NFC West: David Roach
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.
Also from Urban: sees more good things from free-agent receiver Stephen Williams. Urban: "Stephen Williams had another fine showing. He was open deep on one play although the ball by Matt Leinart was slightly underthrown, allowing CB Tru McBride to knock it away. Williams also caught a nice 42-yard bomb from Leinart in the back of the end zone during the two-minute drill that looked close to good."
More from Urban: Breaking down video forces players to be accountable.
Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are gambling on Brandon Keith at right tackle.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' Gerald Hayes has a chance to be ready for the regular-season opener. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "I wouldn't rule it out, but I wouldn't say it's probable, either. I think the next couple weeks are going to be critical. Hopefully we'll have him."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com takes a player-by-player look at the 49ers' offense during the team's exhibition opener at Indianapolis. Maiocco on center David Baas: "Baas played very well at center. If he continues to improve, he will hold off Tony Wragge for the starting job to open the regular season. Moreover, he'll be in position to compete for playing time when Eric Heitmann returns from his broken leg."
Also from Maiocco: a player-by-player look at the 49ers' defense. On Taylor Mays: "Entered game after nine plays and wore the green dot on his helmet, signifying he was responsible for relaying the play calls to the defense. He was much better as a tackler than in coverage. Gave up a 16-yard catch to Jacob Tamme. But showed exceptional ability on one play when he was 10 yards off the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball, closed quickly and tackled Brown for a 3-yard loss on a short third-down pass. He tried to disguise coverage in the second quarter, but did not get back in time to fulfill responsibility in two-deep coverage. But the deep pass for Taj Smith was not caught."
Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers are taking things slowly with newly signed running back Brian Westbrook.
Also from Barber: Receiver Ted Ginn Jr. continues to impress. Barber: "Alex Smith's best throw of the day may have been a strike to Ginn down the left sideline, right on target vs. CB Shawntae Spencer's coverage. Ginn made an even better catch later when he reached back to get Smith's throw with one hand. The starting QB was off-target on some passes, but finished with a flourish in simulated 2-minute drill. He completed it with a touchdown throw to WR Jason Hill."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee checks in with Westbrook and Frank Gore.
Also from Barrows: Ginn is more likely to contribute on kickoff returns than on punt returns.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says the Seahawks like what they've seen from rookie Dexter Davis. Johns: "Now three weeks and one preseason game into training camp, the Seahawks appear to have found a hidden gem. Davis, 23, had a sack and four quarterback hits in Saturday's 20-18 victory over Tennessee while continuing to flash the speed and athleticism that have been opening eyes since camp opened."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com takes a look at newly acquired defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer. Also, depth on the offensive line is diminished without Ray Willis. Farnsworth: "Without Willis, the No. 1 line remains the same with -- from left tackle to right -- Russell Okung, Ben Hamilton, Chris Spencer, Max Unger and Locklear. But Mansfield Wrotto is now at left tackle with the No. 2 line, where Willis was getting most of his work. In practice today, the rest of the No. 2 consisted of Steve Vallos at left guard, where Wrotto and Mike Gibson had been working; Jeff Byers at center, because Vallos was at guard; and a right side of guard Mitch Erickson and tackle Joe Toledo."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says rookie tight end Anthony McCoy continues to drop passes. I saw him drop at least three while attending Seattle practices.
Percy Allen of the Seattle Times says Balmer is getting a second chance to realize his potential.
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with veteran Seahawks defensive tackle Craig Terrill, who was mistaken for musician Tom Petty during a recent practice.
Also from Boling: a look at where Willis' injury leaves the Seahawks' offensive line. Also: "Ben Obomanu has been a little bit of a forgotten man in the receivers corps with addition of Mike Williams, the drafting of Golden Tate and the return of Deion Branch. After Saturday’s two catches for 36 yards, Obomanu had another good practice Monday."
John Morgan of Field Gulls says the Seahawks picked up a talented player at a bargain price in acquiring Balmer, but there's no guarantee the team will come out ahead.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams had more fights in practice Tuesday than they had victories last season. Coach Steve Spagnuolo: "There is a fine line, no question. And I'm always harping on them that you can practice physical and aggressive and still take care of each other. Don't pull jerseys. Don't try to throw guys on the ground. We're getting there. But some guys haven't figured it out yet."
Also from Thomas: The Rams cut safety David Roach and signed Brett Johnson. Both are safeties.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Jordan Kent is trying to make his mark in Rams camp. Coats: "The 6-foot-4, 219-pound Kent appears to be firmly in the mix. He's displayed improved receiving skills, plus he has desirable versatility as a strong special-teams contributor and possibly as an emergency place-kicker."
- Oshiomogho Atogwe, FS, right of first refusal. The team must upgrade its $1.226 million offer to nearly $7 million guaranteed in June if Atogwe is unsigned and the Rams want to retain his rights.
