NFC West: Chris Patrick
Whether by luck or superior training or whatever the reason might be, the Arizona Cardinals continue to suffer fewer season-ending injuries than other NFC West teams.
Arizona finished the 2008 season with three players on IR. The number was four last season. The team has a division-low two players on IR heading into Week 9 this season. That's nine players in two-plus seasons.
The Seattle Seahawks have eight already this season, including three offensive linemen. The number is seven for the St. Louis Rams, including three wide receivers.
Seattle placed defensive end Red Bryant and left guard Ben Hamilton, both starters, on IR this week.
The first chart shows NFC West IR counts after the 2008 and 2009 seasons, and heading into Week 9 this season. The 2008 totals reflect numbers heading into the divisional playoffs following that season. The 2009 totals reflect numbers when the regular season ended. Teams sometimes remove players from IR through injury settlements and other means.
The second chart breaks down 2010 IR counts by position heading into Week 9.
The third chart takes a team-by-team, player-by-player look at NFC West IR lists heading into Week 9. Asterisks identify projected, potential or actual starters.
I've addressed the subject in depth across the division -- first May 26 and again July 30 -- and it's worth another look now that teams have reduced to 53 players for the regular season.
This time, I'm going to break down the changes by position, listing players no longer on the active roster at each main position group (with new players in parenthesis). Departures outnumber replacements because some players finished last season on injured reserve, meaning they were not part of the 53-man roster.
Some players no longer on the active roster remain with the team (they could be suspended, deemed physically unable to perform or part of the practice squad).
St. Louis Rams (34 off roster)
Defensive back: Eric Bassey, Quincy Butler, Danny Gorrer, Clinton Hart, Cordelius Parks, David Roach, Jonathan Wade (added Kevin Dockery, Jerome Murphy, Darian Stewart)
Defensive line: Victor Adeyanju, Adam Carriker, Leger Douzable, Leonard Little, LaJuan Ramsey, James Wyche (added Jermelle Cudjo, Fred Robbins, George Selvie, Eugene Sims)
Linebacker: K.C. Asiodu, Paris Lenon (added Na'il Diggs, Josh Hull)
Offensive line: Roger Allen, Alex Barron, Ryan McKee, Mark Setterstrom, Phillip Trautwein, Eric Young (added Renardo Foster, Hank Fraley, Rodger Saffold)
Quarterback: Kyle Boller, Marc Bulger, Keith Null, Mike Reilly (added Sam Bradford, A.J. Feeley, Thaddeus Lewis)
Running back: Samkon Gado, Chris Ogbonnaya (added Keith Toston)
Special teams: Ryan Neill
Tight end: Randy McMichael (added Mike Hoomanawanui, Fendi Onobun)
Wide receiver: Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton, Brooks Foster, Jordan Kent, Ruvell Martin (added Mark Clayton, Dominique Curry, Mardy Gilyard)
Seattle Seahawks (33 off roster)
Defensive back: Jamar Adams, Deon Grant, Ken Lucas, Josh Wilson (added Kam Chancellor, Kennard Cox, Nate Ness, Earl Thomas, Walter Thurmond)
Defensive line: Lawrence Jackson, Patrick Kerney, Cory Redding, Nick Reed, Darryl Tapp, Craig Terrill (added Kentwan Balmer, Raheem Brock, Chris Clemons, Dexter Davis, Junior Siavii, E.J. Wilson)
Linebacker: Leroy Hill, Lance Laury, D.D. Lewis (added Matt McCoy; note that Hill is suspended for the first regular-season game)
Offensive line: Trevor Canfield, Brandon Frye, Walter Jones, Damion McIntosh, Rob Sims, Steve Vallos, Ray Willis, Mansfield Wrotto (added Stacy Andrews, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Ben Hamilton, Russell Okung, Chester Pitts, Tyler Polumbus)
Quarterback: Mike Teel, Seneca Wallace (added Charlie Whitehurst)
Running back: Justin Griffith, Louis Rankin, Tyler Roehl, Owen Schmitt (added Quinton Ganther, Michael Robinson, Leon Washington)
Special teams: Kevin Houser, Jeff Robinson (added Clint Gresham)
Tight end: John Owens (added Chris Baker, Anthony McCoy)
Wide receiver: Nate Burleson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh (added Golden Tate, Mike Williams)
Arizona Cardinals (24 off roster)
Defensive backs: Ralph Brown, Bryant McFadden, Antrel Rolle (added A.J. Jefferson, Trumaine McBride, Brandon McDonald, Kerry Rhodes)
Defensive line: Jason Banks (added Dan Williams)
Linebacker: Monty Beisel, Bertrand Berry, Cody Brown, Karlos Dansby, Gerald Hayes, Chike Okeafor, Pago Togafau (added Paris Lenon, Cyril Obiozor, Joey Porter, Daryl Washington; Hayes can return from the physically unable to perform list after six games)
Offensive line: Mike Gandy, Herman Johnson, Reggie Wells (added Alan Faneca, Rex Hadnot)
Quarterback: Matt Leinart, Brian St. Pierre, Kurt Warner (added Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton)
Running back: Justin Green, Dan Kreider (added Jerome Johnson)
