NFC North Notes: Bears, Houston, Packers, Vikings

Following one of the worst defensive seasons in team history, the Bears’ scheme under defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will “undergo significant alterations in 2014,” says ESPN’s Michael C. Wright. “There are some significant changes in terms of techniques that we’re going to play; how we’re going to fit the run, some of our alignments,” Tucker said. “We’ll have some alternative fronts that we’ll play. I’m not sure how much of a difference you’ll see during the OTAs and things like that because we’re going to work to lay the foundation on our base principles and techniques, which will allow us to do pretty much anything we want down the road.” Wright also mentions that the team plans to cross train all of the defensive linemen in an effort to achieve better flexibility and versatility.

In other NFC North notes. . .

  • Lions veteran cornerback Chris Houston had toe surgery earlier this week, and the team is uncertain if he’ll be ready for the start of training camp, writes Dave Birkett in the Detroit Free Press.
  • The Packers drafted four defensive rookies. Of the group, first-round safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and third-round defensive lineman Khyri Thornton are expected to contribute as rookies. “There’s a reasonable chance Clinton-Dix will be plugged in as a starter on Day 1 of training camp,” says Tyler Dunne in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Thornton, while raw, was taken in the third round for a reason. Green Bay envisions him adding rotational juice to the defensive line.”
  • Because of an NFL rule, Vikings rookies Anthony Barr, Scott Crichton and David Yankey can’t join the team full-time until next month, writes Master Tesfatsion of the Minnesota Star-Tribune. The players’ schools — UCLA, Oregon State and Stanford, respectively — are on quarters instead of semesters, and the players are required to return to school until the term ends in June.
  • Meanwhile, the Vikings envision third-round pick Jerick McKinnon, an option quarterback at Georgia Southern, as the type of complimentary, all-purpose back that has thrived in so many of offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s units, writes ESPN’s Ben Goessling.
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