NFC West: Jordan Kent

Challenging the 49ers' divisional dominance

September, 11, 2011
The San Francisco 49ers have changed head coaches and coordinators multiple times in recent years, but there has been at least one constant.

The team keeps defeating division opponents at home.

The 49ers have won their last seven NFC West games at Candlestick Park. The average final score: 31-12.

It's something to keep in mind when the Seattle Seahawks visit later Sunday. Seattle is the most recent NFC West team to defeat the 49ers at Candlestick, back in Week 8 of the 2008 season.

Eight 49ers starters from that 2008 defeat remain in the lineup or at least part of the game plan this week: Josh Morgan, Joe Staley, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, Parys Haralson, Isaac Sopoaga, Justin Smith and Patrick Willis. Several 49ers backups and inactive players from that game also remain with the team, including Ray McDonald and Delanie Walker. Alex Smith was on injured reserve and did not play that season.

The Seahawks have had almost zero carryover. Koren Robinson, Walter Jones, Mike Wahle, Keary Colbert, Seneca Wallace, Jordan Kent and current 49ers assistant Bobby Engram were among their offensive starters that day. They're hoping a nearly all-new team can produce different results against the 49ers on the road.

New 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh inherits a team that has gone 11-3 in its last 14 divisional games, home or away. Seattle has accounted for two of those three defeats, including in the 2010 opener.

Larry Fitzgerald's arrival with the Arizona Cardinals via the 2004 NFL draft serves as the starting point for the latest item looking at recent NFC West choices.

Fitzgerald already has 613 receptions, far more than any other NFC West receiver over the last seven seasons.

In fact, the wide receivers with the most receptions for the Cardinals' division rivals during the same time period -- Torry Holt (St. Louis), Bobby Engram (Seattle) and Arnaz Battle (San Francisco) -- have long since moved on. I ran across Engram in the 49ers' main lobby Wednesday; he's a quality control coach with the team.

History tells us receivers carry more risk than some other positions. For every Fitzgerald, there seems to be a Koren Robinson, David Terrell or Troy Williamson -- high picks that never came close to realizing their potential. Mike Williams' revival with Seattle last season was an exception.

The charts break down every receiver NFC West teams have drafted since 2004. Will the St. Louis Rams add Julio Jones to their list of drafted wideouts?

As in the past, I'll preface each chart with thoughts from the teams' perspectives.

Immediate needs don't matter so much when front-line talent is available ...

Time to start finding replacements for veterans who might not fit into our plans (Terrell Owens for the 49ers, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt for the Rams) ...

These guys might not start, but every team needs secondary options in the passing game ...

We're getting late enough in the draft to consider grabbing a receiver while a few with decent potential remain on the board ...

Time to fill out the roster and hope we find depth for special teams ...
Of all the 2007 NFC West draft picks, the Cardinals' Levi Brown and the 49ers' Patrick Willis have started the most games.US PresswireOf all the 2007 NFC West draft picks, the Cardinals' Levi Brown and the 49ers' Patrick Willis have started the most games.
JaMarcus Russell's demise as an NFL player is back in the news, shining light upon the perils of investing millions in unproven prospects.

The 2007 NFL draft was about more than Russell, of course.

That draft also produced Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, Darrelle Revis and Lawrence Timmons among the top 15 choices.

For as much criticism as the Arizona Cardinals have taken for selecting tackle Levi Brown fifth overall, Brown has started 59 regular-season games, second only to Willis (63) among NFC West draft choices that year. He has also started six playoff games, including a Super Bowl, and coach Ken Whisenhunt expects good things from him.

I've put together a couple charts showing what NFC West teams have gotten from their draft choices that year. More on those in a bit.

First, I've taken a team-by-team look at the players selected, whether they remain with their original teams and how many games each has started for his drafted team.

The 49ers had the best draft among NFC West teams. They also had the most draft capital to work with, selecting twice in the first round. The Seattle Seahawks had no first-rounder that year thanks to the Deion Branch trade, so expectations were lower.

Arizona Cardinals

Total picks: five

Still with team (4): Brown (59), Steve Breaston (26), Ben Patrick (20), Alan Branch (3)

No longer with team (1): Buster Davis (0)

Comment: The Cardinals had fewer total selections than any team in the division. Hitting on Breaston in the fifth round was outstanding, but the Cardinals haven't gotten enough from their top three selections that year. Branch never panned out as a second-rounder. Davis, the third-rounder, didn't make it out of camp. Whisenhunt takes pride in making roster decisions with less regard for draft status. He wasn't going to give Davis or anyone a free pass. That's admirable, but in the bigger picture, Arizona still came up short in this draft.

