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Spying on the enemy: NFC North training camp reports

The Chicago Bears have improved more than any team in the NFC North this off-season but how has their rivals looked so far?

NFL: Minnesota Vikings-Minicamp Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the Fort Knox approach from the Chicago Bears’ PR staff, most fans are well aware of how the team’s first week and a half of camp has gone.

Even with the Bears a week ahead of 30 other teams, the remainder of teams have reported to camp and are in full-swing. Included in those teams that have reported and have started practices, is the NFC North.

For a deeper dive into enemy territory, let’s jump in.

Green Bay Packers

NFL: Green Bay Packers-Training Camp USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin-USA

News and notes

  • Second year receiver Michael Clark announced his retirement after he did not report to camp.
  • A pair of Packers--- Offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga and pass rusher Nick Perry-- have started practice on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Both are expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.
  • Receiver Randall Cobb announced that he had off-season surgery on his foot.
  • New tight end Jimmy Graham spent a lot of time this off-season catching passing from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, according to Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Early Returns

  • Rodgers started off camp with a host of interceptions in the team’s first practice, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Appears Mitchell Trubisky isn’t the only one slinging it around with little worry in late July.
  • Jason Spriggs is taking the majority of the team’s starting reps at right tackle with Bulaga on the PUP, via Wood.
  • According to Wood, the team’s starting corners have been Kevin King and Tramon Williams on the boundary with first rounder Jaire Alexander taking most reps in the nickel.
  • Quinten Rollins has been spotted taking reps at both inside linebacker and safety early in camp. Filling a similar role to Morgan Burnett who left in March for Pittsburgh, via Michael Cohen of the Athletic.
  • Via Cohen, Receiver Geronimo Allison is expected to receive the first crack as the team’s primary third receiver.
  • Kicker Mason Crosby was 7 of 8 in the team’s first padded practice Saturday, via Wood.

Roster Battles

  • Receiver Three: Allison, DeAngelo Yancey, J’Mon Moore and Trevor Davis.
  • Running back: Ty Montgomery, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams.
  • Quarterback Two: DeShone Kizer and Brett Hundley.
  • Cornerback Two: Williams and Josh Jackson.
  • Nickel cornerback: Jaire Alexander Davon House.

Minnesota Vikings

NFL: Minnesota Vikings-Training Camp Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

News and notes

  • Last Sunday, the team’s offensive line coach Tony Sparano passed away at the age of 56.
  • The entire Vikings organization skipped practice on Friday to attend Sparano’s funeral service. Multiple current and former players attended, along with coaches like Rob Ryan.
  • Pending free agent linebacker Anthony Barr says he is prepared to play out the season and is not focused on a new contract.
  • Vikings named Clancy Barone and Andrew Janocko co-offensive line coaches. Todd Downing will be the new tight end coach.
  • Head coach Mike Zimmer plans to limit pass rusher Everson Griffen’s snaps this year to keep him fresh. Griffen has been a limited participant since tweaking his knee in the spring.
  • Receiver Stefon Diggs says he “loves it here” and wants to remain with the team long-term. Wouldn’t confirm if a new contract was close.

Early Returns

  • According to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, there’s no knee brace for second year running back Dalvin Cook, as he returns from a torn ACL.
  • Starting center Pat Elflein will start camp on PUP but isn’t expected to be out long.
  • The expectation is that first round rookie cornerback Mike Hughes will be the kick returner to start preseason. Marcus Sherels is expected to return punts, via Tomasson.
  • Receiver Stacy Coley has missed the start of practices with a groin strain, via Arif Hasan of Zone Coverage Minnesota.
  • Quarterback Kirk Cousins has impressed so far with both his leadership skills and on the field play, according to his teammates, according to ESPN.
  • Former Bear Tom Compton and Danny Isidora will compete for the starting left guard position, via Hasan.
  • Diggs has played like a true number one receiver early in camp, according to J. Reid of Inside the Pylon.

Roster Battles

  • Receiver Three: Laquon Treadwell and Kendall Wright.
  • Left guard: Nick Easton, Compton and Isidora.
  • Right tackle: Brian O’Neill and Rashod Hill.
  • Nickel cornerback: Hughes and Mackensie Alexander.

Detroit Lions

NFL: Detroit Lions-Training Camp Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

News and Notes

  • At the start of camp, the Lions signed veteran defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois.
  • Both pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah and reciever Andy Jones will start practices on the PUP list.
  • The team placed pash rusher and former Bear Cornelius Washington and linebacker Devon Kennard on the Active Non-Football Injury (NFI) list.

Early Returns

  • First round guard Frank Ragnow has been very impressive early on and is expected to win a starting job, via Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
  • Tavon Wilson appears to have the early leg up as the starting safety alongside Glover Quin. Via Kent Lee Platte of Pride of Detroit.
  • Also according to Platte, Teez Tabor has been working with the second team, with Quandre Diggs taking first team snaps as the nickel. Tabor has struggled so far.
  • Undrafted receiver Teo Redding has impressed, according to Kyle Meinke of the MLive Media Group.
  • Receiver Marvin Jones hurt his leg in practice on Saturday but says “I’m good”. Was back at practice on Sunday according to Platte.
  • Defensive back Jamal Agnew and receivers TJ Jones and Golden Tate appear to be the trio returning punts earlier in camp according to Platte.
  • CB Deshawn Shead has received the starting nod across from Darius Slay, via Platte.
  • Kennard was seen jogging and working with trainers at Sunday’s practice. Appears close to returning. Via Pride of Detroit.
  • According to Meinke, running back LeGarrette Blount was splitting starting reps with rookie Kerryon Johnson before leaving Sunday’s practice with an injury.
  • Meinke also notes that running back Theo Riddick should not be written off. Could he push Ameer Abdullah off the final roster? Only time will tell.

Roster Battles

  • Running back: Abdullah, Zach Zenner and Riddick may be fighting for the final two positions.
  • Starting tight end: Michael Roberts, Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo
  • Strong safety: Wilson and Diggs.
  • Cornerback: Shead and Tabor.