NFC West: Jerame Tuman

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Seahawks have 34 defensive players on their roster, fewest in the league and well below the NFL average (38.7). That was one of the things I noticed upon updating the 26-column NFC West rosters and comparing them to the rest of the league.

Download rosters here.

Seattle has nine linebackers. The average is 10.7. Seattle has 12 defensive backs. The average is 14.7. Perhaps the team will add players at these positions. Or perhaps the rest of the league will release players at these positions. Seattle is carrying 79 players on its roster, counting unsigned draft choices. The average is 85.2.

A few other roster-related notes from the NFC West:
  • The Rams have released defensive lineman Mike Newkirk and signed tackle Eric Young. They also brought in former Seahawks and Chiefs snapper J.P. Darche for a workout last week. Darche has been rehabbing the knee injury that sidelined him last season and precipitated his release from the Chiefs.
  • The 49ers released quarterback Kirby Freeman and signed two draft choices, fifth-rounder Scott McKillop and seventh-rounder Ricky Jean-Francois. They have five unsigned draft choices. Only the Saints have fewer (four).
  • The Seahawks have reached agreement with former Oklahoma State center David Washington, according to Danny O'Neil. I'll add Washington to the roster once he signs a contract.
  • The Cardinals still lead the NFL in most unrestricted free agents re-signed this offseason with seven: Kurt Warner, Brian St. Pierre, Bertrand Berry, Clark Haggans, Ralph Brown, Ben Graham and Elton Brown. Their unsigned UFAs: Guard Scott Peters and tight end Jerame Tuman.
  • Seattle has 36 of its own draft choices on its roster. All 36 are from BCS programs, most in the league and 11 above the league average.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Roster Category
ARI SF STL SEA
Active Players
68 60 65 64
Franchise Players
1 0 1 1
UFA Offense
2 2 6 4
UFA Defense
0
1 5 1
UFA Specialists
0 0 0 1
UFA Re-signed
7
2 3 2
UFA Added
2 4 4 3
UFA Lost 5 7 3 7
Traded Away
0 0 0 1
Acquired by Trade
0 0 1 1
Net Gain/Loss
+4
-1
+5 -2

Tight end Sean Ryan's signing with Kansas City leaves the 49ers with three unrestricted free agents: Quarterback Jamie Martin, pass rusher Roderick Green and running back DeShaun Foster.

Consider that list an indication of how irrelevant unrestricted free agency becomes as the draft approaches.

A quick look at unsigned UFAs from each NFC West team:

Arizona (2): Guard Scott Peters and tight end Jerame Tuman.

San Francisco (3): Martin, Green and
Foster.

St. Louis (11): Linebacker Gary Stills, receiver Dante' Hall, cornerback Ricky Manning, tackle Rob Petitti, running back Travis Minor, cornerback Jason Craft, cornerback Fakhir Brown, center Cory Withrow, tackle Anthony Davis, receiver Dane Looker, defensive tackle La'Roi Glover.

Seattle (6): Linebacker Wesly Mallard, guard Chris Gray, quarterback Charlie Frye, receiver Koren Robinson, center Steve McKinney, snapper Jeff Robinson.

I do not see priority free agents on those lists. Former Rams cornerbacks Manning, Craft and Brown could have some value, while Glover is expected to retire. Former Seahawks Koren Robinson and Jeff Robinson could conceivably help in a pinch, as could former Cardinals tight end Tuman. Green, the former 49er, has occasionally shown promise. Foster might be able to help on a limited basis.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Terrelle Smith's signing with the Lions after two seasons with the Cardinals comes as no surprise after Arizona signed free-agent fullback Dan Kreider.

The Lions announced Smith's signing. Smith, entering his 10th NFL season, visited the Lions earlier in the week.

With Smith off the market, only two of the Cardinals' unrestricted free agents remain unsigned: offensive lineman Scott Peters and tight end Jerame Tuman.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

A quick look at 53-man rosters from Feb. 1, date of Super Bowl XLIII, provides a reference point for seeing how NFC West teams have changed so far this offseason.

I'll continue with Arizona.

