Around the NFC West: Hitting hot issues
June, 12, 2013
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
ST. LOUIS -- Good morning, NFC West. A few thoughts on what's happening around the division on this second Wednesday in June:
- Worker safety: Player safety has become the No. 1 issue in the NFL recently, but playing football isn't as dangerous as some other jobs. Donald White, an elevator mechanic with more than four decades' experience, lost his life Tuesday in an accident at the 49ers' stadium construction site. According to the U.S. Labor Department, construction workers incurred 738 of 4,188 worker fatalities in private industry during 2011. "The leading causes of worker deaths on construction sites were falls, followed by electrocution, struck by object, and caught-in/between," the Labor Department reports.
- Glendale bound: The Cardinals plan to relocate training camp practices to University of Phoenix Stadium from Northern Arizona University. NAU had its charms, but more fans will get to watch practice under the new arrangement. Practicing indoors will eliminate weather concerns. Fewer and fewer teams are going away to training camp. Might the Cardinals eventually move their headquarters from Tempe to Glendale? That would make sense for the longer term.
- Receiver watch: Coaches from NFC West teams singled out Doug Baldwin (Seattle), Austin Pettis (St. Louis) and A.J. Jenkins (San Francisco) for excellent work recently. Jenkins is the player whose contributions are needed the most by his team. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has in the past predicted good things for Jenkins. This time, Harbaugh praised Jenkins for specific plays he made in practice. We'll want to see how these receivers perform during exhibitions, when they trade their shorts for pads and a much more physical version of the game. Baldwin and Pettis have proven themselves to a greater degree.
- Miller's boot: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll downplayed as minor the foot soreness that kept tight end Zach Miller from practicing. Miller has demonstrated an ability to play through ailments. However, the visual of him wearing a walking boot amplifies in my mind the importance of Miller's role to the offense. Seattle would have a very tough time replacing him.
- Harbaugh on PEDs: I found it interesting that Harbaugh would question reports that Adderall was the likely culprit in recent suspensions incurred by Seattle players. An executive from another team made very similar comments to me in private a few weeks back. He thought anyone incurring punishment under the NFL's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances would be wise to blame Adderall instead of substances more directly related to steroids. Here's hoping the NFL and its players agree in the future to disclose specifically which substances triggered positive test results.