NFC West: Chris Owusu

2012 NFC West practice squad eligibility

September, 1, 2012
9/01/12
12:33
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NFL teams can begin forming practice squads once eligible players clear waivers Saturday.

A look at which players released by NFC West teams have eligibility:

Arizona Cardinals

Eligible: Crezdon Butler, Antonio Coleman, Blake Gideon, Ricky Lumpkin, Colin Parker, Larry Parker, Steve Skelton, Quan Sturdivant, Everrette Thompson, Martell Webb, Scott Wedige, Brandon Williams, Isaiah Williams, D.J. Williams.

Not eligible: DeMarco Sampson, Alfonso Smith, Ronald Talley, Stephen Williams, Clark Haggans, Russ Hochstein

St. Louis Rams

Eligible: Cornell Banks, Tim Barnes, Tom Brandstater, Mason Brodine, Aaron Brown, Sammy Brown, Kendric Burney, Ben Guidugli, Cory Harkey, T-Bob Hebert, Jamaar Jarrett, Nick Johnson, Joe Long, Deangelo Peterson, Chase Reynolds, Scott Smith

Not eligible: Vernon Gholston, Bryan Mattison, Jose Valdez, Kellen Clemens, Ovie Mughelli

San Francisco 49ers

Eligible: Derek Hall, Joe Holland, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Cam Johnson, Matthew Masifilo, Anthony Mosley, Kyle Nelson, Al Netter, Chris Owusu, Nathan Palmer, Mike Person, Konrad Reuland, Kenny Rowe, Michael Thomas, Kenny Wiggins, Michael Wilhoite

Not eligible: Eric Bakhtiari, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Rock Cartwright, Josh Johnson, Brett Swain

Seattle Seahawks

Eligible: Pierre Allen, Allen Bradford, Kris Durham, Cooper Helfet, Rishaw Johnson, Jermaine Kearse, Kyle Knox, Cordarro Law, Pep Levingston, Ricardo Lockette, Sean McGrath, Kris O'Dowd, Josh Portis, DeShawn Shead, Vai Taua, Korey Toomer, Lavasier Tuinei

Not eligible: Phillip Adams, Deon Butler, Paul Fanaika

Note on eligibility

Straight from the collective bargaining agreement:
"The Practice Squad shall consist of the following players, provided that they have not served more than two previous seasons on a Practice Squad:
  • "players who do not have an Accrued Season of NFL experience;
  • "free agent players who were on the Active List for fewer than nine regular season games during their only Accrued Season(s).

"An otherwise eligible player may be a Practice Squad player for a third season only if the Club by which he is employed that season has at least 53 players on its Active/Inactive List during the entire period of his employment.

"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.

"(For purposes of this Section, a bye week counts as a game provided that the player is not terminated until after the regular season or postseason weekend in question.)"

San Francisco 49ers cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
10:28
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Most significant move. The San Francisco 49ers' decision to keep running back Anthony Dixon played into a broader special-teams theme. Veteran fullback Rock Cartwright, once seen as a key special-teams addition following Blake Costanzo's departure in free agency, received his release. The 49ers traded another core special-teams player, safety Colin Jones, to Carolina for what was thought to be a 2014 seventh-round choice.

The 49ers' decision at quarterback was also among those I found most significant. The team kept Scott Tolzien over Josh Johnson in the No. 3 role even though Johnson played for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego. Johnson also outplayed Tolzien in the final exhibition game. Keeping Tolzien appealed, however, because his ceiling appears less defined. Johnson has played in the NFL without setting a sharply upward career trajectory. Colin Kaepernick's emergence as a stronger No. 2 quarterback bought some insurance for carrying a less-experienced third-stringer, perhaps.

Onward and upward: Linebacker Michael Wilhoite, offensive lineman Mike Person and safety Michael Thomas appear to be young players with futures in the NFL. Defensive lineman Matthew Masifilo impressed in the final exhibition game. The 49ers' practice squad will be an option for some of the players let go, but I won't be surprised if waiver claims from other teams get in the way. The 49ers have done a good job building talented depth throughout their roster.

