Friday, May 27, 2011
Around the NFC West: Rams wrap up camp
By Mike Sando
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams tight end Daniel Fells faces an uncertain future with the team thanks to the lockout and an expiring contract. Thomas on the Rams in general: "After practicing at Lindenwood University Monday through Wednesday, the venue was switched to Lutheran South High School, where former Rams strength coach Chuck Faucette is now head football coach. About three dozen Rams have participated in this week's practices at one time or another. But heavy rains canceled Thursday's session. Instead, quarterback Sam Bradford and about eight to 10 receivers spent 30 minutes doing classroom work and then worked for about 45 minutes in the gym at Lutheran South. Afterward, many of them stayed around and played a little basketball. Many Rams players will reconvene June 8 in the Phoenix area for another series of workouts organized by cornerback Ron Bartell, linebacker James Laurinaitis and Bradford." Bradford has been teaching the playbook to his offensive teammates. It'll be interesting to see once camp starts whether players retain the information and if Bradford knew enough to teach concepts the way new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will teach them.
Casey Pearce of stlouisrams.com provides details from coach Steve Spagnuolo's recent practice involving members of the business staff as players. Pearce: "The day followed the same schedule Spagnuolo uses for OTAs. It started with a team meeting during which staffers were assigned positions. Special-teams coordinator Tom McMahon then turned on the video projector and taught the group two punt protection calls. Following the special teams meeting, the offense and defense went into separate meeting rooms and then individual position meetings. With the meetings in the books, the staff headed to the training room where head athletic trainer Reggie Scott and his staff taped each staff member’s ankles in preparation for the on-field portion of the day."
Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis offers thoughts on the Rams' recently concluded player-organized workout sessions. Also: "Mardy Gilyard was a no-show. It is my understanding from a source he had a close friend pass away and decided to attend the services."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says some 49ers players downplay the significance of other teams drawing more players to their player-organized workouts. Maiocco: "The 49ers players had been getting together in relative obscurity. The group of 49ers keeps showing up to lift weights and condition for about two hours in the middle of the day, four days a week. Some of the veterans viewed the publicity generated by the Saints' workouts as a made-for-TV event -- nothing more than a public-relations tool."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers rookie Rashad Johnson is leaning on his more financially established teammates for air fare and a place to stay during player-organized workouts. Johnson, a sixth-round pick, stayed with safety Taylor Mays, a former teammate at USC. Quarterback Alex Smith paid for Johnson's flight. Barrows: "Johnson has a bit of an advantage on his rookie counterparts in that he is already familiar with the routes he will be asked to run. His college position coach, John Morton, has the same job with the 49ers. Indeed, Morton was the one who lobbied the 49ers to take Johnson with the 182nd overall pick. Johnson said the 49ers routes are similar to the ones he ran with the Trojans. But they're called different names and the overall concepts are a little different. And that's what he's trying to master every night while he and the rest of the rookies wait out the lockout."
Taylor Price of 49ers.com profiles 49ers assistant Geep Chryst, whose father coached against Jim Harbaugh's father in the Big Ten. Chryst worked for the Bears when Harbaugh played for them. Price: "Poise under pressure is what Chryst recalled most vividly of his current boss. Though he had held out of camp for a short period, Harbaugh came to the Chicago Bears full of confidence. Chryst recalls Harbaugh nearly crashing his moped into William 'The Refrigerator' Perry’s gold Mercedes. But the rookie quarterback made up for it when he displayed veteran moxie at the team’s rookie talent show. When his partner bowed out of their scheduled embarrassing performance, Harbaugh was left to entertain the veterans all by himself." Harbaugh went solo during a Blues Brothers routine.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the 2006 season ranks among the more disappointing in franchise history even though Seattle went 9-7 and won a third consecutive NFC West title. Farnsworth: "Injuries played a part, as Matt Hasselbeck missed four starts with a bruised knee and leading rusher Shaun Alexander sat out six because of a broken foot. So did ineffectiveness and inconsistency. Even more telling was the fact that the team’s best players who had their best seasons in the run to the Super Bowl in ’05 did not match those efforts. Not even close."
Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic assesses where the Cardinals and other Phoenix-area professional sports franchises stand now compared to five years ago. Boivin: "Has the organization shown vision? Its struggles finding a quarterback after Kurt Warner's retirement shouldn't be ignored but considering where it was under Dennis Green's guidance in 2006, the team is definitely in a better place."