NFC West: Derek Walker

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers center Eric Heitmann suffered his career-threatening neck injury while competing in the "nutcracker" drills former coach Mike Singletary preferred. Barrows: "Despite the controversy around the drill, Singletary revised what he insisted was a safer version last year. Still, at least two players, linebacker Derek Walker and Heitmann, were injured in it. At the time, the 49ers referred to Heitmann's injury as a 'stinger' -- a nerve injury caused by trauma to the head, neck or shoulder. Shortly thereafter Heitmann suffered a broken leg. He recovered from the fracture but could not shake the neck problems and was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 2. Singletary insisted on the nutcracker because he said it taught players the importance of leverage, and it was iconic drill of the coach's tough-guy approach. In 2009 Singletary said he didn't think the drill would cause injuries because the two players facing off didn't take running starts."

Matt Maiocco of says Singletary refused to comment on the nutcracker story. Singletary: "I have no response to that. I don't really know what Eric's prior situation was, so I'm not going to respond to that." Singletary and the 49ers should have known about "prior situations" regarding injuries. Heitmann had been with the team for years. If he were susceptible to such an injury, why expose him to the obvious heightened risks associated with such drills? A question worth asking if, as Singletary suggests, he did not know Heitmann's prior injury situation.

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers' skill players have shown up in strong numbers for the most recent player-organized workouts.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says Michael Crabtree didn't make time for interviews Thursday. Lynch: "The only mystery surrounding him is how hurt he is. Tight end Vernon Davis, in Crabtree's absence, answered the question saying the foot injury [Crabtree] sustained June 9 in Camp Alex No. 1 is far more than just a case of a sore foot brought on by the pinch of new cleats. However, Davis said he should be ready should training camp start on time."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers' offense is tight end-friendly, according to Davis. Davis: "This offense is going to be pretty good for the tight end. We don’t just have one way to go. That’s good. We’ve never had that since I’ve been here." Was Davis alluding to the use of more option routes? That appears to be the case. Davis followed up by saying he'll have the flexibility to run through zones instead of simply settling into them.

Ellen Sherberg of the St. Louis Business Journal updates the business dealings of former Rams tackle Orlando Pace. Sherberg: "Mr. Pace has partnered with GO Marketing LLC, formed by [KFNS radio owner] Dave Greene and James Oelklaus, founders of Grand Slam Sports that includes KFNS among other holdings, to launch, a new ticket brokerage."

Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis expects Sam Bradford to take a significant step forward in 2011. Softli: "The NFL lockout is the only thing delaying the progress of this young quarterback with a new offensive coordinator in Josh McDaniels. When I looked back at the 2010 Rams season, Bradford set the stage for the immediate future and sent a message to all the NFL that the young gun from St. Louis is for real and won't take any prisoners along the way. It's about winning the division, the NFC conference and eventually lifting the Lombardi Trophy."

Darren Urban of says first-round draft choice Patrick Peterson spent about 30 minutes speaking with strength-and-conditioning coach John Lott when teams were allowed contact with players during the draft. That meeting could help explain why Peterson decided to drop about 10 pounds. Urban: "Lott famously tells most players when he first gets them in Arizona they should drop a few pounds. Everyone has done it, from Larry Fitzgerald to Kurt Warner to Beanie Wells (pretty much every incoming rookie gets the speech). Peterson figured to be no different." Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie might be one exception to the drop-a-few-pounds mantra. He didn't have any extra weight to lose.

Cecilia Chan of the Arizona Republic says Glendale is supporting efforts to bring another Super Bowl to University of Phoenix Stadium. Chan: "In return for the prestige of hosting the National Football League game at University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale must guarantee services such as public safety and sanitation for free and exempt game-day tickets from sales tax for the NFL. When Glendale hosted its first Super Bowl in 2008, it saw $1.2 million boost in sales-tax revenue. But a city-commissioned study showed it cost the city $2.6 million in services. The City Council on a 5-2 vote Tuesday approved the resolution." Good for business, bad for city budgets?

