NFC West: Brandon McRae

The first chart shows NFC West roster counts by position after the Arizona Cardinals moved inside linebacker Gerald Hayes and outside linebacker O'Brien Schofield onto their active roster Saturday.

Hayes entered the season on the physically unable to perform list. Schofield had been on the non-football injury list.

The team released receiver Onrea Jones and linebacker Alex Hall. The Cardinals' numbers at receiver are improving with Steve Breaston's expected return from knee surgery Sunday.

The second chart shows roster counts for practice squads only. The Rams signed receiver Greg Mathews to their practice squad after placing receiver Brandon McRae on the practiced squad/injured list.

Inflated numbers at positions on the practice squad often reflect depleted numbers and/or injuries at those positions on the 53-man roster.

First wave of post-cut moves in NFC West

September, 5, 2010
9/05/10
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NFL rosters blew up Saturday. Teams will spend Sunday picking up the pieces even amid additional fallout.

Among the moves we've seen so far:
  • The Seahawks released veteran nose tackle Kevin Vickerson although Vickerson seemed to look good during camp, even getting snaps with the first-team defense. This comes amid news that Seattle planned to sign veteran nose tackle Junior Siavii. The Dallas Cowboys terminated Siavii's contract Saturday. Scouts Inc. had this to say about him: "Siavii played in a backup role to Jay Ratliff at nose tackle in 2009 and showed decent power to hold the point as a run defender, but little strength to push the pocket when rushing the passer."
  • The 49ers announced eight signings to their practice squad: quarterback Jarrett Brown, fullback Jehuu Caulcrick, linebacker Bruce Davis, receiver Kevin Jurovich, tackle Matt Kopa, linebacker Keaton Kristick, safety Chris Maragos and defensive lineman Will Tukuafu.
  • The 49ers appear thin at inside linebacker after listing Matt Wilhelm among their cuts. Wilhelm was placed on injured reserve, giving the team five days to work out an injury settlement that could, in theory, make Wilhelm available to the team later. Wilhelm suffered a sprained knee against San Diego during the exhibition season.
  • The Rams have signed receiver Danario Alexander, receiver Brandon McRae, offensive lineman Drew Miller, offensive lineman Ryan McKee and cornerback Marquis Johnson.
  • The Cardinals claimed outside linebacker Cyril Obiozor and cornerback Brandon McDonald off waivers. Obiozor was active with Green Bay last season. McDonald has been a part-time starter in Cleveland. It's not yet clear which players the Cardinals plan to release.

We're early in the process. Many more moves to come, most likely.

NFC West practice squad eligibility

September, 5, 2010
9/05/10
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NFL teams can begin signing eight or fewer players to their practice squads once the players clear waivers Sunday.

Players on practice squads earn $5,200 per week for the 2010 season. The collective bargaining agreement sets the following parameters for eligibility:
  • Players without an accrued season of NFL experience;
  • Free-agent players who were on the 45-man active list for fewer than nine regular-season games during their only accrued season;
  • Players who have not served more than two previous seasons on a practice squad.

According to the CBA, "A player shall be deemed to have served on a practice squad in a season if he has passed the club's physical and been a member of the club's practice squad for at least three regular-season or postseason games during his first two practice squad seasons, and for at least one regular season or postseason game during his third practice squad season."

What about bye weeks? More CBA: "A bye week counts as a game provided that the player is not terminated until after the regular-season or postseason weekend in question."

The first chart shows eligible players released by the Arizona Cardinals. Chris Johnson, Alfonso Smith and Mark Washington were waived/injured. Dean Muhtadi was released from injured reserve.


The second chart shows eligible players released by the Rams.


The third chart shows eligible players released by the 49ers (Brandon Long was released with an injury settlement).


The fourth chart shows eligible players released by the Seahawks (Jonathan Lewis was released with an injury settlement).

Post-camp roster analysis: Rams

September, 1, 2010
9/01/10
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The St. Louis Rams hold the No. 1 priority for waiver claims and they'll probably put that status to work following the mandatory reduction to 53 players Saturday.

With that in mind, let's take a position-by-position look at the Rams' roster heading into their second season under coach Steve Spagnuolo (current roster counts listed in parentheses):

Quarterbacks (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.9

Keepers: Sam Bradford, A.J. Feeley

Looking safe: Keith Null

On the bubble: Thaddeus Lewis

Comment: Lewis has played well enough to intrigue the Rams, but probably not well enough for another team to claim him off waivers. That makes Lewis a natural choice for the practice squad.

