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Thursday, September 1, 2011
Around the NFC West: 'A brothers' tale'

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Good morning.

Let's get started with Liz Merrill's piece exploring one NFL player's search for his brother, and a most improbable discovery. Xavier Omon of the San Francisco 49ers plans to meet his half-brother, Ogemdi Nwagbuo of the San Diego Chargers, for the first time when their teams play Thursday night.

"It started, of all places, on Facebook," Merrill writes. "Delorise Omon, Xavier's mom, was catching up with an old acquaintance on the computer last winter. The man informed her that Chris Nwagbuo, Xavier's biological father, had died in 2004, and that one of his sons -- a half-brother of Xavier's that he'd never met -- just happened to play football, too. For the San Diego Chargers."

Omon's father abandoned him, one brother died in a car accident and another committed suicide. It's tough not to root for Omon as he fights for a roster spot with the 49ers. He's been in camp with the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks previously after not getting a single Division I scholarship offer at the college level.

Moving along ...

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com ranks Frank Gore as the top running back from the NFL's 2005 draft class. Noted: That was also the year Arizona used a second-round choice for J.J. Arrington.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee runs through 49ers position battles.

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News does not find room for 49ers safety Colin Jones on his projected 53-man roster. Jones has played extensively on special teams this summer.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com explains why tight end John Carlson required season-ending surgery. Carlson tried to rehab his shoulder after suffering a torn labrum, but the shoulder did not respond well enough to continue without surgery. Carlson: "I felt like I had a great offseason of training. Our offseasons are normally devoted to OTAs and minicamps, and those things are great for developing offenses. But the individual training sometimes is lacking and I felt like I had a great offseason in that respect. So it’s really disappointing to have to miss this year." Noted: Carlson's contract with the Seahawks expires following the 2011 season, at which point he'll be eligible for unrestricted free agency.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks plan to play their starters, perhaps more than usual, in the fourth and final exhibition game Friday night. The team rested seven starters in its final exhibition game last season. Coach Pete Carroll: "I don't care about tradition in the fourth preseason games. That matters nothing to me. We'll do what we've got to do."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic runs through the Cardinals' roster with an eye toward which players are likely to earn spots on the initial 53-man roster. Somers: "A month ago, it was questionable whether outside linebacker Joey Porter was going to make the club. But he took a pay cut, played well in the preseason, and no one behind him has stepped up. Clark Haggans starts on the other side, and Paris Lenon and Daryl Washington are on the inside. Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield give the club two young players to develop. Stewart Bradley could start at any of the four spots and likely will be used in sub packages. He easily could end up starting." Noted: Porter has played at least 14 games in 12 consecutive seasons, collecting at least five sacks in each of the past 11. The Cardinals thought he played too many snaps last season, a fair assessment given Porter's age (34 this season). Arizona's defense was on the field an average of 33:46 last season, its highest average since at least 1991. Think about that. The Cardinals have had some horrible offenses over the past couple decades, but none possessed the ball fewer minutes per game than the 2010 version. That will change with improved quarterback play.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com offers up his 53-man projection for Arizona. He's keeping Anthony Sherman over Reagan Maui'a at fullback, Reggie Walker over Quan Sturdivant at linebacker, DeMarco Sampson over Isaiah Williams at receiver and Marshay Green over Fred Bennett at cornerback.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com checks in with newly re-signed Rams receiver Mark Clayton, who is happy to be back with the team. Clayton underwent season-ending knee surgery in 2010. Clayton: "I am stronger than I have been. My speed is great. I think I’ll be faster than I was before. But now it’s working the little muscles in the background to get those right. That’s the big thing. That’s kind of what I have been focusing on."

Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis takes a look at the Rams' salary-cap situation. Balzer: "Of the current top 51 Rams players, only 28 have cap charges of $1 million or more. Having said that, selecting in the top two picks of three straight drafts has resulted in those players -- quarterback Sam Bradford, tackle Jason Smith and defensive end Chris Long -- counting a combined $37.765 million (31.5 percent) against this year's cap. That total jumps to $43.128 million in 2012, the final year of Long's contract, and when the cap isn't expected to increase significantly." Noted: Extending contracts can lower cap numbers in the short term. Without examining all the cap implications, getting something done with Long heading into the final year of his deal would seem to make sense. He's a core player, an ascending player and a low-risk investment.