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Saturday, July 30, 2011
Quick hits: Good Saturday morning

By Kevin Seifert

Kinda hit a wall Friday evening. Happens. Now refreshed and ready for a weekend that will include our first training camp stop (more on that in a bit), let's slam through some random NFC North thoughts in quick-hit fashion:

Item: Chicago Bears tailback Matt Forte reported to training camp on time Friday after general manager Jerry Angelo assured his contract would be upgraded. "He told me a deal will get done," Forte said. "He said I'm a priority of his. What that means, hopefully that means soon. I mean, there's no telling with them. But to me priority means soon."
Comment: Timing is only half of the uncertainty. Angelo's idea of a fair deal for a running back might be different than Forte's. It's good to know the Bears will make an effort. But after DeAngelo Williams scored $21 million in guarantees from the Carolina Panthers, will their effort match Forte's demands?

Item: Bears camp opened without center Olin Kreutz, who remains an unrestricted free agent.
Comment: Kreutz is in discussions with the Bears but also has interest from the San Francisco 49ers. Odds remain he will return to Chicago, but Kreutz might be wise to let the Bears have a few practices without him to emphasize his value to them. And I'm guessing he won't be too disappointed if his time in Bourbonnais, Ill., is cut short a bit anyway.

Item: The Bears signed defensive end Vernon Gholston to a free agent contract.
Comment: I just googled Gholston to find his career stats. The first suggestion was "Vernon Gholston bust." That tells you all you need to know. The No. 6 overall pick of the 2008 draft has no career sacks. But there is no downside to giving him a flyer for camp, and if anyone can get something out of him, it's Bears defensive coordinator/line guru Rod Marinelli.

Item: The Detroit Lions placed left tackle Jeff Backus (pectoral) and cornerback Alphonso Smith (foot) on the active/non-football injury list.
Comment: Originally both players were destined for the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. The difference? Because the injuries occurred during the lockout, the contracts of both players would void (with no injury settlement) if the Lions decide to part ways. I don't think that's going to happen in either case, but it's an available option.

Item: Referring to defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh's brand-building activities this offseason, Lions coach Jim Schwartz said: "There were more Suh sightings than Bigfoot."
Comment: I'm glad someone said it.

Item: The Green Bay Packers agreed to terms with first-round draft pick Derek Sherrod, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and others.
Comment: The new collective bargaining agreement has rendered rookie negotiations pretty uneventful, at least until agents start finding some loopholes. But at this point, it would be a surprise if an NFC North team had a rookie holdout. The Packers' first practice is Saturday night.

Item: Packers coach Mike McCarthy and his wife, Jessica, welcomed baby daughter Isabella Conroy late Thursday night.
Comment: Sure, McCarthy won the Super Bowl last season. But if he really wants to show us something, he'll take the 2 a.m. feeding throughout training camp.

Item: New Minnesota Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb secured his No. 5 from punter Chris Kluwe in a deal captured on video by the team's web site. McNabb agreed to donate $5,000 to a charity Kluwe supports. He also pledged to mention Kluwe's band in five separate news conferences and finally to buy Kluwe an ice cream cone.
Comment: Kluwe, who will wear No. 4, is one of the breakout stars of the lockout.

Item: The Vikings are presumably still in negotiations to sign a free agent receiver, but coach Leslie Frazier had this to say: "Bernard Berrian is going to step up and have a great year."
Comment: Berrian could be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the transition from Brett Favre to McNabb. For reasons that haven't fully been explained, Favre and Berrian never connected on a personal or football level.