Running backs (5)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.3

Keepers: Steven Jackson, Mike Karney

Looking safe: Kenneth Darby

Not sure what to think: Keith Toston, Chris Ogbonnaya

Comment: The Rams are carrying as many running backs as teams typically keep, but multiple spots could be up for grabs depending on which running backs become available via waivers. I'd rather list Toston, Ogbonnaya and Darby in one group until it becomes clear which backs -- and which types of backs -- hit the waiver wire. Ogbonnaya showed potential last season and looked good early in camp, but his performance hasn't carried over to exhibition games and that could cost him. Perhaps expectations were too high. Darby's toughness and special-teams contributions could help him. Toston runs hard and could land on the practice squad.

Wide receivers (9)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.3

Keepers: Laurent Robinson, Mardy Gilyard, Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Keenan Burton

On the bubble: Dominique Curry

Also: Brandon McRae, Jordan Kent, Danario Alexander

Comment: Curry stood out as an undrafted steal during camp. He has excellent size and has showed good ability on special teams. Burton's durability should remain a concern, but that's the case with Robinson and even Gibson at this point. Gibson's value rises with Donnie Avery on injured reserve.

Tight ends (6)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.0

Keepers: Billy Bajema, Mike Hoomanawanui

Looking safe: Fendi Onobun

Not sure what to think: Daniel Fells, Darcy Johnson

Also: Dennis Morris

Comment: But wait, Fells is the incumbent starter, right? Yes, but he hasn't been durable and there's so much to like about the rookies Onobun and Hoomanawanui. Bajema is an obvious keeper for his blocking and all-around game (he has caught the ball well on limited chances). Johnson has shown toughness and blocking ability, so he could be an option if the team wants to move on from Fells. Perhaps I'm over thinking things here, but the emergence of Onobun and Hoomanawanui during camp creates dilemmas.

Offensive linemen (13)

Average number kept since 2003: 9.3

Keepers: Jason Brown, Jacob Bell, Rodger Saffold, Jason Smith, Adam Goldberg, Hank Fraley

Looking safe: John Greco, Roger Allen III

Also: Eric Young, Drew Miller, Ryan McKee, Renardo Foster, Tim Mattran

Comment: It's tough finding nine keepers here, so the Rams could be active in the waiver-claim game. Greco's versatility works in his favor. Are the Rams still high on Allen's prospects? I know they liked him last season, but that was before reconstructive knee surgery. Trading Alex Barron made sense in the big picture, but the Rams would have better depth here if Barron were still around.

Defensive line (12)

Average number kept since 2003: 8.6

Keepers: Chris Long, Fred Robbins, Clifton Ryan, James Hall, Gary Gibson, Darell Scott

Looking safe: George Selvie

On the bubble: Victor Adeyanju, C.J. Ah You, Jermelle Cudjo

Also: Ernest Reid, Eugene Sims

Comment: Durability concerns could cost Ah You. Adeyanju also could be on the bubble depending on what options the Rams have beyond their own roster. Cudjo has made a positive impression during camp and preseason. Same goes for Selvie, although an injury sidelined him part of the time.

Linebackers (9)

Average number kept since 2003: 6.3

Keepers: James Laurinaitis, Larry Grant, Na'il Diggs, Chris Chamberlain

Looking safe: Bobby Carpenter

On the bubble: David Vobora, Josh Hull

Also: Devin Bishop, Cardia Jackson

Comment: Carpenter has gotten some work at defensive end. Perhaps his presence in an emergency capacity at that position could allow the Rams to keep one fewer defensive lineman, at least early. Chamberlain is probably the best special-teams position player on the Rams, enhancing his value. Hull could provide depth behind Laurinaitis because he's a true middle linebacker, whereas Vobora can back up every position. That could be a close call.

Defensive backs (14)

Average number kept since 2003: 9.7

Keepers: Oshiomogho Atogwe, Ron Bartell, Justin King, Bradley Fletcher, James Butler, Kevin Payne, Craig Dahl, Jerome Murphy, Kevin Dockery

Looking safe: Quincy Butler

On the bubble: Darian Stewart

Also: Brett Johnson, Marquis Johnson, Antoine Thompson

Comment: James Butler's knee injury probably makes keeping Payne a higher priority. Stewart could be a candidate for the practice squad.

