris Carr are among the veterans who visited but signed elsewhere. Incumbent starter Travis Fisher, meanwhile, was released.
You would assume that Buchanon and Henry will have a good chance to enter training camp with the first team, but the Lions aren't in a position to turn down interest at the position.
As they prepare for their mandatory mini-camp to open Tuesday, the Chicago Bears announced a series of inside-baseball news items on their Web site. Here's a run-down with a few comments from yours truly:
- There is a long list of veterans who won't participate because they are still recovering from various surgeries: Cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Trumaine McBride, safety Kevin Payne, linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer and defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek. Comment: That's one of the downsides of having mini-camp two months earlier than normal. Around the NFL, there are scores of players who wouldn't be ready to get on the field this early in the offseason.
- Second-year defensive back Zackary Bowman will be moved from cornerback to free safety. Comment: Makes sense considering the relative lack of depth at that position, where the Bears last week signed former New Orleans safety Josh Bullocks.
- New offensive lineman Frank Omiyale has played tackle and guard in his career, but he will work exclusively at left guard this week. Comment: It's been expected that Omiyale will replace Josh Beekman at that position. But that could change if the Bears don't re-sign free agent John St. Clair.
- The Bears will give second-year receiver Earl Bennett a chance to win the starting job opposite Devin Hester. Comment: By process of elimination, Bennett is the only internal candidate for the job. That's a lot to ask from a player whose next NFL catch will be his first.
CHICAGO -- The Bears seemed to be in some level of confusion on the play where Green Bay took a 7-0 lead here at Soldier Field.
Defensive back Trumaine McBride sprinted onto the field at the last second with the Packers facing a third-and-four at the Bears' 7-yard line. McBride arrived just in time to line up in front of Packers receiver Greg Jennings in the slot.
Jennings ran a shallow cross into the end zone against McBride, who fell as Jennings hauled in the catch. It wasn't entirely clear what type of defense the Bears were in, but I assume it was the dime.
CHICAGO -- Both of Chicago's top cornerbacks will miss Sunday's game against Minnesota
Charles Tillman (shoulder) and Nate Vasher (wrist) are among the Bears' inactive players. Corey Graham and Trumaine McBride will start. The possibilities for the nickel back position are Marcus Hamilton, Craig Steltz and Zackary Bowman.
Meanwhile, Vikings receivers Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice will both play. The Vikings also said that Vinny Ciurciu will start at middle linebacker. There had been a lot of discussion last week about whether Ciurciu, Dontarrious Thomas or Napoleon Harris would start. Thomas and Harris are both active for this game.