San Francisco 49ers

Total picks: nine

Still with team (5): Willis (63), Joe Staley (50), Ray McDonald (9), Dashon Goldson (34), Tarell Brown (5)

No longer with team (4): Jason Hill (2), Jay Moore (0), Joe Cohen (0), Thomas Clayton (0)

Comment: Former general manager Scot McCloughan gets credit for selling former coach Mike Singletary on Willis as an elite prospect. That seems odd given Singletary's background as a Hall of Fame linebacker, but the 49ers got the right guy, so the "how" part matters less. That one selection makes this draft the best in the division for 2007. Staley is the starting left tackle. McDonald has been a solid rotation player. Goldson became a starter. All in all, this was a strong draft.

Seattle Seahawks

Total picks: eight

Still with team (2): Brandon Mebane (53), Will Herring (7)

No longer with team (6): Josh Wilson (24), Steve Vallos (8), Mansfield Wrotto (5), Courtney Taylor (4), Jordan Kent (1), Baraka Atkins (0)

Comment: Not having a first-round selection severely hurt this class' overall potential. Wilson seemed like a solid selection in the second round given the playmaking value he offered, but multiple changes in organizational leadership left him on the outside in terms of fit. Mebane was a solid choice in the third round. Vallos and Wrotto remain in the league elsewhere.

St. Louis Rams

Total picks: eight

Still with team (1): Clifton Ryan (27)

No longer with team (7): Adam Carriker (25), Brian Leonard (7), Jonathan Wade (6), Dustin Fry (0), Ken Shackleford (0), Keith Jackson (0), Derek Stanley (0)

Comment: This draft was a disaster for the Rams and made worse by massive organizational changes. On the bright side, the Rams might not have been in position to select Sam Bradford first overall in 2010 without selecting so many non-contributors in 2007.

Now, on to the charts. The first one takes a round-by-round look at the number of starts each team has gotten from its 2007 selections. I have used dashes instead of zeroes to show when teams did not have a selection in a specific round.

The second chart divides the number of starts by the values of the selections each team held, using the draft-value chart.

For example, the value chart said the Seahawks' picks that year were worth 669.2 points, far less than the picks for other NFC West teams were worth. Using this measure, Seattle got more bang for its buck if we valued all starts equally (and we should not value them all equally, but we can still use this as a general guide).

Some of the choices were compensatory and could not be traded, so the chart would not have valued them for trading purposes. I assigned values to them for this exercise, however, because we were not considering the picks for trading purposes.

Definitive look at NFC West turnover

September, 8, 2010
Roster turnover is a leading topic for discussion in Seattle following the release of T.J. Houshmandzadeh in particular.

I've addressed the subject in depth across the division -- first May 26 and again July 30 -- and it's worth another look now that teams have reduced to 53 players for the regular season.

This time, I'm going to break down the changes by position, listing players no longer on the active roster at each main position group (with new players in parenthesis). Departures outnumber replacements because some players finished last season on injured reserve, meaning they were not part of the 53-man roster.

Some players no longer on the active roster remain with the team (they could be suspended, deemed physically unable to perform or part of the practice squad).

St. Louis Rams (34 off roster)

Defensive back: Eric Bassey, Quincy Butler, Danny Gorrer, Clinton Hart, Cordelius Parks, David Roach, Jonathan Wade (added Kevin Dockery, Jerome Murphy, Darian Stewart)

Defensive line: Victor Adeyanju, Adam Carriker, Leger Douzable, Leonard Little, LaJuan Ramsey, James Wyche (added Jermelle Cudjo, Fred Robbins, George Selvie, Eugene Sims)

Linebacker: K.C. Asiodu, Paris Lenon (added Na'il Diggs, Josh Hull)

Offensive line: Roger Allen, Alex Barron, Ryan McKee, Mark Setterstrom, Phillip Trautwein, Eric Young (added Renardo Foster, Hank Fraley, Rodger Saffold)

Quarterback: Kyle Boller, Marc Bulger, Keith Null, Mike Reilly (added Sam Bradford, A.J. Feeley, Thaddeus Lewis)

Running back: Samkon Gado, Chris Ogbonnaya (added Keith Toston)