Special teams: Neil Rackers (added Jay Feely)
Tight end: Anthony Becht (added Jim Dray)
Wide receiver: Anquan Boldin, Sean Morey, Jerheme Urban (added Andre Roberts, Stephen Williams)
San Francisco 49ers (24 off roster)
Defensive backs: Dre' Bly, Walt Harris, Marcus Hudson, Mark Roman (added Phillip Adams, Tramaine Brock, William James, Taylor Mays)
Defensive line: Kentwan Balmer, Derek Walker
Linebacker: Scott McKillop, Jeff Ulbrich, Matt Wilhelm (added NaVorro Bowman, Travis LaBoy)
Offensive line: Tony Pashos, Chris Patrick, Cody Wallace (added Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati)
Quarterback: Nate Davis, Shaun Hill (added David Carr, Troy Smith)
Running back: Thomas Clayton, Glen Coffee, Brit Miller, Michael Robinson (added Anthony Dixon, Brian Westbrook)
Special teams: Shane Andrus, Ricky Schmitt
Wide receiver: Arnaz Battle, Isaac Bruce, Jason Hill, Brandon Jones (added Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams, Dominique Zeigler)
The first chart shows how many players are back -- at least for now -- from Week 17 rosters and injured reserve lists. Seattle has the fewest number back with 26.
The second chart shows how many players each team has shed since Week 17 last season. This counts players who were on injured reserve. Teams with lots of players on injured reserve had more players to lose.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the team could start the same five offensive linemen in back-to-back games for the first time since Week 2. So much for continuity. Sean Locklear, Brandon Frye, Kyle Williams, Damion McIntosh, Rob Sims, Mansfield Wrotto, Steve Vallos, Chris Spencer, Max Unger and Ray Willis have started on the line for Seattle this season. It wasn't always this way. Chris Gray started all but one game on the Seahawks' line from 2000 through 2007. Robbie Tobeck started every game from 2001 through 2005. Steve Hutchinson started every game from 2003 through 2005. Walter Jones started just about every game from 1998 through 2007.
Also from Farnsworth: The Seahawks want to take a longer look at running back Louis Rankin, whose speed intrigues the coaching staff. Farnsworth: "Pressed a bit, Rankin said he ran the 40 in 4.4 seconds -- in the rain -- during his workout with the Seahawks."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Locklear probably will not start on the Seahawks' offensive line in Week 9. Also, Deion Branch had this to say about his post-touchdown comments telling the world where he could be found: "I've been accepting my role. If I wanted to start something, I would have done it in minicamp. That's not me. I wouldn't say those type of things. Me and management, we talked about it. We both understood what was what. They told me what was going on in preseason. I understood that going into this season."
Also from O'Neil: At least the Seahawks aren't the Lions. Has it come to this?
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com checks in with Rankin, who opened the University of Washington's 2007 game against Washington State with an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp: "He has very good speed and hits the hole very fast. He does have some background in the zone run game that shows us some chances to hit that hole fast and get a big run for us."
Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune says Sims worked some at left tackle in case Locklear isn't ready to play even as a backup.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic quotes Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett this way: "You usually don't win a game on Sunday. You usually win the games Wednesday, Thursday, Friday in practice. I'm just trying to get my guys to understand that you can't just turn it on on Sunday."
Also from Somers: a look at issues facing the Cardinals in the passing game. Larry Fitzgerald: "I've seen my fair share of coverages, but we're not using any excuses; we've got to find solutions. I haven't played great, by any stretch of the imagination. The teams that we play against ... they watch tape like everybody else does. They want to make us go on long drives, and when you make long drives you have to make tough third-down catches. We understand that and we have to deal with it."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com found one guy who doesn't have a problem with Tim Hightower leading NFL running backs in receptions. "You can control the ball, it’s a high-percentage pass, and as long as it keeps the offense going, I don’t think anyone should complain," Larry Centers said.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo plans to hang out locally over the weekend as the team observes its bye week. Spagnuolo: "My wife and I would like to stay here and enjoy St. Louis. You don’t get to do that during the season. So we’ll be in town. I’m sure we’ll find some places to eat and just relax a little bit."