The team also released Eric Bakhtiari, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Derek Hall, Joe Holland, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Cam Johnson, Anthony Mosley, Kyle Nelson, Al Netter, Chris Owusu, Nathan Palmer, Konrad Reuland, Kenny Rowe, Brett Swain and Kenny Wiggins.

Reuland could get another chance. It was a mild surprise, perhaps, to see Garrett Celek stick ahead of Reuland as the third tight end.

What's next: The 49ers will watch closely to see which players clear waivers. Wilhoite is one they would like to re-sign, according to his agent, but teams looking for young depth at linebacker could submit claims. The team could use another outside linebacker, at least on paper, but the 49ers got through last season with only three of them.

The 49ers are carrying only eight offensive linemen. Their swing tackle, Alex Boone, is starting at right guard. If there's an offensive tackle out there worth claiming, the 49ers could consider adding one. But two of their division rivals, Arizona and St. Louis, have greater needs and higher waiver priorities.
This link will take you to the next NFC West chat, set to begin at 1 p.m. ET.

A few leftover questions from last week focused on which wide receivers each NFC West team will keep when initial 53-man rosters come into play Friday.

My projections heading into the final preseason games call for six wideouts to make each roster initially: Any injuries suffered Thursday night could affect the outlook.

Around the NFC West: Warner on Kolb

August, 22, 2012
8/22/12
8:50
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Conventional wisdom suggested Seattle's Matt Flynn and Arizona's Kevin Kolb would emerge as starting quarterbacks this season.

Those were the players earning the most money from their teams at the position, after all. But with Russell Wilson (Seahawks) and John Skelton (Cardinals) scheduled to start exhibition games this week, perceptions have changed. Wilson and especially Skelton could be the favorites at this point.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic thinks Skelton is the only choice for Arizona based on how Kolb has performed to this point. He checks in with former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner for thoughts on Kolb. Warner: "I've been in games when it's hard to get the game to slow down, and it's not a fun place to be," Warner said. "Everything looks like a jumbled mess. Sometimes you're nervous, sometimes you're anxious. When I watch him on film, it looks like he's looking in the right spots. But that doesn't mean he's seeing it, or that he's seeing what I'm seeing. But he's looking at it and not letting the ball go. What's causing that?" Noted: Warner makes some interesting points at the risk of sounding self-serving, particularly when we learn of text messages Warner received begging him to come out of retirement.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals emerged from training camp with quite a few unanswered questions.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com quotes coach Pete Carroll as saying Wilson is a "nightmare" for defenses in part because of his ability to move.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times offers a Seahawks injury update. Sidney Rice was practicing without restrictions, but Doug Baldwin underwent "a little procedure" on a hamstring.

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says Matt Flynn is the loser in Carroll's high-risk quarterback gamble. Kelley: "This is Carroll telling critics to bring it on. This is a coach willing to take gambles few in his profession will take. Carroll works without a safety net. This game of quarterback roulette only can be played by coaches who are secure in their jobs and supremely confident in what they do. Carroll is both. He's going to do it his way. It's daring and risky and off-the-charts against the grain. But this is who Carroll is, and he revels in his unorthodoxy."

Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle likes the way Carroll is thinking on this one.

John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune says Carroll's thinking reflects a changing game. McGrath: "If Carroll ends up handing the Seahawks’ offense to a rookie, the coach stands to be blistered by critics whose deepest thoughts are steeped in 1983. Nonsense. The game has changed, and the league has changed. The players have changed. Their contracts have changed. If he’s convinced a rookie has the chops of a starting quarterback, Pete Carroll will exude a wisdom best described by one word. Conventional."

Dan O'Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are close to welcoming back receiver Brandon Gibson from injury.

