NFC North preseason player grades, Week 2


Preseason football is here -- and while wins and losses mean nothing, individual performances can mean everything. As the preseason slate progresses, Bucky Brooks will be assessing the performances of notable players, handing out grades to provide context for the prior week's on-field action.

Below, find report cards for one key player from each NFC North team following Week 2's preseason action.


CHICAGO BEARS: Jonathan Bullard, defensive end. The Bears might've found a "twitchy" interior rusher to add to the rotation, with Bullard showcasing outstanding skills as an inside pass rusher. The third-round pick flashes excellent first-step quickness and snap-count anticipation, but he also has some wiggle and slick hand skills to get away from blockers. Bullard used those skills to team with Leonard Floyd on a sack against the Patriots' reserves in Week 2. Although he will need to work on handling double-teams and two-gapping on early downs, Bullard's skills as an inside rusher could make him a valuable part of the rotation as a rookie. GRADE: B

DETROIT LIONS: Taylor Decker, left tackle. The rookie continues to learn hard lessons on the edge while acclimating to playing left tackle as a pro. Decker has a tough time with speed rushers off the edge, but he held up pretty well against the Bengals' long, athletic rushers on Thursday. As a run blocker, Decker didn't consistently lock on or finish his blocks on the second level. In addition, he hasn't adjusted to stunting (defensive line angles into gaps) and movement along the line, as evidenced by Michael Johnson's tackle for loss early in the game. The Lions' first-round pick has made strides over the first two weeks of the preseason, but he needs to continue to hone his technique to effectively handle the dynamic rushers who reside in the NFC North. GRADE: B-

GREEN BAY PACKERS: Brett Hundley, quarterback. The second-year pro is penciled in as Aaron Rodgers' backup, but injuries have prevented him from honing his skills in game action. Hundley finally got an opportunity to play against the Raiders on Thursday -- but he only made it through three series before leaving the game with an ankle injury. Although he completed 5 of 7 passes for 67 yards, including a 31-yard toss to Davante Adams, Hundley remains an unknown at this point, due to his relative lack of experience. I like the flashes in limited action (Hundley shows excellent movement skills, leadership ability and command of the offense), but he has to show Packers' officials that he can shake the injury bug to be a dependable option as a QB2. GRADE: B

MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Blair Walsh, kicker. The temperamental nature of kickers forces scouts to take a long, hard look after monumental misses, to see if they have the necessary grit to bounce back from their failures. That's why all eyes will be on Walsh through the preseason; people want to see if the veteran kicker can regain his form after a point-blank miss against the Seahawks on Wild Card Weekend abruptly ended the Vikings' 2015 campaign. Against the same Seahawks this past Thursday, Walsh nailed a 27-yarder early in the game but missed a potential game-winner from 47 yards to the left. While the miss certainly comes at the edge of Walsh's range, the failed kick will lead to more questions about his clutch factor going into the season. GRADE: B-



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