Also from Coats: The Rams' tight ends are carrying more of the receiving load than expected.
More from Coats: "I like the Rams’ future, because I think they’re going about things the right way. That is, they’re not pulling off desperate moves now to try to win a relatively meaningless game or two but hamstringing themselves down the road. They’re being patient and prudent, and I believe that approach will pay off in the long run."
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says Spagnuolo's consistency is a strength.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams quarterback Marc Bulger has come under fire for sliding short of a first down on a third-and-6 play against the Lions. Bulger is an undersized quarterback with durability concerns.
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says the Rams' progress isn't obvious from afar. Spagnuolo on the first half of his first season as an NFL head coach: "There were some struggles, there were some good things, but we have built something. We talked this morning on the foundation we wanted to build. There is some trust, there is mutual respect, there is unity in the team. I think more than anything, we take that away."
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Steven Jackson has become a leader on the Rams. I agree. Jackson has set a standard for teammates. He has bought into what Spagnuolo is teaching. Without Jackson onboard, Spagnuolo's job would be much tougher.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the newly added Chris Patrick will back up both tackle spots for the 49ers. Barrows: "Patrick said he played on both the left and right sides at Nebraska and also has played both positions in preseason. He has not played in a regular-season game."
Also from Barrows: Titans coach Jeff Fisher thinks the 49ers are on the right track philosophically.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers expect Parys Haralson's production to pick up as the 49ers face fewer teams that favor max-protection schemes. Coach Mike Singletary: "Max protection is one of the main things that's happened for all of our guys. But we'll still find a way to get there."
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers' run defense faces a tough challenge against the Titans' Chris Johnson. Fisher: "To have played teams like Atlanta and St. Louis and Minnesota and be where they are against the run is impressive. "That's not a misleading statistic. They're very sound, and they play well." What, no mention of the Seattle or Arizona ground games?
Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals defenders are believing in new coordinator Bill Davis' system. Bickley: "By now, it is clear Davis has a leadership gene that his predecessor didn't. He has galvanized a defense known for its athleticism, swagger, talent and the occasional brain lapse. Davis saw it for himself late Sunday night, on the Giants' final drive of the game, a moment of maturity that might be a milestone around here."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals benefited from practicing a trick play even though its execution broke down during the game Sunday night.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says coach Ken Whisenhunt wants to keep an aggressive tack. Whisenhunt admits he might have been too aggressive in his play calling against the Giants. Urban: "There has long been an assumption by many that the Cardinals will transform the offense when (Kurt) Warner finally retires. The theory is that Whisenhunt grew up as a player and coach in run-first situations like Gibbs in Washington, Parcells in New York and Cowher in Pittsburgh. Besides, the thinking goes, with Wells on board and Matt Leinart the heir apparent at quarterback, running more makes more sense. But maybe not. Whisenhunt was quick to point out Leinart threw for 360 yards in just two quarters in the preseason comeback against Green Bay. Leinart also had a 405-yard passing performance in Minnesota as a rookie."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the schedule is working against the Rams. The Lions are coming off a bye to play the Rams in Week 8. The Colts were coming off a bye to play the Rams in Week 7. The Rams also played four of their first six games on the road.
Also from Thomas: a chat transcript on all things Rams. Thomas: "I think we all knew this was going to take time, and I don't think we were expecting much. But I think we expected better than 0-7. Let's say [Donnie] Avery doesn't fumble at Washington, the Rams finish off that drive and score and beat the Redskins. Let's say the Rams win the coin toss to start overtime, they drive down for a game-winning field goal and win in Jacksonville. They're 2-5 at this point, and although we all have gripes, it's not all that bad, relatively speaking. But it didn't happen."
More from Thomas: The Rams signed snapper Ryan Neill to replace the injured Chris Massey.
More yet from Thomas: Linebacker David Vobora is back.
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says the Rams have kept their composure during their 0-7 start.
Turf Show Times' VanRam explores whether the Rams' offensive line has improved.
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers tight end Vernon Davis promised a young leukemia patient he would do something big for him Sunday. Three touchdown receptions later, Davis had more than fulfilled his promise. Brown: "Davis' big game came while wearing a bracelet inscribed with (patient) Joseph's name. The boy lives in Austin, Texas, and drove to Houston to meet his favorite player. Davis met him Saturday at the hotel and then chatted with him again on the field before the game."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee runs through the 49ers' recent roster moves. Barrows: "The team signed Chris Patrick from the Chiefs' practice squad to replace him. That means that either Adam Snyder or Barry Sims or Patrick, a former Nebraska Cornhusker, could step in as the new RT. I'm guessing it will be Snyder."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat also expects Snyder to play right tackle. Sims played there quite a bit Sunday.
Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle checks in with 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith, who leads the team in quarterback hits.
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider breaks out the stopwatch when analyzing 49ers quarterbacks Shaun Hill and Alex Smith. Lynch: "The big difference there was Smith's ability to throw right when he hit the back foot, also Smith is more adept at throwing the ball away, sometimes too adept. When he played every snap in 2006, he threw more balls away than any other quarterback that season. But against Houston, his ability to move around and then possess the arm strength to hurl the ball to the line of scrimmage to avoid intentional grounding, bailed him out twice."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says tight ends John Carlson and Jason Witten played major roles the last time Seattle and Dallas played one another.
Also from Farnsworth: Seattle is seeking more "explosive" plays on offense. Farnsworth: "There are, of course, reasons for the Seahawks’ offensive inconsistency. At No. 1 is another capital 'I' -- as in Injuries. Six starters already have missed a combined 19 games, including Hasselbeck and four-fifths of what is supposed to be the starting line. The development of the zone-blocking scheme in the running game has been slowed by the on-going shuffling of the line. The Seahawks likely will use their fifth starting combination -- and fifth option at left tackle -- this week against the Dallas Cowboys."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks have lost nine of their last 10 games outside the Pacific time zone. The team plays four of its next five games under those conditions.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Matt Hasselbeck brought his injured daughter, Mallory, to team headquarters Monday. She recently underwent surgery after a dirt bike struck her during a family vacation. Johns: "Mallory Hasselbeck, 6, suffered injuries to her left arm and mouth and was treated at Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee as well as Children's Hospital upon her return home."
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Walter Jones will miss another game to injury. How long can the Seahawks reasonably hold open a roster spot for him?
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant. Boling: "(Jim) Mora was cautious in his evaluation, saying the Seahawks were going to wait until Saturday or Sunday to decide how much Trufant will play. But Trufant sure looked up to speed in practice."
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune frames the Seahawks' trip to San Francisco this way: "Do you have what it takes to go to Mike Singletary's house and try to take something from him?"
Brock Huard of 710ESPN.com offers keys to the game for the Seahawks, starting with turnovers.
Also from Huard: key matchups, including one between Seattle's guards and the 49ers' tough inside linebackers. Huard: This is a difficult matchup as [Takeo] Spikes is savvy and physical and [Patrick] Willis is explosive, violent and one of the top LBs in the game; however, the 49ers like to play a base 3-4 defense and that scheme can allow space for offensive guards to get on linebackers. When Sims and Unger get those shots, they must connect and get Spikes and Willis to the ground."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times puts defense in the spotlight while previewing the Seahawks-49ers game.
Brian McIntyre of Scout.com thinks the Seahawks might be wise to call a couple more screen passes against the 49ers' active front seven.
Adam Caplan of Scout.com expects the Seahawks to bring in tackle Chris Patrick for a follow-up visit Monday.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' victory over the Cardinals hardly registered nationally. Cornerback Tarell Brown: "We haven't arrived yet. We haven't done anything yet and we understand that. We try not to read the papers or follow the news. We want to keep up that intensity. It's a long season ahead of us. We play some great teams. We have to keep on pushing."
Also from Crumpacker: Brian Billick offers thoughts on Singletary. Billick: "I had good luck bringing former players [such as Jack Del Rio, Mike Tice and Dennis Thurman] into the profession. Mike [Singletary] had to learn what it was to become a coach. He'd been away from the game for 10 years. He had to know what it meant to commit to the profession."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers need to exploit the Seahawks' run blitzes by throwing to the perimeter. Also: "The Seahawks registered 13 sacks against the 49ers in their two meetings last year. Most came with Seattle rushing just four defenders. Harassing Shaun Hill today will be a priority for the defense."
Also from Barrows: The 49ers' rush offense went from being top-ranked through the preseason to last-ranked after Week 1. Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye: "We're going to run the ball 60 percent of the time -- that's not going to change. We're looking for that balance of run to pass and, to me, that balance isn't 50-50, it's 60-40, and it's toward the run."
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider is impressed by what he sees from the Seahawks. Lynch: "These Seahawks have so much depth, particularly in their receiving corps and on their defensive line, and it also looks like they've had a whale of a draft."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' ground game must improve. Seahawks coach Jim Mora: "It’s more of a mindset than scheme. Our guys understand the challenge. They’ve played Frank Gore many, many times, and they know what he’s all about and they have tremendous respect for him."
Also from Maiocco: The 49ers will win if they consistently get 5 yards on first down.