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the latest proposal for the Edward Jones Dome from the local stadium authority. Burwell: "At the very least, it closes the enormous gap between its original (and woefully inadequate) $124 million proposal and the far more elaborate one the Rams put on the table. This hedges a bet that if the arbitration panel was of the mind to take an either-or stance with the outcome of its decision, it's better for the CVC to move its offer a bit closer to reality because it's safe to say that its original proposal would not come close to meeting the lease's 'first-tier' requirements."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' decision to trade Josh Gordy to Indianapolis for a conditional 2014 pick reflects confidence in the team's improved depth at cornerback.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com offers notes from Rams practice, including this one: "Much of the talk in this camp when it comes to quarterbacks has been on starter Sam Bradford and rookie Austin Davis but Kellen Clemens has seemed to respond to the challenge in the past few days. He had some strong throws on Tuesday, none better than the dart he fired on the run across his body to TE Deangelo Peterson for a big gain. And while Clemens has struggled to complete passes on a consistent basis in his career, he is 12-of-16 (75 percent) in the preseason so far."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers have yet to see a backup safety emerge behind Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio: "We know we have Whitner and Goldson. But we're looking to see who are our third, fourth and, possibly, fifth safety. We need for that to clear itself up. Hopefully, guys will step forward and make it easy. Right now, it hasn't been an easy decision for us there."

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says there's no escaping the fact that the 49ers are living in a construction zone.

Steve Corkran of Bay Area News Group says swimming has helped Randy Moss stay in shape. Receiver Chris Owusu: "If Moss is doing it, you got to do it, especially as a young receiver. You want to emulate everything that he does because he's been to the top, he's a Hall of Fame receiver, so you got to go out and do what he does."
Our two-day look at NFC West rosters continues with projections for the San Francisco 49ers' offense.

Quarterbacks (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.1

Safest bets: Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Josh Johnson

Leading contenders: none

Longer odds: Scott Tolzien

Comment: Johnson has more experience than Kaepernick and could project as the No. 2 quarterback if an injury forced Smith from the lineup on short notice. Johnson's history with coach Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego probably helps his chances in that regard. Kaepernick gets a chance this summer to prove he's ready to take the next step following a more regular offseason. Tolzien could project for the practice squad.

Running backs (9)

Average number kept since 2003: 4.9

Safest bets: Frank Gore, LaMichael James, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, Bruce Miller

Leading contenders: Rock Cartwright, Anthony Dixon

Longer odds: Jewel Hampton, Cameron Bell

Comment: Moran Norris is out after spending five of the past six seasons as a 49ers fullback. That was one of many changes in the backfield this offseason. Jacobs' arrival suggests Dixon must step up his game significantly to stick on the roster -- and will probably have to demonstrate special-teams value as well. He won't be able to compete with Miller or Cartwright in that regard. If the 49ers find a way to keep six running backs, Cartwright would likely be in the picture almost exclusively for his special-teams value. Hampton could be a candidate for the practice squad.

Wide receivers (11)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.7

Safest bets: Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, A.J. Jenkins

Leading contenders: Kyle Williams, Ted Ginn Jr.

Longer odds: Brett Swain, Joe Hastings, Nathan Palmer, Chris Owusu, Brian Tyms

Comment: The first four appear set as long as Moss continues on his current trajectory. The 49ers kept five at the position in Week 1 last season. Despite talk of opening up the offense, the team could have a hard time justifying six roster spots for wideouts for a coaching staff that seems to relish using multiple tight ends. Williams and Ginn carry obvious special-teams value in the return game, a huge consideration. I have a hard time envisioning the 49ers, stung by Williams' miscues in the NFC Championship Game, taking undue chances in the return game at Green Bay in the opener. Ginn is the most proven return specialist on the team and a game-breaker when healthy. Owusu could be a candidate for the practice squad.

Tight ends (5)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.9

Safest bets: Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker

Leading contenders: Nate Byham, Konrad Reuland

Longer odds: Garrett Celek

Comment: Byham was emerging as a top-flight blocking tight end before a knee injury ended his 2011 season during training camp. Reuland, then an undrafted rookie, had a chance to gain ground while spending last season on the practice squad. Reuland played for Harbaugh and staff at Stanford.

Offensive linemen (15)

Average number kept since 2003: 9.0

Safest bets: Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Daniel Kilgore, Joe Looney

Leading contenders: Mike Person, Jason Slowey

Longer odds: Derek Hall, David Gonzales, Garrett Chisolm, Chase Beeler, Kenny Wiggins, Al Netter

