NFC West: Jim Anderson

Reading between lines on Rams hire

February, 15, 2010
2/15/10
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Rams great Jack Youngblood was among those blasting the team for firing longtime trainer Jim Anderson.

The Rams never explained the move, presumably because they didn't want to say anything negative about an employee who had served the team honorably for many years.

But if you read the news release announcing Reggie Scott's hiring as Anderson's replacement, it's clear the Rams wanted a younger trainer to connect with a new generation of players.

The news release drove home the point with quotes from Panthers receiver Steve Smith and Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers. Smith's quote lauded the Rams' new trainer for a "young, fresh and modern approach" to the job while describing him as "forward thinking" and someone who makes players feel "comfortable" with their treatments.

Peppers' quote said Rams players would "benefit" from Scott's presence.

That's quite a bit of hype for a trainer. I think the Rams were sending a message to their players by addressing what they perceived to be a bit of a problem -- in a way that focused on what they saw as a solution.

Around the NFC West: Whisenhunt's future

February, 15, 2010
2/15/10
7:49
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Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals have never re-signed a head coach since the franchise relocated to Arizona more than two decades ago. They are now talking with Ken Whisenhunt about an extension. Somers: "Negotiations to re-sign coaches often involve more issues than money, however. For instance, Whisenhunt has long desired an indoor practice facility at the team's headquarters in Tempe. Whisenhunt also might want a more significant voice in staffing decisions, including those employees directly supporting the coaching staff. Other potential parts of a contract include appearances before sponsors, radio and television obligations, and authority over personnel. Whisenhunt already has considerable influence in player-personnel issues, from free agency to the draft."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com doesn't expect NFL teams to throw around lots of bonus money when the new league year begins March 5, although rules governing the final eight teams in the playoffs aren't as restrictive as they might initially seem.

Also from Urban: Five plays that defined the Cardinals' 2009 season, including Anquan Boldin's 39-yard touchdown catch against the Vikings.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks the NFL will approve Shahid Kahn as majority owner of the Rams. Miklasz: "I believe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is a man of integrity. I would be absolutely shocked if Khan is treated less than fairly by the NFL or the owners. And if Khan's finances check out, he should be fine. (More on that later.) I would think the NFL would be proud to open the doors to its inner sanctum to Khan -- an ambitious, self-made man who represents the American dream."

Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes Illinois football coach Ron Zook as calling Khan self-confident. McDermott: "How will that confidence translate at the Edward Jones Dome? People here who know Khan say to expect a hands-on approach, stopping somewhere short of meddlesome. He won't spend lavishly, except in instances where he sees it as necessary to achieve quality, a topic he is obsessive about. Fans who want flashy behavior and controversy will be disappointed. Players and staff will be able to talk to him."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Khan could enlist a limited partner or two. Thomas: "Not because he needs to, but because he wants to. Those who know Khan are confident he will have no problems in this setting and under this scrutiny. He was described to the Post-Dispatch by one league source as the type of person who 'won't run at the first sign of problems.' Barring any unforeseen obstacles, it's conceivable Khan could be approved as early as the May 24-26 owners meetings in Dallas. But if there is a hiccup or two, the approval process could spill over into the summer."

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says the speed of the Rams' sale could hinge on the plans of minority owner Stan Kroenke. Balzer: "Kroenke owns 40 percent of the team and has 60 days from the time the sale agreement is signed and submitted to the league to make his intentions known. Kroenke could retain his 40-percent share, provided he feels good about his potential relationship with Khan. He could sell his 40 percent to Khan, who is prepared for that possibility. He could also elect to exercise his right of first refusal on the other 60 percent, but that appears unlikely because to do that he would have to either sell his NBA and NHL teams in Denver or convince the NFL to change its cross-ownership rules."

Jim Rodenbush of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says the Rams hired Panthers assistant trainer Reggie Scott to replace Jim Anderson as head trainer in St. Louis.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee looks at Maryland's Bruce Campbell, among others, as potential offensive tackles the 49ers could consider in the draft. Maryland's strength coach compared Campbell to the 49ers' Vernon Davis in terms of raw athleticism. Barrows: "When I visited the Maryland campus last year for a story on Vernon Davis, I, of course, had to check in with Terps strength coach Dwight Galt. As predicted, Galt gushed about Davis' weight-room prowess. But he also mentioned he had another pupil in Davis' mold. That's Campbell, who like Davis is a muscular, freakish athlete who will put up eye-popping numbers in the weight room."