Special teams: Ryan Neill

Tight end: Randy McMichael (added Mike Hoomanawanui, Fendi Onobun)

Wide receiver: Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton, Brooks Foster, Jordan Kent, Ruvell Martin (added Mark Clayton, Dominique Curry, Mardy Gilyard)

Seattle Seahawks (33 off roster)

Defensive back: Jamar Adams, Deon Grant, Ken Lucas, Josh Wilson (added Kam Chancellor, Kennard Cox, Nate Ness, Earl Thomas, Walter Thurmond)

Defensive line: Lawrence Jackson, Patrick Kerney, Cory Redding, Nick Reed, Darryl Tapp, Craig Terrill (added Kentwan Balmer, Raheem Brock, Chris Clemons, Dexter Davis, Junior Siavii, E.J. Wilson)

Linebacker: Leroy Hill, Lance Laury, D.D. Lewis (added Matt McCoy; note that Hill is suspended for the first regular-season game)

Offensive line: Trevor Canfield, Brandon Frye, Walter Jones, Damion McIntosh, Rob Sims, Steve Vallos, Ray Willis, Mansfield Wrotto (added Stacy Andrews, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Ben Hamilton, Russell Okung, Chester Pitts, Tyler Polumbus)

Quarterback: Mike Teel, Seneca Wallace (added Charlie Whitehurst)

Running back: Justin Griffith, Louis Rankin, Tyler Roehl, Owen Schmitt (added Quinton Ganther, Michael Robinson, Leon Washington)

Special teams: Kevin Houser, Jeff Robinson (added Clint Gresham)

Tight end: John Owens (added Chris Baker, Anthony McCoy)

Wide receiver: Nate Burleson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh (added Golden Tate, Mike Williams)

Arizona Cardinals (24 off roster)

Defensive backs: Ralph Brown, Bryant McFadden, Antrel Rolle (added A.J. Jefferson, Trumaine McBride, Brandon McDonald, Kerry Rhodes)

Defensive line: Jason Banks (added Dan Williams)

Linebacker: Monty Beisel, Bertrand Berry, Cody Brown, Karlos Dansby, Gerald Hayes, Chike Okeafor, Pago Togafau (added Paris Lenon, Cyril Obiozor, Joey Porter, Daryl Washington; Hayes can return from the physically unable to perform list after six games)

Offensive line: Mike Gandy, Herman Johnson, Reggie Wells (added Alan Faneca, Rex Hadnot)

Quarterback: Matt Leinart, Brian St. Pierre, Kurt Warner (added Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton)

Running back: Justin Green, Dan Kreider (added Jerome Johnson)

Special teams: Neil Rackers (added Jay Feely)

Tight end: Anthony Becht (added Jim Dray)

Wide receiver: Anquan Boldin, Sean Morey, Jerheme Urban (added Andre Roberts, Stephen Williams)

San Francisco 49ers (24 off roster)

Defensive backs: Dre' Bly, Walt Harris, Marcus Hudson, Mark Roman (added Phillip Adams, Tramaine Brock, William James, Taylor Mays)

Defensive line: Kentwan Balmer, Derek Walker

Linebacker: Scott McKillop, Jeff Ulbrich, Matt Wilhelm (added NaVorro Bowman, Travis LaBoy)

Offensive line: Tony Pashos, Chris Patrick, Cody Wallace (added Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati)

Quarterback: Nate Davis, Shaun Hill (added David Carr, Troy Smith)

Running back: Thomas Clayton, Glen Coffee, Brit Miller, Michael Robinson (added Anthony Dixon, Brian Westbrook)

Special teams: Shane Andrus, Ricky Schmitt

Wide receiver: Arnaz Battle, Isaac Bruce, Jason Hill, Brandon Jones (added Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams, Dominique Zeigler)

The first chart shows how many players are back -- at least for now -- from Week 17 rosters and injured reserve lists. Seattle has the fewest number back with 26.

The second chart shows how many players each team has shed since Week 17 last season. This counts players who were on injured reserve. Teams with lots of players on injured reserve had more players to lose.

