NFC West: Joe Long

2012 NFC West practice squad eligibility

September, 1, 2012
9/01/12
12:33
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NFL teams can begin forming practice squads once eligible players clear waivers Saturday.

A look at which players released by NFC West teams have eligibility:

Arizona Cardinals

Eligible: Crezdon Butler, Antonio Coleman, Blake Gideon, Ricky Lumpkin, Colin Parker, Larry Parker, Steve Skelton, Quan Sturdivant, Everrette Thompson, Martell Webb, Scott Wedige, Brandon Williams, Isaiah Williams, D.J. Williams.

Not eligible: DeMarco Sampson, Alfonso Smith, Ronald Talley, Stephen Williams, Clark Haggans, Russ Hochstein

St. Louis Rams

Eligible: Cornell Banks, Tim Barnes, Tom Brandstater, Mason Brodine, Aaron Brown, Sammy Brown, Kendric Burney, Ben Guidugli, Cory Harkey, T-Bob Hebert, Jamaar Jarrett, Nick Johnson, Joe Long, Deangelo Peterson, Chase Reynolds, Scott Smith

Not eligible: Vernon Gholston, Bryan Mattison, Jose Valdez, Kellen Clemens, Ovie Mughelli

San Francisco 49ers

Eligible: Derek Hall, Joe Holland, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Cam Johnson, Matthew Masifilo, Anthony Mosley, Kyle Nelson, Al Netter, Chris Owusu, Nathan Palmer, Mike Person, Konrad Reuland, Kenny Rowe, Michael Thomas, Kenny Wiggins, Michael Wilhoite

Not eligible: Eric Bakhtiari, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Rock Cartwright, Josh Johnson, Brett Swain

Seattle Seahawks

Eligible: Pierre Allen, Allen Bradford, Kris Durham, Cooper Helfet, Rishaw Johnson, Jermaine Kearse, Kyle Knox, Cordarro Law, Pep Levingston, Ricardo Lockette, Sean McGrath, Kris O'Dowd, Josh Portis, DeShawn Shead, Vai Taua, Korey Toomer, Lavasier Tuinei

Not eligible: Phillip Adams, Deon Butler, Paul Fanaika

Note on eligibility

Straight from the collective bargaining agreement:
"The Practice Squad shall consist of the following players, provided that they have not served more than two previous seasons on a Practice Squad:
  • "players who do not have an Accrued Season of NFL experience;
  • "free agent players who were on the Active List for fewer than nine regular season games during their only Accrued Season(s).

"An otherwise eligible player may be a Practice Squad player for a third season only if the Club by which he is employed that season has at least 53 players on its Active/Inactive List during the entire period of his employment.

"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.

"(For purposes of this Section, a bye week counts as a game provided that the player is not terminated until after the regular season or postseason weekend in question.)"

St. Louis Rams cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
10:01
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Click here for the complete list of St. Louis Rams roster moves.

Most significant move: The Rams released No. 2 quarterback Kellen Clemens even though Clemens knew the offense better than any player on the roster. Clemens, who spent time with the New York Jets when Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer held the same job there, lost out to impressive undrafted free-agent quarterback Austin Davis.

Davis, drafted by the Boston Red Sox this year, stood out during preseason for his poise. Some players appear as though they belong. Davis did, at least initially. The preliminary assumption here is that Davis fared well enough to win the No. 2 role, although rosters remain fluid and the Rams will consider veterans at every position as they become available. The Rams also released Tom Brandstater, who was initially thought to be competing with Davis for the third-string role.

Onward and upward: Clemens could catch on with another team. Overall, however, the Rams had more holes than front-line talent to fill those holes. The players they released will not be coveted elsewhere. That was partly because the suspension Austin Pettis faces for the first two games bought the Rams time at wide receiver, where the team has quite a few mid-level prospects. With Pettis on the reserve/suspended list and not counting against the 53-man limit, the Rams kept the six receivers considered most likely to stick, including veteran Steve Smith and second-year pro Greg Salas.

Veteran fullback Ovie Mughelli received his release and could appeal to the dwindling number of teams valuing a traditional blocking fullback. The Rams kept only four running backs on this initial 53-man roster. They parted with Chase Reynolds after coach Jeff Fisher lauded the 24-year-old back as someone with the ability to close out a game.

