NFC West: Bill O\'Brien
- Veteran presence: Veterans were not allowed on the field, but Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman showed up about 20 yards offshore -- on a personal watercraft. For a few minutes, photographers had their backs to practice while they snapped away, their cameras trained on the Seahawks' brashest player. Not that Sherman likes attracting attention. "Was that Sherm?" head coach Pete Carroll quipped, adding in jest that he thought he'd seen workaholic quarterback Russell Wilson peeking over the hill on the other side of the field, away from the water.
- Lots of faces: Seattle had 67 rookies in camp, including 38 players attending on a tryout basis. There were 12 draft choices and 17 players signed as undrafted free agents. Printed rosters have seldom been so helpful.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Ted S. WarrenBarred from attending, veteran corner Richard Sherman watched Seahawks rookies from the water.
- Wilson's legacy: Carroll opened a morning staff meeting by showing video of Wilson struggling with some of the basics, including center exchanges, during the rookie camp last year. Wilson finished the season with a playoff victory and an appearance in the Pro Bowl. Carroll wanted to put into perspective the first day of rookie minicamp so his coaches wouldn't get down on a young player for struggling early.
- Tight end stands out: The recently released tight end Darren Fells was among those trying out. He caught passes consistently, but fifth-round choice Luke Willson was the tight end standing out most demonstrably. He beat safeties in coverage to make catches on the run and separated from defenders. Carroll singled out Willson as impressing him. Carroll: "Luke stood out today. He has really good speed and it showed. Caught the ball really well. That was probably the brightest spot that you could really see a guy jump out on. That was a really good first impression."
- Inside job: Third-round choice Jordan Hill and fifth-rounder Jesse Williams worked together at defensive tackle, sometimes with seventh-rounder Ty Powell lining up in what appeared to be the "Leo" position. Hill and Williams are roommates. Hill played at Penn State, Williams at Alabama. Both played in tradition-rich programs led by old-school coaches, at least until Bill O'Brien succeeded Joe Paterno at Penn State. Carroll's new-school approach comes through loud and clear in the music playing over speakers during practice. Hill said that "wasn't going on in my first three years" at Penn State. "I just enjoy, you get to be yourself," he said.
- Scruggs update: Second-year defensive end Greg Scruggs underwent reconstructive knee surgery Thursday after suffering a non-contact injury while planting awkwardly during a training drill. It's too early to know whether Scruggs could factor at all during the 2013 season.
- Not much to go on: Players wore helmets, jerseys and shorts for practice. No tackling or hitting was allowed. Coaches encouraged defenders to make a quick attempt at stripping the ball from runners before letting them proceed upfield. This was not football, in other words. However, coaches were able to see players move. Second-round running back Christine Michael stood out for his quickness, balance and for the primal scream he let out after running to the end zone on one play. Michael also stood out for his biceps. He practiced in a No. 33 jersey with no sleeves.
- No vets around: Years ago, before the current labor agreement went into place, teams held mandatory camps for veterans and rookies at this time of year. Only rookies are allowed under the current agreement. That made it impossible to compare rookies to the players they'll challenge for roster spots and playing time.
- Smith at center: Seventh-round pick Jared Smith worked at center. He could project at guard, too. The Seahawks are converting him from defensive tackle, a transition J.R. Sweezy made last year. Carroll singled out Smith's quickness. He also praised seventh-round guard Ryan Seymour for having good feet.
- Harper's hands: Carroll liked what he saw from fourth-round receiver Chris Harper. Carroll: "He caught the ball beautifully. He really has great hands."
That's it from here. Every team in the NFC West is holding its rookie camp Friday through Sunday. I would expect each team's coaches to come away excited about new players. That's a good thing. Draft choices come as-is, without receipts. There are no refunds.
Trestman was not a known candidate for any other job. His rather curious hiring should not affect the Cardinals in any way.
A quick look at the known candidates for the Cardinals, Eagles and Jaguars:
- Arizona: Offensive coordinators Darell Bevell (Seattle), Jay Gruden (Cincinnati) and Todd Haley (Pittsburgh) have reportedly interviewed or will interview. Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton has already interviewed and remains on staff. Andy Reid and Mike McCoy were candidates before taking jobs elsewhere.
- Eagles: The Eagles have interviewed and/or pursued Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley (Seattle), former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt, Gruden, McCoy, Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, Falcons special-teams coordinator Mike Armstrong, Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, Oregon coach Chip Kelly, Penn State coach Bill O'Brien, former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith, and then-Syracuse coach Doug Marrone. Did I miss anyone? Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer joked that the Eagles have interviewed "every living male with a visor" to this point.