San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Leonard Little, Jerheme Urban, Isaac bruce, Owen Schmitt, Josh Wilson, Justin Green, Derek Anderson, Walt Harris, Tony Pashos, Brian St.Pierre, Darryl Tapp, Sam Bradford, Mark Roman, Dan Kreider, Steve Vallos, David Carr, Randy McMIchael, Ralph Brown, Lawrence Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, Shaun HIll, Leroy HIll, Chris Patrick, Matt Leinart, Chike Okeafor, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Brian Westbrook, Bertrand Berry, Dominique Zeigler, Ricky Schmitt, Eric Bassey, Eric Young, D.D. Lewis, Nate Burleson, Alex Barron, Samkon Gado, Kyle Boller, Brit Miller, Patrick Kerney, Quincy Butler, Michael Robinson, Arnaz Battle, Ray Willis, Jerome Johnson, Derek Walker, Glen Coffee, Brooks Foster, Monty Beisel, Renardo Foster, Mansfield Wrotto, Seneca Wallace, Donnie Avery, Karlos Dansby, Alex Boone, Marcus Hudson, Adam Carriker, Cody Brown, Kurt Warner, Cordelius Parks, Jeff Ulbrich, Chris Ogbonnaya, Neil Rackers, Pago Togafau, Scott McKillop, Kentwan Balmer, Lance Laury, Sean Morey, Mike Gandy, Mike Reilly, Anquan Boldin, Trevor Canfield, Marc Bulger, Nate Davis, Cory Redding, Antrel Rolle, Matt McCoy, Brandon Jones, Alan Faneca, Anthony Davis, Keenan Burton, Jason HIll, Joey Porter, David Roach, Phillip Trautwein, Tyler Roehl, Taylor Mays, Mark Setterstrom, Travis LaBoy, A.J. Feeley, Craig Terrill, Keith Null, Cody Wallace, K.C. Asiodu, Jordan Kent, Kyle Williams, Stacy Andrews, James Wyche, Reggie Wells, Victor Adeyanju, Jonathan Wade, Thomas Clayton, Deon Grant, LaJuan Ramsey, John Owens, Bryant McFadden, Matt Wilhelm, Gerald Hayes, Jeff Robinson, Herman Johnson, Walter Jones, Mike Williams, Justin Griffith, Jason Banks, Jamar Adams, Kevin Houser, Anthony Becht, Damion McIntosh, Louis Rankin, Brandon Frye, Ruvell Martin, Paris Lenon, Leger Douzable, Ryan Neill, Danny Gorrer, Russell Okung, Anthony McCoy, Clinton Hart, Earl Thomas, Leon Washington, Andre Roberts, Chester Pitts, Dan Williams, Mike Iupati, Ben Hamilton, Ryan McKee, Kennard Cox, Kerry Rhodes, Fred Robbins, Chris Baker, William James, Rex Hadnot, Hank Fraley, Mark Clayton, Quinton Ganther, Na'il Diggs, Chris Clemons, John Skelton, Mardy Gilyard, Rodger Saffold, Daryl Washington, Golden Tate, Jerome Murphy, Navorro Bowman, Walter Thurmond, E.J. Wilson, Mike Hoomanawanui, Nate Byham, Fendi Onobun, George Selvie, Thaddeus Lewis, Stephen Williams, A.J. Jefferson, Anthony Dixon, Eugene Sims, Kam Chancellor, Dexter Davis, Jermelle Cudjo, Darian Stewart, Keith Toston, Tramaine Brock, Dominique Curry, Phillip Adams, Trumaine McBride, Kevin Dockery, Shane Andrus, Tyler Polumbus, Clint Gresham, Roger III Allen, Cyril Obiozor, Brandon McDonald, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Junior Siavii, Troy Smith, Ted Jr. Ginn, Raheem Brock

Post-camp roster analysis: Rams

September, 1, 2010
The St. Louis Rams hold the No. 1 priority for waiver claims and they'll probably put that status to work following the mandatory reduction to 53 players Saturday.

With that in mind, let's take a position-by-position look at the Rams' roster heading into their second season under coach Steve Spagnuolo (current roster counts listed in parentheses):

Quarterbacks (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.9

Keepers: Sam Bradford, A.J. Feeley

Looking safe: Keith Null

On the bubble: Thaddeus Lewis

Comment: Lewis has played well enough to intrigue the Rams, but probably not well enough for another team to claim him off waivers. That makes Lewis a natural choice for the practice squad.

Running backs (5)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.3

Keepers: Steven Jackson, Mike Karney

Looking safe: Kenneth Darby

Not sure what to think: Keith Toston, Chris Ogbonnaya

Comment: The Rams are carrying as many running backs as teams typically keep, but multiple spots could be up for grabs depending on which running backs become available via waivers. I'd rather list Toston, Ogbonnaya and Darby in one group until it becomes clear which backs -- and which types of backs -- hit the waiver wire. Ogbonnaya showed potential last season and looked good early in camp, but his performance hasn't carried over to exhibition games and that could cost him. Perhaps expectations were too high. Darby's toughness and special-teams contributions could help him. Toston runs hard and could land on the practice squad.

