- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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The Arizona Cardinals addressed primary needs at receiver and offensive tackle in the NFL draft last month.
They did not address every need, however. Arizona was the only team not to use at least one draft choice for a defensive lineman or linebacker, one reason Vonnie Holliday and Clark Haggans are expected to return for another season.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says there's no rush to bring back either player. Somers: "Haggans, 35, started all 16 games last season but, if he returns, it will be as a backup. Holliday, 36, backed up Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett last season. He played in all 16 games and finished with 16 tackles, 15 of them solo. The coaches were pleased with his production and think he could provide a similar level of play this season." Noted: Re-signing Haggans in particular would buy time for the Cardinals at outside linebacker, a position where the team has promising young players, but few established options.
Also from Somers: catching up with Matt Ware.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com revisits defensive coordinator Ray Horton's philosophy on cornerbacks. Horton: "Covering is the main job, but you want the physicality, get guys out of their game and let them know they will get it every play. As a defense, you have to have the tough guy mentality regardless. We don’t want an offense pushing us around, and if they get some calls, we have to live with that sometimes."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com sizes up the team's wide receivers and says competition is running high. Farnsworth: "In fact, Ben Obomanu, Doug Baldwin and Ricardo Lockette were so hungry during the players’ extended break following the season that they traveled to Alabama to work out with Tarvaris Jackson."
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune takes a position-by-position look at the Seahawks' roster and has this to say about letting linebacker David Hawthorne leave in free agency: "Even with a nasty front that does a nice job of keeping the linebackers clean, someone has to scrape, fill the right gap and make the tackles. Along with doing that the past three seasons, Hawthorne was considered one of the more cerebral players on the team. And he also made game-changing plays, evidenced by his seven interceptions and six sacks in three years as a starter. Second-round draft choice Bobby Wagner has some big shoes to fill." Noted: Hawthorne's health had to be a key variable. The injury he played through last season affected his ability to move effectively.
Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asks colleagues what Rams coach Jeff Fisher will be watching most closely during the upcoming rookie camp. Jim Thomas: "About two-thirds of the players on the field will be undrafted rookies, but Fisher obviously will have his eyes on the 10 draft picks, particularly cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson. Are both capable of competing for a starting job right away? That seems to be the expectation. Ditto for wide receivers Brian Quick and Chris Givens. The sooner they get the playbook down, the sooner they help QB Sam Bradford. This will be their first taste of NFL football, albeit in a minicamp setting."
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch supports Kurt Warner's recent comments about player safety.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says Frank Gore is anxious to see new 49ers running back LaMichael James in action. Maiocco on Gore: "Gore, who turns 29 on Monday, enters his eighth professional season. He has 7,625 rushing yards -- the most for any 49ers player since the club became a member of the NFL in 1950. And he is just 33 rushing attempts behind the club's all-time leader Roger Craig."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee checks in with 49ers archivist Jerry Walker, who is collecting memorabilia for display in the team's Hall of Fame, set to open at the new stadium in Santa Clara. Barrows: "The hall of fame will be at least 15,000 square feet, and the team wants items from ticket stubs all the way up to big-ticket items like a trolley car or even perhaps a portion of the 'Niner Liner' aircraft that flew Montana and teammates to their first Super Bowl in Pontiac, Mich. The hall of fame is sure to be popular on game days. But, like recent hall of fames built in Green Bay, Foxboro, Ma. and elsewhere, the intent is to make a year-round destination, especially one for school field trips."
Taylor Price of 49ers.com says safety Donte Whitner expects the defense to play faster this season. Whitner: "This year you can expect guys to fly around a lot faster without hesitation and really understand what the scheme is and what we’re trying to do to offensive football teams. And I believe that we’re going to be the No. 1 defense in the National Football League this year. The guys believe it and we just have to go out there, work and prove it."
Monte Poole of Bay Area News Group says Alex Smith and the 49ers' offense are trying to close the gap with the team's defense.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle takes a closer look at 49ers first-round draft choice A.J. Jenkins. Branch: "Jenkins had 90 catches as a senior. The Illini’s second-leading receiver had 26. The disparity had something to do with the trust quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase had in Jenkins, an exacting route-runner."
The Arizona Cardinals addressed primary needs at receiver and offensive tackle in the NFL draft last month.They did not address every need, however. Arizona was the only team not to use at least one draft choice for a defensive lineman or linebacker, one reason Vonnie Holliday and Clark Haggans are expected to return for another season.