One week into the preseason schedule - well, two if your team is the Chicago Bears - and there’s plenty to focus on inside the NFC North.
On the field, the Bears were again beaten, this time by the Cincinnati Bengals 30-27; the Detroit Lions dropped their game with the Oakland Raiders 16-10; the Green Bay Packers defeated the Tennessee Titans 31-17; our Minnesota Vikings, of course, defeated the Denver Broncos 42-28.
The Bears - like every other team - kept their starters off the field for the most part against Cincinnati. Mitchell Trubisky completed only two passes for four yards in two series. Later, on a play in which Cincy’s 2017 first round pick John Ross slipped and fell to the ground while running his route, the Bears’ Kyle Fuller made a nice play and snatched the ball out of the air returning it for a pick-6.
Andy Dalton in midseason form. Pick-6 for Kyle Fuller. pic.twitter.com/k4Ki12FubW— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) August 9, 2018
The Bengals’ first and second teams outscored the Bears 23-14 going into the half before the scrubs finished out the game.
**on a side note, former Viking Moritz Boehringer, who is trying to earn a spot with the Bengals this year as a Tight End did not play in the game. It seems that he’s getting very limited reps in camp, and may be a practice squad stash.
2018 First Round pick Roquan Smith has ended his holdout, as he and the Bears have finally agreed to the terms of his contract. The holdout had to do with certain language in the contract, which potentially could have allowed the Bears to reclaim some of the guaranteed money if the young linebacker were to be suspended for an illegal hit with his helmet. Smith played his college ball at Georgia, and could make his preseason debut this weekend against the Denver Broncos.
Detroit played the Oakland Raiders, and also sat most of their starters. One player who logged pretty significant time was rookie running back Kerryon Johnson, who rushed for 34 yards and caught passes for another 33 yards. The Lions may have finally found the back they’ve been looking for ever since Barry Sanders retired. Johnson even flashed a little bit of vintage Sanders on Friday - though the play was called back.
Kerryon Johnson with some moves!!! (called back but w/e) pic.twitter.com/5hxZyzMU5m— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) August 11, 2018
Ameer Abdullah is beginning to run away with another one of the spots in the backfield, as he had a great game as well. Theo Riddick did not see the field, although there is some speculation that he may be the one who is becoming expendable. The Lions have a really crowded backfield, and there’s a good chance that a pretty good player will have to be cut loose.
And speaking of players who could be cut loose, Lions safety Miles Killebrew was moved to Linebacker this week and logged only seven snaps. Some are wondering if he could be caught up in a numbers game in the Lions’ crowded competition at the Safety position. He’s another player that I could see the Vikings showing interest in - if he is indeed let go.
The Lions will take on the New York Giants this week at home.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers boatraced the Titans 31-17 this week, and the talk in Packerland is centered around this year’s squadron of undrafted, unheralded, or just plain unstoppable Wide Receivers. This script is beginning to feel very familiar: Aaron Rodgers prepares for another season while the team brings in several new receivers who wow during camp and become the next great hope. Jarrett Boykin. Jeff Janis. Ty Montgomery (before he was a running back). Jared Abbrederis. Geronimo Allison. The 2018 version includes illustrious names such as J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Jake Kumerow, and Equanimeous St. Brown. Those four combined for 15 catches for 265 yards and two touchdowns.
Imagine what Aaron Rodgers career would look like if the Packers were as good at finding defensive players as they are finding fourth string wideouts!
Speaking of A-a-ron, he wants his preseason action to come this weekend at Lambeau Field, in front of the home fans. And the young receivers better be ready, as well. Rodgers had been quite vocal about the sloppy play of the offense earlier in camp.
To hear him tell it, his knowledge of the Packers playbook dates back perhaps all the way to advent of the forward pass, and he wants his young wideouts to know that they better be well versed in it, as well.
From our friends at Acme Packing Company:
“He pointed to his knowledge of the entire playbook as something that the young receivers will need to adjust to when he is under center compared to other quarterbacks: “When I’m in, everything is up. Everything that’s ever been put in, and then years of back-logged stuff is potentially in as well.” So if Rodgers does play on Thursday, look for him to test some of those young players with some checks and calls at the line of scrimmage. “It’s all up, so you have to be ready.”
That’s more than a hundred years of offensive knowledge to digest before Thursday. I see late night cram sessions, Ramen Noodles, and a case of JOLT Cola in their future. Hope the youngsters are ready!
In more serious news, the Packers got some good news on the injury front, as Pro-Bowl left tackle David Bakhtiari, along with rookie defensive back Jaire Alexander both returned to practice this week.
The Packers meet up with the Pittsburgh Steelers this week.