Gone from the Cardinals' 53-man roster and injured reserve list in the 58 days since the Super Bowl (9):

Offense

Pat Ross, C

J.J. Arrington, RB

Terrelle Smith, FB

Jerame Tuman, TE

Scott Peters, OL

Defense

Eric Green, CB

Monty Beisel, LB

Antonio Smith, DE

Special teams

Nathan Hodel, LS

(Read full post)

Age before beauty: Cardinals free agents

February, 26, 2009
2/26/09
10:22
AM ET
Arizona Cardinals 2009 UFA Candidates
Pos. Age
Kurt Warner QB 37.6
Ben Graham
P 35.3
Bertrand Berry
DE 33.5
Jerame Tuman
TE 32.9
Clark Haggans
LB 32.1
Terrelle Smith
FB 30.9
Monty Beisel
LB 30.5
Ralph Brown
CB 30.4
Scott Peters
OL
30.2
Brian St. Pierre QB 29.2
Antonio Smith
DE 27.3
Eric Green
CB 26.9
Elton Brown
OL 26.7
J.J. Arrington
RB 26.0

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Nine of the Cardinals' scheduled unrestricted free agents are at least 30 years old.

Only the Patriots (13) and Broncos (nine) have as many 30-plus players scheduled to hit the market when the signing period opens. The Rams and Seahawks are close behind with eight apiece. The 49ers have only three.

Antonio Smith is the Cardinals' only clearly ascending unrestricted free agent still in his 20s. The chart ranks the Cardinals' unrestricted free agents from oldest to youngest, with ages rounded down to the tenth.

J.J. Arrington can be an effective player in a change-of-pace role. The Cardinals liked what he brought to their four-receiver package at times last season, as detailed here.

Two players on the list started at least half the games last season: Kurt Warner and Smith.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Cardinals have named running back J.J. Arrington active despite his knee injury. They also found a spot on the active roster for rookie receiver Early Doucet.

Injuries affected the Cardinals' game-day thinking in previous weeks. Travis LaBoy, Leonard Pope and Anquan Boldin missed games. They are back.

The players Arizona named inactive -- Eric Green, Tim Castille, Victor Hobson, Elliot Vallejo, Brandon Keith, Alan Branch and Jerame Tuman -- have generally not been significant contributors. Castille filled in as a tight end against the Panthers in Week 8, right before the Cardinals signed Stephen Spach, who is now on injured reserve.

Having Doucet active gives the Cardinals additional insurance if Boldin's hamstring becomes a problem. Arrington has mostly contributed in four-receiver packages and as a kick returner. The Cardinals haven't gone with four receivers nearly as much during the playoffs, in part because they have been leading those games much of the way.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

TAMPA, Fla. -- The NFL prohibits teams from keeping more than 45 players active on game days. The system is designed to help teams with numerous injuries compete more evenly against healthier opponents.

I'm not sure the benefit outweighs the excruciating decisions coaches must make in the playoffs and Super Bowl. Eric Green, Tim Castille, Victor Hobson, Elliot Vallejo, Brandon Keith, Alan Branch and Jerame Tuman presumably enjoyed the Cardinals' Super Bowl experience this week. None is eligible to suit up for the game, however, thanks to the 45-man limit.

That doesn't seem right, especially in a Super Bowl.

 
  Jamie Squire/Getty Images
  Cardinals coaches chose to start 37-year-old Kurt Warner this season instead of developing their apparent QB of the future, Matt Leinart.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

TAMPA, Fla. -- An ego-driven coaching staff might have left Edgerrin James on the sideline as punishment after the veteran running back complained rather loudly about his diminished role.

The Arizona Cardinals went back to James, a player the current staff inherited, at the expense of their own draft choice, rookie Tim Hightower.

A stubborn coaching staff might have backed quarterback Matt Leinart well into the regular season after publicly committing to the 2006 first-round choice months earlier.

The Cardinals? They made a last-minute decision to start 37-year-old veteran Kurt Warner once they thought Warner might give them a better chance to start the season quickly.

 
  Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
  The coaching staff used a patient approach with rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

An impulsive staff might have rushed talented cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie into the lineup as an immediate upgrade instead of waiting until midseason, when the rookie had more seasoning.

An undisciplined staff might have shaken up the offensive line when right guard Deuce Lutui lacked consistency early in the season. The Cardinals valued continuity enough to stick with their same five starters, a move that has paid off during Arizona's run to Super Bowl XLIII.

"Sometimes dollars, sometimes draft picks will dictate [decisions]," Warner said. "Sometimes even not knowing something about a young guy will dictate the decision that is being made, even though deep in their heart or in the back of their mind they think the other guy should be getting the job."