- Clifton Ryan, DE, second round.
- Alex Barron, OT, second round.
- Victor Adeyanju, DE, original round (fourth).
- Craig Dahl, S, right of first refusal.
The Rams can match any offers these players receive. All but Atogwe and Dahl would return a draft choice as compensation if the Rams decided against matching.
Eight players will become unrestricted free agents after the Rams declined to make RFA offers: safety Eric Bassey, long snapper Ryan Neill, cornerback Jonathan Wade, running back Samkon Gado, wide receiver Ruvell Martin, guard Mark Setterstrom, tight end Daniel Fells and defensive tackle Gary Gibson.
The minimum RFA offers exceed $1 million. Some of those eight players could conceivably return for less.
The team also retained rights to defensive end C.J. Ah You, cornerback Quincy Butler, running back Kenneth Darby, linebacker Larry Grant, wide receiver Jordan Kent, tackle Ryan McKee, safety David Roach and linebacker David Vobora.
CHICAGO -- A few notes to pass along before I board a Monday night flight bound for Seattle:
- The NFL has fined Rams safeties Craig Dahl and David Roach for hits against Detroit in Week 8.
- Rams fans might want to check out this St. Louis Post-Dispatch profile on Rams executive Kevin Demoff.
- Matt Leinart's performance Sunday was not a total loss.
- Seahawks coach Jim Mora handed a game ball to running back Julius Jones -- for the Detroit game. Hmmm.
That's it from O'Hare. Back at it Tuesday morning.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic senses the Cardinals are about to awake following a sleepy preseason. Bickley: "From an Arizona perspective, the worst preseason imaginable might be the best thing that's ever happened to this team. Warner said the team was successful only in "embarrassing ourselves" and, fortunately, it seems like a missing fire suddenly has returned. A rebound performance in Week 1 atones for everything."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Ben Claxton and other Cardinals players feeling fortunate to have landed spots on the team's initial 53-man roster. Somers: "After signing contracts with eight teams, spending two seasons in NFL Europe and two seasons out of football, Claxton survived the final cut of training camp for the first time."
Also from Somers: The Cardinals' 2008 opening-day starters have now been cut by two other teams.
More from Somers: Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson wasn't biting when asked about matching up with 49ers tight end Vernon Davis. "Who?" Wilson asked. Somers also explains how Herman Johnson's emergence at backup right tackle gives the Cardinals the flexibility to move Levi Brown to left tackle if something happens to starter Mike Gandy.
More yet from Somers: Anquan Boldin is resting a hamstring injury.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Larry Fitzgerald is eager to open up the playbook and play to the Cardinals' offensive strengths.
Taylor Price of 49ers.com takes an early look at the Cardinals heading into the season opener. Price: "The Cardinals held the 49ers to an average of 18.5 points per game in the team’s two meetings last season and they’d like to continue that trend this Sunday when the teams kick-off the 2009 regular season."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee singles out receiver Josh Morgan as a player to watch on the 49ers this season. Barrows: "Josh Morgan is a 220-pound wide receiver who can run 40 yards in less than 4.4 seconds. He's the best leaper on the 49ers, a strong blocker in the running game, and he's an infrequent visitor to the training room."
Also from Barrows: The 49ers need Dashon Goldson to force turnovers.
More from Barrows: Allen Rossum came up big for the 49ers in the return game last season.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks confirmed Lawyer Milloy's role as a backup to Jordan Babineaux, as expected. Milloy: "I'm trying to get in and fit in. If I have to be a backup, that's what I have to do. I'll accept that role. As a backup, you're always pushing to be the starter. It was like that my rookie year and it's going to be like that now."
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Milloy worked out for the Lions last week, but Seattle was his preference all the way. Defensive backs coach Tim Lewis after Milloy's first practice: "I thought he did a great job. He's very smart. He’s experienced. He's easy to get him acclimated to our defensive system. We have that Gus Bradley system, and it's one that requires the safety to be smart, instinctive and a good feel player."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams players who felt fortunate to earn roster spots. One of them, David Roach, set up his family as though the Rams had cut him, only to surprise them with the good news. Of course, roster spots can be fleeting and the Rams will adjust their personnel.
Also from Thomas: Adam Carriker's shoulder surgery is scheduled for Wednesday. Recovery time is expected to be four months. Carriker said he suffered a 75 percent tear of the subscapularis muscle.
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says rookie guard Roger Allen III found it "eerie" to see friends' names removed from lockers at Rams Park.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says new Rams defensive lineman LaJuan Ramsey focused on football after his preferred sport, swimming, became an unrealistic one to pursue. Coats: "He was a swimmer, a 50-meter sprinter, but his size -- he's 6-feet-3 and 300 pounds -- wasn't exactly suited for the pool."
Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis details the Rams' plans for Marc Bulger this week.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Rams held one more offensive lineman and one fewer running back than usual on their initial reduction to the 53-man roster limit.
That's easy to see once we compare current positional roster counts to Week 1 totals for the Rams since 2003. That's what the chart accomplishes.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pointed to tackle Eric Young, guard Roger Allen III, defensive end C.J. Ah You, receiver Nate Jones and safety David Roach as "long shots" who survived the latest wave of cuts. The term "long shots" is a relative term. The Rams are rebuilding and their roster isn't as strong as it will become if the organization maintains continuity and makes wise decisions. I think it's unlikely any of those five players would have earned initial spots with the other teams in the division. It's unclear how much longer they might last with the Rams. Expect additional moves.
Equivalent charts for the 49ers, Seahawks and Cardinals ran earlier.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
More Rams players are eligible for the practice squad this summer after the team parted with a long list of aging veterans this offseason.
The chart shows all 33 current Rams players with eligibility, arranged by position. The team had 24 players eligible when I produced a similar list nearly one year ago.
The lists come in handy when analyzing battles for the final few roster spots. I've added loose status descriptions for eligible players based on my general expectations.
To review: NFL teams must reduce rosters from 80 to 75 players Sept. 1. They must reduce to 53 players Sept. 5. They can begin forming eight-man practice squads Sept. 6 at noon ET.
The league explains the process this way:
"After 12 noon, New York time, clubs may establish a practice squad of eight players by signing free agents who do not have an accrued season of free-agency credit or who were on the 45-player active list for less than nine regular-season games during their only accrued season(s). A player cannot participate on the practice squad for more than three seasons."
The Rams have only one running back, seventh-round choice Chris Ogbonnaya, with practice-squad eligibility. Eight other NFC West running backs have eligibility.
I'll break out corresponding lists for the rest of the division, answering a frequently posed question that follows a familiar format: "Is so-and-so eligible for the practice squad?"
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Rams' roster requires additional study after a thorough house-cleaning this offseason. With so many new faces, I feel less familiar with the Rams than with the other teams in the division. This initial look at the roster will hopefully help bring some focus.
Donnie Avery's injury and overall health concerns at receiver could influence how many players the Rams carry into the season at the position.
Marc Bulger's broken pinky shouldn't affect the roster as long as he recovers on schedule. Teams must reduce to 75 players by Sept. 1 and 53 players by Sept. 5. Those initial 53-man rosters sometimes change by Week 1 kickoffs. For that reason, I've been focusing on Week 1 rosters when setting baseline expectations for each position.
he chart provides a framework for how many players the Rams might keep at each position heading into the regular-season opener against the Seahawks.
Here's a quick look at which Rams players I might keep on the cutdown to 53 players:
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Rams' contract agreement with Giants free agent James Butler, confirmed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, came together amid a tough market for strong safeties.
The Rams had already invested in franchise free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe and cornerback Ron Bartell. The softening market presumably made it easier to justify adding Butler. The Rams certainly had a need at the position -- even before they released Corey Chavous.
We can now envision a Rams secondary featuring Bartell, Butler and Atogwe as starters. Butler started 26 games for the Giants over the last two seasons.
Scouts Inc.'s profile on Butler described him as a player with "upside" and one with good on-field communication skills:
He is an interchangeable player who moves downhill quickly off pre-snap reads. He has good size and range, but is still raw in coverage. He is a competitive player with toughness, but does have some space limitations in deep zones. He shows good transitional skills, but does have some tightness in his hip rotation off speed turns. Butler looks to be more natural in short zones than deep zones. Even though he does have some straight-line range in deep zones, he has average quickness and burst when closing. He has above-average anticipation and downfield awareness.
He does have some ball skills and knows how to use his size and long arms to make plays. He shows a good knack for timing up blitzes off zone fires. As a run defender, he is reckless with his body when he attacks downhill. He is a willing insert player who plays with balance and control in run support. He displays the speed to attack alleys while maintaining leverage on the ball carrier. However, he does have a tendency to play out of control at times. Overall, Butler is an intriguing young player who should eventually move to the next level as he continues to develop.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Rams' contract agreement with cornerback Ron Bartell ends a suspenseful few days for both parties. The Rams wanted to keep Bartell without overpaying. Bartell wanted to maximize his value as an ascending young player.
The four-year, $28 million agreement allows Bartell to claim a $7 million average, while the Rams get to keep their best young corner.
The Rams legitimately feared the cornerback market might sweep up Bartell and leave the team with few promising prospects at the position. That's why the team must be happy with this outcome.
The chart breaks down the Rams' current defensive backs, with unrestricted free agents in lighter font. The Rams still could use a strong safety to replace Corey Chavous. They have spoke with James Butler. A handful of other strong safeties remain unsigned.
With significant money invested in Bartell and franchise player Oshiomogho Atogwe, the Rams might become more selective in filling out their secondary.