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle says Johnathan Joseph could be an attractive free-agent addition for the Seahawks. Henderson: "Clayton thinks the Seahawks could get Joseph for around $8 million a season, which makes him a much cheaper alternative to Nnamdi Asomugha."

Clare Farnsworth of revisits Steve Largent's final game with the team. An elbow injury suffered on the notorious playing surface in Philadelphia that season left Largent feeling frustrated. Largent: "Dave [Krieg] threw me a post route that I should have been able to catch up to. But I had to dive for that ball. I dove where second base would have been. They had it covered with turf, but there was still a little mound there. I fell and it busted my elbow. That’s what I remember about my last year."

Definitive look at NFC West turnover

September, 8, 2010
Roster turnover is a leading topic for discussion in Seattle following the release of T.J. Houshmandzadeh in particular.

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.

San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Leonard Little, Jerheme Urban, Isaac bruce, Owen Schmitt, Josh Wilson, Justin Green, Derek Anderson, Walt Harris, Tony Pashos, Brian St.Pierre, Darryl Tapp, Sam Bradford, Mark Roman, Dan Kreider, Steve Vallos, David Carr, Randy McMIchael, Ralph Brown, Lawrence Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, Shaun HIll, Leroy HIll, Chris Patrick, Matt Leinart, Chike Okeafor, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Brian Westbrook, Bertrand Berry, Dominique Zeigler, Ricky Schmitt, Eric Bassey, Eric Young, D.D. Lewis, Nate Burleson, Alex Barron, Samkon Gado, Kyle Boller, Brit Miller, Patrick Kerney, Quincy Butler, Michael Robinson, Arnaz Battle, Ray Willis, Jerome Johnson, Derek Walker, Glen Coffee, Brooks Foster, Monty Beisel, Renardo Foster, Mansfield Wrotto, Seneca Wallace, Donnie Avery, Karlos Dansby, Alex Boone, Marcus Hudson, Adam Carriker, Cody Brown, Kurt Warner, Cordelius Parks, Jeff Ulbrich, Chris Ogbonnaya, Neil Rackers, Pago Togafau, Scott McKillop, Kentwan Balmer, Lance Laury, Sean Morey, Mike Gandy, Mike Reilly, Anquan Boldin, Trevor Canfield, Marc Bulger, Nate Davis, Cory Redding, Antrel Rolle, Matt McCoy, Brandon Jones, Alan Faneca, Anthony Davis, Keenan Burton, Jason HIll, Joey Porter, David Roach, Phillip Trautwein, Tyler Roehl, Taylor Mays, Mark Setterstrom, Travis LaBoy, A.J. Feeley, Craig Terrill, Keith Null, Cody Wallace, K.C. Asiodu, Jordan Kent, Kyle Williams, Stacy Andrews, James Wyche, Reggie Wells, Victor Adeyanju, Jonathan Wade, Thomas Clayton, Deon Grant, LaJuan Ramsey, John Owens, Bryant McFadden, Matt Wilhelm, Gerald Hayes, Jeff Robinson, Herman Johnson, Walter Jones, Mike Williams, Justin Griffith, Jason Banks, Jamar Adams, Kevin Houser, Anthony Becht, Damion McIntosh, Louis Rankin, Brandon Frye, Ruvell Martin, Paris Lenon, Leger Douzable, Ryan Neill, Danny Gorrer, Russell Okung, Anthony McCoy, Clinton Hart, Earl Thomas, Leon Washington, Andre Roberts, Chester Pitts, Dan Williams, Mike Iupati, Ben Hamilton, Ryan McKee, Kennard Cox, Kerry Rhodes, Fred Robbins, Chris Baker, William James, Rex Hadnot, Hank Fraley, Mark Clayton, Quinton Ganther, Na'il Diggs, Chris Clemons, John Skelton, Mardy Gilyard, Rodger Saffold, Daryl Washington, Golden Tate, Jerome Murphy, Navorro Bowman, Walter Thurmond, E.J. Wilson, Mike Hoomanawanui, Nate Byham, Fendi Onobun, George Selvie, Thaddeus Lewis, Stephen Williams, A.J. Jefferson, Anthony Dixon, Eugene Sims, Kam Chancellor, Dexter Davis, Jermelle Cudjo, Darian Stewart, Keith Toston, Tramaine Brock, Dominique Curry, Phillip Adams, Trumaine McBride, Kevin Dockery, Shane Andrus, Tyler Polumbus, Clint Gresham, Roger III Allen, Cyril Obiozor, Brandon McDonald, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Junior Siavii, Troy Smith, Ted Jr. Ginn, Raheem Brock

