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Thursday, July 29, 2010
Around the NFC West: Awaiting Bradford

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides the latest on contract talks between Sam Bradford and the Rams. Thomas: "Kevin Demoff, the Rams' executive vice president of football operations, had indicated earlier Wednesday that talks were progressing. But sources familiar with the negotiations indicated later in the evening that no talks took place Wednesday night. Demoff could not be reached later. There are no indications of major hang-ups. Nonetheless, there's still no deal." I would think the Rams would have a deal with Bradford by Friday or Saturday. Both sides will want to get him into camp by then.

Also from Thomas: The Rams have a four-year agreement with second-round choice Rodger Saffold.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are looking for a fresh start.

Reid Laymance of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Bradford's college coach. Bob Stoops: "I know he is anxious to get started. He doesn't know when it (contract) will all get taken care of, but he's ready. He was lifting weights and looked in great shape."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asks five Rams-related questions heading into camp. Miklasz: "Stan Kroenke will likely be voted in as the Rams' owner by the start of the season. The franchise cannot move forward until new leadership takes over. Will Kroenke be a hands-on owner? Is he sold on (Billy) Devaney and (Steve) Spagnuolo? Will he be patient or restless? As the minority owner, Kroenke largely remained in the background and deferred to Georgia Frontiere and her children. Kroenke has been an assertive and decisive owner in Denver, with the NBA Nuggets and NHL Avalanche."

Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asks colleagues how much the Rams should work Steven Jackson this summer. Thomas: "There’s no need to keep Jackson enclosed in bubble wrap. He needs enough practice reps to get his timing down. And he needs at least some touches -- 10 to 12? -- over the course of preseason play to get reacquainted with the speed of the game and get used to (some) contact. But we may not see Jackson exposed to any of the live tackling drills Steve Spagnuolo dials up for training camp."

Ben Malcolmson of seahawks.com says coaches spent Wednesday giving detailed reports on the team's 2010 opponents.

Also from Malcolmson: a look at Seahawks offensive quality control coach Luke Butkus. Malcolmson: "Butkus was an All-Big Ten offensive lineman during his senior season at Illinois in 2001 before going on to try his hand in the NFL. Over three years, he was signed to a trio of teams, including San Diego, Chicago and Houston, along with playing two seasons in NFL Europe."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times expects Leroy Hill to request a delay in his domestic-violence trial. O'Neil: "Recently, the victim had not been responding to attempts by the prosecutor and police to contact her regarding the case, but a material-witness warrant was issued last Friday. She turned herself in, and is expected in court Thursday."

John Morgan of Field Gulls says Golden Tate's value to the Seahawks could increase during the season as injury concerns threaten veteran Deion Branch. Morgan: "Seattle's Tate will probably break into the league in two capacities: return man and high-value / low-target specialist. Eddie Royal is a fair usage if not ability comparison. Royal was a more refined route runner and joining a much more talented offense. Golden will be most valuable in leagues that allow return yardage and touchdowns and award touchdowns six or more points. He takes a slight hit in points-per-receptions leagues."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic expects second-round choice Daryl Washington to sign with the Cardinals in time for training camp.

Also from Somers: This Cardinals camp is especially important for Gabe Watson, Alan Branch and Rashad Johnson. Somers: "A third-round pick a year ago, it's a bit too early to label Johnson a bust. But it's telling that he stayed on the bench in the playoffs while Hamza Abdullah, signed in late December, took over because of injuries to Antrel Rolle and Matt Ware. ... Johnson now seems to have a good grasp of the defense and was in the right place most of the time in OTA. He has the mental side of the game down.The key for him this pre-season is tackling. The Cardinals have some depth at safety with Matt Ware and Abdullah, so Johnson needs to make a positive impression."

Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 projects the Cardinals' 53-man roster.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com asks whether the 49ers can find a running back to lessen the burden on Frank Gore. Maiocco: "The problem, of course, is that Frank Gore is a really good player. The 49ers fear a considerable drop-off in production while Gore is on the sideline. Gore is the 49ers' best back on first and second downs. But he is also their best back on third downs because of his blitz-pickup skills along with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. This season could be different. The 49ers expect to be playing football into January. They'll want Gore to be fresh and healthy for the possible playoff run." Glen Coffee should show improvement.

Also from Maiocco: Antonio Gates' deal probably will not affect what Vernon Davis wants from the 49ers.

More from Maiocco: How will the 49ers' second camp under Mike Singletary change from the first one? The team could tweak the nutcracker drills, for one.

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers president Jed York had nice things to say about former general manager Scot McCloughan.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers had better be right about Alex Smith.