Also from Barrows: He expects the 49ers to use the franchise tag on nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin. That seems like a good way to hedge bets while teams face an uncertain labor future, particularly given the fact Franklin has not yet strung together multiple productive seasons.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat looks at the 49ers' specialists, noting Josh Morgan was highly productive in limited opportunities as a kick returner. Maiocco: "His 28.2-yard average on kickoffs would've ranked him third in the NFL if he'd had enough returns to qualify. (He had 13 returns.) But the 49ers do not want to have a starting receiver handling kickoffs. He'll be only an emergency option in 2010. Signed through 2011."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Patrick Kerney, John Carlson, Will Herring, Olindo Mare, Deion Branch, Steve Vallos and Mansfield Wrotto will participate in the NFL Business Management Entrepreneurial Program via Harvard and Wharton business schools. More than 500 NFL players have participated over the years.

Also from Farnsworth: Snappers Pat MacDonald and Matt Overton could compete for the job Jeff Robinson filled in recent seasons. Farnsworth: "In 2007, the Seahawks used Derek Rackley and Boone Stutz with less-than-stellar results, before coaxing Robinson out of retirement for the final three games. In 2008, they spent a sixth-round draft choice on Tyler Schmitt, only to discover he had a degenerative back problem. Enter Robinson, again."

Brian McIntyre of scout.com takes a look at the Seahawks' specialists, calling punter Jon Ryan "arguably" the Seahawks' MVP last season. McIntyre: "The overall need for more team speed is evident in Seattle’s kick and punt coverage units, which ranked 19th (kick) and 30th (punt) in the NFL last season. Less than half of Ryan’s 88 punts were returnable, but those that were, went for an average of 11.1 yards per return."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks added punter Tom Malone to compete with Ryan this offseason.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says CFL pass-rusher Ricky Foley signed with the Seahawks after drawing interest from the Rams, Jets and Patriots. Johns: "It's reasonable to wonder where Foley might fit in, given the Seahawks already have smaller speed-rush type ends in Reed and Darryl Tapp, while also getting ready to try linebacker Aaron Curry in a similar role." This looks like a case of Seattle filling out its numbers toward an 80-man roster, hoping to find a developmental player.

Around the NFC West: Clinging to past

February, 4, 2010
2/04/10
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Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch passes along thoughts on the comments Jack Youngblood made about the Rams on his radio show. Youngblood took issue with the team's decision to fire long-time trainer Jim Anderson. Youngblood: "Jim Anderson is probably the finest trainer in the National Football League. He’s there 26, 27 years. The most experienced man in the building. Think about that. The most experienced pro football man in the building. And he gets let go. Why? I know for a fact that there’s no trainer in the National Football League that gave himself to his football team, to his players, better than Jim Anderson did." With all due respect, Youngblood has been retired for 25 years and probably hasn't conducted an audit of current training staffs across the league. The Rams certainly aren't going to say anything negative about an outgoing employee who served the team diligently for many years, but it's clear the new regime felt it was time for fresh blood in a key role. These sorts of moves will draw criticism until the new Rams regime shows evidence things are heading in the right direction. The Rams have no present. Until then, the distant past will look preferable.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with former Rams running back Marshall Faulk, who says the Bears' offensive players had better report to camp in shape now that Mike Martz is their offensive coordinator. Faulk: "This will be eye-opening (for Jay Cutler). He'll never have as much on his plate as he’ll have. ... Last year, it looked like he was bored in the (Chicago) offense. A little frustrated. If he’s frustrated (under Martz), it'll not be because he’s bored."

Also from Thomas: catching up with former Rams defensive back Todd Lyght.

Shawntae Spencer of the 49ers answers questions from fans on the team's Web site. Does he get nervous playing against elite receivers? Spencer: "Nervous? No! I have nothing to lose, everything to gain. They’re the stars, I’m just me. That’s how I look at it. The matchups with guys like Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson are usually for guys like Nate Clements or Walt Harris. It was kind of easier to dominate the No. 2 receiver in the past, but when I got a chance to go against the top receivers I embraced it."