NFC West practice squad eligibility

September, 5, 2010
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).

Julius Jones inactive for Seahawks

November, 29, 2009
Starting running back Julius Jones is among the players Seattle named inactive against the Rams in Week 12.

The Seahawks have become a passing team. They have favored quite a few three-receiver personnel groupings.

Backup Justin Forsett is pretty well suited to those groupings.

Also inactive for Seattle: Jamar Adams, Mike Gibson, Mansfield Wrotto, Red Bryant, Cameron Morrah and Derek Walker. Mike Teel is the third quarterback.

Why the Seahawks named Schmitt inactive

November, 15, 2009
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Seahawks' decision to name fullback Owen Schmitt inactive against Arizona reflects a couple of things for Seattle.

Return specialist Louis Rankin gives the Seahawks a fourth active running back. Another special-teams player, receiver Ben Obomanu, is also active after an injury sidelined him last week.

The Seahawks might also be evolving to more of a one-back, three-receiver offense without a fullback. That was the case against Detroit in Week 9.

Safety Jamar Adams, guard Mike Gibson, guard Mansfield Wrotto, defensive tackle Red Bryant, tight end Cameron Morrah and defensive end Derek Walker are also inactive for Seattle.

Around the NFC West: Pressuring Crabtree

September, 16, 2009

Posted by's Mike Sando

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers president Jed York is putting pressure on unsigned first-round draft choice Michael Crabtree by offering to meet with Crabtree and his agent. Maiocco: "Take this as a good sign that York is putting pressure on Crabtree's camp to talk. After all, negotiations and dialogue have been non-existent for most of the 50 days of this contract impasse. The 49ers want Crabtree on the team. Whether they had him rated as the top player on their board or not, there is no denying that Crabtree was not chosen within the first nine picks of the draft."

Also from Maiocco: a player-by-player breakdown for the 49ers against the Cardinals. Parys Haralson wasn't the only pass rusher to fare well. Manny Lawson and Justin Smith also caused problems for Arizona.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee provides quotes from the York interview on KNBR.

David Fucillo of Niners Nation takes a closer look at the 49ers' winning touchdown drive at Arizona. The drive featured concepts related to the forward pass.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have agreed to terms with Paris Lenon and Ruvell Martin.

Jeff Gordon of says the Rams remained sloppy even though they had a new coaching staff. Gordon: "The Rams have a new team president, a newly empowered general manager, a new coach and a mostly new coaching staff. Nearly half of the players are new this season, too. Yet the sloppiness remains in this organization, like a pesky virus or a mutant strain of cockroaches immune to bug spray. The Rams blundered their way to a 28-0 loss Sunday, continuing their futility against the NFC West in general and the Seahawks in particular."

Turf Show Times' ram_rod expects a more efficient effort from the Rams' offense in Week 2.

Tim Klutsarits of revisits five key plays from the Rams' opening-game defeat.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic breaks down changes to Adrian Wilson's contract. The changes bought salary-cap relief for the Cardinals without taking money from Wilson. The added cap room buys flexibility for the team to cover incentive clauses and roster moves associate with attrition. Somers: "The additional room created by Wilson's restructuring doesn't mean the club is stepping up negotiations with receiver Anquan Boldin for a new contract, however. The Cardinals probably won't pursue that seriously until the season is over."

