NFL Nation: Glenn Holt
There was no shortage of optimism at Detroit's practice facility following a strong offseason program and a 4-0 preseason. Some players and coaches believed the franchise had turned the corner. Then, 0-16 happened.
Lions linebacker Ernie Sims, for one, has learned his lesson. Speaking to Detroit-area reporters, Sims wouldn't agree that there should be cautious optimism about the 2009 team:
"Naw, I'm not cautious because that's what it is. I'm being real. It might look good on paper right now and it might look good because they're running good in offseason training, but it really matters when it's Sunday and the lights are on and it's game time."
(Quote courtesy Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.)
Sims said he has spent the past 2 1/2 months mostly in isolation to put last season behind him:
"I went home and went into the country and didn't come out and didn't talk to nobody. And now I'm back. I went into the country, into the woods. I disappeared. I went fishing and caught me a 10-pound bass. I did all kinds of stuff. I just got away, relaxed and let my body heal up."
Sims is a pretty quiet guy and mostly keeps to himself. But from this vantage point, it seems he has the right kind of personality to navigate the Lions' rebuilding project.
Continuing around the NFC North a bit later than normal on this Friday morning:
- Lynn Henning of the Detroit News attended Thursday's pro day for Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew also was in attendance but declined comment.
- Chicago receiver Earl Bennett said he had trouble learning the Bears' plays as a rookie, according to Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald.
- The Bears completed their three-day minicamp Thursday and will return April 6 to begin the strength and conditioning portion of their offseason.
- According to this story from Megan Manfull of the Houston Chronicle, Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris will join a group of NFL players traveling this month to Nigeria.
- Cornerback Karl Paymah and receiver/kick returner Glenn Holt believe they have a chance to win the Super Bowl with Minnesota, an unbelieving Mark Craig reports for the Star Tribune.
- In case you missed it Thursday night, Green Bay safety Nick Collins has skipped the start of the Packers' offseason program because of a lack of progress towards a new contract. Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal has the story.
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
PITTSBURGH -- The Cincinnati Bengals have come to play in Heinz Field.
The Bengals jumped on the Pittsburgh Steelers early with a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to receiver Glenn Holt to take a 7-0 lead. Holt, ironically, replaced Chad Ocho Cinco in the starting lineup Thursday night after Ocho Cinco violated a team rule.
Cincinnati is playing very methodically to start off the game. The Bengals have won in Pittsburgh two of the past three years and are trying to duplicate that formula again for the upset.
1:00 PM ET Indianapolis Cincinnati 1:00 PM ET Atlanta Green Bay 1:00 PM ET Cleveland New England 1:00 PM ET Oakland New York 1:00 PM ET Detroit Philadelphia 1:00 PM ET Miami Pittsburgh 1:00 PM ET Buffalo Tampa Bay 1:00 PM ET Kansas City Washington 1:00 PM ET Minnesota Baltimore 4:05 PM ET Tennessee Denver 4:25 PM ET St. Louis Arizona 4:25 PM ET New York San Diego 4:25 PM ET Seattle San Francisco 8:30 PM ET Carolina New Orleans