Warner was with the New York Giants in 2004 when the organization named rookie first-round choice Eli Manning to start ahead of him. The Giants, 5-4 with Warner starting, lost six of their final seven games and failed to win in the postseason until three years later.

The Cardinals could have made a case for developing Leinart this season. While Warner had led the NFL in touchdown passes over the second half of the 2007 season, the coaching staff wanted him to become more careful in avoiding turnovers. That's why Leinart headed into the exhibition season as the starter. The job went to Warner only after Leinart faltered and Warner showed a willingness to alter his approach.

"The compliment to this coaching staff is that they have tried to make every decision based on what they think is best for this football team," Warner said this week. "I think that is something in this day and age that is to be complimented because I don't think everybody goes about it that way."

(Read full post)

Roided-out NFC West rosters: Week 17

December, 24, 2008
12/24/08
1:50
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Cardinals are down to three tight ends after releasing Jerame Tuman and signing linebacker Victor Hobson.

Stephen Spach has been getting more playing time at tight end since the Cardinals signed him during the season. The position is one the team could probably stand to address heading into next season. Leonard Pope and Ben Patrick have shown promise but not consistency.

Tuman has battled injuries. Hobson provides depth in the defensive front seven after the team placed Clark Haggans on injured reserve.

I've updated the 25-column roided-out NFC West rosters to reflect these and other recent moves. Download here.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The more I watch the Cardinals, the more I wonder whether they'll draft a tight end in the first few rounds of the next draft.

Leonard Pope, Ben Patrick, Stephen Spach and Jerame Tuman each offer one or more skills the Cardinals find valuable. Finding one well-rounded tight end might make this offense even more effective, particularly in opening up running lanes. Another part of me thinks the Cardinals' style of offense simply doesn't lend itself to becoming a strong running team.

The Cardinals never thought they would be designing pass plays for Spach this season. They did so against the Rams. Overall, Arizona used one or more tight ends for about 70 percent of the snaps against the Rams, a high figure for a team that regularly uses four-receiver packages.

The Cardinals averaged 11.7 yards per pass attempt with one back, three receivers and a tight end. This was their preferred grouping on second down. Warner completed 7 of 7 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown from this group on second down alone. This included passes of 8 and 7 yards for Spach. Arizona gained 3 yards in three carries from this group (also on second down). Imagine if the Cardinals added a top-flight tight end.

Overall, the Cardinals would be more adaptable, in my view, if they could move the ball effectively by ground and air without using three- and four-receiver groupings so frequently. They averaged 6.0 yards per carry against the Rams on eight rushes with two backs, two receivers and a tight end. Four pass plays from this group produced one completion for zero yards. Arizona has previously put up good passing numbers from this group, albeit with a very small sample size. Warner seems most comfortable spreading the field.

Note: Download the Cardinals' full personnel report for Week 13 right here.
Arizona Personnel Group vs. 49ers in Week 10
PlaysPct.Runs Yards/ Run
Pass Att. Yards/ Att.
Total TDs
4-WR30
49.23 3.027
5.5
1
1-RB, 3-WR, 1-TE
1931.17 3.912
8.4
1
2-RB, 2-WR, 1-TE
5
8.3
4
1.815.01
1-RB, 2-WR, 2-TE4
6.62
2.0227.00
2-RB, 1-WR, 2-TE
2
3.32-1.50
0.0
0
2-RB, 3-WR11.60 0.01 22.0 0
3-TE
0 0.00
0.0

0
0.0
0
TOTALS61
100.018
2.4
43 7.7
3

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Cardinals had at least one tight end on the field for 85.3 percent of their plays against the 49ers in Week 1 at Candlestick Park. That percentage fell to 48.4 percent in the rematch Monday night.

A change in approach accounts for some of the shift in personnel usage. The Cardinals have opened up their passing game to accommodate Kurt Warner and their talented receivers. They are also working through injury problems at tight end. Leonard Pope returned from injury Monday night, but Stephen Spach took more of his reps as the game progressed.

Pope, Spach, Ben Patrick and Jerame Tuman could be healthy against Seattle on Sunday. Coach Ken Whisenhunt was not happy with the position Monday night.

Whisenhunt: "Hopefully we can find one that can play a little better than has been playing for us. I think all four will be ready to go as far as health-wise. We have to make a decision on who we are going to go with and stick with that. It was tough this week with Leonard just coming back and getting two days of practice. That really isn't as fair to him. This week, with a full week with all four guys back, we should be better."

