Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
It seems like ages ago, but I did spend a few days at the Chicago Bears' training camp in Bourbonnais, Ill., this July. The Bears were in the early stages of their quarterback competition, but one thing struck me about Kyle Orton: He looked lean and athletic and was displaying a low-key personality -- pretty much the opposite of the impression I had of him from the outside during the early part of his career.
Orton once had a reputation as a typical early-20s party animal, if for no other reason than a few unfortunate pictures that circulated on the Internet during his rookie year in 2005. I didn't know if I had misjudged the situation or not (wouldn't be the first time), but as David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune writes, it turns out Orton has made a conscious effort to get more serious about his profession and his personal life.
"I've learned a lot of stuff, and obviously I'm a different guy from '05 in all aspects of my life," Orton said. "I'm different just like everybody else is three or four years down the road."
He was married in March and dedicated the rest of his offseason to relearning the Bears offense to give himself the best chance to win the starting job.
"I'm still the same guy," Orton said. "I'm still a fun guy and like to hang with my teammates. It's not like I'm trying to live in a hole or anything. But [I] certainly have to be careful and not put myself or my family in jeopardy."
That sentiment doesn't guarantee Orton success this season, but at least he's given himself the best chance possible.
Elsewhere around the NFC North, A MERE 54 HOURS UNTIL THE BLACK AND BLUE REGULAR SEASON KICKS OFF:
Having lost his spot as a starting receiver, the Bears' Mark Bradley has been working as a gunner for punt coverage, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Asked if he was upset that he is no longer a first-team receiver, Bradley said: "I'll say I'm just confused."
Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress said any intensified emotions he might feel against the Green Bay Packers shouldn't impact the teams' game Monday night. "Last time I checked, I won't be out there between the white lines or anything physically like that," Childress told members of the Wisconsin media.
Vikings left tackle Artis Hicks spoke Thursday for the first time about replacing the suspended Bryant McKinnie. "It's not that big of an adjustment," Hicks said, according to the Star Tribune. "The biggest thing is guys are a little bit faster out there, a little bit more athletic."
Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk was cleared to practice Thursday as he recovers from a strained chest muscle. But he hasn't been cleared to play yet Monday night, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.