North Notes: McCown, Iloka, Vikes, Lions

Interestingly, the Browns’ decision to give Robert Griffin III all of their first-team reps in training camp before naming him their starting quarterback Tuesday was backup Josh McCown‘s idea, writes Mary Kay Cabot of

“(McCown) was the guy that came to me and said, ‘Hey coach, make sure this guy gets all the reps he needs to be the best he can be,”’ said first-year Browns head coach Hue Jackson. “(He said) ‘you know who I am.’ Obviously he would love to have the job too, but I think he understands his role.”

That was an unselfish move by McCown, who was ostensibly going to compete for the No. 1 job with Griffin, the Browns’ most noteworthy offseason addition. The 37-year-old has instead served as a mentor to Griffin, 26, with Jackson saying,“A lot of him getting better has to do with Josh McCown.”

As a result of both his leadership and his status as a quality reserve, the Browns would like to retain McCown, notes Cabot, who points out that they rejected Dallas’ attempt to acquire him last week.

More from the NFL’s North-based divisions:

  • Before he re-signed with the Bengals for five years and $30MM in March, standout safety George Iloka considered accepting an offer from the Vikings, he said Wednesday (via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press). Joining the Vikings would’ve meant playing for head coach Mike Zimmer, whom Iloka worked under from 2012-13 when Zimmer was the Bengals’ defensive coordinator. “If I was going there, I was going because of Zim,” Iloka, 26, revealed. “I know what type of locker room he has there just by the type of coach he is. But I really wanted to come back. My chances of leaving Cincinnati weren’t too high, and I’m back.’’
  • The versatility of big-money offseason signing Marvin Jones, including his ability to cause damage downfield, could make him the Lions’ No. 1 receiver, says Kyle Meinke of (video link). Whereas Golden Tate is at his best as a short- to medium-yardage option, quarterback Matthew Stafford has targeted Jones all over the field in training camp, per Meinke, who praises the 26-year-old’s route-running abilities. Fulfilling the role of a No. 1 wideout would be new for Jones, who played second fiddle to elite receiver AJ Green in Cincinnati from 2012-15. Still, Jones is fresh off a productive year (65 catches, 816 yards and four touchdowns), which led the Calvin Johnson-less Lions to award him a five-year, $40MM contract in free agency.
  • In an early projection of the Ravens’ 53-man roster, Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun lists safety Matt Elam and inside linebacker Arthur Brown (the club’s first- and second-round picks from 2013) as players on track to miss the cut. Elam could lose his spot to Terrence Brooks, who has impressed in training camp, per Zrebiec. Notably, the Ravens declined Elam’s fifth-year option for 2017 earlier this offseason, which came after he struggled in 2014 and then missed the 2015 campaign because of a biceps tear. Releasing Elam, who also has a suspension in his past, would save Baltimore $1.33MM. The club would free up less than $900K by parting with Brown, who has amassed just 17 tackles and a half-sack in 34 games (zero starts).
  • In case you missed it, scouting guru Dave-Te Thomas ran down which Bears rookies could make impacts this year.
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