Darren Urban of cites a report noting that the Cardinals have released seventh receiver Lance Long. Urban expects the team to sign a defensive player.

Greg Johns of revisits two college-era quarterback runs by Seneca Wallace, who caught a pass from Matt Hasselbeck out of a Wildcat formation Sunday. Johns: "And just in case you're wondering, Wallace is obviously open to Wildcat formations or whatever gets him involved in the offense, but said as a quarterback he understands the flow of a game and doesn't ever want to interfere with Matt Hasselbeck's timing."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks brought back Derek Walker to their practice squad, as expected.

Also from O'Neil: a chat transcript. O'Neil: "The secondary looked good, especially Josh Wilson. He showed signs of being a playmaker the second half of last season, and he played well vs. the Rams. Granted, it's the Rams, and they might have the worst wide receivers in the league."

More from O'Neil: Matt Hasselbeck and Nate Burleson made adjustments to deal with the Rams' corner blitzes.

Adam Caplan of says the Seahawks worked out cornerback Eric Green.

John Morgan of Field Gulls offers a few notes from the Rams' long drive against Seattle.

Around the NFC West: Crabtree and more

September, 15, 2009

Posted by's Mike Sando

The 49ers' Web site provides a transcript to Mike Singletary's day-after-game news conference. Singletary: "Obviously, we’re going to have to play much better on our offensive line, and we will. We’re going to do whatever we have to do to make sure that our identity is intact. We want to run the football when we need to run the football, and there were a couple of times in the football game that we didn’t need to let our defense get back on the field, and we did. Good football teams can’t do that."

Michael Silver of Yahoo! suggests the 49ers' offers to Michael Crabtree will naturally diminish as the receiver misses games. He also frames the 49ers' offer this way: "A team source says the 49ers are willing to give Crabtree incentives that push the deal “up to a dollar less” than the package the Packers gave ninth overall pick B.J. Raji (a reported five-year, $28.5 million pact with just under $18 million in guaranteed money), “but we won’t go over that. Otherwise, we’re going to have the same problem next year, and the year after that."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers could get receiver Brandon Jones back from injury this week.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 2010 first-round draft choice the 49ers received from Carolina could be a relatively high choice based on what the Panthers showed in Week 1.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals were not brushing off their poor performance against the 49ers. Linebacker Karlos Dansby: "I'm definitely concerned about the penalties. We're a veteran group and we can't make those kinds of mistakes. We've got to grow up and move past this and get better. We're definitely going to challenge each other this week."

Also from McManaman: The Cardinals hope Adrian Wilson avoids a suspension following his big hit on 49ers tight end Vernon Davis.

More from McManaman: Cardinals receiver Sean Morey and Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu are among those who have agreed to donate their brains to concussion research.

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic says it's reasonable to be concerned about Kurt Warner.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times passes along information from Jim Mora's day-after-game news conference. Will Herring will start at linebacker for the injured Leroy Hill. The team released defensive lineman Derek Walker to make room for newly re-signed linebacker D.D. Lewis.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Mora let defensive coordinator Gus Bradley call most of the plays in the opener.

John Morgan of Field Gulls says the Seattle defense was very effective for a unit that did not force a turnover.

Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Richie Incognito following the Rams guard's latest on-field meltdown. Incognito: "It’s great knowing that the coaches are behind me 100 percent. That hasn’t always been the case. In this game, there’s zero tolerance for things like that. It’s something I have to overcome. It’s squarely set on my shoulders as something that I have to overcome to help this team get better."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Steve Spagnuolo's first game as Rams coach was a "major disappointment" despite modest expectations. Miklasz: "After so many meetings and practices, how can you have 12 men on the field? On offense, how can you be late in sending in plays, or getting the right personnel into the game? There was too much confusion on the Rams' sideline."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch details the Rams' mistakes. Thomas: "Every Monday during the regular season, the Rams have an on-the-field corrections period when they go over mistakes from the previous day's game. They must have been out there awhile this Monday."