The Rams also cut Aaron Brown, Cornell Banks, Cory Harkey, Jamaar Jarrett, Jose Valdez, Scott Smith, Mason Brodine, Nick Johnson, Ben Guidugli, Kendric Burney, Deangelo Peterson, Sammy Brown, T. Bob Hebert, Tim Barnes, Bryan Mattison, Vernon Gholston and Joe Long. Gholston could be running out of chances.

What's next: The Rams need help throughout their roster. They have the No. 2 priority in waiver claims. Expect them to put that privilege to use. The Rams should be active in pursuing help at defensive tackle after losing first-round pick Michael Brockers for a month (estimated) with a high-ankle sprain. Trevor Laws is already on injured reserve.

The Rams have only eight offensive linemen, one fewer than teams generally prefer to keep. They could use another one. They kept six linebackers, on the low side. The team is carrying 11 defensive backs at present. I wouldn't be surprised if they shopped former starting corner Bradley Fletcher, who was playing deep into games in preseason.

2012 pre-camp analysis: Rams 'O'

July, 2, 2012
7/02/12
4:00
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Our two-day look at NFC West rosters continues with projections for the St. Louis Rams' offense.

Quarterbacks (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.8

Safest bets: Sam Bradford, Kellen Clemens

Leading contenders: none

Longer odds: Tom Brandstater, Austin Davis

Comment: The Rams could seemingly justify keeping just two quarterbacks in the absence of any pressing need to develop a third-stringer. Bradford is the franchise quarterback. Clemens knows the offense from his New York Jets days with new Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Clemens' familiarity should provide some comfort even though the Rams remained in the market for other quarterbacks through much of free agency. Depth will be a concern if Bradford suffers through another injury-shortened season. But with an offense recommitted to the run, the Rams think they can improve the odds for their quarterback.

Running backs (9)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.0

Safest bets: Steven Jackson, Isaiah Pead

Leading contenders: Brit Miller, Daryl Richardson

Longer odds: Todd Anderson, Chase Reynolds, Calvin Middleton, Nick Schwieger, Ben Guidugli

Comment: The Rams got younger and more diverse behind Jackson, breathing life into the position. The team has kept only four running backs on its Week 1 roster over the previous four seasons, but the team had different leadership then. New coach Jeff Fisher could load up on tight ends. He already moved Guidugli from tight end to fullback. There will be overlap between the positions, affecting numbers. Pead projects as a change-of-pace back, as does Richardson, who impressed the team this offseason.

Wide receivers (10)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.6

Safest bets: Brian Quick, Danny Amendola, Chris Givens, Steve Smith, Greg Salas

Leading contenders: Brandon Gibson, Danario Alexander, Austin Pettis

Longer odds: Nick Johnson, Michael Campbell

Comment: The Rams have lots of second-tier options at the position. They need one or more receiver to emerge as a more dynamic option. Quick, chosen in the second round, reminded Rams coaches of Terrell Owens (physically, that is). Smith caught 107 passes for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns with the New York Giants in 2009. He's been fighting his way back from microfracture knee surgery. The Rams saw signs this offseason that Smith could be close to recapturing past form. Can Smith make it all the way back? Gibson has been a starter, but it's unclear where he fits after the team used draft choices for Quick and the speedy Givens.

Tight ends (8)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.2

Safest bets: Lance Kendricks

Leading contenders: Mike Hoomanawanui

Longer odds: Matthew Mulligan, Brody Eldridge, Mike McNeill, Jamie Childers, Cory Harkey, Deangelo Peterson

Comment: The position appears wide open after Kendricks. Fisher's teams have generally leaned heavily on tight ends. Kendricks is a willing blocker, but he projects more as a receiving type. Hoomanawanui hasn't been able to stay healthy. That will need to change this season or the Rams will have reason to consider moving on. I've got no idea where Mulligan, Eldridge, McNeill, Childers, Harkey or Peterson fits into the Rams' plans. This position will have to shake out at training camp. Again, the fullbacks and tight ends will be interchangeable in some cases. Fisher said so when discussing the positions recently.

