Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Around the NFC West: Rams workout frenzy
By Mike Sando
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has this to say about Sam Bradford from the Rams' player-run practices: "He has grown quickly and confidently into the job, and now is well on his way to the same sort of franchise quarterback/quasi-assistant head coach status that only the elite star QBs like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady hold." Bradford said he has tapped into unnamed players familiar with new coordinator Josh McDaniels' offense. Bradford: "I feel pretty good with it. I spent quite a bit of time (studying) since I got (the playbook). Now it's just a matter of getting (repetitions). You can look at something on paper all day and it will make sense, but until you get on the field and actually run through it a couple of times, you don't actually know how it will play out and you don't know what the timing will be. So the more you work on it, the more you get the timing down."
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams rookies Lance Kendricks and Greg Salas are staying at Bradford's house and soaking up as much as they can about the offense while attending practices Monday through Thursday. Salas: "It's great to get out here, get to know the guys, and get to know the offense and everything we're going to have to be learning. You can see the difference with the leadership and the maturity of the men out here. I haven't got to experience a full NFL practice yet, with the coaches and pads and everything. I'm looking forward to that as well."
Also from the Post-Dispatch: a photo gallery featuring shots from practice. The second one shows Bradford holding up a play card for Trips Right 64 Bundle Flare.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides an overview from Rams practice. He lists all 30 players in attendance and notes that several others either arrived later Monday or planned to arrive soon. Linemen were not asked to show up because there wouldn't be much for them to do given the non-contact nature of drills. However, five offensive linemen were already working out in the area, so they showed up. Linebacker James Laurinaitis: "We got some good work in. There was a lot of timing stuff for the 'O' (offense). And some refreshers on the calls and stuff for the defense. I was pleased with the turnout."
Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis offers thoughts and details from Rams practice. Softli: "All players were sent through foot quickness drills (a circuit), ropes, short sprints run over and around dummies in individual drill work. While Bradford put his receivers through a fast paced route-tree session and followed that up with a group session, his timing and anticipation was very good, crisp and accurate. Before they ended the last segment because of the storm that rolled in quickly, a 7-on-7 drill with the defense shadowing was running very smoothly."
Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis says Bradford's work ethic and status as a gym rat give him a chance to excel.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com sees parallels between former Seattle receiver Bobby Engram and current 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Engram, now on the 49ers' staff as an entry-level assistant, also hopes to advance through the ranks. Engram: "Jim is just a football junkie. The thing that I really appreciate is before I signed up here I talked to him on the phone for about half an hour and he basically walked the exact same path that I’m walking now. He got done playing, went to Oakland for a few years, went to San Diego and coached there, went to Stanford and now he’s back in the league. That gave me a lot of confidence, just kind of confirming what I was thinking. Having him actually go through it, he knows what I’m going through. So I can go talk to him if I have any questions. He’s walked the path, and it’s a good thing."
Also from Farnsworth: a look at differences between the 25th and 35th all-time teams for Seattle. Mack Strong over John L. Williams was a tough one. Strong was so valuable as a blocker for some of the Seahawks' best teams. Williams was so much more productive as a rusher and receiver. Each went to two Pro Bowls.
More from Farnsworth: Former Seahawks center Robbie Tobeck has no regrets after walking away from football when he had nothing left to give. Tobeck: "One thing I really cherish about playing here, when you’ve got to work for something -- and we did -- there are always those challenges in your path. It’s so rewarding when you work so hard and you finally overcome that mountain. Then there’s another one in your way. But it was fun. It was a fun experience."
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seahawks strength-and-conditioning coach Chris Carlisle, who would be much busier if the lockout wasn't preventing players from stepping foot inside NFL team facilities. Williams: "I hate not being around the athletes and not being able to work with them. But instead, I’ve spent time reading, researching and figuring out how to do it better at this level than it’s been done before. And that kind of carries on what Pete talks about."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers would normally be finishing up 14 weeks of organized team activities in early June, but the lockout has prevented them from practicing at team headquarters all offseason. Maiocco: "The only time the new 49ers' staff has been able to provide on-field coaching was April 20, when 50 NFL hopefuls attended the local pro day for draft-eligible players. Currently, approximately 15 players are meeting four days a week to work out on their own in the South Bay. They get together to lift weights, condition, throw and catch some passes, and socialize. They must be careful not to push themselves too far and risk injury. If a player sustains an injury during these workouts, the team would not be liable to pay his 2011 base salary."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree plans to join teammates, including Alex Smith, for workouts in the near future. Barrows: "Chemistry issues between the two early last season led to a number of critical interceptions and to 49ers losses. Crabtree, the No. 10 overall draft pick in 2009, has never appeared in a preseason game. He missed the exhibition season his rookie year due to a protracted contract dispute that also wiped away the first five games of the regular season."
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News quotes 49ers cornerback Nate Clements as saying he plans to return for the 2011 season, but there's no word on how much of a pay reduction Clements would accept to make that happen.
Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick will try to buck a trend of underwhelming second-round quarterbacks. More here.
Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal says the Cardinals and other Phoenix-area sports franchises are redoubling efforts to retain season-ticket holders. Sunnucks: "Part of that Cardinals effort is to have sales representatives reach out to ticket holders to answer questions about the lockout and the Arizona team’s prospects next season. The latest effort in that strategy was Cards ticket reps calling season-ticket holders and prospective buyers after the NFL draft in late April. The Cardinals missed the playoffs last season after two straight post-season appearances. Season-ticket holders have until June 1 to renew their seats with the Cards, though the team may allow some flexibility. The team is promising refunds with interest if the lockout results in missed games." The Cardinals have sold out every game at University of Phoenix Stadium, but their 5-11 record last season could conspire with the lockout to put that streak in jeopardy. Making an aggressive move for a quarterback would help.