NFC West: Jim Tressel

The Arizona Cardinals' Beanie Wells joined ESPN's First Take to expand upon comments he made via Twitter following Jim Tressel's resignation as Ohio State coach.

Wells gives his former college coach a pass regarding the scandal that led to Tressel's downfall, claiming Tressel was protecting his players:
"He was being a father. He wasn't thinking about his legacy. He wasn't thinking about how much money he made or about winning games. He was thinking about protecting those kids and their future. I personally think he did a great thing. I don't think that the problem lies within the kids receiving benefits. the problem lies within the NCAA because the NCAA makes so much money off college football kids and the kids, when they are done, don't get anything."

For that reason, Wells supports paying college football players. This issue isn't going away as long as the financial stakes continue to grow.

The Arizona Cardinals' running game should perk up this season if Beanie Wells revisits the hard-charging form he flashed during his rookie season two years ago.

The passion Wells showed Monday in defending his former college coach wouldn't hurt, either.

Wells, one of 11 NFC West players from Ohio State, took Jim Tressel's scandal-induced resignation hard. The third-year Cardinals runner called Tressel a "great man" who imparted life lessons upon his players. The way Wells sees things, if Tressel lied about his players' roles in the scandal, he did so only out of honor.

Wells punctuated his tweets with exclamation points, making good on his promise to "go off" while criticism against Tressel piled up.

"It's not his fault at all that he had a few go stray out of hundreds!!!" Wells wrote. "U check the success rate of the people that have been around him!!!!"

According to Wells, Tressel stepped up to help players from disadvantaged backgrounds, becoming more than just a coach to them.

Wells is among 10 current NFC West players from Ohio State, but the only one playing for the Cardinals.

All but St. Louis Rams linebacker Na'il Diggs and San Francisco 49ers cornerback Nate Clements played for Tressel. The NFC West players from Ohio State: Clements, Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., Alex Boone and Thaddeus Gibson from the 49ers; Jay Richardson from the Seattle Seahawks; Diggs, Jermale Hines, Larry Grant and James Laurinaitis from the Rams.

Laurinaitis reportedly used the term "sad day" to describe the events Monday. Smith was once suspended for accepting money from a booster when Tressel was coach.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the good news for Rams fans: Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace has been cleared to practice. That means Pace won't open camp on the physically unable to perform list, as coach Scott Linehan had suggested he might. Pace is coming off shoulder surgery and two injury-shortened seasons. I think the Rams are a potential playoff team if Pace plays a full season at a high level.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the latest on contract talks for Rams running back Steven Jackson, who was not immediately in camp. Jackson should be in good position to command a new deal given what new offensive coordinator Al Saunders thinks about him. Saunders knows what Jackson means to the offense. Jackson is scheduled to earn $1.7 million in 2008, the final year of his contract.

Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tells how Ohio State coach Jim Tressel used his relationship with former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. to bring in Jerry Rice, Ronnie Lott, Joe Montana and Roger Craig as motivational speakers. What, no Elvis Grbac?

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times takes roll heading into Seahawks camp. Rookies Lawrence Jackson and John Carlson remain unsigned and absent. O'Neil also has a chart showing the length of recent contract disputes involving Seattle rookies.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune breaks down the issues Seattle faces heading into camp, noting that the big ones sound quite familiar. Marcus Tubbs, the offensive line, etc. Boling's conclusion: "The Hawks have been to the playoffs nine times in their history & and six of them have been under Holmgren, including the last five straight. That's an example of redundancy that fans can live with." Full disclosure: Dave was best man in my wedding.

Brian McIntyre of the Scout.com network provides a pre-camp Seahawks roster breakdown in the format I used for years as a beat reporter. You might see similarly conceived roster analyses here.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic breaks down Anquan Boldin's beefs with the Cardinals. Says Boldin: "At this point, I'm not even interested in a contract. For me, it's been going on two years, and especially after last year, I was promised a deal would get done before the season. But the season's here and obviously that hasn't happened. I don't want a deal. People may think I'm being funny or saying that just to say it. But, for me, I'm just tired of it. Washed my hands of the whole situation. My agent has direct orders not to negotiate. So that's how I feel about it."

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune thinks the Boldin impasse could negatively affect the Cardinals' season, given Boldin's role as heart and soul of the team. Bordow also says we shouldn't discount the possibility of an agreement if the Cardinals were to up their offer at some point in the future. I tend to agree only because Boldin has three years remaining on his deal, and much can change in three NFL seasons.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune breaks down Steve Breaston's push for the No. 3 receiving job. We'll have a better idea how the race will shake out once third-round receiver Early Doucet puts on the pads at camp. I'll judge Doucet more by how he fares in exhibition games than how he fares in practices, particularly early in camp.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle was there when 49ers rookie Kentwan Balmer broke down in tears (of joy) after signing his rookie contract. I don't know much about Balmer, but this has to be a good sign. The guy obviously cares.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer puts the 80-man roster limits in perspective, going beyond the obligatory comments from coaches lamenting the reductions. Farnsworth digs deep into his notes to recall a 1989 conversation with defensive end Jacob Green, who knew what smaller roster limits could mean for veteran players. Projecting ahead, I don't see the limits affecting Seattle as much as they might affect teams run by hard-nosed defensive coaches. Mike Holmgren already tends to limit the amount of contact in the interests of keeping players healthy.

Thomas Bonk of the Los Angeles Times reminds us how some were picking the 49ers as a sleeper team last season. Not this season, and that's a good thing for the 49ers. They need to prove it to themselves before the rest of us buy in.

Jamie Griswold of MyNorthwest.com provides a link to a Matt Hasselbeck interview featuring a telling quote from the Seattle quarterback regarding new line coach Mike Solari: "He's really done a nice job of bringing our running game together." Seattle fans should be encouraged when Hasselbeck directs optimistic thoughts toward a specific area, particularly when that specific area is the much-maligned Seattle ground game.

NOTE: Please drop additional links into the comments section if you think I've missed some good ones. I'm an RSS fiend but still can't get to everything.

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