Specialists (3)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.7

Keepers: Josh Brown, Donnie Jones, Chris Massey

Comment: Strong group here.

Summing up Rams' day in one sentence

August, 27, 2010
8/27/10
6:41
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Donnie Avery's season-ending knee injury will prevent him from working with Sam Bradford and the rest of the St. Louis Rams' starters in the final exhibition game this season.

That one sentence summed up the major news from Rams camp Friday: Yes, Avery's injury was as bad as feared (a torn ACL), and Bradford will indeed make a second consecutive start at quarterback (although coach Steve Spagnuolo has not yet named Bradford the regular-season starter).

The injury to Avery is a tough one for the Rams, as reflected in general manager Billy Devaney's answer, delivered during training camp, when I asked him which position concerned him most.

"I just want the receivers -- if they play to their ability, we'll be OK," Devaney said. "If we have injuries there ..."

The Rams have better depth at wide receiver this season, but it's not proven depth. Avery was arguably the most proven receiver on the roster.

It's more important now for Laurent Robinson to stay healthy, something he could not do last season. Rookie Mardy Gilyard should make an immediate impact. Slot receiver Danny Amendola enjoyed a strong training camp. Brandon Gibson caught a touchdown pass Thursday night after missing much of camp with an injury. Dominique Curry has excellent size and has impressed as a rookie free agent. Keenan Burton, Brandon McRae, Jordan Kent and the recently signed Danario Alexander are also competing.

The quarterback situation appears straightforward. I'm not sure Bradford could play poorly enough in the final exhibition game to justify leaving him on the bench heading into the regular season.

Rams back away from Terrell Owens

July, 26, 2010
7/26/10
3:32
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The Cincinnati Bengals, apparently suspecting Terrell Owens might be using the St. Louis Rams for leverage, called the free-agent receiver's bluff earlier Monday.

Now the Rams have made it clear they won't be used, either.

As Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, the Rams have decided not to pursue Owens after discussing the matter in recent days.

This is probably a wise move even though Owens would have become the best receiver on the team. Current Rams receivers include Brandon Gibson, Keenan Burton, Dominique Curry, Danny Amendola, Donnie Avery, Laurent Robinson, Brandon McRae, Mardy Gilyard, Jordan Kent and Brooks Foster.

Earlier: Pros, cons of adding Owens to the Rams.

Steve Wyche of NFL.com quotes Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo as being "very, very hopeful" about re-signing safety Oshiomogho Atogwe. It's pretty clear Atogwe has few options beyond the Rams. Spagnuolo's comments suggest something should get done to keep Atogwe in St. Louis. Wyche: "Atogwe isn't seeking an outrageous salary or guaranteed bonuses, according to a league source, but his desired take still could be too high for teams –- including the Rams -- that are reluctant to pay amid labor uncertainty and a troublesome economic climate."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke has indicated his son, former Missouri basketball player Josh Kroenke, could take over ownership of the Denver Nuggets as the elder Kroenke complies with NFL cross-ownership rules.

Also from Coats: Receivers Dominique Curry and Brandon McRae are trying to earn roster spots at receiver as undrafted free agents.

More from Coats: The toe injury Jason Smith suffered in practice was apparently minor.

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says Kroenke's comments suggest the Rams' minority owner expects the NFL to approve his plans to transfer ownership of his Denver teams to family members.

Brad Biggs of National Football Post says defensive tackle Chris Hovan has agreed to terms with the Rams. Hovan has started 149 games over the last 10 seasons, including all 16 for Tampa Bay last season. This looks like a good depth signing by the Rams. They've now added Hovan and Fred Robbins after deciding to draft Sam Bradford instead of Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy atop the first round.

The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters shows the 49ers' stadium measure gaining approval with 59.61 percent support. The registrar shows 11,231 votes in favor and 7,609 opposed with all 58 precincts reporting. The results are probably even better than the 49ers expected, although support seemed strong throughout.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers appear confident about getting a stadium built in Santa Clara even though approval of Measure J assures nothing. Maiocco: "The term sheet that voters approved is non-binding. If Santa Clara and the 49ers do not reach agreement on key terms, negotiations can be terminated without penalty to either side. But the overwhelming support of the stadium by the voters of Santa Clara might signal a strong commitment from the city's side."

