Around the NFC West: A Cardinals rarity

June, 13, 2012
6/13/12
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Larry Fitzgerald dropped one pass in 150 targets last season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

It's news, even in practice, when a football touches Fitzgerald's hands on its way to the ground.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic said it happened Tuesday as the Cardinals opened their three-day mandatory camp. Fitzgerald also made a spectacular grab, but the drop stood out. Somers: "Quarterback Kevin Kolb hit Fitzgerald in stride, and the ball just bounced off his hands. Fitzgerald was not happy. He picked up the ball and punted it into the oleanders that border the Eastern edge of the practice field. I'm not sure if it cleared the oleanders and landed near the railroad tracks, but I doubt it. Still, it was a pretty nice kick."

Also from Somers: Sure, Vonnie Holliday is up there in years by NFL standards, but he's not that old -- unless you're as young as Michael Floyd, the Cardinals' 22-year-old first-round draft choice.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the team had full attendance Tuesday except for defensive lineman Nick Eason, who was excused for personal reasons.

Also from Urban: Enthusiasm runs high. Linebacker Paris Lenon: "That’s always something you have to be concerned with young guys, because everything is such a whirlwind. There is so much information thrown at them at one time, and they are looking for that light at the end of the tunnel. But if you have enough guys doing it the right way, everyone will fall in."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com offers notes from the team's first mandatory minicamp practice. Turns out receiver Antonio Bryant wasn't the only player attending on a tryout basis. Farnsworth: "Also in for a tryout is former Texans wide receiver David Anderson, a seventh-round draft choice in 2006 who was released during the season last year and signed with the Redskins. The 5-10, 193-pound Anderson has caught 88 passes for 965 yards in seven NFL seasons. The tryout list also includes tight end Cooper Helfet, who was the rookie minicamp last month; and linebackers Brian Banks and Kyle Knox. Banks who had a tryout last Thursday was working out for the Chiefs today but is scheduled to join the Seahawks’ minicamp [Wednesday]."

Also via Farnsworth: a fantastic quote from tight end Kellen Winslow, who was asked about his potential impact on the offense once healthy. Winslow: "If I was healthy, which I never will be again, I would be Aaron Hernandez and (Jason) Witten together."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks were a bit surprised, but not shocked to see Chris Clemons skip minicamp. Coach Pete Carroll: "He's done a very good job for us in the first couple of years. We're real pleased with his play and his work habits and everything. I'm a little bit surprised we're not able to get further than we are, but we'll see what happens."

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Carroll had high praise for the job Tarvaris Jackson did as the starter in practice Tuesday. Noted: The praise Carroll delivers encourages competition, which could, in theory, bring out the best in the team's new quarterbacks, notably Matt Flynn.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch answers Rams-related questions during his latest chat, including one about second-year defensive end Robert Quinn. Thomas: "The big question is run defense. Can he hold up -- and hold the edge -- play in, play out at 260-265? He played about half the snaps on defense last season, and to me showed promise as a pass rusher."

Steve Korte of bnd.com says Rams running back Steven Jackson has challenged rookie receiver Brian Quick to become an impact player right away. Jackson: "Over the next six weeks, he's going to have to work really to prepare for a long season because we are going to lean heavily on him. He's a high draft pick, and we're going to need someone on the outside to make plays. I'm challenging him right now to use these next six weeks to prepare himself to be a standout on this team."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com checks in with Rams rookie receiver Chris Givens, the first player chosen in the fourth round. Givens: "Just the velocity in which the ball comes to you, that’s the biggest difference. Each quarterback has a strong arm and whether it’s a deep ball or a hitch route, the ball gets on you pretty fast."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers thoughts on the 49ers' quarterbacks, noting that Josh Johnson has fared well recently. Barrows on the two-minute drill: "Johnson had the prettiest drive of the three. It lasted 11 plays and included a nice, over-the-middle pass to the goal-line to receiver Joe Hastings. A few plays later -- with 2.2 seconds left on the clock -- Johnson hit Hastings again on an out route in the end zone in [front] of safety Michael Thomas."

Also from Barrows: how Alex Smith is altering his approach. Barrows on habits Smith developed following shoulder trauma: "Smith compensated for weaknesses in the shoulder, and in doing so his mechanics changed slightly. House gave Smith an exercise regimen to get him back to his pre-injury form. That regimen ranges from very specific exercises designed to strengthen small muscles, especially in the back of the shoulder, to broad concepts like eliminating bench press from his routine. Smith admits he never used to warm up his shoulder before practice. Now he goes through what he described as an 'intense' warm up."

Taylor Price of 49ers.com offers highlights from practice. Price: "[Carlos] Rogers found himself being tested early in one-on-one drills against the 49ers receiving corps. Matched up against last year’s leading wideout Michael Crabtree, Rogers was beaten slightly down the field on a 35-yard pass from second-year signal caller Colin Kaepernick. Crabtree beat the Pro Bowl cornerback by just a step to make the impressive deep catch."

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman was particularly excited about Moss and guard Alex Boone.

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