Randy Karraker of 101ESPN St. Louis says the Rams need more from their offensive line, among other things, during this video analysis.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat quotes Spagnuolo this way on the penalty that wiped out a touchdown return: "The bottom line is that we probably don't block the kick if we don't have 12 guys. That's inexcusable, that shouldn't happen. There was a miscount. There was an error all the way across the board. There will be a lot of people who take responsibility, and I'm one of them.''
Posted by's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals want more consistency this season. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "For us to become a respected team that can make a run at the playoffs every year, we have to have that consistency week in and week out. We can't have those games where we give up so many points and lose by so many points. You know, where we get blown out. That's the big thing."

Also from Somers: the front office is key in the Cardinals becoming successful.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic relates anecdotes involving Whisenhunt and Kurt Warner while saying both are leading the Cardinals franchise.

Greg Johns of doesn't expect Walter Jones or Chris Spencer to be available for "at least several more weeks" as both recover from injuries. Jones would seem to have a chance to beat that timetable, although the Seahawks haven't updated his status following arthroscopic knee surgery.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times ranks the Seahawks' roster surprises, putting D.D. Lewis' release ahead of Brian Russell's release. Will Herring's strong play apparently made him more than just a special-teams linebacker in the Seahawks' eyes. O'Neil: "When Seattle re-signed Lewis last year, he was considered Seattle's top reserve linebacker, someone capable of playing all three spots among the linebackers. He started for Lofa Tatupu at middle linebacker for a game and later replaced Leroy Hill at the weakside linebacker after Hill was injured. The decision to let Lewis go reflects on the development of Will Herring and David Hawthorne, but Herring specifically."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune offers comments for each position on the Seahawks' roster. Williams on the situation at running back: "Overall playmaking ability might be a concern here, but I think the team has enough depth to get them through the year, and I expect Julius Jones to rush for 1,000 yards this season if he stays healthy."

John Morgan of Field Gulls thinks Derek Walker could become a Cory Redding type for the Seahawks.

Rod Mar of updates his photo blog with shots from the team's final game of the 2009 exhibition season.

Clare Farnsworth of goes over the team's roster moves while acknowledging the team isn't done yet.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams rookie Jason Smith appears ready to break into the starting lineup in time for the regular season. Thomas: "Smith might not be totally ready for the right tackle position in the NFL, but it's not like he embarrassed himself in the preseason, either. Sure he's had a few rough plays, including one early in the Kansas City game when Tamba Hali beat him around the edge for a pressure on quarterback Kyle Boller. But he hasn't given up a sack this preseason and has steadily improved over the course of exhibition play." I thought Smith improved after a rough outing against the Falcons. The transition from Baylor requires significant technique adjustments.

Also from Thomas: Youth prevailed for the Rams in the No. 3 quarterback spot and at receiver.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says first-year Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has made a positive impression to this point.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams offensive lineman John Greco will miss time following wrist surgery.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat sizes up the Rams' situation at running back after the team released Antonio Pittman.

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers wanted to run the ball 60 percent of the time when Mike Nolan took over in 2005. I'm guessing the 49ers' new offensive coordinator, Jimmy Raye, will come closer to hitting that mark.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle looks into the cult of personality -- Mike Singletary's personality -- as it pervades the 49ers. Crumpacker: "Singletary doesn't necessarily like the attention but he understands that at least for now, he is the face and voice of the 49ers franchise."

