Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Around the NFC West: Rams visit Arizona
By Mike Sando
Steve Wyche of NFL.com says the Rams will hold workouts in Arizona beginning this week, with James Laurinaitis and Ron Bartell among those taking the lead. Wyche: "Not all of the work will be on field either. Bartell, Laurinaitis and other players have video of previous years' games, and players will get the chance to break down film during the minicamp. Laurinaitis stressed the importance of getting as much film and class work done now so players will be ready when the lockout ends. Laurinaitis added that quarterback Sam Bradford has plays from new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' playbook but without being coached how McDaniels wants the plays to be run, there is only so much to be gained."
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coaches and staffers spent Tuesday building a playground for a school serving autistic children. Players generally would have participated in large numbers, but with the lockout, this year was different. Coats: "Other than second-year linebacker Josh Hull, who is rehabbing a knee injury, none of the players was on hand because of the lockout, although the NFL had granted a waiver for players and coaches to mix. Many were assembling in Phoenix, where a five-day session of player-organized workouts is to get under way."
Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis offers thoughts on the Rams' playground-building efforts.
Mindi Bach of CSNBayArea.com says veteran linebacker Takeo Spikes is not attending the 49ers' player-organized workouts because he's not sure whether he'll return to the team. Bach: "Spikes turns 35 in December and is preparing just as hard as he always has for an upcoming season. In another text message Spikes told me he is currently in his hometown of Atlanta working out daily with a group of 15 players which includes OT Wayne Gandy, T Osi Umenyiora, DE Charles Grant and WR Hines Ward. Spikes’ work ethic and leadership have never been questioned. Those who know him know he puts in the work. He runs the miles. He studies the film. He teaches that young player how to reach the next level. He carries himself in the same manner off the field. It takes just moments for anyone who meets Spikes to recognize those traits."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com offers updates from the 49ers' latest player-organized practice.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says left tackle Joe Staley has reduced his weight to 304 pounds in an effort to regain lost mobility. Durability is also key for Staley, who has missed 14 games over the past two seasons.
Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree rested sore feet while teammates practiced Tuesday. Branch: "Fellow wideout Josh Morgan, who has worked with Crabtree during the offseason, said the third-year wide receiver had aching feet after wearing new cleats during Monday's minicamp-opening practice on San Jose State's field turf. Morgan said Crabtree sat out as a precaution. He wasn't sure whether Crabtree would return to practice today."
Also from Branch: "Given Crabtree’s history, it would be easy to automatically add today’s absence to his diva files. On the flip side, though, he did attend the classroom session and, if his feet hurt, why should he push himself during a lockout minicamp in early June? Let the debate continue and, of course, stay tuned for tomorrow’s edition of the Curious Case of Michael Crabtree."
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News provides a transcript from Morgan's post-practice interview.
Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle credits 49ers defensive players for attending the player-organized practices despite not having a playbook.
The 49ers have announced a partnership with Stanford University, facilitated by former player Riki Ellison.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com profiles various classes of players by the years they joined the team.
Also from Farnsworth: a look back at the Seahawks' 1998 season. Farnsworth: "The conventional thought at the time was that a one-point loss to the New York Jets in Week 14 -- when referee Phil Luckett mistook the white helmet of quarterback Vinny Testaverde for the ball in awarding the Jets a game-winning touchdown with 20 seconds left in the game -- had cost Dennis Erickson his job. The reality was that (team president) Bob Whitsitt had decided to move in another direction before that game was ever played. Whitsitt explained that he has reached the point where the Everett-born Erickson would either be fired with one year remaining on his contract, or have his contract extended."
Doug Farrar of Sportspress Northwest says quarterback Matt Hasselbeck appeared to be in full command during the team's player-organized practice Friday.
Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated offers details from the Seahawks' and Cardinals' player-organized workouts in pointing out challenges players faces during the lockout. Trotter: "As well intentioned as those sessions are, they lack the NFL's full-service element. For instance, when Larry Fitzgerald and roughly 30 other players finished an on-field workout on a sunny morning in Tempe, they had to get in their cars and drive down the street to lift weights at Arizona State. Film study was done on personal laptops or in the theater room in Fitzgerald's Paradise Valley home."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic offers observations from the Cardinals' practice Tuesday. Second-year receiver Andre Roberts is looking good. Somers: "Roberts, I thought, looked very quick and confident. He has come a long way since being drafted a year ago. He didn't start catching the ball consistently until the season was well underway. Stephen Williams also looked good. No question he has the skills and we've seen them on display in the preseason. But can he show them in games that count? Roberts and Williams, by the way, were particularly impressive in one drill where players had to hop over a serious of hurdles. Roberts' feet were hardly ever on the ground, and Williams, well, I'd choose him in a pickup hoops game. He could rebound my missed three-pointers."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com looks back at Boomer Esiason's 522-yard passing performance for the Cardinals.
Also from Urban: a look at the Cardinals' cornerback situation.