Wide receivers (9)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.3

Keepers: Laurent Robinson, Mardy Gilyard, Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Keenan Burton

On the bubble: Dominique Curry

Also: Brandon McRae, Jordan Kent, Danario Alexander

Comment: Curry stood out as an undrafted steal during camp. He has excellent size and has showed good ability on special teams. Burton's durability should remain a concern, but that's the case with Robinson and even Gibson at this point. Gibson's value rises with Donnie Avery on injured reserve.

Tight ends (6)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.0

Keepers: Billy Bajema, Mike Hoomanawanui

Looking safe: Fendi Onobun

Not sure what to think: Daniel Fells, Darcy Johnson

Also: Dennis Morris

Comment: But wait, Fells is the incumbent starter, right? Yes, but he hasn't been durable and there's so much to like about the rookies Onobun and Hoomanawanui. Bajema is an obvious keeper for his blocking and all-around game (he has caught the ball well on limited chances). Johnson has shown toughness and blocking ability, so he could be an option if the team wants to move on from Fells. Perhaps I'm over thinking things here, but the emergence of Onobun and Hoomanawanui during camp creates dilemmas.

Offensive linemen (13)

Average number kept since 2003: 9.3

Keepers: Jason Brown, Jacob Bell, Rodger Saffold, Jason Smith, Adam Goldberg, Hank Fraley

Looking safe: John Greco, Roger Allen III

Also: Eric Young, Drew Miller, Ryan McKee, Renardo Foster, Tim Mattran

Comment: It's tough finding nine keepers here, so the Rams could be active in the waiver-claim game. Greco's versatility works in his favor. Are the Rams still high on Allen's prospects? I know they liked him last season, but that was before reconstructive knee surgery. Trading Alex Barron made sense in the big picture, but the Rams would have better depth here if Barron were still around.

Defensive line (12)

Average number kept since 2003: 8.6

Keepers: Chris Long, Fred Robbins, Clifton Ryan, James Hall, Gary Gibson, Darell Scott

Looking safe: George Selvie

On the bubble: Victor Adeyanju, C.J. Ah You, Jermelle Cudjo

Also: Ernest Reid, Eugene Sims

Comment: Durability concerns could cost Ah You. Adeyanju also could be on the bubble depending on what options the Rams have beyond their own roster. Cudjo has made a positive impression during camp and preseason. Same goes for Selvie, although an injury sidelined him part of the time.

Linebackers (9)

Average number kept since 2003: 6.3

Keepers: James Laurinaitis, Larry Grant, Na'il Diggs, Chris Chamberlain

Looking safe: Bobby Carpenter

On the bubble: David Vobora, Josh Hull

Also: Devin Bishop, Cardia Jackson

Comment: Carpenter has gotten some work at defensive end. Perhaps his presence in an emergency capacity at that position could allow the Rams to keep one fewer defensive lineman, at least early. Chamberlain is probably the best special-teams position player on the Rams, enhancing his value. Hull could provide depth behind Laurinaitis because he's a true middle linebacker, whereas Vobora can back up every position. That could be a close call.

Defensive backs (14)

Average number kept since 2003: 9.7

Keepers: Oshiomogho Atogwe, Ron Bartell, Justin King, Bradley Fletcher, James Butler, Kevin Payne, Craig Dahl, Jerome Murphy, Kevin Dockery

Looking safe: Quincy Butler

On the bubble: Darian Stewart

Also: Brett Johnson, Marquis Johnson, Antoine Thompson

Comment: James Butler's knee injury probably makes keeping Payne a higher priority. Stewart could be a candidate for the practice squad.

Specialists (3)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.7

Keepers: Josh Brown, Donnie Jones, Chris Massey

Comment: Strong group here.

Summing up Rams' day in one sentence

August, 27, 2010
Donnie Avery's season-ending knee injury will prevent him from working with Sam Bradford and the rest of the St. Louis Rams' starters in the final exhibition game this season.

That one sentence summed up the major news from Rams camp Friday: Yes, Avery's injury was as bad as feared (a torn ACL), and Bradford will indeed make a second consecutive start at quarterback (although coach Steve Spagnuolo has not yet named Bradford the regular-season starter).

