Friday, July 27, 2012
Around the NFC West: Time to shape up
By Mike Sando
Staying in good physical condition is part of the job description for professional athletes.
Some have a tougher time than others.
The Arizona Cardinals were pleased to see Dan Williams, one of their recent first-round choices and a cornerstone of their defense, finally report in shape this year. The Seattle Seahawks got one good season from Mike Williams when the receiver, notorious for letting his weight balloon, kept himself in good condition for the 2010 season.
Looks like St. Louis Rams rookie Rokevious Watkins, a potential starter at left guard, has some work to do.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Watkins reported to the Rams' rookie camp too heavy. Thomas: "Watkins was limited only to pre-practice and post-practice stretching and conditioning for the second day in a row. Watkins, who has battled weight problems over the course of his college career, has reported overweight and out of shape. The sooner he gets in shape the better, because he has a chance to be the team's starting left guard this season."
Also from Thomas: says the Rams do not plan to fine rookie Trumaine Johnson, who overslept and missed his flight to St. Louis for the start of training camp. Thomas: "Johnson didn't receive as much pre-draft attention as another cornerback drafted by the Rams -- Janoris Jenkins -- but he has excellent size for the position and could contend for playing time at nickelback this season. The spring workout period gave him an idea of what the NFL is like and Johnson feels like he belongs."
More from Thomas: Linebackers Josh Hull and James Laurinaitis showed off their softball prowess at Jeff Fisher's charity event. Fisher made sure his team prevailed in the game itself. Thomas: "On the mound, he threw two softballs at once and quick-pitched opposing hitters on more than one occasion. He occasionally interfered with opposing baserunners, and seemed to have the umpiring crew in his back pocket. At one point, Fisher even tried to butter-up the home-plate umpire by telling him: 'Nice mustache.' "
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says tight end Mike Hoomanawanui feels the urgency of the situation. Wagoner: "He is taking this very serious. He has come back in excellent shape, trimmed down to 262 pounds and says he went from about 14 percent body fat to about 10 percent. He’s not allowing himself to worry about what the future holds and is focusing on doing whatever possible to perform at a high level with the belief that the rest will take care of itself."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals have big plans for their running backs, health permitting. Center Lyle Sendlein: "We have so many tools. It's going to be special, I think. You have the guy you can barely see (LaRod Stephens-Howling) and then you've got the guy you see the whole time (Beanie Wells) that you don't want to see. And that will open our passing game because we're not the quick (style) that we were. With Larry (Fitzgerald) being such a deep threat, we need the running game to pull in the safeties." Ryan Williams is also a big part of the plan, of course.
Also from Somers: Rookie tackle Bobby Massie held up well, for the most part, during pass-rush drills.
More from Somers: William Gay is running with the first-team defense at cornerback.
Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic thinks Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson has the right mindset for a successful season. Wilson on his contract extension: "Some people call it a pay cut. I don't. I refer to it as me being able to make money in incentives. It's not as if they just took the money away from me and I never get it back. They want me to play at a high level. I plan on playing at a high level. To me, that's no problem."
Britton Lynn of Scout.com has details from a mission trip Calais Campbell and Sam Acho took to Nigeria with trainer Brett Fischer. Acho: "We all have a passion for Nigeria and a heart to help the people. The Bible talks about how Jesus came for the least of these. I got to spend time with 'the least of these.' The kids would look at our old tennis shoes we wore and be amazed. Calais and I went out and gave them a bowl of Rice. We watched a few of the kids share what we easily could have eaten by ourselves. It really opened my eyes to where God’s heart is."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with linebacker Paris Lenon, who credits the team's defensive scheme for helping him play well over the past couple seasons.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says former defensive line coach Tommy Brasher gets some of the credit for Cortez Kennedy's development into a Hall of Fame player.
Also from Farnsworth: Brasher calls Kennedy one of the six best defensive tackles in league history. Brasher: "The thing that made him so great he is that he had just super instincts. I changed a lot of my rules for him. I always had a rule that you could not run around a block. But I changed that rule when I started coaching him, and the rule became: You can’t run around a block, unless you make the play. And Cortez did that a lot. A lot. Ninety percent of the people are not quick enough to run around a block and make the play. And he never did it unless it was the right thing to do. And he didn't know it was the right thing to do, his instincts told him it was the right thing to do. So he taught me that sometimes great players are not subject to average rules."
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says Kennedy, never much of a public speaker, plans to speak from the heart during his Hall of Fame acceptance speech.
Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times hopes the Seahawks brighten a dark period in Seattle sports.
Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle says the Seahawks' new deal with Max Unger validates the team's center as the leader of the offensive line.
John Clayton of ESPN thinks James Carpenter could miss the upcoming season for the Seahawks.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com expects Leonard Davis' addition to create competition at right guard, where Alex Boone and Daniel Kilgore were the only candidates. Maiocco: "The 49ers signed Davis for one reason: To see if he might be a better option than Boone. Davis has started 155 regular-season games in his career. The 49ers want maulers at their guard positions. They have a powerful force at left guard with Mike Iupati. And that's the reason they had no interest in re-signing athletic Adam Snyder, who started for the 49ers at right guard last season."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Davis had to complete several 40-yard dashes as part of a conditioning test before joining the team. Barrows: "Davis did the required number, but felt so good he decided to keep going."
Also from Barrows: a Super Bowl would suffice for the 49ers. Barrows: "Perhaps the 49ers' most important weapon is the sense of unfinished business. With a locker room full of blue-collar veterans, the 49ers don't appear complacent after posting a 13-3 record last year and making the playoffs for the first time in nine years. Rather, there's an element of discontent in Santa Clara, as well as a realization that the window for a championship is open now but may not be for long."
Alex Espinoza of 49ers.com looks at what Vernon Davis took from last season. Davis: "The unique thing about getting close to the Super Bowl is that we had a chance to smell it and see what it’s like. I had never been to the playoffs before, but it was definitely a lifetime experience -- something I’ll take on with me for the rest of my life. I’ll just pray and believe that we’ll do it again. It’s something that we all look forward to. We look forward to it because we know what it’s like. We know what the stage looks like; all the bright lights, the people, the fans. It’s just amazing."