Ravens first-round pick Jimmy Smith was absent from a recent informal workout with his new teammates and it was considered news. He wasn't the only one but given his background (every scouting report on Smith began the same way: "Character concerns are an issue but…") and his rookie status, expectations are different.
Too bad the Bears didn't draft Smith because it would be less of a story than it already is. Thanks to the Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrows, who has documented player-led workouts for every NFL team during the lockout. For our purposes, we'll look around the NFC North:
Bears: Bears offensive players have talked about holding workouts together soon but have not yet settled on a date. The defensive players won't be working out with them when the session is held.
Lions: The Lions players held a four-day workout session last week that was attended by 30-35 players. They expect to have another one in two weeks.
Packers: The defending Super Bowl champions have had no organized workouts or practices to this point.
Vikings: The Vikings have had small groups of players working out together, some of them in the Twin Cities. To this point there has been no team-wide practice session.
Credit to the Lions for continued perseverance after what Matt Millen perpetrated against the franchise. And while the Bears haven't yet convened for what will amount to glorified wind sprint and push-ups, neither have the defending champion Packers. Maybe Green Bay has gotten too comfortable with its success. Or, more likely, the players know that the informal workouts won't mean much when (if?) we have actual football.
(Sorta related: I'm surprised the Vikings aren't working out at a Mississippi high school as Brett Favre again ponders un-retirement.)
Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman spoke about how the lockout will affect player conditioning earlier this week, and it's no secret that the unofficial workouts are more about PR than actual, you know, working out.