This weekly column will highlight news from around the league, specifically, news that impacts the Green Bay Packers. It will keep you up to date on important games, injuries and transactions, as well as playoff standings throughout the season. During the pre-season, it will focus on some of the top position battles of our three division rivals, updating you weekly on the progress of each battle.
Week 3 was a rough one for the Chicago Bears, who were rocked by the Seattle Seahawks 34-6.
It seems the Bears know what they want to do at linebacker. Shea McClellin looks likely to start at strong side linebacker, while Jon Bostic will be the first linebacker off the bench. Bostic has been decent this preseason, not good enough to take the starting inside linebacker spot away from D.J. Williams. Bostic was given a shot to win the strong side job, but he is much more comfortable playing inside and didn’t seem to fit in playing on the strong side.
Marc Trestman still doesn’t seem to have decided on a starting safety. Incumbent starter Chris Conte made his preseason debut this week, and had half a tackle. Rookie Brock Vereen, who appears to be the favorite, made one solo tackle while Danny McCray notched two. This competition hasn’t cleared up much, and will likely go down to the wire, but it doesn’t seem like anyone did enough to take over as the favorite.
There is a brand new battle for the top Kick Return spot. A week after Eric Weems was released, Michael Ford, who seemed to be the favorite to return kicks as of last week, was waived by the Bears. Rookie Running Back Senoris Perry returned two kicks for a total of 50 yards. Veteran Wide Receivers Darius Reynaud and Michael Spurlock were also featured in the return game. Reynaud returned two kicks for 40 yards, while Spurlock returned one for 18 yards. Reynaud and Spurlock have been in the NFL for six and eight years respectively, and neither has had a prolific career to this point, so look for the Bears to choose the guy who has the potential to contribute at another position.
Leader: Senoris Perry
The Lions beat the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars 13-12 with a fourth quarter touchdown in week 3. There appears to have been some movement at a few key position battles as well.
At right tackle, Corey Hilliard was given the start. He had a key block on an 86 yard Reggie Bush touchdown run. Both Hilliard and LaAdrian Waddle have looked solid in pass protection. Hilliard had a very good performance, but it might not have been enough to overtake Waddle. Waddle has performed very well this preseason also, and is bigger and younger.
The kicker battle continues to be too close to call. Neither Nate Freese nor Giorgio Tavecchio seem to have any intention of giving up the job. There were only two kicks taken in preseason week 3. Nate Freese made an extra point, and Tavecchio missed a 51 yard attempt late in the 4th quarter. Tavecchio’s miss was the first missed field goal in preseason action for either kicker.
The top of the depth chart remains the same for the Lions. Rashean Mathis and Darius Slay are the starters; Bill Bentley and Cassius Vaughn are the nickel and dime backs. The remaining fight at cornerback is for the fifth, and probably final, spot. Chris Greenwood and Jonte Green have been fighting hard for the roster spot. Each had two tackles in this week’s game. Jonte Green may have given himself an edge with his 4th quarter interception. The Lions are looking for someone who can make a play, and Green made one.
The Vikings looked good in Preseason Week 3. They beat the Chiefs in Kansas City 30-12. There were plenty of positives for the Vikings to take away. There were also some developments in a few battles for starting positions.
Both Jasper Brinkley and Audie Cole looked good this week. Brinkley had four total tackles, and half a sack. Cole led the team with eight total tackles. This is probably the closest battle for a starting position in the Vikings camp. Cole has done a lot in the last few weeks to bridge the gap between him and Brinkley. Cole seems to have the higher potential, and is more versatile than Brinkley. In a year where they aren’t expecting to challenge a tough division, expect them to go with potential.
Leader: Audie Cole
It’s difficult to pick a winner in the battle to start at strong safety. Incumbent starter Jamarca Sanford seems to have lost his hold on the safety position. Chris Crocker, who Head Coach Mike Zimmer is familiar with from his time in Cincinnati, has been getting an extended look. Robert Blanton will be given an extended look as well, but he has been battling injuries for most of camp. Kurt Coleman played fairly well in week 3 and is an option as well. Right now, it seems Crocker has the edge on the job given his experience with the Coach.
Leader: Chris Crocker
If it hasn’t been made official yet, it will be soon. Matt Cassel will be the starter at quarterback for the Vikings week 1. Cassel was given the starter’s minutes, and was reasonable against the Chiefs, going 9 for 17 with a touchdown, an interception and three sacks. Rookie Teddy Bridgewater played well, going 4 for 7 with two touchdowns, but didn’t play much. Two touchdowns on seven attempts is a good sign, but not enough to convince the coaches to rush his development.
Stay Tuned for more updates on these battles throughout training camp and the preseason.
Thank you for reading. Brian Fonfara is a staff writer for Titletown Sound Off. You can follow him on Twitter @Brian_Fonfara. For even more Packers content, follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.
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