Brad Biggs of National Football Post expects Tony Pashos to become the 49ers' starter at right tackle before long.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams are "putting on blinders" heading into their game against the Redskins.
Also from Korte: Albert Haynesworth presents a tough matchup for the Rams.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gives the Rams' running game an edge against the Redskins' defense.
Also from Thomas: Rams center Jason Brown's comments about Haynesworth made it back to the Redskins this week. Brown in August: "I'm so glad we're playing Washington early in the year because it's going to be hot out there, we're going to be running hurry-up offense and he's going to get fatigued. And I'm not sure if you have watched film before, but when he gets fatigued, he taps out. He just falls down to the ground, and you're like, 'Oh my gosh, is he hurt? Is something wrong with him?' No, he's just giving the guy on the sidelines enough time to mosey on out there so he can get up, go to the sidelines, catch a breather, get something to drink and then he comes right back out."
More from Thomas: The Rams are still looking for ways to get Steven Jackson and the running game going.
More yet from Thomas: Staying upbeat is a priority for the Rams.
Turf Show Times' VanRam says the Rams face another tough tight end. After having problems with Seattle's John Carlson, the Rams face the Redskins' Chris Cooley in Week 2.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals linebacker Gerald Hayes keeps a low profile. Hayes: "I play the game because I love it. If they want to give me accolades and all that stuff and recognize me, then they do it. If they don't, I know what I can do and that's all I'm worried about."
Also from Somers: one way the Cardinals stopped the run in Week 1.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com expects more from Anquan Boldin this week.
Also from Urban: The Cardinals' success last season set high expectations for 2009, making their Week 1 defeat hurt a little more.
More from Urban: Arizona could be "dangerously thin" at outside linebacker if Chike Okeafor cannot play.
Michael C. Wright of the Florida Times-Union looks at the Cardinals' efforts to avoid what has awaited so many other Super Bowl losers. Wright: "[Ken] Whisenhunt points to turnover on the coaching staff as potentially being one of the biggest obstacles Arizona faces in avoiding a Super Bowl hangover."
Sara Cardace of the New York Post reviews John Krakauer's book about former Cardinals safety Pat Tillman. Cardace: "Although the book's narrative culminates with the exploitation of Tillman's death by a government desperate for good will in wartime, the tragic elements of Tillman's story were in place well before then."
The 49ers' practice squad began to take shape when the team signed six players released Saturday.
San Francisco carried only five defensive linemen and five receivers on its 53-man roster. Those are low figures.
The defensive-line number reflects Justin Smith's status as an outside linebacker. Still, the 49ers signed two defensive linemen to their practice squad. A third released defensive lineman, LaJuan Ramsey, does not have practice-squad eligibility.
The chart shows every 49ers player with practice-squad eligibility.
The 49ers will presumably add to their numbers at receiver. Cam Colvin appeared to be a candidate for the practice squad, but the 49ers did not sign him immediately.
The team described veteran receiver Ashley Lelie, released Saturday, as a potential injury risk. Carrying him on the opening-day roster would have forced the 49ers to guarantee his salary. It's unclear if San Francisco might re-sign him heading into Week 2. The 49ers might not want him now, but can they find anyone better?
Losing Brian de la Puente probably hurt a little, but the 49ers had to keep second-round choice Chilo Rachal and fourth-rounder Cody Wallace. De la Puente started an exhibition game at guard for the 49ers this summer, but he was undrafted, so he goes.
Update: The 49ers added Joe Toledo to their practice squad Monday, Sept. 1, Chrissy Mauck of 49ers.com notes.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The chart shows each of the 49ers' players with practice-squad eligibility, according to the team.
Practice-squad rules can be confusing, and exceptions sometimes apply to relatively experienced players.
I've categorized each player based on his perceived likelihood of earning a spot on the 53-man roster. Those are rough characterizations. Teams still have not made decisions. It's conceivable that a player listed as a "keeper" could face his release.
As noted: Rosters spots are serious business for NFL players lacking job security. For some, the next 30 hours or so will determine whether they'll earn $17,352.94 per week or whatever the real world pays.
The minimum NFL salary is $295,000. Players get paid in 17 installments, one for every week they spend as a paid member of the organization.
NFL teams must trim rosters from 75 players to 53 players by Saturday afternoon. Teams can establish eight-man practice squads beginning Sunday. Practice-squad players earn a minimum of $5,200 per week during the regular season and playoffs.
Once a player signs with a practice squad, he can practice with the team. He becomes eligible to play in games only if a team signs him to its 53-man roster. Practice-squad players are free to sign with any team's active roster at any time during the season.