Thursday, August 2, 2012
Around the NFC West: Star in the making
By Mike Sando
Two NFC West players earned Pro Bowl honors at cornerback last season.
Patrick Peterson was not one of them, but his time might be coming sooner rather than later.
Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald sees big things for Peterson as the cornerback transitions into his second NFL season. Fitzgerald: "It's only a matter of time until he's the top dog. I really don't feel he has any weaknesses. He's the complete package. ... I don't think I've ever seen a rookie come in as prepared as Patrick was. If you talk to him you'd think he was a 30-year-old guy and a 10-year veteran. His maturity is on a whole other level. That has a lot to do with how successful he is." Noted: Peterson did earn Pro Bowl acclaim as a rookie for his work as a punt returner (four touchdowns). But San Francisco's Carlos Rogers and Seattle's Brandon Browner were named to the NFC squad as cornerbacks, Browner as a replacement for Rogers.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the team conducted an intense practice Wednesday night. Urban: "It was heated when Kevin Kolb threw a bullet into the back of the end zone that Larry Fitzgerald and Justin Bethel each got a hand on, only to have to ball pop in the air so Fitz could grab a touchdown."
Also from Urban: Jeremy Bridges is helping Bobby Massie.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch did not expect to see Quinn Ojinnaka working with the starters at left guard when the Rams opened training camp. He wasn't the only one expressing surprise. Ojinnaka: "I don't know how it happened. I took some reps with the 'ones (starters) early in OTAs, but due to Rodger (Saffold) not being able to practice I had to play left tackle, help the team that way. I had no idea I was going to be with the '1s' coming back. I figured Bryan (Mattison) was going to take most of the reps, since he was doing it in OTAs."
Also from Thomas: a look at the Rams' special teams.
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says there's a reason why Steven Jackson dropped weight this offseason. Jackson: "It was a lot of hard work, to be honest with you. A lot of hard work. I got at it real good this offseason, and I’m just really focused on wanting to get back down to the playing weight that I played at before my back injury. I made that a priority and I was able to accomplish it."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says Kyle Williams continues to enjoy a strong training camp for the San Francisco 49ers. Maiocco: "In a 7-on-7 drill, Williams lined up wide right in front of cornerback Tramaine Brock, who was playing seven yards off. Williams grabbed a nice 35-yard reception. A few plays later when a coach criticized A.J. Jenkins on his execution of a route, Williams grabbed the rookie and showed him what the coach meant and gave him a supportive pat on the helmet before running off to the next drill."
Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News says Williams' fan club includes team president Jed York, among others.
Also from Inman: The 49ers are working to improve their third-down offense.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Tarell Brown and the 49ers' cornerbacks can learn a lot from going against receiver Randy Moss in practice. Barrows: "Brown appeared to have the upper hand. He had Moss blanketed as the two came across the middle of the field on a crossing pattern. But as Alex Smith's pass arrived, Moss slowed for an instance, put his hip into Brown and created just enough space for the ball to slip past the defender's outstretched arm and into the receiver's hands."
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says linebacker K.J. Wright has made a statement at Seahawks camp with his aggressive play. Wright said he wanted to set the tone for young players. Boling: "You may scoff at Wright, having turned 23 just before the start of practice, offering opinions on what the 'young guys' on the team need to learn, but he’s also making unmistakable statements about his level of comfort on the defense, and his readiness to be a leader. And if I had to point to one young Seahawk on the verge of rising into a star, K.J. Wright would be my target."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says rookie first-round draft choice Bruce Irvin is impressing the team to this point in camp.