Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Around the NFC West: Rookie hazing
By Mike Sando
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says some Cardinals players think Cowboys rookie Dez Bryant shouldn't resist carrying shoulder pads for veteran receiver Roy Williams as a rite of passage. Running back Jason Wright: "You can say it’s hazing or messing with the young guys, but really what it is in my opinion is, it’s an invitation to be a part of the team, to be part of the family. This is how you get into the family." Darnell Dockett offered an interesting take, noting that former Cardinals defensive tackle Russell Davis was the one player he wouldn't submit to as a rookie. If Bryant didn't want to carry pads for Williams, that could make sense to Dockett. Dockett: "But if [Bryant] treats all the receivers like that, then, I’d make it miserable for him."
Also from Urban: Cardinals receiver Ed Gant, facing a four-game suspension, knows he'll have a tough time earning a roster spot.
Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 says the Cardinals' options at inside linebacker are limited. The list of free-agent linebackers includes Jeremiah Trotter, Adalius Thomas, Angelo Crowell and Junior Seau.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with agents for some of the Cardinals' unsigned draft choices. Sounds like the agents expect to get deals done relatively soon.
Clark Judge of CBSSports.com ranks the Arizona Cardinals' training camp venue as best in the league, with the Seattle Seahawks' venue third. Judge has this to say about the quarterback situation in Seattle: "Pete Carroll proclaimed Matt Hasselbeck as his starter, which is great. Except he also said he loves competition at positions, which is not so great for Hasselbeck and his future in Seattle. Carroll didn't trade for Hasselbeck; he traded for Charlie Whitehurst and paid a steep price to acquire him. So he has a conviction about him, which means he sees him as a future starter. The question, then, is: When does that future begin?" That depends upon Hasselbeck's performance.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch expects NFL owners to vote Aug. 25 on Stan Kroenke's bid to purchase the Rams. Thomas: "Barring the unexpected, club owners will vote on Kroenke's bid at the Atlanta meeting. There are details still to be worked out, but all signs point to league approval of Kroenke, the Missouri businessman who already owns 40 percent of the team." Kroenke's bid has appeared strong from the beginning. His familiarity with NFL owners and procedures gave him a tremendous advantage over other potential bidders.
Ron Clements of the Alton Telegraph says the Rams set high goals despite low expectations from the outside. Coach Steve Spagnuolo: "We’ve talked a lot about winning the NFC West and beating our NFC West opponents. You’ve got to do that first before you can get anywhere in this league. You’ve got to beat your divisional opponents." The Rams have won one division game over the past three seasons.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com breaks down the 49ers' roster and declares Nate Clements a clear choice to start at cornerback after an impressive showing at mandatory minicamp practices. Maiocco: "Clements might have a big contract, but when he took the field for the mandatory minicamp, the first-team defense looked a lot better. There's no question he's a starter." Clements has much to prove this season. That's good for the 49ers.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee expects the 49ers to stick with Moran Norris as their starting fullback despite issues in the running game last season, with Brit Miller as the likely backup. Barrows: "Michael Robinson and Jehuu Caulcrick also are listed at the position. Robinson is a far better pass catcher (and runner after the catch) than he is a lead blocker, and his role on offense is on third downs. Caulcrick, meanwhile, has the size of a fullback but has yet to acquire the mentality. He was a gifted runner at Michigan State, but the 49ers are trying to train him to seek out tacklers rather than avoid them."
Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat singles out 49ers players facing pressure as training camp nears. Barber on Manny Lawson: "He didn't express any bitterness when he arrived for the mandatory minicamp in June, but it's no secret that Lawson is unhappy with his contract, a deal that calls for a salary of $625,000 in its final season. The linebacker would love to prove that he is worth much more than that; his campaign begins next week."
Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat likes the 49ers' chances in the NFC West. Cohn: "They are loaded. The NFC West is weak and there for the taking. For heaven’s sake, Matt Leinart is the starting quarterback in Arizona. So, what’s the problem? For all their progress, the 49ers have unknowns at the two most important positions. Quarterback Alex Smith still is an unknown. He began last season on the bench behind Shaun Hill. He has improved, but no one is sure of him. He could be terrific or he could be average or he could be bad. All that is to be determined. Yet the 49ers have hitched their fate to his star, such as it is, and he must prove himself or they all will go down in flames."
Ben Malcolmson of seahawks.com says the Seahawks' minority coaching interns this year will be former NFL safety Lance Schulters, former defensive tackle Joe Salave'a, former running back James Jones and former receiver Reginald Moore.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Tod Leiweke's voice cracked several times while the Seahawks' CEO explained his decision to become CEO and minority owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Leiweke: "I’ve given this place everything that we had and we’ve built something special here. Walking away from that, those are the things that keep you awake at night. So there’s no way to resolve those asterisks other than to say that this is a dream come true and this place is in good shape."
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks and owner Paul Allen will miss Leiweke. Brewer: "Allen can replace Leiweke's talent, as difficult as that will be. But he will have a hard time finding an executive to commit to the cause with as much humility, sincerity and flat-out toughness as Leiweke did."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times calls Leiweke the public face for the very private Allen. O'Neil: "Leiweke not only grew the Seahawks into the Cadillac of the city's sports scene, he then repaired the relationship between Allen's Trail Blazers and the city of Portland and ushered the Seattle Sounders FC into Major League Soccer."
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says the Seahawks should have an easier time setting Golden Tate's value after other second-round choices reached agreements.
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune praises Leiweke for always putting the fan first. Leiweke: "One of the first things I did was I bought season tickets and I lived life as a fan. It wasn’t so easy, even in that beautiful stadium. There were things that, as a fan, I didn’t like. I bought seats up the Hawks’ Nest, and I sat in the stands, and I made it a point not to sit in a suite."
Michael Lombardi of NFL.com ranks players by position across the league, creating values for every roster in the league. The Seahawks' roster came in 32nd with five points. Lombardi: "Only having five points looks bad for Seattle, but there is a silver lining. They have many players coming back from injuries and their point total could increase into the 50s, quickly assuming they can stay healthy. The rebuilding has started in Seattle."