Comment: Boone has become the prohibitive favorite to start at right guard even though he remains in the early stages of a conversion from tackle. Boone could move back to tackle if the 49ers were to lose Staley or Davis to injury. Boone remains the third-best tackle on the team. Kilgore once stood as a candidate at right guard, but he now projects as Goodwin's eventual successor at center. Looney, a rookie fourth-round choice, could be the long-term right guard, but he's recovering from foot surgery.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Things I noticed while watching the San Francisco 49ers during their minicamp practice Tuesday at team headquarters:
  • A fully engaged Randy Moss. When Moss wasn't making impressive catches over defensive backs such as Chris Culliver, he was engaged in other ways. Moss worked with quarterbacks Alex Smith and Scott Tolzien off to the side during breaks. He easily could have stood and watched those portions of practice. When the receivers were moving their drill into an area occupied by defensive lineman, Moss jokingly instructed them to vacate the area. Such details mean little when isolated. Together, they validate what coaches and teammates have said about Moss to this point.
  • Patrick Willis leaving practice. The Pro Bowl linebacker wasn't injured. The team said Willis left for personal reasons. Larry Grant took over for Willis. All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman was not there at all. He had an excused absence.
  • Rookie A.J. Jenkins getting deep. The usual disclaimers about minicamps apply. Rules allow defenders to cover, but not to defend aggressively. Still, the 49ers had to like seeing their first-round choice get deep for a reception along the left sideline.
  • Michael Crabtree's hands. Coach Jim Harbaugh provided welcome blog fodder when he called Crabtree's hands the best he'd seen. It's going to be a news event when Crabtree eventually drops one. He bobbled one Tuesday. Crabtree made an impressive deep grab from Colin Kaepernick with a defender running close by.
  • A couple of drops. Chris Owusu and Garrett Celek were among the players dropping passes.
  • Frank Gore as a receiver. Gore uncharacteristically suffered from seven drops last season. He made an leaping grab against Ahmad Brooks in this practice. A wideout would have been happy to have made that grab.
  • Steve Mariucci in attendance. The 49ers' ex-coach was on assignment for NFL Network. He watched practice with general manager Trent Baalke.
  • Nate Byham's knee. The blocking tight end has returned from the knee injury he suffered a year ago. Byham is wearing a brace on his left knee. He was emerging as a top blocking back before the injury. Rules against contact during minicamps make it tough to gauge a player's power.
  • Carlos Rogers' debut. The Pro Bowl cornerback made his offseason debut after resting a calf injury previously.
  • A few guys watching. Delanie Walker, Ted Ginn Jr., Cam Johnson, Darius Fleming and Joe Looney did not participate for various reasons. Rules prevented second-round choice LaMichael James from attending because his college class at Oregon has not yet graduated.

That's if for the time being. Back in a bit.
Figuring out who makes the personnel decisions for the Arizona Cardinals isn't easy.

More than any team in the NFC West, the Cardinals seem to take a group approach involving general manager Rod Graves, coach Ken Whisenhunt, president Michael Bidwill, and vice president of player personnel Steve Keim.

All four have been together since 2007, when Whisenhunt became coach.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says Keim's role has grown, making him a logical candidate to succeed Graves in the GM role. Bickley: "Keim isn't a general manager by title. But he talks like one. He acts like one. He's not shy with his opinions. Recent draft classes reveal a franchise operating in sync, and a team enjoying a steady influx of young players. He knows what Ken Whisenhunt wants in a player, and over time, has earned the coach's trust." Noted: Sounds like an invitation to compare recent draft classes for NFC West teams. I'll take a look this week, although comparing one team's draft success against that of another can be tricky. For example, in recent seasons, the Cardinals have drafted later in the first round on average than any team in the division, about 19th overall since 2009. That compares to about eighth overall for St. Louis, 13th overall for Seattle and 15th overall for San Francisco.

Also from Bickley: The Cardinals have reason to consider legal action after losing 3,200 parking spots at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee runs through the San Francisco 49ers' undrafted free-agent class. Barrows: "Among the standouts are the three Stanford players, Chris Owusu, Matt Masifilo and Michael Thomas, and running back Jewel Hampton, whom I wrote about earlier in the week. Also of note is Clemson's Kourtnei Brown, who has Aldon Smith-like dimensions and who ran his 40-yard dash in the 4.6-second range."

