Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC West [Print without images]

Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Around the NFC West: Holdout deadline?

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says holdout running back Steven Jackson must report to camp by Aug. 8 to avoid losing credit for the 2008 season under the collective bargaining agreement. Without credit for the season under the CBA, Jackson would not become a free agent. Thomas: "A little-known provision in the collective bargaining agreement could be a huge detriment to a prolonged holdout by Jackson. According to the NFL Players Association, players under contract must report at least 30 days prior to the first regular-season game or else they lose an accrued season of seniority." This provision is so little-known that I've never heard of it. Hmmm.

Dan Arkush of Pro Football Weekly thinks coaching continuity could help the Cardinals, who return every member of Ken Whisenhunt's staff. Of course, other teams in the division think they have improved by shaking up their staffs: Mike Martz in San Francisco, Mike Solari in Seattle, Al Saunders in St. Louis, etc. Coaching continuity is a good thing if you have a good staff. The Cardinals have a good staff with Todd Haley, Russ Grimm and others.

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times checks in with new Seahawks receiver Bryan Gilmore, who explains what separates Seattle from the other NFC West teams for which he has played. Plenty of receivers have jumped around the division. When Isaac Bruce left the Rams for the 49ers this offseason, San Francisco released Darrell Jackson, who had been acquired from Seattle. Another former Seahawks receiver, Jerheme Urban, plays for the Cardinals.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News catches up with 49ers offensive lineman Barry Sims, who explains the difference between San Francisco and Oakland. The 49ers' playbook is more complex, Sims said. Also, the 49ers have more of a team atmosphere. Just once I'd like to hear a player rip his new team, but the cash is always greener on the other side.

The Associated Press says Manny Lawson is staying after practice longer than the other 49ers as part of his comeback from injury. Lawson looks good but is not 100 percent, coach Mike Nolan said.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer explains what the Seahawks saw in free-agent running back Julius Jones. The market for running backs was depressed, president Tim Ruskell said, and Jones seemed genuinely fired up about joining the team. One thing I noticed about Jones at Seahawks camp: Teammates described him as the anti-Shaun Alexander without ever mentioning Alexander by name. For example, Bobby Engram talked about Jones being an every-down back who hits the hole quickly.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today also writes about Jones in Seattle. Two things: Coach Mike Holmgren says Jones has grasped the offense quickly, and Jones said he's already on the same page with left tackle Walter Jones.

Scott Johnson of the Everett Herald says the Seahawks are having a hard time snapping the ball without their regular centers. Johnson also notes that rookie receiver Michael Bumpus had a very tough time fielding punts.

The Associated Press quotes Holmgren on losing kicker Josh Brown to the rival Rams. Then as now, Holmgren is disappointed. The coach blames poor communication all the way around, even though Holmgren was in contact with Brown during the process.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic explains why Edgerrin James thinks he won't fall prey to the curse of the 30-year-old running back. James, who turns 30 this week, thinks superior conditioning will set him apart. On his blog, Somers notes that safety Adrian Wilson keeps dodging reporters. He also has a note about center Al Johnson missing practice. The Cardinals do not have enough depth on their offensive line to lose starters. Elsewhere, Somers notes that a back problem prevented linebacker Monty Beisel from laughing at Adam Sandler's latest movie, which Beisel described as funny despite being the "dumbest movie ever."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat provides an injury update from 49ers camp. Special-teams star Michael Robinson could miss training camp after undergoing knee surgery, while nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin came off the PUP list. Elsewhere, Maiocco describes what Alex Smith is going through under Martz. Smith has a tendency to become stiff-legged when he isn't sure where to go with the ball, Martz said.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee thinks Tully Banta-Cain has the best pass-rush move among the 49ers' defensive players. Not sure if that is a good thing. Barrows' employer tried to bury his Justin Smith story on page C7, but we'll feature it here. The 49ers plan to vary where Smith lines up, a contrast to how the Bengals used him.