Offensive linemen (16)

Average number kept since 2003: 9.0

Safest bets: Rodger Saffold, Scott Wells, Harvey Dahl, Jason Smith, Rokevious Watkins

Leading contenders: Bryan Mattison, Barry Richardson, Quinn Ojinnaka, Kevin Hughes

Longer odds: Robert Turner, Michael Hay, Jose Valdez, T-Bob Hebert, Tim Barnes, Joe Long, Ryan McKee

Comment: It's unclear how the team will proceed at left guard. Watkins and Mattison could be considerations. Ojinnaka and Richardson have been tackles primarily, but they could conceivably project at guard in a pinch. Smith is back at right tackle after reworking his contract. The team hopes Smith can benefit from better luck with injuries and fresh coaching from assistant Paul Boudreau. Well's addition in free agency gives the line needed leadership. But with both tackles (Smith, Saffold) coming off rough seasons marked by serious injuries, questions persist. Dahl was the best and most consistent offensive lineman on the team last season.
Good morning, NFC West, and welcome back from a s-s-s-low weekend in the division.

On the bright side, depending upon your perspective, we're only 76 days away from the Hall of Fame game between our own Arizona Cardinals and whichever New Orleans Saints employees remain in good standing with the NFL by Aug. 5.

While the Saints see rehab for their reputation, the Cardinals are focused on getting their running backs healthy.

Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams haven't played or practiced since undergoing knee surgeries. Wells underwent a less serious procedure, but his durability has been a concern dating to college. Williams is nine months into his rehab from a torn patella tendon; the one-year anniversary falls on Aug. 19.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals haven't done much to address the position, an indication both backs could be on track for 2012. Urban: "Williams, who is anxious to get back on the field right now, admits the team will likely not push him now, instead wanting to preserve him for camp. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the team takes the same tact with Beanie. He's made that work before. Last season, Beanie didn’t get any summer work -- no one did, because of the lockout -- and he still had a career-high 1,047 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns and a 4.3 per-carry average despite battling his knee injury most of the season." Noted: Wells has missed five games in two seasons. He had 228 yards against St. Louis in Week 12 and a combined 198 yards in four subsequent games to end the 2011 season.

Also from Urban: Undrafted rookie receiver Stanley Arukwe ran the 40-yard dash in a wind-aided 4.19 seconds this offseason.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams general manager Les Snead for thoughts on where the team has improved this offseason. Snead on the defensive line: "We've got two young ends (in Chris Long and Robert Quinn). We've added (Kendall) Langford. We've got Darell Scott coming back. Bam! You throw in (Michael) Brockers, and all of a sudden that unit gets strong. Now the DL becomes a dominant unit."

Also from Thomas: Joe Long, brother of Jake, clears his own path.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch calls for calm over the Rams' stadium situation. Miklasz: "Less than 20 years ago, this region put up a lot of money to attract the Rams and enhance the convention-hosting capability in downtown St. Louis. We may ultimately decide to reject the allocation of additional public money for the stadium/convention center. Before our initial investment is essentially thrown in the river, before we dismiss the possibility of Kroenke and the NFL stepping in as our financial partners in this endeavor, we should at least make a sincere effort to see if this investment makes sense. That will require calm, rational discussion."

Howard Balzer outlines salary details for recent Rams additions Mario Haggan and Barry Richardson.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee has this to say about Jim Harbaugh's recent comments regarding Michael Crabtree's sure hands: "I was reminded of last offseason when Harbaugh said Alex Smith was a 'very accurate passer.' Or when he said Smith was an 'elite' quarterback. Or when he insisted Smith deserved a spot in the Pro Bowl. Not only does Harbaugh always back his players publicly, he pumps up the players that are in need of a little inflating. Last year that was Smith, who had been kicked around like no other 49er in the last quarter century but who responded with the best season of his career. This year Crabtree may be getting the same kind of treatment."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers still have only one proven return specialist: Ted Ginn Jr.

Also from Maiocco: big plays for a 49ers Hall of Fame.

