NFL Nation: Dave Redding
Arguably the most important event of the draft season -- at least between the scouting combine and the draft itself -- will take place Thursday on the University of Georgia campus.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford will headline a Georgia Pro Day that is expected to be attended by every NFL team. Stafford, the top-rated quarterback in the draft and a leading candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick, will throw publicly for the first time since the end of the college season.
Stafford skipped the throwing portion of last month's combine, increasing the importance of Thursday's event. As you might expect, a number of Detroit officials are expected to be in attendance. But the Lions also plan a private workout with Stafford at a later date. He visited their practice facility last week.
We'll keep you updated on the Pro Day as best we can. But in the meantime, here is a link to the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Georgia blog, which reporter Chip Towers will be updating live from the event. Stafford is expected to throw at about 12:15 p.m. ET.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Quarterback Drew Stanton, the Lions' second-round pick in 2007, is in danger of getting lost in the shuffle in Detroit. Daunte Culpepper is the top candidate to open training camp as the starter, and the Lions have said they plan to sign a veteran backup. But Stanton has been told he has a clean slate with the new coaching staff, according to Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
- The Lions hosted a visit Wednesday for Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji and Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew. David Birkett of the Oakland Press has the details.
- David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune shifts focus from the Bears' right tackle spot to the left side, where former first-round pick Chris Williams has been inserted as the starter.
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times takes an early look at the work of new Bears defensive line coach Rod Marinelli.
- Dave Redding is a "Hall of Fame strength coach," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiles the man running the Packers' offseason workouts.
- Former Minnesota safety Darren Sharper, who signed Wednesday with New Orleans, had a parting shot for the Vikings' coaching staff. Here's what Sharper told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, via Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune: "You love to play for coaches who don't just get caught up in saying, 'This is my system and this is how it's done.' That's how it was in Minnesota."
- The Vikings have agreed to terms with former Cincinnati receiver Glenn Holt, according to ESPN's John Clayton. Holt would have been a restricted free agent this offseason, but the Bengals did not make him a contract tender. He had three receptions in 15 games last season.
One more thought on Detroit's decision to part ways with cornerback Leigh Bodden, as first reported Wednesday by John Niyo of the Detroit News.
You could look at this as one of the first significant unravelings of the Matt Millen personnel disaster, one of many that likely will have to take place as the offseason progresses. Millen gave up the Lions' best defensive player, Shaun Rogers, to get Bodden and a third-round draft pick. But as Tom Kowalski of the Mlive.com alludes to, there was a disconnect between the front office and the coaching staff about Bodden's place.
Millen and his advisors no doubt saw Bodden as a long-term fixture for the defense, a classically cocky but talented cornerback who had six interceptions for the Browns in 2007. But former coach Rod Marinelli did not guarantee him a starting job, engendering a mistrust that continued throughout the season. That was Marinelli's policy for all new players, but Millen didn't foresee it being a problem for Bodden despite his personality.
It was an oil-and-water mixture that was never destined to work out, something that might have been clear with more pre-trade research into the matter. It was an example of the type of the disconnect between the front office and coaching staff that new general manager Martin Mayhew has alluded to several times.
If you're wondering, the only thing the Lions have to show for the Rogers trade is defensive tackle Andre Fluellen, who was selected with the third-round pick the Browns included in the trade. Fluellen played in eight games and started two as a rookie in 2008.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times and Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune provide a transcript of an interview that pending free agent receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh gave a Chicago radio station. The key quote from Houshmandzadeh: "I'm open to everything, I promise you that."
- Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analyzes the Packers' shift from Rock Gullickson to Dave Redding as special teams coordinator. Coach Mike McCarthy said he was looking for "a change in environment and attitude." Redding is known as an intense character.
- Here's what Minnesota tailback Adrian Peterson said when Philadelphia coach Andy Reid asked him how many times he wanted to carry in the Pro Bowl this weekend: "You can give it to me every time." Here's an Associated Press story on the exchange from Hawaii.
Two of the more prominent names circulating as possible quarterback targets for Chicago are pending free agents Chris Simms (Tennessee) and Byron Leftwich (Pittsburgh). Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times takes the pulse of both situations in his Inside the Bears blog.
Leftwich is two years removed as a starter. But speaking to reporters in Tampa this week, he said his year with the Steelers has made him a better quarterback:
"Just picking up from a Pro Bowl quarterback like Ben [Roethlisberger], the way he does things. And just being around good football players, any time you are around good football players, the Troy Polamalus and Hines Wards, you become a better player by understanding guys who have been in this league longer than you and what they do on a day-to-day basis."
Meanwhile, Simms' father said he is unaware of any interest the Bears might have in his son but said he is the "wrong guy to ask." Phil Simms, who was in Tampa this week as part of his broadcasting duties with Inside the NFL, also said he believes that potential free agents won't view Chicago as a place they can go to win a job:
"I was on the record all year, I know Kyle Orton. I followed him through college, I saw him early with the Bears and I thought he grew up. He was a different-looking guy this year. I thought he had a little moxie to him. There is a little something he has that I like. Whoever goes in there, it would be awfully tough to think that you're going to take Kyle Orton's job. I know that.''
Orton will be the Bears' starter in 2009, but backup Rex Grossman is likely to depart and the Bears probably don't want to enter training camp with second-year player Caleb Hanie as their backup. Simms is right: Whomever Chicago signs will almost certainly be in line for a role as a strict backup.
Continuing around the NFC North on a Thursday morning:
- Former Bears defensive tackle Bryan Robinson, who now starts for Arizona, said he knows what most Bears fans are asking: "I know people may be like, 'How is Bryan Robinson still in the league?'" David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune checks in with Robinson at the Super Bowl.
- Green Bay will hire Dave Redding as its new strength and conditioning coach, according to Greg A. Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Redding is considered one of the pioneers of modern strength training in the NFL. He worked for Kansas City when current Packers coach Mike McCarthy was the Chiefs' quarterbacks coach.
- Former Packers defensive coordinator Bob Sanders has surfaced as Buffalo's new defensive line coach. Here is the Bills' press release on the news.
- Former Detroit president/general manager and current NBC broadcaster Matt Millen isn't talking to the media during the Super Bowl buildup, but he did take a blimp ride with Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.
- Minnesota tailback Adrian Peterson won the FedEx NFL Ground Player of the Year award. FedEx will donate $25,000 to Safe Kids USA in Minneapolis in Peterson's honor.