- Jaguars: Bradley headed from his Eagles interview to meet with the Jaguars on Wednesday. Bevell and St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer also interviewed. Schottenheimer was a finalist for the job one year ago, but the Jaguars hired Mike Mularkey. Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker interviewed. San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman would be a logical candidate for the job given his success with the 49ers and close ties to new Jaguars general manager David Caldwell, Roman's former college teammate and roommate. The Jaguars were not yet conducting their coaching search when Roman was available for interviews during the window provided before divisional-round games. He remains off-limits during Championship Game week. Armstrong, the Falcons' special-teams coach, has also been mentioned as a candidate. AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky sizes up the field.
The chart is an expanded version of previous ones I've produced, designed to show which openings might be most appealing from candidates' perspective. I would order them Philadelphia, Arizona and Jacksonville based on a range of factors, including quarterbacks and ownership.
The 2010 New England Patriots had just posted a 41-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins heading into their bye week.
"Moss as a Patriot in 2010 basically talked his way out of town, complaining about his lack of a long-term contract in a press conference, battling with offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien at halftime of his final game with New England, in Week 4 of that season, and reportedly taxing the patience of quarterback Tom Brady with his constant need for game plan targeting and star-treatment coddling," Don Banks wrote for Sports Illustrated. "Brady was growing weary of having to worry about keeping Moss' mood ring a happy color, and [Bill] Belichick responded by removing that concern from his QB's daily checklist."
The Patriots finished that 2010 season with a 14-2 record.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, the 2010 the Cardinals were 2-2 on their way to a brutal 5-11 season featuring ragged play from no-name quarterbacks. But their leading receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, handled himself so professionally that the team felt great about rewarding him with one of the most lucrative contracts in NFL history.
While the Patriots increasingly worried about Moss' potential negative impact on Brady and the example he was setting for younger players, the Cardinals took comfort in the fact that Fitzgerald handled himself impeccably, in good times and bad.
The disparate picture is sharply relevant to the NFC West now that Moss has signed with the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers, like the Cardinals, used a 2012 first-round draft choice for a wide receiver. But Arizona appears in better position to provide the mentoring that can help a young player learn what it takes to become a professional.
Michael Floyd, chosen 13th overall by Arizona, already has strong ties to Fitzgerald. The two are from Minnesota. They share a trainer. They have spent time together. Fitzgerald, who has welcomed young Cardinals players into his home, voiced support for Floyd even before the draft, indicating he'd be happy if the team selected the Notre Dame receiver. Floyd could not have a better mentor.
The 49ers' first-round receiver, A.J. Jenkins, walks into a different situation. Moss might be terrific for him, or he might pursue his own agenda as time passes. The halftime blowup against the Dolphins comes to mind.
"It highlighted a shift in which Moss had transitioned from a team-first player in 2007 to someone more interested in his own production," Mike Reiss wrote for ESPNBoston.com. "It is also my belief that quarterback Tom Brady became increasingly drained with keeping Moss on board, to the point that it became a concern of the coaching staff."
If Moss became a threat to Brady, what could he become to a less-established quarterback such as Alex Smith? Michael Crabtree has already raised concerns about his role. If Smith cannot keep Crabtree happy, how can he keep Moss happy?
The 49ers have little to lose by giving Moss a chance. They can always release him if Moss becomes a burden. From that standpoint, the signing made sense.
It's also worth noting that Jenkins comes to the 49ers without the off-field concerns that Floyd carries to the Cardinals. There have also been some vague indications Moss might have been going through some personal trials in 2010, in which case his mindset might be healthier at this time.
This is a conversation I think we'll be having through the offseason and into the season. Your thoughts?
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
It's tough convincing millionaire athletes to work 80-hour weeks for a fraction of what they earned as players. Warner will pocket $19 million in salary and signing bonus this year, considerably more than an entire NFL coaching staff earns in a season.
Most former NFL quarterbacks coaching the position played before huge salaries proliferated (see chart). I remember a prominent offensive lineman informing his team upon retirement in the late 1990s that he would be willing to serve as an assistant for $400,000 a year. The team tried not to laugh. The player never went into coaching.
Warner's new position coach, Chris Miller, is one of the more accomplished former NFL quarterbacks coaching the position. I counted 10 former NFL passers coaching quarterbacks. The figure includes Redskins head coach Jim Zorn, who oversees the position. The Broncos' Mike McCoy spent one game as the 49ers' third quarterback in 1997.
Another 14 NFL quarterbacks coaches played the position in college, including the Seahawks' Bill Lazor (Cornell), the Rams' Dick Curl (Richmond) and the 49ers' Mike Johnson (Akron).
Ken Zampese (Bengals), Kyle Shanahan (Texans) and James Urban (Eagles) were college receivers. The Saints' Joe Lombardi, grandson of Vince, was a college tight end. The Chargers' John Ramsdell was a college running back. The Patriots' Bill O'Brien and the Vikings' Kevin Rogers were college linebackers. The Lions' Jeff Horton did not play in college.
The Chiefs do not list a quarterbacks coach, but offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, once a quarterback at Florida, is overseeing the position.