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News offers assorted 49ers notes, including this one: "Rather than report to the 49ers offseason conditioning program, franchise-tagged safety Dashon Goldson headed to South Florida and has hooked up with Bommarito Performance Systems. Among the 49ers who’ve previously worked with trainer Pete Bommarito are Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Kendall Hunter, Ricky Jean Francois, Tavaris Gooden and rookie Cam Johnson."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the team felt as though seventh-round draft choice Greg Scruggs was a bargain. A turf-toe injury slowed the defensive lineman at Louisville last season. Farnsworth: "Where Scruggs fits with the Seahawks remains to be seen, but for now he is working as a pass-rusher from the three-technique tackle spot as well as at the five-technique end position in the base defense -- a backup role that was filled last season by Anthony Hargrove, who signed with the Green Bay Packers in free agency."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times checks in with former Seahawks quarterback Jon Kitna, who is teaching math and coaching football at his high school alma mater. O'Neil: "It's not hard to imagine a former NFL quarterback filling his afternoons with football. It's tougher to imagine that same man -- a guy who was making $3 million last year -- arriving on campus at 7 a.m. and bringing breakfast for kids who need extra help, hosting a home room and then teaching two periods of algebra."

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle says Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin remembers one game more than any other last season: the one against Cleveland, when Baldwin finished with no receptions during a 6-3 defeat.
After taking a closer look at the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson in the most recent mailbag, I've set aside this one for the St. Louis Rams.

Colin from Venice, Calif., hopes the Rams move back to Los Angeles, but he's not clear what happens next in the dance between the team and the St. Louis stadium authority.

"The articles I've read say that if the stadium authority rejects the proposal, it goes to arbitration," Colin writes. "But what happens then? If the arbitrator comes back with a solution the Rams don't like, can they walk? Can the stadium authority walk if they don't like the proposal? Or are both parties bound to whatever the arbitrator comes up with?"

Mike Sando: This part of the protocol wasn't clear to me until the last week or so. The stadium authority has until June 1 to accept or reject the Rams' proposal. A rejection appears imminent. The sides would then be free to negotiate until the arbitration process begins June 15. That process would be expected to conclude by the end of the year.

Once the arbiter makes a compromise proposal, the stadium authority will then have an opportunity to accept or reject. If the stadium authority accepts, the plan would become binding for the Rams, extending their lease through 2015. If the stadium authority rejects, the Rams' lease would proceed on a year-to-year basis beginning in March 2015.

Most NFL reporters cover stadium issues from afar and only reluctantly. I'm in that camp. We're then forced into catch-up mode when actual stadium news breaks out. Those with greater interest in stadium issues seem far better informed, but even that can be difficult to discern for those of us without a feel for the subject matter.

Footballphds.com has shown interest in covering stadium issues pertaining to the NFL potentially returning to Los Angeles. It considers the Rams to be a secondary player for that market, with the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders as the primary players. Its Rams coverage could be worth a look for those interested in another voice on the matter.


Anthony from Headrick, Texas asks whether the Rams will "be any good" this year.

Mike Sando: They'll be better simply because so many things had to go wrong for the team to finish 2-14 last season. How much better? I'd expect the Rams to get into that 5-11 or 6-10 range in their first season under Jeff Fisher. But when I look at the schedule, it's tougher to single out which five or six games the team would likely win. Home games against Seattle and Arizona in Weeks 4-5 appear pivotal.


Joe from Phoenix asks whether the Rams could be in play for Jake Long if the Miami Dolphins' tackle become a free agent next offseason.

"The current left tackle situation could be improved," he writes, "and if Long's brother, Joe, sticks on the Rams' roster this year, St. Louis would have a connection with Jake. Do the Rams have the cap room for another mega-deal? And if they do, could you defend this move?"

Mike Sando: The Rams should be set up very well from a salary-cap standpoint. They have many potentially early choices over the 2012, 2013 and 2014 drafts, but the rookie wage scale makes those players' contracts easy to absorb. However, I also think those early choices put the Rams in position to build with lower-cost players. They shouldn't need to spend lavishly for free agents, as a general rule.

ESPN's Andrew Brandt recently laid out just how the rookie wage scale has affected the process. I then followed up with him to ask how the new structure could affect the Rams given all their early picks.

"Having a top pick is no longer a millstone around a team's neck and they can amass multiple first-round picks without weighing down future payrolls," Brandt replied. "Especially in later years of these contracts, the cash commitment represents great value compared to highly-paid veterans. Thus, having multiple first-round pick gives a team options whether to package them to go up as, again, the numbers are down from the previous CBA, or move back for more 'value' picks later in the draft."

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