North Notes: Lions, Browns, Packers, Bears

The Lions finished 27th in rushing DVOA last season and still have uncertainty along their offensive line, meaning their running game is a question mark as the club heads into the 2016 campaign, writes Michael Rothstein of Free agent Arian Foster was scheduled to work out for Detroit this week, but the team never got a chance to take a look at the veteran running back before he signed with the Dolphins. Ameer Abdullah and Stevan Ridley both are dealing with injury issues, while Zach Zenner doesn’t have much of a track record. Theo Riddick is probably the surest bet on the roster, but he’s been deployed primarily as a receiving back. Still, Rothstein doesn’t expect the Lions to add an outside option to the position group.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Browns defensive lineman Desmond Bryant was ruled out for the season after tearing a pectoral muscle last week, but the 30-year-old isn’t yet ruling himself done for the year. “Absolutely, I’m hopeful that I can (come back this season),” Bryant told Mary Kay Cabot of “The timetable for rehab is four-to-six months, so it’s possible. I’ll do everything I can to get back as soon as I can.” Clearly, Bryant is using the most optimistic timeline in his projection, and it’s ultimately up to the Cleveland front office whether or not it puts Bryant injured reserve. But given the new IR rules, the Browns could conceivably place Bryant on IR and decide to bring him back later in the season if he progresses well enough.
  • After posting his worst statistical season in some time, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is hoping for a bounceback year, and he’s taken steps to move in that direction, as Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes. Rodgers has lost weight, slimming down to 215 pounds, and also underwent surgery after Green Bay’s postseason run in order to clean up a knee injury. The former MVP produced a career-worst passer rating of 92.7 in 2016, but quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt is certain Rodgers will rebound. “Not up to his standards,” Van Pelt said of Rodgers’ campaign. “Obviously, we’ve targeted improvement areas, and he’s on board.”
  • Although he was absent from mandatory minicamp, Bears offensive lineman Ted Larsen is simply experiencing leg soreness and will be fine, according to Adam Caplan of (Twitter link). There was some thought that Larsen may have been seriously injured given that Chicago signed fellow guard Amini Silatolu earlier today, but it doesn’t look like that’s the case. Larsen and Silatolu figure to compete for the top reserve role along the interior, backing up starters Kyle Long, Hroniss Grasu, and Cody Whitehair.
  • The Packers worked out former Texas A&M punter Taylor Symmank today, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Symmank was apparently close to an agreement with the division rival Vikings earlier this year, but no word of an official signing was ever reported. Green Bay appears to be updating its specialist emergency list, as the club auditioned kicker Brent Wahle yesterday.
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