Around the NFC West: Clements in perspective
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News addresses a Pro Football Prospectus report casting doubt on Nate Clements' contributions to the 49ers' secondary. The report shows Clements allowing more touchdowns and first downs, more yards in coverage and more yards after the catch than other cornerbacks. But there's no mention of the most important variable: playing time. New Orleans' Jason David is also ranked high on these lists, but I did some digging and found out that might not mean much. Clements played more than 1,100 snaps last season. David played about 750 snaps last season. Big difference.
Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune has an interesting note about the coach-to-player headsets being made available for the defense. Seattle's Lofa Tatupu and Brian Russell are logical candidates to wear them, but neither wants to use the devices. That could leave Deon Grant as the Seahawks' defensive communicator.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer checks in with Seattle's Jordan Kent, one of several young receivers trying to make an impact in the Seahawks' scrimmage at Qwest Field today. Kent, an accomplished track athlete with the height to play basketball, has broken the habit of leaving his feet every time he catches the ball.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals need more from nose tackle Alan Branch, a second-round choice in 2007. "In the coaches' estimation, Branch needs to lose weight and practice at a high level more consistently." That's not what you want to hear. Worse, 34-year-old Bryan Robinson is working with the starters while No. 1 nose tackle Gabe Watson recovers from a knee injury.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News Democrat says the Rams' Brett Romberg and Richie Incognito remain great friends even as they compete to be the starting center. Incognito could end up playing right guard if Romberg wins the center battle. Incognito: "I don't want to be jumping around, where the last second I'm playing guard. If they want me to play center, leave me at center." Not necessarily how it works.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides context for the Rams' scrimmage, scheduled for 10:50 a.m. ET this morning at Concordia University. I'm looking forward to watching Chris Long today, but apparently we shouldn't be surprised if a brawl breaks out and team president Jay Zygmunt tries to break it up.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with former Steelers fullback Dan Kreider, who is trying to earn a roster spot with the Rams. The best Kreider quote from the story begins this way: "Running routes isn't one of my great abilities." The Rams did not sign Kreider to fully explore Al Saunders' route tree, in other words. Also from Coats: Rams receiver Torry Holt still isn't happy about losing Isaac Bruce, but he is moving on.
The San Francisco Chronicle's QB update chart is worth a look today. And you thought the 49ers' quarterback race was down to Alex Smith and Shaun Hill. The more we hear from 49ers camp, the more we should consider J.T. Sullivan as a viable option. O'Sullivan knows the Mike Martz system, and it's clear the organization isn't going out of its way to push Smith.
Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle assesses Dashon Goldson's performance in 49ers camp. My impression after visiting 49ers camp: Goldson will become the starter at some point this season, even if Mark Roman holds onto the job in the short term. Also from Fitzgerald: Tight end Delanie Walker isn't happy about changes to the forceout rule.
Jose Romero of the Seattle Times says middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu might not play in the Seahawks' scrimmage today. That would be a loss for fans, who haven't been able to watch practices while the Seahawks wait to begin using their new facility Aug. 18. The old facility isn't big enough to accommodate fans. Scrimmages are for backups. Coaches don't want to take risks with banged-up starters. Also from Romero: He singles out Matt Hasselbeck's red-zone touchdown pass to Leonard Weaver as one of the Seahawks' offensive plays of the day. Weaver's strong camp is exactly what the Seahawks needed to see from him. Seattle relies more heavily on a traditional fullback than most teams.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat recalls Fred Dean's incredible impact on the 49ers in 1981. Dean, set to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, sacked Cowboys quarterback Danny White three times in Dean's first game with the 49ers. The team won a Super Bowl for the first time later that season. Also from Maiocco: Alex Smith doesn't have much to say about O'Sullivan's increased reps in practice.
ESPN.com's Chris Conetzkey writes about Dean through the eyes of former teammate Dwaine Board and former opponent Mike Kenn. Kenn offers high praise: "He had this move where he could get a guy moving upfield with an inside one-arm rip on the edge, and he was basically able to reach back around and convert it into a club and basically throw people off the field. Reggie White developed the same type of move to rush from the left side, but Fred Dean was the first to utilize it. Those are the only two players that I saw that actually had the ability to make that work."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com quotes Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart as saying he had "no clue" a year ago. Leinart says he's much more confident this summer. More than a couple of coaches and personnel people I've spoken with around the league think Leinart will develop into a good quarterback. I can see why some fans want Kurt Warner, but I think the organization owes it to itself to figure out whether Leinart can lead the offense effectively without
being as careless with the football as Warner tends to be.