CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 25: Brandon Merriweather #31of the Chicago Bears braeks up a pass to Greg Jennings #85 of the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on September 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 27-17. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Now that the rest of the division has sent their excess players packing, it's time for an update on what's been happening in the rest of the NFC North.
Unlike the original post, this will just be a quick review of the new changes in the rosters of the divisional opponents. There aren't any major surprises, although there are some serious injuries to the Packers and Bears that will affect their season-long plans and make them weaker than they hoped.
Below the jump, we'll start by taking a look at our division rivals, the Green Bay Packers.
The Packers cut five players on Saturday, August 25th. Three of the players (WE Andrew Brewer, S Micah Pellerin and CB Dion Turner) never saw much time in preseason games. Brewer was a waiver pick up who played both receiver and quarterback, but figured to get a look on special teams. Pellerin and Turner were undrafted free agents.
Another one (Anthony Hargrove*) reportedly had attitude issues, despite being well-liked by players. His eight-game suspension (during which he would not have counted against the active roster) may have factored into the decision, and he was the only active player to not play against the Bengals.
Herb Taylor saw time as a left tackle due to injury, and ended up being far worse than anyone expected. I'd wager a bet that he was worse than anyone on the Vikings' second and third string offensive lines.
Come August 27th, they cut two more players, put two more on the PUP list, and put six players on Injured Reserve. The cuts were FB John Hoese, who wasn't really going to get a spot above Kuhn and DE Jarius Wynn, who had a few good games for the Packers in the last two years, but was mostly swallowed up. He's a victim of the depth the Packers have invested in for their 3-man front, including 2012 draft pick Jerel Worthy, free agent Daniel Muir and 2012 draft pick Mike Daniels.
The players put on injured reserve were ILB Desmond Bishop, RB Du'ane Bennett, TE DeMarco Cosby, G Ray Dominguez, DL Johnny Jones, WR Shaky Smithson. The biggest loss here is naturally former starter Desmond Bishop, who was their best linebacker on the inside. They are thin here, and disappointment AJ Hawk looks to start. The backup inside linebacker race has not been resolved yet.
The only other loss could be Ray Dominguez, but I don't really know how good he was before the injury—I only say that due to the abysmal nature of second string offensive line play they've had in the past few preseason games.
On the Physically Unable to Perform list (out for the first six weeks) are TE Andrew Quarless and OLB Frank Zombo. Quarless was the third string tight end and DJ Williams isn't a bad replacement. Frank Zombo has always been an injury liability, and flashed potential but never delivered.
The Chicago Bears reduced their roster size to 77 early on Saturday, and notably moved FS Brandon Hardin to injured reserve. Hardin looked to have the talent to start at safety, and his absence will create depth problems with the Bears' secondary. WR Johnny Knox was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but may find himself on IR after the first six weeks of the season are up. Given the Bears' new WR acquisitions, this isn't too much of an issue.
The Bears also cut journeyman DT John McCargo, LB Adrien Cole, G Nick Peischel, QB Matt Blanchard, WR Terriun Crump, WR Chris Summers, S Trevor Coston, DE Derek Walker and LB KC Asiodu. The Coston cut is significant for Coston more than the Bears as it signals that undrafted rookie Coston may not be good enough to ever play for an NFL ready team, if he couldn't make it onto a roster on a team very thin at safety.
Matt Blanchard had been impressing a few people, but not very many. Some think he'll make it onto a practice squad elsewhere. Regardless, it means the Bears are for the most part committed to Josh McCown as their third quarterback.
Later that day, the Bears waived DE Thaddeus Gibson, who apparently flashed quite a bit of potential. The Bears are deep at defensive end, and it's entirely possible that he ends up on another squad.
On Sunday, the Bears let go of FB Harvey Unga, who was characterized by Rotoworld thusly:
25-year-old Unga generated a ton of hype among apparently bored NFL observers leading up to the 2010 supplemental draft. He wound up being taken in the seventh round and has never appeared in a game. A fullback/tailback 'tweener, Unga does not possesses running ability to play in the league.
Which is fine. They're set with Forte and Bush as their primary tailbacks, while Armando Allen and Lorenzo Booker were clear favorites for the third spot. Tyler Clutts makes for a viable fullback, although the Bears may just keep four tight ends on the roster instead (with Kyle Adams as the fourth TE in this scenario).
The Detroit Lions have made a few moves, particularly because of their awful injury problems at running back. When Jahvid Best was put on PUP as a result of his concussions, they traded a conditional pick for CB Kevin Barnes from the Redskins. He is coincidentally most well known for his beast hit on Jahvid Best. This is to shore up the depth problem that the Lions have at cornerback.
As for running back, Stefan Logan finally returned to practice yesterday after his injury in the preseason game against the Ravens. Mikel Leshoure is suspended for the first two games and finally made an appearance in a preseason game on Friday after returning from an achilles tendon injury his rookie year (and a hamstring issue in camp). Best is on PUP for concussion symptoms, and some feel that he will never lay in the NFL again. Kevin Smith missed Tuesday practice due to an ankle injury.
Jason La Canfora thinks the Lions may trade for a running back. Makes sense.
Cut on Monday were RB Stephfon Green, FB James Bryant, WR Dominique Curry, WR Jarett Dillard, WR Terrence Toliver, OG Jacques McClendon, OG J.C. Oram, DT Bobby Skinner, LB Slade Norris, CB Isaac Madison, S Sean Jones, K Derek Dimke.
Dimke wasn't going to beat out Hanson at kicker, and Stephfon Green didn't offer anything that Stefan Logan couldn't do better as a scatback.
James Bryant is a pretty good blocking fullback, but the Lions don't really do fullbacks. Dominique Curry looked impressive in the preseason, but the Lions wide receiver corps is difficult to crack; they'll only keep five and they are (and should be) happy with Maurice Stovall, who offers a lot of value at special teams. Given that special teams are a huge weakness for the Lions, this isn't a surprise. Curry might get a look from other teams.
Guards McClendon and Oram didn't stand much of a chance, as the Lions have some of the better backups at offensive line in the league, and they're all swingmen. A similar problem for Bobby Skinner, as well. I don't know how good any of those three are, but the fact that they were cut is no indication of poor skill.
On injured reserve are offensive tackle Jonathan Scott and guard/center Bill Nagy, who I understand might be quite good. An ankle injury with the Cowboys put him on waivers for IR, and the Lions claimed him off of waivers before he cleared.
In addition to Best, CB Corey Greenwood was placed on PUP, and if he isn't an injury worry after six weeks, will likely make the roster as a fifth or sixth cornerback.
Now that you're updated on the NFC North roster developments, you can more confidently predict a Vikings 6-0 sweep of the division. Enjoy!