NFC North Blog
Eddie Royal had his best season during his rookie year in Denver with quarterback Jay Cutler. He caught 91 passes for 980 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games. He is now reunited with Cutler and the two are working tirelessly to rebuild the chemistry they had with the Broncos. Royal will likely be the Bears' starting slot receiver this season. He said it hasn't been easy but he and Cutler's hard work is paying off. "It didn't come easy," Royal said. "It wasn't like we just got on the field and everything just happened. We put in the work, the extra time in the film room, doing all the little things so that it would pay off on Sundays. That hasn't changed so far. We're putting in the same amount of work — if not more — right now, just trying to do everything that we can do so that we're successful on Sundays."
Lions' quarterback Matthew Stafford certainly disappointed last season from a fantasy perspective. It was his first season in a new system and his top weapons struggled with injury though. This offseason his head coach Jim Caldwell has seen improvement in both Stafford and the entire passing attack. "He's improved," Caldwell said. "He has a better feel for the system. You can see our timing's better, receivers have a better sense of the routes that they're running. All around I think we've made some improvement."
Vikings' second-year running back Jerick McKinnon struggled to get on the field at times last season due to his subpar pass protection. This offseason he has worked hard on his pass blocking. His RBs coach Kirby Wilson believes his willingness to block will lead to vast improvement. "Jerick is working on those things," Wilson said. "Trying to be three phases: a runner, protector and pass catcher and he knows it's a process. Something you have to put in the time and work ethic to get there and to his credit, he's doing that and I'm looking forward to training camp to see where he'll be when we make it real. It really comes down to your block willingness and I knew we could teach him what he needed to know from a physical standpoint. But if the willingness isn't there, then we can't give him that. We knew he'd improve rapidly because he was a willing protector."
After being inexplicably cut by the incompetent Browns, Charles Johnson showed flashes of his vast potential with the Vikings last season. He ended up catching 31 passes for 475 yards and two touchdowns. According to his offensive coordinator Norv Turner, "CJ has picked up where he left off in December and he's having a good spring." That won't stop Johnson from continuing to work and improve. "In this business, you're never secure," Johnson said. "You never want to lie down and say, 'Hey, I made it.' I'm always working, and we're always working together. Nobody here has been handed anything, and we're just ready to come out here and work and become the best players we can be."
In 2013, the Packers drafted now Vikings' wide receiver Charles Johnson. Johnson never saw any regular season action in Green Bay but he did see action on the practice field. Johnson was in awe of how Aaron Rodgers commanded his offense. Now he sees many of the same qualities in his current quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. "When I was with Green Bay and first went to practice and seen how [quarterback] Aaron Rodgers orchestrated the offense, it wowed me and amazed me," Johnson said. "He's one of the great quarterbacks in this league. I know Teddy's look up to him as another player to watch, and I can see Teddy growing in that aspect. I can see him having the same type of similarities that Aaron Rodgers demands when he gets to the huddle."
Lions' rookie running back Ameer Abdullah believes he will be an every-down back in NFL. He has been taking first-team reps in camp, however, he is still projected to be second on the depth chart behind injured RB Joique Bell. Still, that hasn't deterred him at all. "Most definitely," Abdullah said. "I came into this league hoping to get the opportunity to play running back on every down. I full-heartedly believe that is what my calling is. That is what I'm supposed to do. So I'm looking forward to it ... That's what I've done my whole life. I haven't done anything else, so I don't see why I wouldn't be confident in my game. I know my teammates trust me in such a short time to do so. I trust myself."
Joique Bell came on very strong last season from Thanksgiving right through the fantasy playoffs. He assisted many fantasy owners to championships. This offseason he has been sidelined while recovering from knee and Achilles' surgeries. Clearly, the injuries have not had a negative impact on his confidence. "I'm going to rush for over 1,200 yards," Bell said. "That's the minimum. If I do less than that, I'll be surprised. I'll be disappointed. Anything more than that, I wouldn't be surprised at all."
Charles Johnson was a standout in Browns camp last season and for some reason, the Browns waived him. Why? Because they're the Browns. The Vikings scooped him up and predictably, he was a standout. Johnson is having another strong offseason. He's looked good in camp, worked with the "Footwork King" Rischad Whitfield and has received high praise from his offensive coordinator Norv Turner. "He was recovering from that knee surgery a year ago and I don't know that he was ever 100 percent," Turner. "I think he's 100 percent. He's got great work ethic, and he's a big, strong guy. He's a 218-pound receiver that can run. He's got everything you need to be a productive player in this league."
Packers' tight end Andrew Quarless was arrested in Miami early Saturday morning after firing his gun into the ground twice and fleeing the scene. Police say he got involved in an altercation near Fourth Street and Washington Avenue at about 5:30 a.m. This led to him discharging his firearm and attempting to flee. Needless to say, his escape was foiled and he now faces potential felony charges. The report was confirmed by Miami Beach PD spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez. He has been cleared to release an incident report later today.