The NFC North Round-Up: Roquan Smith, Hard Knocks, QB Woes

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond (11) calls a play before snapping the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders during a preseason game at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

We’re through the second round of preseason games, and there’s a whole new line of news across the NFC North to go over. If you’re still getting caught up, you can take a look at last week’s round-up here. As for today Monday, August 22nd, here’s what’s been going on across the division inside and outside of Minnesota.

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Roquan Smith Will Play Out His Contract

Just a week ago, Roquan Smith was in headlines because he requested a trade out of Chicago due to the new front office not valuing him properly. Smith is in the final year of his contract and clearly wanted an extension that he felt paid him properly.

Now, just a week after the request, Smith’s hold-in appears to be over, and the second-team All-Pro linebacker is back at practice with the Bears. In 2021, he recorded a career-high 163 tackles and looks to once again be a key part of Chicago’s defense as they try to compete in the NFC North.

Malcolm Rodriguez Is a Hard-Knocks Hero

If you haven’t been paying attention to this year’s edition Hard Knocks, I can’t recommend it enough. Dan Campbell is great, the number of one-liners Lions players and coaches throw out is incredible, and it’s all the shenanigans you’d expect from the Kardiak Kitties.

One player that has made a name from himself on the show and in training is rookie LB Malcolm “Rodrigo” Rodriquez. Despite being selected in the sixth round out of Oklahoma State, Rodriquez looks like he will earn himself a starting role on the Lions defense going into the 2022 season.

Rodriguez was an aggressive tackling machine with the Cowboys throughout his collegiate career, and that has translated very well into Detroit’s defensive scheme. If he does end up in the starting lineup, keep an eye out for this training camp and TV star in Week 3 when the Vikings host Detroit.

David Bakhtiari is off the PUP List

After suffering a torn ACL towards the end of the 2020 season, it’s been a long road to recovery for Packers LT David Bakhtiari. He appeared in the regular season finale against Detroit in 2021, but this offseason the two-time All-Pro had his third surgery on his knee. This surgery landed him on the PUP list once again at the beginning of training camp.

On Sunday, Bakhtiari officially came off the PUP list. This doesn’t necessarily mean he will be back for Week 1 against the Vikings, but it is certainly a sign that the star offensive lineman is trending in the right direction towards making a comeback early in the regular season as Green Bay attempts to win another NFC North title.

The Vikings Definitely Need a Backup QB

Kellen Mond played well against the Las Vegas Raiders in Minnesota’s preseason opener. Because of that, there were some people out there that felt good enough about him to be the Vikings QB2 heading into the regular season. However, there was not a repeat performance against the San Francisco 49ers. Mond completed just 10/20 passes for 82 yards, no touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions.

Considering Mond’s inconsistency, and the fact that Sean Mannion is the other option on the roster, it’s becoming clearer every day that the Vikings need to go out and find a backup QB option. It could be through a trade or free agency signing, but it’s clear that the current options are not prepared to lead this Vikings offense if something were to happen to Kirk Cousins.