The injury to Avery is a tough one for the Rams, as reflected in general manager Billy Devaney's answer, delivered during training camp, when I asked him which position concerned him most.

"I just want the receivers -- if they play to their ability, we'll be OK," Devaney said. "If we have injuries there ..."

The Rams have better depth at wide receiver this season, but it's not proven depth. Avery was arguably the most proven receiver on the roster.

It's more important now for Laurent Robinson to stay healthy, something he could not do last season. Rookie Mardy Gilyard should make an immediate impact. Slot receiver Danny Amendola enjoyed a strong training camp. Brandon Gibson caught a touchdown pass Thursday night after missing much of camp with an injury. Dominique Curry has excellent size and has impressed as a rookie free agent. Keenan Burton, Brandon McRae, Jordan Kent and the recently signed Danario Alexander are also competing.

The quarterback situation appears straightforward. I'm not sure Bradford could play poorly enough in the final exhibition game to justify leaving him on the bench heading into the regular season.
Clare Farnsworth of says quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was the Seahawks' best player during training camp. Hasselbeck will be looking to improve upon his performance in the exhibition opener. Coach Pete Carroll: "Matt's looking terrific. He’s played great throughout and he’s as physically well as he’s been in some time. He had a great offseason of hard conditioning. He’s leaner, stronger, faster than he’s been in the last few years. And he feels that way about it, too. Now, let’s take care of him and let’s see how far he can take it."

Also from Farnsworth: How far can the Seahawks' offensive line take them?

More from Farnsworth: How Charlie Whitehurst impressed Seahawks general manager John Schneider.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times quotes Carroll as saying Marcus Trufant is more physically fit than he was last season. That appears true on first glance. Trufant appears trimmer and younger. He's probably been able to work out harder now that his back trouble has subsided.

Also from O'Neil: Deon Butler's big opportunity.

Greg Johns of says Lawrence Jackson's departure from Seattle opens more opportunities for Nick Reed. Lofa Tatupu said earlier in camp that he thought Chris Clemons and Reed were the two best pass-rushers on the team. That's good for Reed but it also validates questions about the overall strength of the team's pass-rush. Jackson didn't seem to fit the 'Leo' role at all.

Also from Johns: Leroy Hill will miss several more weeks.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune provides video to his interview with draft analyst Rob Rang, who calls Whitehurst's performance in the exhibition opener a surprise.

Also from Williams: Whitehurst's Packers pedigree.

John Boyle of the Everett Herald updates Mike Williams' situation as the former first-round pick from USC tries to revive his career. Williams: "I never doubted my talent, but I needed some time away to really clear my mind," said Williams, who played for first-year Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at USC. I went through a lot in a short period of time, some things that I could control, some that I couldn't, and I just used that time to really get my mind right. And once my mind was right, it was easy for my body to follow, for me to be disciplined and do the things that I needed to do."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Cardinals rookie free agent Marshay Green. Also, Somers looks at the depth situation at receiver in Arizona.

Also from Somers: another look at the weight issues Deuce Lutui and Herman Johnson are facing. Somers: "A starter in 53 of the Cardinals' past 54 games, Lutui lost that job when he stayed away from off-season practices, unhappy with the team's contract offer. Reggie Wells is playing in front of him, but considering the way he's playing, Lutui will be hard to keep on the bench."

Darren Urban of offers a few Cardinals notes as the team breaks camp. Urban: "(Ken) Whisenhunt talked about a couple of young defenders today. Linebacker Cody Brown, last year’s second-round pick, hasn’t shown enough yet to make the Cards know he is ready to be a heir apparent for (Joey) Porter or Clark Haggans. That’s what the rest of the preseason is for."

Also from Urban: The Cardinals have three games in 11 days.

More from Urban: Rookie receiver Max Komar fits the slot role, but he likes to play on the outside, too.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams rookie Sam Bradford resists the notion that he's the face of the franchise. Of course, Bradford is clearly the face of the franchise, no matter what he says. Bradford: "I think that's ridiculous. I don't think one person is any face of the franchise. It takes 11 guys on offense, 11 guys on defense and however many guys you have playing special teams to win a football game. That's how I look at it. And I wish more people would look at it like that."

Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says kicker Josh Brown was back participating in practice after missing time with a hip injury. Various non-kickers had been handling kicking duties in practice, with comical results in some cases. Jordan Kent wasn't bad, however. Brown: "I think everybody enjoyed it with the humor that's behind it. But the real situation is that if something were to happen, somebody's got to go in. Jordan toward the end got to be more consistent and was trying to figure things out. I think a lot of the guys would never put themselves in that situation if they had the choice."

Matt Maiocco of says the 49ers used Brian Westbrook and Frank Gore in the same backfield Thursday. That sounds good in theory, but teams design their offenses around basic personnel groups, and those groups do not include two halfbacks. Could putting both on the field work? Sure, but I think it's unlikely the 49ers will use that type of grouping frequently.

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers' 2-minute offense fared better in practice.

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle takes a look at 49ers receiver Dominique Zeigler, who has impressed coaches with his route running and all-around game. White says there is "no way" the 49ers will waive him again this summer (assuming Zeigler is healthy this time). White: "Zeigler's willingness to run the most dangerous routes is proving to be his safest bet to make the 53-man roster at last."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee updates Diyral Briggs' conversion from defensive end to outside linebacker. Briggs stood out to me during 49ers practices and again during the exhibition opener.

Also from Barrows: a detailed look at Mike Singletary's oversight of linebacker drills. Think he knows a little something about the position?

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat provides a long list of 49ers players who sat out practice Thursday.

Also from Barber: a look at Singletary's work with the linebackers, and a note about Chilo Rachal's physical play.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with 49ers third-string quarterback Nate Davis, who has gone without gloves in practice recently for a very practical reason. Davis: "Centers they sweat a lot, so sometimes the gloves would get wet and it’s hard to hold onto the ball." Nice.

Also from Brown: Football Outsiders expects a fourth-place finish for the 49ers in the NFC West this season, downplaying the importance of a team having carryover at offensive coordinator. The question in this case is whether the continuity at coordinator benefits Alex Smith more than it would benefit another quarterback, as suggested by Smith's former college coach, Urban Meyer.
Darren Urban of says the Cardinals signed Joey Porter for more than his pass-rush abilities. Porter, meanwhile, feels an obligation to his legacy. Porter: "Pride is about my legacy. I don’t want to be a player that, when it is all done, they are like, 'You know, he was good for the first 10 or 12 years and then he just fell off.' When I leave the game, I want it to be on my terms. Where I don’t think I can play at the high level, so I decide to shut it down. Not where they decide I don’t have it no more and they cut me. Every day I come out here, pride plays a big role, because pride won’t allow me to play mediocre."

Also from Urban: sees more good things from free-agent receiver Stephen Williams. Urban: "Stephen Williams had another fine showing. He was open deep on one play although the ball by Matt Leinart was slightly underthrown, allowing CB Tru McBride to knock it away. Williams also caught a nice 42-yard bomb from Leinart in the back of the end zone during the two-minute drill that looked close to good."

More from Urban: Breaking down video forces players to be accountable.

Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are gambling on Brandon Keith at right tackle.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' Gerald Hayes has a chance to be ready for the regular-season opener. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "I wouldn't rule it out, but I wouldn't say it's probable, either. I think the next couple weeks are going to be critical. Hopefully we'll have him."

Matt Maiocco of takes a player-by-player look at the 49ers' offense during the team's exhibition opener at Indianapolis. Maiocco on center David Baas: "Baas played very well at center. If he continues to improve, he will hold off Tony Wragge for the starting job to open the regular season. Moreover, he'll be in position to compete for playing time when Eric Heitmann returns from his broken leg."

Also from Maiocco: a player-by-player look at the 49ers' defense. On Taylor Mays: "Entered game after nine plays and wore the green dot on his helmet, signifying he was responsible for relaying the play calls to the defense. He was much better as a tackler than in coverage. Gave up a 16-yard catch to Jacob Tamme. But showed exceptional ability on one play when he was 10 yards off the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball, closed quickly and tackled Brown for a 3-yard loss on a short third-down pass. He tried to disguise coverage in the second quarter, but did not get back in time to fulfill responsibility in two-deep coverage. But the deep pass for Taj Smith was not caught."

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers are taking things slowly with newly signed running back Brian Westbrook.

Also from Barber: Receiver Ted Ginn Jr. continues to impress. Barber: "Alex Smith's best throw of the day may have been a strike to Ginn down the left sideline, right on target vs. CB Shawntae Spencer's coverage. Ginn made an even better catch later when he reached back to get Smith's throw with one hand. The starting QB was off-target on some passes, but finished with a flourish in simulated 2-minute drill. He completed it with a touchdown throw to WR Jason Hill."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee checks in with Westbrook and Frank Gore.

