Scooped returns in the eye of pre-season. Each NFC North team has played one pre-season game with varying success. There isn’t much to determine from pre-season matches but there are some individual battles to watch and young players to monitor. Let’s take a look at how each team fared and finish off with some news around the North
Detroit at Pittsburgh
The first team offense played well and moved the ball on a 12 play drive in their only series. Ameer Abdullah (shoulder) and Eric Ebron (ankle) sat out with injuries but the rest of the offense participated. The Lions had some nice plays to Cole Wick, Marvin Jones (16 yard toe tap), Boldin (30 yard with broken tackles) on 3rd down to move the chains. However, there were several free rushers that hit Stafford on the drive, a bogus holding penalty on a Stafford scramble for a first down to the Steelers ten (first ref mess up of the year) and Decker got welcomed to the NFL by James Harrison (strip sack fumble lost). The Steelers didn’t play Jarvis Jones and Bud Dupree but had their remaining starting defense. It was a good job by Detroit despite the pressure allowed on the drive.
The first team Lions defense sat Haloti Ngata, Darius Slay, Ziggy Ansah and DeAndre Levy. The Steelers countered by sitting Ben Roethlisberger, Leveon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant (to be suspended) and Markus Wheaton. The Lions defense forced three three and outs and Devin Taylor had a sack against the Steelers starting left tackle. But really there was nothing to learn with the Steelers sitting their firepower.
Cleveland at Green Bay
Green Bay sat a ton of players including Rodgers, Cobb and Nelson. Eddie Lacy looked beastly against the Browns starting defense for the most part. The Packers first team defense minus Matthews and Peppers gave up a bomb to Terrelle Pryor (beating Randall) but they made up for it with a goal line interception by Micah Hyde.
Denver at Chicago
The Bears looked awful but were missing McPhee and Fuller on defense. Mark Sanchez marched the Broncos down for an early touchdown. Cutler was out of rhythm on the 3 series he played and was under a good amount of pressure. Luckily, it’s only the pre-season. Denver is the defending champions for a reason on defense.
Minnesota at Cincinnati
The Vikings offense was without Adrian Peterson and had issues early moving the ball. They rebounded with a TD to Charles Johnson but the Bengals were sitting players at that point. The Bengals first team offense moved the ball on the Vikings but ended up with a missed field goal. McCarron had a long TD drive against some of the Vikings starting defense.
Pre-Season Week 2
Cincinnati at Detroit at 7:30 PM Thursday
Oakland at Green at 8:00 PM Thursday
Chicago at New England at 8:00 PM Thursday
Minnesota at Seattle at 10:00 PM Thursday
The second game is when the starters play about 3 series. Each team should face a nice little test in a meaningless game. The Vikings can relive the Blair Walsh fiasco against Seattle. The Lions face a top 5 defense to test their offensive line with Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson for the Bengals. Oakland is a rising team with Derek Carr, Latavius Murray, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree (don’t talk about Sherman) to test their defense. Finally, the Bears take on the perennial playoff/cheaters Patriots and must rebound from a terrible performance against Denver.
News and Notes
DeAndre Levy was removed from the Non-Football injury list. This is should be good news for Detroit fans in that they should have their starting weak side stud linebacker back by Week 1. I doubt Levy will play in the pre-season but he said he wants to play. Levy practiced on Tuesday but only in individual portions of practice.
Eric Ebron (ankle), Michael Ola (ankle), Don Carey (knee) Jon Bostic (leg and probably IR eventually), are also injured. Ameer Abdullah (shoulder) still has been limited from contact in team drills but hopefully they are just saving in for Week 1.
The Lions signed Andrew Quarless to a one year deal. The Lions thoroughly vetted Quarless despite his gun charge while on the Packers watch in July 2015. Quarless will be suspended the first two games of the season but the Lions will need him at tight end with injuries to Brandon Pettigrew (knee on PUP) and Tim Wright (knee on IR). Quarless had 332 yards and 3 TDs in his healthy 2014 which outmatched Pettigrew and Wright combined last season (144 yards and 3 TDs combined). Wick and Mulligan get a chance the first two weeks and if it doesn’t work then the Lions already have their guy.
Bob Quinn had a no tolerance for gun issues but that applied to players already on the team apparently. Caldwell noted they look at everything on a case by case basis for every player. Quarless wasn’t even the first tight end signed by Quinn with a gun charge. Orson Charles was signed in June and had a gun charge in 2014. In the end, he helps in a thin tight end depth chart due to injuries.
The Bears are dealing with injuries to Pernell McPhee (PUP), Kyle Fuller (knee) and Zach Miller (concussion). Chicago needs these guys healthy in three weeks.
On another note, Matt Forte has been injured most of training camp for the Jets. We’ll see if the Bears miss Forte and how healthy the aged Forte is this year for New York.
Minnesota is closer to debut their new stadium in Week 3 of the pre-season. So there is your stadium update.
The Vikings mascot motorcycle is for sale as well.
Green Bay is dealing with Al Jazeera allegations of PEDs for Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews. Both of these players have until August 25th to interview or they will be suspended until they interview by the NFL. The players union needs to take a stance against wild allegations resulting in suspensions. I doubt it will cost Peppers or Matthews any time in the regular season though. Both will end up with a token interview that nobody cares about. If they were juicing, I will be one happy LKP but an interview won’t prove that.
Jeff Janis hurt his hand and may be cut or put on IR. Janis really needs a Hail Mary to stay on the Packers roster.