Plenty of intrigue in receiver races
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Races are heating up at receiver as teams work through their exhibition schedules.
I'll put the NFC West races in perspective with a little help from the graphics department.
The chart shows how many receivers NFC West teams have kept on their opening-day rosters over each of the last five seasons. The bottom row shows how many receivers each team is carrying now.
Arizona: Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are the starters. Steve Breaston tightened his grip on the No. 3 job by catching three passes for 50 yards in the opener, including a 34-yard grab. Rookie third-round choice Early Doucet is resting a sore hamstring, but the Cardinals will save a roster spot for him. Jamaica Rector and Jerheme Urban each caught four passes against the Saints on Thursday night. Lance Long has enjoyed a strong camp. Sean Morey, the fourth receiver last season, is fighting for a spot. Also in camp: Ahmad Merritt and Jemalle Cornelius.
St. Louis: Torry Holt and Drew Bennett are the starters. Second-round choice Donnie Avery and fourth-rounder Keenan Burton will make the team. Veteran Dante Hall has value as a return specialist. Dane Looker always seems to find a way to stick around. Reche Caldwell and Derek Stanley could be in the mix for a sixth spot. Stanley has value as a returner. Marques Hagans, Brandon Williams, Shaine Smith and Matt Caddell have a chance to state their cases when the Rams open their exhibition schedule at Tennessee tonight. Avery has a hip injury and probably won't play.
Seattle: Bobby Engram and Nate Burleson are the starters while Deion Branch recovers from knee surgery. Ben Obomanu is looking more and more like the fourth receiver. Logan Payne has probably done enough to stick around despite a rib injury, but others on the roster are making this race interesting. Courtney Taylor's potential continues to intrigue. Jordan Kent caught a touchdown pass against Minnesota in the exhibition opener. Michael Bumpus led the team with three catches for 51 yards. Joel Filani and Trent Shelton caught touchdown passes. Bryan Gilmore is also in camp (he was one of 15 Seattle players to catch a pass Friday night). Branch is ahead of schedule in his rehab and could be ready for the regular-season opener.
San Francisco: The team is listing Bryant Johnson and Isaac Bruce as the starters, but neither played in the exhibition opener against the Raiders. Arnaz Battle and surprising rookie Josh Morgan started in their place. The 49ers are also expected to keep Jason Hill. Ashley Lelie hasn't made a convincing case for keeping a sixth receiver. Cameron Colvin has been most impressive among the other lesser-known receivers. He has practice-squad eligibility. Dominique Zeigler, Robert Ortiz and Jerard Babb fill out the position in camp. Zeigler caught four passes for 45 yards against the Raiders, but he lost a fumble. Hill dropped a pass in the end zone.