Matt Maiocco of the San Francisco Chronicle runs a transcript with Singletary's comments following the 49ers' roster cuts. Singletary on Micheal Spurlock winning a spot (for now): "All offseason, I think Spurlock continued to show up. He's a versatile guy. He can help you in special teams areas and continue to better as a receiver and run better routes. And he works at it. It's important for us. Felt it was a good opportunity and a good fit."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers kept linebacker Diyral Briggs on their roster because they like his "raw" talent and want to work with him.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers cut tight end Bear Pascoe because he didn't catch up to the speed of the NFL game.

NFC West roided-out rosters: Updated

September, 5, 2009
Roster counts by position for NFC West
QB 3 3 3 3 3.0
RB 5 4 4 5 4.5
WR 7 6 5 5 5.8
TE 3 2 3 3 2.8
OL 9 8 10 9 9.0
DL 6 7 9 11 8.3
LB 8 9 7 6 7.5
DB 9 11 9 8 9.3
ST 3 3 3 3 3.0
Totals 53 53 53 53 53

Posted by's Mike Sando

I've updated NFC West rosters to reflect all announced moves and the Seahawks' expected signing of veteran safety Lawyer Milloy.

My 26-column initial 53-man Excel rosters are available for download here. I have also made them available on another server as backup. I have added a sheet listing all players in the division, plus a sheet with a pivot table allowing for further analysis. Disregard references to league averages because I haven't updated rosters for all 32 teams.

These rosters remain fluid. Front-seven counts are scheme-dependent. The Cardinals and 49ers will keep fewer defensive linemen and more linebackers than the Rams or Seahawks, for example.

The counts do not reflect unsigned 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree.

The 49ers will presumably add a fullback and tight end and possibly a tackle. The Rams might add a running back and receiver. The Seahawks surprised me by keeping 11 defensive linemen without saving a spot for Baraka Atkins. Derek Walker, Nick Reed and Michael Bennett beat out Atkins. Seattle kept only six linebackers, but the team has been comfortable with that number in the past.

Seahawks: Cutdown analysis

September, 5, 2009

Posted by's Mike Sando

Biggest surprise: Starting free safety Brian Russell, signed in 2007 after the Seahawks grew tired of assignment errors in the secondary, seemed to fend off a challenge from versatile backup Jordan Babineaux. That made Russell's release a surprise even though coach Jim Mora had said Babineaux would compete for the job in camp. The team went with Ben Obomanu as its fifth and final receiver, releasing Courtney Taylor and Jordan Kent. Rookie defensive linemen Nick Reed and Michael Bennett joined preseason surprise Derek Walker among 11 defensive linemen, prevailing at Baraka Atkins' expense -- a big surprise. Rookie seventh-rounder Cameron Morrah beat out Joe Newton as the third tight end. Veteran kicker Olindo Mare beat out second-year pro and 2008 draft choice Brandon Coutu in a close battle. The team cleared another spot by placing starting corner Marcus Trufant on the physically unable to perform list, helping corner Travis Fisher earn a spot among the initial roster. Keeping 11 defensive linemen meant keeping only six linebacker, costing versatile veteran D.D. Lewis a job.

No-brainers: The Seahawks also released safety Jamar Adams, guard Brian De La Puente, cornerback Marquis Floyd, tackle Na'Shan Goddard, safety Courtney Greene, receiver Mike Hass, cornerback Kevin Hobbs, fullback David Kirtman, running back Devin Moore, cornerback Nate Ness, tight end Joe Newton, receiver Logan Payne, linebacker Dave Philistin, tackle Andre Ramsey, tackle William Robinson, quarterback Jeff Rowe.

What's next: The Seahawks reduced to 52 players with these moves, but the team was expected to add veteran safety Lawyer Milloy for depth and experience.

