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NFC North Updates for July 23: Bears' Expectations and Vikings' Drama

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Adrian Peterson, Chris Kluwe and Marc Trestman are the dramatis personae in this week's BOTR.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Normally a weekend piece, some scheduling issues forced us to push this week's edition of NFC North updates back a few days. Here's what's going on with the Packers' divisional rivals as training camps set to open up this week.

Chicago Bears

Martellus Bennett among NFL's best TEs - Windy City Gridiron

Bennett didn't receive much fanfare last year, what with Alshon Jeffery's breakout year and the continued excellence of Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte, but that doesn't mean he isn't a very good player. A basketball player turned tight end, the self-proclaimed "Black Unicorn" could have even more success in 2014 with Jay Cutler's anticipated improvement and the continued development of Jeffery.

The 10 Most Important Bears of 2014 - #2 Mel Tucker - Windy City Gridiron

Rash of injuries...2013 not a fair excuses in 2014... sound familiar? Dom Capers isn't the only defensive coordinator in the North who's expected to step it up this year. Looking in the comments section, the parallels continue. Some fans look at the adversity he dealt with last year while some point to his mediocre past results. And like the front office has added Julius Peppers and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix as potential impact players in 2014, Chicago has brought in players like Lamarr Houston and Kyle Fuller. This storyline ought to be one worth observing over the course of the season.

Windy City Gridiron Interviews Brandon Marshall at the Marshall-Wade Sports Academy - Windy City Gridiron

So, apparently Brandon Marshall doesn't like training camp. Wade and Marshall have apparently been buddies for a while, and the Bears' star receiver was happy to stop by before football season begins.

Brett Favre: Cutler 'has all the tools to be a great quarterback' | CSN Chicago

Hey, Brett? You know the best way to make sure your whole jersey retirement thing never happens? Say that our hated rivals' quarterback has the potential to be great. (Or perhaps he's showing us his loyalty by convincing Chicago's front office to stick with a quarterback, who has, well, not had a great deal of success versus us.) In all seriousness, though, it seems to me that we've talked about Cutler as a project for an insanely long time. He's got a cannon arm and he can hit passes with precision. Perhaps a second year in Marc Trestman's offense is what he needs. Speaking of Marc Trestman...

Marc Trestman: Chicago Bears face 'high expectations' -

Yup. 'High expectations' seems appropriate. As usual, the buzz is that both the Lions and Bears are geared up to challenge the Packers in the North. There's some excellent talent on this Chicago roster, particularly on the offense. It should be interesting to see how they stack up against a rejuvenated Green Bay team that has addressed its glaring hole at safety and added a potential quality pass rusher in Julius Peppers.

Detroit Lions

Honestly, this was a quiet week for the Lions. Pride of Detroit continued its excellent position-by-position preview for the team, which is worth a read if you're looking to find out more about what our foes from the Motor City will trot out this season. There was one noteworthy article, though.

Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford drops 3 spots in Ron Jaworski's latest QB rankings |

Stafford is 16th, which seems about right. (Like Tex said, Aaron Rodgers at 3 is a travesty, and I've pretty much given up on arguing this one.) When he's healthy and all of his targets are rolling, Stafford looks like a top-ten quarterback. Unfortunately, he's more often been a player who has flashed brilliance but also complete incompetence. Perhaps Jim Caldwell can help turn things around.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikes got all the excitement this week. First, there was this...

Chris Kluwe Investigation: Vikings Release Partial Report, Mike Priefer Suspended, Kluwe To Sue - Daily Norseman

This is truly saddening. But let's turn our attention away from this negative figure and towards the beacon of innocence that is Chris Kluwe! Whatcha got, Chris?

Chris Kluwe apologizes for Sandusky jokes on SI Now - NFL -

Um. Yeah.

Well, after that, everyone needed, a feel-good story, so this came up...

So Adrian Peterson Got Married, Apparently - Daily Norseman

Good on 'ya, Adrian. Good on 'ya. On one side of the spectrum, you've got the Kim Kardashians of the world who revel in their personal lives being made public. Peterson, on the other hand, seems to prefer to leave his fan following on the playing field. As I mentioned over at DN, All Day might play even better with his mind off the proposal.

Vikings Tickets Up 27.7% Since Last Season In 1st Year Outside Of Metrodome

We're apparently the prime ticket of the year. 81 bucks to get in the door, with an average price of $221.06. Unsurprisingly, playing at TCF Bank Stadium this year hasn't helped ticket sales, though.

Okay, okay, I guess I've cheated by not actually adding a football-related article. Here you go.

Adrian Peterson And Trade Value - Daily Norseman

You know what? This is an interesting situation. On one hand, if you're a Vikings fan, you're fresh with hope about this coming season. Cordarelle Patterson in his second year? Yeah! New free agents on defense? Great! A fresh new pass rusher and the potential quarterback of the future? Fantastic! Then you look at the three other teams in your division, the teams in the NFC West, and you realize that you're a long shot to so much as earn a wild card spot. Trading Peterson away for an embarrassment of assets, should that opportunity somehow present itself, might prove to be prudent.

That's what we've got for this week and change! Check back next time for an early look at training camps for the rest of the North.