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' are allowing offensive quality-control coach Shane Day to interview with the Bears for a job as quarterbacks coach under Mike Martz. That is pretty standard.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democract says it's unlikely the 49ers will acquire Donovan McNabb from the Eagles because too many things would have to fall into place. I have questioned whether the Eagles would trade McNabb. If McNabb is available, of course the 49ers should investigate.

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers have promoted Paraag Marathe to executive vice president of football and business operations. Maiocco: "In his new role, Marathe will continue to report directly to general manager Scot McCloughan on football matters. He will now also report to 49ers president and CEO Jed York on the business side of the organization. Marathe will work alongside the chief marketing officer when an individual is hired for that newly opened position." The 49ers have tweaked their front-office roles this offseason, parting with chief operating officer Andy Dolich and creating a new position for chief marketing officer.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee looks at several players the 49ers might not consider drafting in 2010, including Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody. Barrows: "He can be dominant at times and would be a big barrier between offensive players and Patrick Willis. But with Cody, you have to look at the cost-benefit ratio. How many snaps can you get from a guy who weighs 370 pounds? That question likely will push Cody to the bottom of the first round where a playoff team like the Chargers or Patriots will pounce."

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic draws comparisons between former USC teammates Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart. Bush: "I spoke to Matt when I first heard that Kurt Warner was retiring, and I told him, 'You know what? It's time to go to work now. All eyes will be on you, and it's time to go to work.' I know he's capable of being a starting quarterback, a great quarterback in this league because I've seen it firsthand. I know this is a different level, but I know he's more than ready."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says a 30-minute special on Kurt Warner's legacy will air on regional Arizona television before most likely making its way to the team Web site.

Also from Urban: Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald says nice things about Leinart on the Dan Patrick Show after Warner noted that it's tough to know how well Leinart will fare because the quarterback hasn't played much. Fitzgerald: "A lot of the experience Kurt is talking about (that Leinart didn’t get) is due to him. (Kurt) is a Hall of Fame player and Matt Leinart, having to back him up for so many years, it's made it difficult. It's not about Matt Leinart not being able to play. I just think it’s been how good Kurt’s been able to play. He really set the bar high."

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says former Seahawks Na'Shan Goddard and Marlon Favorite have surfaced at the Super Bowl as members of the Saints. Goddard played left tackle for the Seahawks in Mike Holmgren's final game as Seahawks head coach. The team had trouble running a play. That's no slam on Goddard, only a reflection of what can happen when a practice-squad player finds himself lining up against front-line talent in a game situation.

Earl Vaughan Jr. of the Fay Observer says Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry is having his high school jersey retired.

Hall of Famer Youngblood sacks Rams

February, 3, 2010
2/03/10
4:24
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Rams Hall of Famer Jack Youngblood's displeasure with the organization goes beyond the team's 1-15 record last season.

Youngblood, speaking with Bernie Miklasz of 101ESPN St. Louis, took issue with the Rams' recent decision to fire longtime trainer Jim Anderson. He also said the team should tap into its alumni -- Deacon Jones, Larry Brooks and presumably Youngblood himself -- to help tutor young defensive linemen such as Chris Long.

Youngblood might be right, but if anything, his comments suggest the Rams could stand to improve their relationships with Youngblood and some other former players. Teams replace longtime employees sometimes, particularly when a new head coach establishes a program. And it's unrealistic to think Steve Spagnuolo or any other head coach should feel obligated to stock their staffs with players from yesteryear.

I plan to speak with Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney this week. It'll be important to hear from them on these issues.

Around the NFC West: Staff shuffling

January, 26, 2010
1/26/10
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Ben Malcolmson of usctrojans.com says Chris Carlisle is leaving USC to become strength and conditioning coach for the Seahawks. Mike Clark had held the position for Seattle since January 2004. The Seahawks suffered lots of injuries in recent seasons, leading some fans to ask about the work Clark and his staff were doing. It was pretty much impossible to know whether the team should have done anything different. Carlisle: "I want people to know that I'm walking away, not running. There's not a reason for me to leave except that this is a great opportunity for me to continue my career and take a step in my evolution as a strength coach. Also, this is an opportunity to work with Pete Carroll, which is a heck of an opportunity and one that's very difficult to turn down. Lane Kiffin and the USC administration wanted me to stay and I really appreciate that."

Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette says Packers assistant strength and conditioning coach Mondray Gee will join the Seahawks in a similar role. Dougherty: "Gee, 33, worked seven years as a strength and conditioning assistant for the Detroit Lions before the Packers hired him in 2008. New Seahawks coach Pete Carroll hired Gee presumably on the recommendation of John Schneider, Seattle's new general manager and a high-level personnel executive for the Packers from 2002 until last week."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times checks in with new Seahawks coach Pete Carroll from Mobile, Ala., site of the Senior Bowl practices. O'Neil: "Carroll didn't have to look very far for one idea Monday afternoon when USC safety Taylor Mays had the most ooh-inspiring hit of the South team's practice. Mays kept Citadel receiver Andre Roberts from coming down with the ball. Carroll coached Mays in college. Could Seattle bring Mays back to Seattle, where he attended O'Dea or will Seattle find that bedrock of a left tackle, a quarterback, or an offensive player who's a home-run threat in the open field? Those are the questions Carroll, [general manager John] Schneider and Seattle will be asking in three months of draft preparation that began in earnest on Monday in the opposite corner of the country."

Also from O'Neil: Former Seahawks quarterback and assistant coach Jim Zorn hopes to coach somewhere in 2010.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic takes an in-depth look at the Cardinals' situation at linebacker. Karlos Dansby could leave in free agency. Clark Haggans probably exceeded expectations in 2009. Chike Okeafor probably will not be back. Somers: "The Cardinals likely will replace him with a younger player, perhaps Will Davis or Cody Brown, rookies in 2009. Brown, a second-round pick, suffered a dislocated wrist in training camp and was on injured reserve all year. That basically made his rookie season a wasted one. He is making the transition from defensive end in college, so it's going to take for him to develop. Davis, a sixth-round pick, is further ahead. By mid-season, he was starting to show some pass-rush skills and was taking snaps away from veteran Bertrand Berry, who retired at the end of the season. A knee injury delayed Davis' progress, but he showed signs of being a real steal in the draft."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says longtime Rams trainer Jim Anderson isn't sure why coach Steve Spagnuolo fired him. Anderson: "What did I not do that was expected? Or what can I do differently if I have a situation in the future where I want to be an athletic trainer? Like I said, (Spagnuolo) didn't feel at the time that he had any response to that. He just felt the organization would be better off with a change." That's the way it works in the NFL. It's not always personal. A new coach often wants his own medical people or trainers or strength coaches, etc. Thomas: "Longtime employees at Rams Park are on eggshells again, as their numbers continue to dwindle. The massive organizational shakeup means very few employees are left who moved with the team to St. Louis from California in 1995."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers could use a return specialist with the ability to add punch on offense. Percy Harvin and Reggie Bush stand out as examples. Barrows: "After selecting Michael Crabtree last year with the 10th pick, the 49ers likely will pass on wide receivers this season. But a running back who could complement the between-the-tackles running style of Frank Gore could be a nice fit."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers were neither elite at quarterback or on defense this season, an indication they've got a ways to go before challenging the best teams in the NFC. Coach Mike Singletary also has questions to answer. Maiocco: "Singletary has some incredible traits as a coach. He is tough, demanding and he listens to the needs and wants of those who work for him. Singletary is a self-described 'big-picture guy.' That might be fine, but only if there are extraordinary people taking care of the small details for him. And that's where I have my biggest doubts about whether the 49ers are ready to take that next step." A coach without a strong background as a coordinator will always be more reliant on his staff. That was one of the issues raised when the team hired Singletary over Greg Manusky and others.

John Cote of the San Francisco Chronicle updates the 49ers' efforts to build a new stadium in Santa Clara.

Report: Seahawks talk to Rams coach

January, 23, 2010
1/23/10
6:27
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Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a couple of Rams-related personnel notes:

  • Rams assistant offensive line coach Art Valero interviewed for an unspecified job with the Seahawks. Valero worked with Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley in Tampa Bay earlier this decade. Valero has coached offensive line, tight ends and running backs at the NFL level. Steve Loney is the Rams' offensive line coach. I'll update when I know whether Valero remains a candidate for a job with Seattle, and in what capacity.
  • The Rams are replacing longtime trainer Jim Anderson. Anderson has stuck around a long time and across multiple coaching staffs. Sometimes a new head coach wants his own person in a specific role, though. In 1999, Mike Holmgren made a similar move in Seattle when he replaced trainer Jimmy Whitesel, who had been with the team since its inception.

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