Around the NFC West: Willis likes changes

July, 27, 2011
7/27/11
9:44
AM ET
Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis will not miss fewer padded practices. Willis on protections written into the new labor agreement: "Honestly, I'm glad they put that in there. At the end of the day, we're high-impact players. For us to go out there and hit each other twice a day and it's me against you and it's everything I've got against you, it takes a toll on your body."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com passes along a team-issued comment from Chargers general manager A.J. Smith regarding the team's contract agreement with Takeo Spikes. Smith: "He is an outstanding player. I love his competitiveness and instincts. I believe he will be an immediate contributor. To me, this is another Randall Godfrey type move for the Chargers."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers did not show interest in Spikes once the negotiating period opened.

Taylor Price of 49ers.com reports from team headquarters as players returned for work following the lockout. Price: "While 49ers players like Willis were extremely eager to begin the 2011 campaign, many of them had trouble finding their lockers first. The typical locker arrangement the players had come to expect was changed by head coach Jim Harbaugh. Now the locker room looks like a sporadic mix of players intertwined with various position groups."

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers are adopting a long-term approach under team president Jed York.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune reflects on some of the moments that defined Matt Hasselbeck's legacy in Seattle. Boling: "Years ago at Arizona when Darrell Jackson fumbled the ball 20 yards downfield at a crucial point in the game, the Seahawk who made the recovery was Hasselbeck. He’d gone racing down the field to help and was there to dive into the pile and get the ball. Offensive coordinator Gil Haskell was mad at him after the game because it seemed so reckless for a quarterback, but then he admitted that he’d never seen another quarterback make that play, and that Matt was the 'toughest guy on the team.'"

John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune thinks the Seahawks should give Charlie Whitehurst a chance.

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says now was the time for Hasselbeck and the Seahawks to part ways. Kelley: "He made himself into a Pro Bowler. He became one of the most respected athletes to play in Seattle and one of the classiest, most humble guys I've covered. But it was time for him to go. The Seahawks will go into this season with two rookies projected to start on the right side of the offensive line. Four of their starting linemen will have a combined total of 27 career starts. That's a prescription for disaster for Hasselbeck, who will turn 36 in September and has had injury and mobility problems the past few years. Truthfully, the end of the Hasselbeck era has been coming since former general manager Tim Ruskell hustled [Mike] Holmgren out the door."

Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle says clues were there that Hasselbeck would not return. As coach Pete Carroll put it some time after declaring Hasselbeck's re-signing a top priority, "Well, we had a good dialogue started and we went up to the time frame that we had available so that's all we could do, and then it ended. We weren't able to get anything done at that time so when opportunities arise again where we can get going on it again, we'll be right after it again and see where it all fits. Some time has passed now and there could have been some things that have changed."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says former defensive lineman Richard Harris, 63, has died of a heart attack.

Also from Farnsworth: Seattle players return to work.

Art Thiel of Sports Press Northwest calls Tarvaris Jackson a placeholder while the Seahawks search for their next long-term quarterback.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are considering multiple options at quarterback. Hasselbeck was one of the options mentioned, but obviously not a serious one. Hasselbeck's agreement with Tennessee gives Arizona one fewer quarterback to consider as the Cardinals try to leverage a better deal with Philadelphia for Kevin Kolb. Somers: "Kolb is the Cardinals' top choice, and their efforts to get him were bolstered when the Seahawks agreed to terms Tuesday with former Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson."

Also from Somers: Jeff King and Ben Graham have agreed to deals with Arizona.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says team staffers were happy to see players back in the building following the lockout. Urban: "There are times when a player comes through the door and freezes, realizing a meeting was going on. Offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges was that guy this morning, until [team president Michael] Bidwill waved him through. As the affable Bridges walked down the side, the staff began to clap, bringing a smile to Bridges’ face. As he went to pass the main stage, he went to shake Bidwill’s hand -- and it turned into a welcome-back hug."

Also from Urban: More on players returning to work.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports from Rams headquarters as players returned to work following the lockout. Also: "Jim Lake has been promoted to equipment manager. He replaces Todd Hewitt, who was fired in January after 16 years in the position and 32 years as a Rams employee. Lake has worked in the club's equipment department for 20 years. In other staff additions, Adam Bailey has been hired as assistant strength coach, Lou Paolillo has been named a coaching assistant/special projects, and Jeremy McMillan becomes the team's nutritionist."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Quintin Mikell's addition to the Rams could spell the end for veteran James Butler. Thomas: "The Rams currently have only three safeties under contract in James Butler, Craig Dahl and Darian Stewart, but did draft two safeties in Ohio State's Jermale Hines and Oklahoma's Jonathan Nelson. The signing of Mikell could put Butler, who counts nearly $3.3 million against the salary, in jeopardy of being a cap casualty."

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