Also from Maiocco: Brandon Jones is frustrated by a lack of opportunities during offseason practices. Jones: "But if I show I can make plays, they can't hold me out for too long."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Alex Smith's rapport with Vernon Davis was on display at 49ers practice Tuesday.

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat offers notes from 49ers practice, including one about newly signed offensive lineman Matt Kopa.

Also from Barber: Travis LaBoy got more reps in practice Tuesday.

John Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle offers a report on the 49ers' stadium situation. Wildermuth: "San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has argued that Santa Clara's stadium election does not guarantee that the 49ers will leave the city, which will move ahead with plans for a new stadium site as part of the Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment project. The numbers don't work for a Santa Clara stadium, Newsom said, and when the 49ers realize that, San Francisco's plan will look better and better."

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says Michael Crabtree is benefiting from a full offseason in the 49ers' program.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals guard Deuce Lutui plans to sign the one-year offer Arizona made to him as a restricted free agent. Lutui has no realistic alternatives. Somers: "Lutui is not alone in his disappointment. As of this week, 35 restricted free agents remained unsigned. Lutui is gambling that he will be able to regain his starting spot. The Cardinals acquired two veteran guards this off-season, Alan Faneca and Rex Hadnot. Faneca and Reggie Wells have been starting at the guard positions this spring. Coach Ken Whisenhunt declined comment Tuesday on Lutui's situation." Lutui has only hurt his standing by staying away this offseason.

Also from Somers: The Cardinals are experimenting with combinations in their secondary. Michael Adams, Greg Toler and Trumaine McBride have worked at right cornerback with the starters. Toler was the player Whisenhunt singled out previously as a leading candidate to start.

More from Somers: a pick-by-pick look at the Cardinals' draft choices. On linebacker Daryl Washington: "As billed, he's an excellent athlete who can really run. His challenge is learning the defense and dealing with the complexity of NFL offense. An early guess: Washington plays in pass situations to start the season. If he develops, he'll become the regular starter. That's the way the Cardinals have handled other rookies, including cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and running back Beanie Wells."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the Seahawks are looking for ways for rookie Dexter Davis to contribute beyond his initial role as a backup "Leo" linebacker. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley: "He has shown some flashes, and we know he can rush. So if he can play that (strong-side) linebacker spot for us – he’s athletic enough – that would give him another role in addition to being a nickel rusher."

Also from Farnsworth: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has no immediate plans to declare a starting running back.

Agent Marc Lillibridge says the Seahawks have signed defensive end Will Tukuafu.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says running back Leon Washington has switched jersey numbers to 33, an indication former fullback Justin Griffith will not return.

TMZ.com offers audio from the 911 call related to Golden Tate's implication in a doughnut-shop incident. The woman making the call identifies herself as one of the night bakers. She was not amused by Tate's antics.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Carroll sounded amused by the doughnut caper. Carroll: "I’m not disappointed in the guy being at a doughnut shop when they’ve got maple bars like Top Pot has. However, under the circumstances I think they were closed, or something like that, or they were trying to close or whatever. So that’s definitely wrong, and we’ve talked about it and addressed it. And he’s most remorseful and all of that. But I do understand the allure of the maple bars."

Also from Williams: Quinton Ganther appeals to the Seahawks as a fullback with some running ability. Ganther played for Seahawks assistant Sherman Smith with the Redskins. Ganther: "I’m one of those guys that will do things that the other guys don’t want to do. You tell me to run down on kickoffs and hit the wedge, and I’ll do it. You tell me to get in there at fullback, that’s what I’ll do because I’m a team player, not a me player."

John Boyle of the Everett Herald quotes Carroll as saying linebacker Leroy Hill has fallen behind by missing offseason practices (at the Seahawks' request). Carroll: "Practice is hugely important. There’s a new system, there’s a whole new approach to doing things. This certainly hinders his opportunity without question. The other guys have rocketed ahead with their chances and taken advantage of that, and that’s just part of the competition. You do what you can with your opportunities. So he’s going to have to battle back if we can get him back out here. We’ll see when the time comes."
The Rams announced agreements with 13 undrafted free agents:

This list is quite a bit longer than the one put together from various reports Sunday. Among the 2009 undrafted rookies remaining with the Rams: cornerback Cord Parks, linebacker K.C. Asiodu, linebacker Dominic Douglas, guard Roger Allen, tackle Phil Trautwein and tackle Ryan McKee.

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