NFC North Training Camp Preview

NFC North Training Camp Preview: Mitchell Trubisky
LAKE FOREST, IL - JUNE 05: Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) warms up during the Chicago Bears organized team activities or OTA on June 5, 2019 at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Training camp is almost upon us and that means kickoff is almost here. The NFC North is one of the most interesting divisions heading into training camp. There are a lot of position battles and players to watch out for. It will be a fight in this division to the end and training camp will tell us what we need to know about these teams.

In this NFC North training camp preview, we preview how the NFC North teams are looking heading into training camp and what we can expect.

NFC North Training Camp: A Preview

Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers open training camp on July 22nd for rookies and July 24th for veterans. The Packers have an interesting team heading into training camp. There are four newcomers to look out for. The Packers picked up safety Adrian Amos which was a needed position for this team. They also picked up a pair of Smith’s as they get linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. These three moves improved the defense and gave this team a positive vibe. They also drafted Darnell Savage Jr. with their first-round pick. The Packers look to reclaim the NFC North and pick up yet another division title.

Things To Watch Out For

One of the most interesting battles in camp will be the number two wide receiver position. There are a few choices of who will step up and take the role. Geronimo Allison is the favorite to take the position. He was off to a good start last year before he suffered an injury. Allison knows the offense more than the other two options and would certainly be a good choice.

Two rookies are also up for the number two spot. Let’s start with Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He ended last year with 38 catches and averaged 15.3 yards per catch and was important to this team when called upon. Scantling has shown some great skills and certainly looks like he is on the same page with Aaron Rodgers. Equanimeous St. Brown is the other rookie to look out for. He is probably not going to make the number two spot but you never know. St. Brown had a great week 15 against the New York Jets as he had five catches for 94 yards. He is going to build some more chemistry with Rodgers but he can be a great receiver for this team.

Another thing to look out for is how new head coach Matt LaFleur will install his new offense and his relationship with Rodgers. Rodgers seems totally on board with LaFleur and his style. It will be interesting to see how fast Rodgers and the teams get the new offense. Also, it will be interesting to see how the run game reacts. Aaron Jones showed signs of a breakout year last year and he can only get better this year. LaFleur likes to involve the run more in his offense and Jones is more than capable. The Packers will be a really fun team to watch in 2019.

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears open camp for rookies on July 22nd and for veterans on July 25th. People wonder if the Bears can do what they did last year and more. They wonder if second-year head coach Matt Nagy can keep up the offensive show. We all know the defense was one of the best if not the best last season but with defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, gone, how will the defense react this season?

Things To Watch Out For

There are some battles to look out for in camp but one stands out from the rest and it’s not what you expect. The Bears are having a kicker battle in camp. If you don’t think kickers are a big part of a team, think again. Kickers have hurt teams over the years, especially in big games. The Bears had troubles last year with Cody Parkey as kicker and they are hoping that they can good production this year.

The Bears’ kicking battle will be between Eddy Pineiro and Elliott Fry. Fry hit 14 field goals in as many attempts in the Alliance of American Football. Pineiro came to the Bears in a trade with Oakland. He hit 17 of 18 field goals in his sophomore season with Florida.

Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings training also open for rookies on the 22nd and veterans on the 25th. The Vikings made it to the NFC Championship game a couple of years ago but came up just short. Since the swap of Case Keenum for Kirk Cousins, things haven’t clicked just yet. Cousins has shown that he can be a good quarterback but he can’t perform in the big game or in the spotlight when the Vikings need him to. They are hoping that this training camp will unleash Cousin’s potential.

Things To Watch Out For

There are two key battles to watch for in camp. One battle will be for the number three wide receiver. Many think it’s a lock that Laquon Treadwell in the number three but because he can’t produce enough in that role, it will be up for grabs. He will be the front-runner for the position but he will have to improve. Some other receivers to look out for is Brandon Zylstra, Chad Beebe, and Jordan Taylor. These guys aren’t a sexy pick but if they can catch and hold on to the ball then you bet Treadwell will no longer be the number three receiver.

Another battle is for the backup running back position. The Vikings are looking for a back to team up with Dalvin Cook. There are four choices with Mike Boone, Alexander Mattison, Roc Thomas, or Ameer Abdullah. Boone and Mattison are hard-nosed runners but Thomas and Abdullah have more similarities to Cook. I don’t know who will emerge but this is an important position when Cook needs a rest or if an injury were to pop up again.

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions start camp before the other three teams in the NFC North. The rookies report on July 18th and the veterans report on July 24th. The Lions improved and made some good moves this off-season. The question would be, can they maximize all of this talent and can they all be on the same page? The Lions offense looks like it’s heading in the right direction and the defense has some good pieces. This all doesn’t matter if they can’t live up to the hype.

Things To Watch Out For

The cornerback position for the Lions is interesting. We don’t know the status of Darius Slay and whether he will participate in camp or not so that brings opportunities for others. The Lions signed cornerback Justin Coleman and made him the highest paid nickel and they also drafted Amani Oruwariye in the fifth round. Rashaan Melvin looks like the best choice to start aside from Slay when he returns. This is a very important decision for the Lions as a starting position is very valuable and needs to have the best player out there.

Who Will Come Out on Top?

The NFC North is going to be a very interesting division this season. The Bears are looking to repeat last year but go further, the Packers are looking to finally reclaim the NFC North, the Vikings are trying to get back to what they were a couple of years ago, and the Lions can give teams a good fight. There’s a reason this is called the black and blue division and you will see why this season.

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