NFC North

2012-07-10 12:27:30
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
RealTime Fantasy Sports

Cobb vying for playing time

Packers

The Packers had a tremendous regular season last year but came up short in the playoffs, which was a big disappointment. Expectations will be high for the Packers this year as much of their top talent remains in place and is in the prime of their careers. Things are looking good for the Packers once again in 2012. Green Bay begins their quest for another Super Bowl on July 26 at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis.

Position battle: The Packers have their top receiver spots all sewn up but after Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson, Green Bay has three options competing for playing time. How this sorts out in camp could go a long way to figuring out what player gets more targets for the coming season. The three receivers looking to move up the depth chart are James Jones, Donald Driver and Randall Cobb.

Injury watch: Alex Green missed most of his rookie season with a torn ACL. He was hurt pretty early in the year, though, and has a chance to be ready for the start of training camp. He should be healthy enough for Week 1 although he could be eased into action, especially with the Packers having a few options ahead of him on the depth chart.

Vikings

Minnesota is a team in transition after a season of turmoil but things seem headed in the right direction with a quarterback in place and their star running back returning from injury. Even with that said, the Vikings have an uphill battle in a tough decision. They still might not have the talent to compete for a playoff spot just yet. But things seems on the up and up for the Viking, who get camp started July 27 at Mankato State in Mankato, Minn.

Position battle: The Vikings need a starter at receiver while Jerome Simpson serves a suspension the first three games of the season. Simpson should start once he is activated after his three-game suspension but someone will need to start while he is out. Up for that job are Michael Jenkins, Greg Childs and Devin Aromashodu. You would have to think Jenkins is the favorite because of his past starting experience but he hasn't exactly lit it up when starting, so he won't be handed anything.

Injury watch: Adrian Peterson tore his ACL late in the season last year. He has made great progress since the injury and hopes to be ready for Week 1 but that probably is a tad too optimistic. Peterson likely is going to miss a few weeks to start the year but should be ready to go shortly after the season opens. So expect Peterson to see his stats dip some with the missed time but he should be up to speed before long. Toby Gerhart will start while Peterson is out.

Lions

Detroit is a team on the rise that seems to be gaining a lot of fans. They have an offense that might be the best in all of football and seem to just be hitting their stride. Big things are expected from this group in 2012. The Lions hope to build on the momentum started last season. Detroit gets camp started July 28 at the Lions Training Facility in Allen Park, Mich.

Position battle: The Lions have two talented, young receivers pushing veteran Nate Burleson for playing time. Titus Young started making more things happen at the end of last season and rookie Ryan Broyles is an exciting talent that seems a good fit for a starting spot in the NFL. Burleson could be the odd man out but he played well in a starting role last season, so don't count him out just yet.

Injury watch: Jahvid Best missed much of last year because of concussion issues. He has a history of concussions, which is a huge concern going forward. It looks like he'll be cleared to play for training camp and the start of the season but the Lions are likely to take it slow with him. If he suffers another concussion, his career could be in jeopardy.

Bears

The big change for the Bears this offseason comes at offensive coordinator. Mike Tice takes over for Mike Martz and will install a much more conservative offensive attack. The Bears will still throw and take chances but the days of Jay Cutler taking a beating because of a lack of protection are likely over. Cutler might be happiest to see Tice on board and calling plays. But with that said, the Bears have a lot to learn before the start of the season, so training camp will be very important for this team to take another step forward. Camp opens July 26 at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill.

Position battle: The Bears finally have a No. 1 receiver in Brandon Marshall but the second starting spot is up for grabs. Rookie Alshon Jeffrey is the future at the position but the Bears will make sure he is ready to start before throwing him the in lineup. Earl Bennett and Devin Hester will give Jeffrey the competition at the position. Jeffrey is the favorite to start, though, unless he really struggles to pick up the playbook.

Injury watch: Johnny Knox continues to recover from back surgery. There is a chance he doesn't play at all this coming year. His season is up in the air as he recovers from this major surgery. The Bears haven't rule him out for Week 1 but the chances of him playing early in the year seem a little slim right now.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Jeff Paur at jeff@rtsports.com

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