Around the NFC West: Rams' Smith shows

September, 4, 2009

Posted by's Mike Sando

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch liked what he saw from Rams rookie tackle Jason Smith. Burwell: "What I liked the most about what Smith did against the Chiefs was how quickly he learned from his mistakes. When he was over on the right side in the first quarter, the Chiefs stacked the linebacker and defensive end together and ran a looping stunt, with the end swooping around the blitzing linebacker to the inside. A few games ago, Smith had issues with these types of games that the defensive rushers played against the inexperienced rookie. Thursday night, it wasn't Smith who got fooled on the stunt. He stuffed his man at the line of scrimmage, but his tag-team partner, Adam Goldberg, reacted a hair late to the delayed inside rush."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says both teams were "offensively challenged" when the Rams and Chiefs played Thursday night. Thomas: "Bubble defensive ends Eric Moore and C.J. Ah You both had their moments rushing the passer. At running back, none of the backups made a definitive statement. In the battle for the No. 3 quarterback job, Brock Berlin got the better of it over Keith Null, although Berlin did throw a costly second-quarter interception and their final numbers Thursday ended up being very similar."

Also from Thomas: Donnie Avery got some work for the Rams, suggesting he'll be ready for the regular-season opener after recovering from a broken foot.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the race between quarterbacks Berlin and Null for the No. 3 job in St. Louis is too close to call.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat points to turnovers as a key for the Rams during the exhibition season. They forced 12 of them.

Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis says the Rams' cornerbacks stood out against the Rams. Stull: "Jonathan Wade had sack, Justin King had an interception and Bradley Fletcher was in on several plays."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says some Cardinals players are concerned after the team failed to impress -- again -- in finishing the exhibition season with an 0-4 record. Also: "The Cardinals could well make most of their cuts on Friday, a day ahead of the deadline for teams to get to the 53-man maximum. After Thursday's game, I'd say cornerback Michael Adams is going to stick. He's competitive and plays well on special teams. I don't like the chances of tight end Leonard Pope or receiver Lance Long. Pope was the last tight end used on Thursday, I believe. I think the Cardinals will take their chances at releasing Long and re-signing him to the practice squad."

Also from Somers: The Cardinals' first-team offense scored one touchdown during the exhibition season.

More from Somers: Coach Ken Whisenhunt says the Cardinals' rookie defensive backs have a ways to go before they're ready. I thought Greg Toler showed promise.

Tim Klutsarits of liked what he saw from the Rams' Victor Adeyanju. Klutsarits: "Adeyanju was all over the field against the Chiefs and while his production is going to be mostly against the run it looks like he might be a contributor rushing the quarterback this year as well."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers rookie Michael Crabtree wouldn't be able to contribute much in Week 1 even if he signed in the near future. Maiocco: "The 49ers have just three more significant practices before the start of the regular season. That's not a lot of time for a rookie wide receiver to get up to speed on what he missed while absent from training camp."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee makes the tough calls in projecting the 49ers' initial 53-man roster. He keeps Micheal Spurlock over Jason Hill and Bear Pascoe over J.J. Finley.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says cornerback Eric Green and others are fighting for roster spots with the 49ers.

Greg Johns of recaps the Seahawks' performance against Oakland.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times quotes Seahawks coach Jim Mora as saying Ben Obomanu "showed up" on special teams against the Raiders. Obomanu also caught two passes for 58 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown grab.

Also from O'Neil: Olindo Mare might have won the kicking battle against Brandon Coutu. Also, Max Unger will open the regular season at right guard.

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says Seahawks rookie Aaron Curry was on his game Thursday night.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune lists Seahawks injuries this way: "Receivers Jordan Kent (ankle) and Courtney Taylor (eye), safety Courtney Greene (knee), tackle Andre Ramsey (leg) and defensive end Derek Walker (hamstring) suffered injuries during the game."

John Morgan of Field Gulls credits Seahawks defensive line coach Dan Quinn for developing and using young talent.

