2014 NFC North Training Camp Updates

Chicago BearsChicago-Bears-vs-Dallas-Cowboys

Chicago Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler has been excited to get back on the field and get the timing right with his receivers. Wide receivers Brandon Marshall, Terrence Toliver, Marquess Wilson, Alshon Jeffery, and tight end Martellus Bennett have been very impressive to watch over the past few years in the NFL. Each of these players have the height advantage to get leverage over their defender and make big time catches. Cutler talked in a recent interview about these players and what they can do on the field. “It makes it easy,” Cutler said. “You kind of just hang balls up there for those guys and they make the play. They all do a really good job of finding the ball in the air and knowing when the back-shoulder throw is coming. We just need to keep everyone healthy.”

“It’s obvious in practice that Jay is taking more and more control by the day,” said offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. “Not that he didn’t before, but with his comfort level and all of the things we’re trying to get done. He is becoming a sound leader each and every day he steps on that field.”

Even though Jeffery was sidelined because of a sore foot on Monday, Wilson had more gotten more opportunities to get more reps with the first unit and was on point. He was getting to his cuts cleanly on the field, beating out his defender on many occasions to make a clean and crisp catch.  If each of the players can stay in the zone and keep making plays, they will continue to be a threat to opposing defenses this upcoming season.

sel2087 Vikings PanthersMinnesota Vikings

The Vikings had a very intensive practice on their first night of training camp. Teddy Bridgewater looked majestic as he delivered accurate passes to his receivers. He eventually threw a touchdown and looked very confident while he was conducting the offense. The player that stood out the most was rookie running back Jerick McKinnon. 

McKinnon was showing that he could break tackles and has the vision along with the speed to finish off runs. The kid has talent period. If he stays healthy, he could be a dynamic running back for the Vikings that could take the pressure off of Adrian Peterson. 

 The offensive line and defensive front has improved quite a bit on both sides of the ball.  Each of the quarterbacks had time to step to make their throws and deliver the ball to their targets. There were a few miscues, but that is what practice is for. Fixing up mistakes before the regular season.

The defense held it’s own. They had put quite enough pressure on the quarterbacks, at times rushing them out of the pocket. The communication between players was on point and it showed throughout the course of the practice.

 Packers defense tackles Vikings' Peterson during the first half of their NFL football game in MinneapolisGreen Bay Packers

The Packers looks to tighten up their defense quite a bit. It was clear last season that the Packers’ defense was very beat up with injuries and players that were getting beat down the field. There were some bright spots in training camp this season. Safety Sean Richardson recorded an interception off quarterback Aaron Rodgers in a blitz drill.

Other than that mistake from Rodgers, Rodgers looks very comfortable in the pocket. His offensive line barely let him get touched, which shows that if he has time throughout the season the Packers could be very dangerous and make another playoff run. The new additions to the organization are already making an impact as Rodgers continues to find rookie tight end Richard Rodgers and second-round wide receiver Davante Adams.

Detroit Lions

james-jones-nfl-green-bay-packers-detroit-lions-850x560The Lions are looking to get more pressure on their opponents so they are exercising the use of more blitzing schemes to get more leverage on other teams. The Lions did not blitz as much last season and at times it cost them games because they did not put pressure on the quarterback. Last season they only blitzed 18.3% of the time.

“It doesn’t mean we’re going to pressure 95 percent of the time,”Linebacker coach Bill Sheridan said. “That’s insane. You can’t do that. I just think you’ll find that we’ll have a little higher percentage and I don’t think it’ll be as much as what’s being talked about.”

“There’s this perception we’re going to be blitz happy and I don’t see that at all. I just think as you look at the Lions from a year ago, and what I anticipate doing with our defense this year, we’ll pressure more. The value of pressuring for the passing game is that you have a chance to affect the quarterback more.” Sheridan said. 

 Stephen Tulloch and linebacker DeAndre Levy are expecting to have more opportunities to make impact plays with the defense and have been working very hard in training camp to maintain their positions.

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