NFC North Notes: Bears, Lions, Starks

“The chemistry developing among the defensive linemen — especially starters Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Jeremiah Ratliff and Stephen Paea — might be the most exciting thing brewing for the Bears, especially after the unit was last in sacks in 2013,” writes Chicago Sun-Times staff reporter Adam Jahns, who lists 10 things gleaned during the Bears’ offseason.

Here’s some more news and notes from the NFC North:

  • Jahns also says rookie Brock Vereen, a fourth-round rookie from Minnesota, “has the lead” in the free safety competition.
  • “There should be no excuses going forward for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford,” according to USA Today’s Tom Pelissero, who explains the team has done everything in its power to accommodate its inconsistent franchise quarterback.
  • The Lions’ cornerback situation has been a continual topic of conversation this offseason, and the chatter (concern?) isn’t slowing down yet: ESPN’s Michael Rothstein says it’s a “probability” the Lions will pursue a veteran cornerback.
  • Fox Sports Detroit’s Dave Dye has a question: “It sounds funny to say, but…where would the Lions be without [Rashean] Mathis?” Dye says Mathis established himself as the Lions most reliable cornerback, but admits that’s as much of an indictment of the secondary as it is a compliment to Mathis.
  • Meanwhile, Dye thinks Cassius Vaughn could be a sleeper.
  • And finally, Rothstein and’s Kyle Meinke don’t think free agent Brandon Flowers is a fit in Detroit.
  • Packers new running backs coach Sam Gash thinks improved balance and body control could help James Stark avoid nagging injuries, writes Tyler Dunne in the Journal Sentinel.
  • Vikings GM Rick Spielman says the development of receiver Adam Thielen has jumped out at him during the offseason (radio interview with 100.3 FM here). A 6-2, 195-pound undrafted free agent out of Mankato State, Thielen was on the Vikings’ practice squad last season, but Star Tribune blogger Master Tesfatsion speculates Thielen might have a shot at a roster spot if he continues to impress and show chemistry with Teddy Bridgewater.
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