Also from Barrows: Perrish Cox's legal troubles aren't finished. The cornerback, acquitted on criminal sexual assault charges, faces a civil suit stemming from the case.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the Pacific Northwest Football Hall of Fame welcomed Marcus Trufant and Jacob Green as members. Trufant: "This is a very cool deal. Just the whole organization in general is a good deal. There are a lot of important people here who have done a lot of good things in this area for a long time -- and they haven’t done it to make a lot of money, they’re doing it for the community and they’re doing it for the kids. So just to be mentioned in the same light as those people, it’s a big deal to me."

Also from Farnsworth: a look at the Seahawks' quarterback competition. Coach Pete Carroll: "There’s no timeline. The format is really just to do everything I can to organize it and orchestrate it so that they get a legit shot at showing what they can do with all the guys that are available. We’re going to have to mix and match it, and just make it a real cool process, and hopefully it will show itself somewhere down the road and we'll figure it out then."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says Carroll seems to be welcoming the quarterback competition in Seattle, counter to the way most coaches view uncertainty at the position.

Art Thiel of Sports Press Northwest says the Seahawks haven't had a quarterback competition like their current once since Matt Hasselbeck and Trent Dilfer were competing a decade ago.

Liz Mathews of 710ESPN Seattle passes along thoughts from Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill regarding the evolution of his game. Hill: "I wanted to hurt you and hit you harder than you hit me. That's how I played, and I think it caused a lot of injuries early on in my career. Now that I'm getting older, I'm more about making the tackle -- just get the man down. I want to play the way that I played, just in a more veteran way, you know?"

Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle thinks Gus Bradley, the Seahawks' defensive coordinator, projects as a head coaching candidate. Noted: Not many coordinators keep their jobs when a team changes head coaches. Bradley did, remaining in the role after the switch from Jim Mora to Pete Carroll. Mora had planned to name Dan Quinn coordinator, but Bradley impressed him so much during his interview that Mora decided to make him coordinator instead.

Albert Breer of NFL Network runs through Rams GM Les Snead's priority list for St. Louis this offseason: "Snead, formerly personnel director for the Atlanta Falcons, was hired by the Rams in mid-February. His self-imposed directive since then has been to focus on four aspects of roster management. They were, in order, to assess the strengths and weaknesses of his new club; deal the second pick in the draft; prepare for and complete free agency; and then do the same with the draft. ... Snead can unpack and find a place to live now. His vision for the Rams, in this job he spent the better part of two decades preparing, is beginning to take shape."

Katie Felts of KDSK.com checks in with new Rams coach Jeff Fisher.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Quick thoughts after a second session watching quarterbacks and receivers at the NFL scouting combine in Lucas Oil Stadium:
  • Who did not throw: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler were among the more highly regarded quarterbacks opting not to throw Sunday. I was watching receivers more than quarterbacks in this session. Kellen Moore, Darron Thomas and Brandon Weeden were among the quarterbacks throwing.
  • Who did not catch: Alabama receiver Marquis Maze struggled holding onto the ball. He caught only 9 of 14 passes while running through the gauntlet drill with quarterbacks firing passes at him in rapid succession, seven per drill over two drills. He dropped one pass on a hitch route and watched another go through his hands without making contact.
  • Running the gauntlet: Overall, receivers were much more effective in the first of the two gauntlet drills. Nineteen of the 24 receivers I charted caught all seven the first time through, with Maze dropping three, Miami's Tommy Streeter dropping two and two players, Arizona State's Gerell Robinson and Fresno State's Devon Wylie, dropping one apiece. Only 11 of the 24 receivers in this group caught all seven the second time through.
  • Who showed surest hands: Washington's Jermaine Kearse, Iowa's Marvin McNutt, Penn State's Derek Moye, Stanford's Chris Owusu, Toledo's Eric Page, Appalachian State's Brian Quick, Rutgers Mohamed Sanu and Baylor's Kendall Wright did not drop passes during the gauntlet drills or when I was watching them in other drills. The ball barely made a sound when McNutt caught it.
  • Sitting out: Wisconsin's Nick Toon did not participate in receiving drills with this group. He's been dealing with a foot injury. Toon did run 40-yard dashes, running in the 4.5s, and he participated in the vertical jump.

This was the second of two trips inside Lucas Oil Stadium as part of groups organized by the Pro Football Writers of America. I'll remain here until Monday morning, working from the media room at the stadium.

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