Practice-squad report: Seahawks

August, 21, 2009
Seahawks eligible for
practice squad
Pos. Perceived Status
Jamar Adams
Marquis Floyd
Likely cut
Courtney Greene
Likely cut
Michael Bennett
Nick Reed
Derek Walker
Likely cut
Kevin Brown
Likely cut
Red Bryant
Aaron Curry
Dave Philistin
Likely cut
Shane Simmons
Likely cut
Max Unger
Mansfield Wrotto
Na'Shan Goddard
Likely cut
Andre Ramsey
Likely cut
William Robinson
Likely cut
Kyle Williams
Jeff Rowe
Likely cut
Mike Teel
Dan Curran
Likely cut
Devin Moore
Likely cut
Brandon Coutu
Cameron Morrah
Joe Newton
John Tereshinski
Likely cut
Michael Bumpus
Deon Butler
Mike Hass
Logan Payne

Posted by's Mike Sando

The race among Seahawks receivers for the last couple roster spots features high stakes.

Contenders Jordan Kent, Ben Obomanu and Courtney Taylor are no longer eligible for the practice squad. One or two of them could be finished in Seattle, at least for now, if they fail to earn spots on the initial -- not even close to final -- 53-man roster.

Kent and Taylor each were active for at least nine games last season -- Obomanu was active for 12 in 2007 -- as the Seahawks worked through catastrophic injuries at the position. That made each receiver ineligible for future practice squads.

Deon Butler, Mike Hass, Logan Payne and Michael Bumpus are the current Seattle receivers with eligibility remaining. Butler is expected to emerge from camp as the fourth receiver behind T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch and Nate Burleson.

The chart shows all 29 current Seahawks players with eligibility, arranged by position.

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.

As the NFL puts it:

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 situation at tight end remains quite competitive, with Joe Newton and Cameron Morrah likely competing for one roster spot behind John Carlson and John Owens.

The Seahawks face tough decisions on the defensive line, with Nick Reed and Michael Bennett fighting for spots on the 53-man roster. Baraka Atkins is not eligible for the practice squad after playing 12 games as a rookie in 2007 and nine more last season.

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Seahawks have a few tough decisions to make before reducing their roster to 53 players in less than three weeks.

The final spot or two at receiver remain unsettled. I see at least 10 defensive linemen worth keeping, but perhaps no more than eight offensive linemen. The final spots at all three general positions on defense -- line, linebackers and secondary -- could spur debate.

The Seahawks aren't even certain which kicker will earn a roster spot, opening possible trade scenarios for teams with needs at the position.

Seattle Seahawks
Week 1 Roster
Counts since 2003
Fewest 2 5 4
3 8 8 6 7 3
Most 3 6 7 4 9 10 8 8 4
Average 2.8 5.3 5.3 3.2 8.8 9.3 7.0 7.8 3.2
Currently on roster
8 10 5 14 13 9 13 4

The chart provides a framework for how many players the Seahawks might keep at each position heading into the regular-season opener against the Rams.

Here's a quick look at which Seahawks players I might keep on the cutdown to 53 players:

(Read full post)

Rd. Pick Scouts Inc. Projection Pos. College
10 Michael Oher
T Mississippi
43 Louis Delmas
S W.Michigan
74 Sebastian Vollmer
T Houston
111 Kenny McKinley
WR S.Carolina
146 James Davis
RB Clemson
171 Ryan Mouton
CB Hawaii
184 Anthony Parker G Tennessee
219 Tom Brandstater
QB Fresno St.
244 Derek Walker
DE Illinois

Posted by's Mike Sando

I've broken out Scouts Inc.'s projected picks for the 49ers as the NFL draft countdown continues.

The Scouts Inc. mock sent Mississippi tackle Micheal Oher to the 49ers at No. 10 even though Steve Muench, who works for Scouts Inc., had some reservations about the choice.

The 49ers do need a tackle, but two in the first three rounds?

If the 49ers draft a receiver at No. 111, they'll buck a 15-year trend; general manager Scot McCloughan's teams haven't used a fourth-round choice on a receiver since he entered the NFL in 1994.

I sent Oher to the 49ers with the 10th overall pick in our bloggers' mock draft, but I would prefer to write that one in pencil. The 49ers figure to have options.