Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says new Seahawks offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates wants balance. O'Neil also provides a chart showing gains in rushing yards for Alex Gibbs' teams.
Also from O'Neil: Bates talks about drafting running backs after the first round. Bates: "I think Denver has proven that they've gotten a lot of great running backs late in the rounds. A lot of people say you've got to go to the first round and pick up that running back. I think if the offensive line, the tight end and the running backs all work together, all believe in the system, all know who they're reading and believe in 4 yards, 4 yards, 4 yards, they can be successful."
More from O'Neil: Matt Hasselbeck says he has no idea whether Walter Jones is serious about retiring.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com checks in with draft analyst Rob Rang, who says the Seahawks might be less apt to select an offensive lineman early now that Gibbs is coaching their line. I agree, although Gibbs' Texans and Broncos did use first-round picks for offensive linemen in the last seven years, taking George Foster (Denver) and Duane Brown (Houston).
Also from Johns: Bates says he thinks Hasselbeck can be "special" in the Seahawks' new offense. Bates: "We're very fortunate walking into an organization with Matt Hasselbeck being the leader. He's been to the Super Bowl, he's been in every situation. There's going to be some learning, but he's been part of the West Coast offense terminology-wise and formations, so it's all going to come back to him. It's going to be fun to see how good he can be in this offense because I think he's going to be special."
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks will more fully commit to zone blocking schemes. Bates: "From Day 1, were going to be practicing outside/inside zone. And when you believe in something like that and you’re committed to it, you’re going to make it work eventually. Players have to understand this is what we are, and this is who we’re going to be."
Also from Williams: Bates patterns himself after Jon Gruden when it comes to putting in long hours. Bates: "He let me get into the door, and once I got my foot in the door, he just taught me how to grind. I was up really early in the morning and working late at night learning every play known to man in football. It was special. The one thing I take from Jon is passion. You’ve got to have the passion. It’s just too hard of a job if you’re not in love with it. And he loved it. It was a fun three years."
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic looks at players the Cardinals might consider in the draft. McManaman on TCU pass-rusher Jerry Hughes: "They need a pass-rusher and Hughes was one of the best in the nation. He destroys backfields and would be a natural fit at outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. He has good cover skills, too. What I like about him is his natural strength and ability to dominate would-be blockers. Like many of these prospects, I can see Hughes going higher in the draft, so he might not be around when the Cardinals make their first selection. But if he's there, he's a big-time steal at 26."
Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic sizes up the football scene in Arizona, passing along this tidbit from former Cardinals offensive lineman Conrad Dobler: "Bill Bidwill knows more about the game than anybody else I know. In fact, I remember when I retired. I sent each owner a letter saying, 'Thank you for the opportunity to play in the NFL for 10 years, yada, yada, yada.' He sent it back with a big red stamp that said (bull).' "
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com doesn't think Julius Peppers would be a good fit for the Cardinals' scheme. Urban: "The biggest obstacle I see for Peppers is the idea he could suddenly become an effective linebacker after playing his whole career -- college and pro -- with his hand down. There are few defensive linemen as athletic as the 6-foot-7, 285-pounder, and he made it clear last year he thought he could make such a transition. But Peppers is also 30, and while he isn’t exactly an old dog, it is a new trick."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Steven Jackson's accuser, Supriya Harris, is "very disappointed" authorities will not be filing charges against the Rams' running back. Thomas: "Harris, 29, whose allegations became public Jan. 28, had accused Jackson of pushing her repeatedly and throwing her against a door when she was nine months pregnant with the couple's son, Kingston. Harris said the incident occurred on March 8, 2009 at Jackson's Las Vegas home. Jackson denied the allegations earlier and said in a statement on his website that he would address the issue 'thoroughly through the appropriate avenues, but not through the media.'"
Also from Thomas: a chat transcript featuring his thoughts on efforts by Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez to sell the Rams. Thomas: "Obviously, I'm not an expert on estate law. But I believe Chip and Lucia currently are only paying interest on the estate taxes. I think it's about $1 million per yer. But in about 3 years, they have to start paying principal on the estate taxes, which is about $17 million a year. When it reaches that amount, it basically eliminates the per year profit made by the team (now that they're in the bottom fourth of the league in profitability). Although Chip and Lucia live comfortable lives, they are not independently wealthy -- to the point where they can absorb breaking even on the Rams. Thus the pressure to sell the team. I know the family did take some measures to limit the impact of the estate taxes, so it could've been worse."
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the damage to Jackson has been done. Burwell: "Modern fame takes no prisoners. Contemporary celebrity is a lovely and intoxicating game just as long as you are inside the velvet ropes lapping in all the goodies. But there is a backlash to this game, and it ain't pretty. Associate with the wrong crowd, spend too much time with people who have less to lose than you do, make just one fateful step in the wrong direction, and the repercussions won't be pretty and they can last a lifetime."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee expects Tony Pashos and Arnaz Battle to draw interest if they hit the market as free agents. Barrows: "Battle was a starter from 2005-2007, but his reception totals have dropped in recent seasons and was seen more as a special teams player than a receiver in 2009. The 49ers plan to go into the 2010 with a receiving corps of Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Brandon Jones and Jason Hill. They could add a receiver in the draft who has return skills. Battle turns 30 on the 22nd, but there should be some teams that like his toughness and blocking ability. If I had to bet, I'd say he winds up in Baltimore."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat sizes up the 49ers at tight end. Maiocco: "A lot of people viewed 2009 as Davis' breakout season. He was named as a starter on the NFC Pro Bowl team after catching 78 passes for 965 yards and 13 TDs. You want to know the major difference? The 49ers actually threw the ball to him -- a lot. Remember, this is a guy who caught 52 passes and four touchdowns in his second season. The next year, he remained into block about 50 percent of the time as Mike Martz needed the extra man in protection to allow so many seven-step drops."