The Cardinals' utilization of tight ends against Seattle this week could have more to do with the game plan than the injury situation, Whisenhunt indicated.

Against the 49ers in Week 1, the Cardinals had a tight end on the field for 11 of their 13 longest-gaining plays. That was true on eight of their 13 longest-gaining plays Monday night even though the Cardinals used tight ends far less frequently.

The Cardinals did not attempt a single pass to a tight end Monday night, but having one on the field helps in pass protection and in the running game. The Cardinals could stand to improve in those areas. Warner's ability to get rid of the football quickly against pressure has covered for pass-protection deficiencies. The 49ers' Justin Smith gave the Cardinals problems Monday night. More on him later.

In the meantime, feel free to download this file showing the Cardinals' production across personnel groups. This file also includes the usual play-by-play sheet sortable by quarter, Drive number, down, distance, yard line, personnel group, play type, ball carrier, yards gained and more. If you spot additional trends or items of note, please share.

Keep an eye on Cardinals' tight ends

November, 10, 2008
11/10/08
8:34
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

PHOENIX -- The Cardinals had two tight ends on the field for most of their longest-gaining plays against the 49ers in Week 1. Arizona has become more of a three- and four-receiver team in subsequent weeks, but the Cardinals could have more options this time.

Starting tight end Leonard Pope is active for the first time since Oct. 12. Ben Patrick and Jerame Tuman remain sidelined by injuries, but former Patriots tight end Stephen Spach is coming off an impressive debut game with the Cardinals.

I would still expect the Cardinals to spread the field, but they do have additional options. The two-tight-end looks could help with the running game.

NFC West: Injury situations that matter

November, 6, 2008
11/06/08
2:39
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Arizona: Injuries continue to affect Leonard Pope and Ben Patrick, but the Cardinals have enough flexibility to flourish in the passing game without healthy tight ends. Even third tight end Jerame Tuman (ankle) is hurting. Stephen Spach filled in admirably as a run blocker against St. Louis. Larry Fitzgerald has a thumb injury. His hands weren't as good against the Rams in Week 9. Left tackle Mike Gandy has had ankle problems. The Cardinals can't afford injuries on the offensive line.

San Francisco: The right side of the offensive line was having problems even before injuries wiped out tackles Jonas Jennings and Barry Sims. The 49ers will have a hard time protecting quarterback Shaun Hill against the Cardinals' active front eight (counting strong safety Adrian Wilson as a potential blitzer off the edge). Tight end Delanie Walker is healthier coming out of the bye, restoring versatility to the offense. But third receiver Arnaz Battle is out, putting more pressure on rookie Josh Morgan. Time to ride Frank Gore.

Seattle: Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, receiver Deion Branch and defensive end Patrick Kerney will miss the game. The Seahawks have enough depth to weather one serious injury for the short term, but it's tough to envision Seattle winning an early game at Miami with so many key players staying behind. Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu is expected back from a groin injury. The Seahawks need him to make more plays.

St. Louis: The situation at running back is sapping the life from the Rams' comeback hopes under coach Jim Haslett. Steven Jackson won't be full strength if he's able to play. Backup Antonio Pittman is out. Even Travis Minor is hurting. Kenneth Darby could start. The Rams' pass protection isn't particularly solid even when Jackson is running well. Quarterback Marc Bulger figures to struggle with consistency and confidence until Jackson regains form. Injuries have also chipped away at the Rams' already shaky depth at linebacker, tight end, cornerback offensive line and receiver.

Spach has history of preparedness

November, 4, 2008
11/04/08
12:11
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Spach

The casual observer might have noticed Cardinals tight end Stephen Spach bulling over a Rams defender in a clear case of offensive pass interference Sunday.

That's what stood out about Spach when I watched the Cardinals-Rams game casually Monday morning. Another view emerged upon studying the game more closely Monday night. Spach played about 30 snaps only five days after signing with the Cardinals. He threw a few key blocks as the Cardinals improved their production on the ground.

Unexpected contributions represent nothing new for Spach, a 26-year-old from Fresno State. As the Boston Globe put it, Spach was preparing to finish the 2007 season as a substitute teacher when the Patriots called needing emergency help at the position. Spach wound up playing 33 of 64 snaps during a victory over the Jets less than a week after signing a contract.

The Cardinals have issues at tight end while Leonard Pope and Ben Patrick battle through injuries. Spach played more than the Cardinals' other tight end, veteran Jerame Tuman, during the 34-13 victory over St. Louis.

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