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Veterans report to NFL training camps as early as Saturday, and by the week’s end every team will be back to the business of football.
XN Sports will be previewing each division prior to the start of training camp to give the major storylines for each of the 32 NFL teams as they begin their camps.
Here’s the XN Sports Training Camp Primer for the NFC North:
Can Tim Jennings be elite? He has 13 interceptions over the past two seasons, but with the drafting of Kyle Fuller he’s now moving into a slot role. He got paid this winter, and now he has to continue to ascend.
Speaking of Fuller, can he have an impact right away? The Bears’ pass defense was atrocious in 2013, and by re-signing Jennings and Tillman, then drafting Fuller, they are hoping to turn a corner, and quickly.
Can Eric Weems and Michael Ford help Bears fans forget about Devin Hester? Hester had 13 punt return touchdowns and five kick return touchdowns during his time in Chicago, but the team elected to let him go in free agency.
Is Eric Ebron going to be the next Jimmy Graham? Joe Lombardi comes from New Orleans, where Graham, the league’s best hybrid tight end, makes a living. The Lions’ first-round pick, Ebron, could fill that same mold.
Who’s the main back? Reggie Bush was a perfect fit in Detroit last year, but the positive reviews are about Joique Bell this go-round. In addition, Theo Riddick has been earning high praise from his teammates.
How good (or bad) is this secondary? Darius Slay is probably the best corner, with an aging Rashean Mathis and Bill Bentley rounding out the depth chart. James Ihedigbo and Glover Quin starting at safety — can these guys slow down the Jordy Nelsons or Brandon Marshalls in this division?
Green Bay Packers
Is Eddie Lacy primed for a sophomore slump? His backup, Johnathan Franklin, just retired, leaving only James Stark as a threat to cut into his carries? The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year, Lacy could be bound for bigger things in 2014.
Who’s replacing Jermichael Finley? His neck injury has prevented any team from signing him, including the Pack, so does Andrew Quarless get the first crack? Rookie Richard Rodgers has been the talk of the offseason.
Who’s picking up James Jones‘ production? Jones is now in the Black Hole, leaving Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin and rookie Davante Adams poised for biggest roles. It seems like Cobb has a chance to have an even bigger impact now.
Remember “Tanking for Teddy?” Minnesota won, but can the rookie signal-caller push Matt Cassel for the stating job? If he (Teddy Bridgewater) has an impressive training camp, maybe it won’t be long before he’s inserted into the startling lineup.
What impact will Mike Zimmer have? The longtime Bengals defensive coordinator is finally a head coach, and he’s taking over for another defensive-minded coach in Leslie Frazier. What differences can we expect with Zimmer calling the shots?
Can Everson Griffen effectively replace Jared Allen? Allen is now in Chicago, and Griffin just got paid to be the guy. Griffen has had 17.5 sacks in three seasons as a backup, but the team has high hopes he can be a star pass-rusher.
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