Also from Barrows: Ginn is more likely to contribute on kickoff returns than on punt returns.

Greg Johns of says the Seahawks like what they've seen from rookie Dexter Davis. Johns: "Now three weeks and one preseason game into training camp, the Seahawks appear to have found a hidden gem. Davis, 23, had a sack and four quarterback hits in Saturday's 20-18 victory over Tennessee while continuing to flash the speed and athleticism that have been opening eyes since camp opened."

Clare Farnsworth of takes a look at newly acquired defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer. Also, depth on the offensive line is diminished without Ray Willis. Farnsworth: "Without Willis, the No. 1 line remains the same with -- from left tackle to right -- Russell Okung, Ben Hamilton, Chris Spencer, Max Unger and Locklear. But Mansfield Wrotto is now at left tackle with the No. 2 line, where Willis was getting most of his work. In practice today, the rest of the No. 2 consisted of Steve Vallos at left guard, where Wrotto and Mike Gibson had been working; Jeff Byers at center, because Vallos was at guard; and a right side of guard Mitch Erickson and tackle Joe Toledo."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says rookie tight end Anthony McCoy continues to drop passes. I saw him drop at least three while attending Seattle practices.

Percy Allen of the Seattle Times says Balmer is getting a second chance to realize his potential.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with veteran Seahawks defensive tackle Craig Terrill, who was mistaken for musician Tom Petty during a recent practice.

Also from Boling: a look at where Willis' injury leaves the Seahawks' offensive line. Also: "Ben Obomanu has been a little bit of a forgotten man in the receivers corps with addition of Mike Williams, the drafting of Golden Tate and the return of Deion Branch. After Saturday’s two catches for 36 yards, Obomanu had another good practice Monday."

John Morgan of Field Gulls says the Seahawks picked up a talented player at a bargain price in acquiring Balmer, but there's no guarantee the team will come out ahead.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams had more fights in practice Tuesday than they had victories last season. Coach Steve Spagnuolo: "There is a fine line, no question. And I'm always harping on them that you can practice physical and aggressive and still take care of each other. Don't pull jerseys. Don't try to throw guys on the ground. We're getting there. But some guys haven't figured it out yet."

Also from Thomas: The Rams cut safety David Roach and signed Brett Johnson. Both are safeties.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Jordan Kent is trying to make his mark in Rams camp. Coats: "The 6-foot-4, 219-pound Kent appears to be firmly in the mix. He's displayed improved receiving skills, plus he has desirable versatility as a strong special-teams contributor and possibly as an emergency place-kicker."

Around the NFC West: Kroenke's bid

August, 3, 2010
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom expects NFL owners to vote on Stan Kroenke's bid during an Aug. 25 meeting. Rosenbloom: "We're optimistic that the transaction will be supported by the owners and the league. Our relationship with Stan has been and continues to be excellent. We're finalizing documents and expect it to be voted on Aug. 25." All signs point to approval for Kroenke, the Rams' current minority owner.

Also from Thomas: Free-agent wide receiver Danario Alexander passed a physical exam with the Rams, but left without a contract. Alexander planned to meet with the Seahawks as well.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says hot conditions are affecting the Rams at training camp. Coach Steve Spagnuolo: "I don't think you want to [practice in the heat] all the time. Then you get a weak team and a team coming out of training camp that's just beat up and burnt. We don't want to do that. But it's early right now, so the heat's good … to get the team acclimated to this particular environment. We're going to play some games in some warm weather, especially early in the season."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams camp is different with Sam Bradford onboard. Burwell: "That nothing bad or crazy or weird or goofy or tragic or just plain stupid cropped up at the 11th hour to keep Bradford from reporting on time might not seem like a miracle to anyone who doesn't follow the Rams closely. But to long-suffering Rams loyalists who have spent an eternity hoping for the best but always, always expecting the worst, this was a refreshing change of pace."

Jeff Gordon of says Bradford offers a start, but nothing more. Gordon: "Aside from Bradford, running back Steven Jackson and perhaps rookie wide receiver Mardy Gilyard, how many skill position Rams would interest other teams? Their most polished receiver, Laurent Robinson, has just 55 career receptions. He runs crisp routes but can’t stay healthy. Speedy Donnie Avery has 100 catches in two seasons, but he looks more like a No. 3 receiver than a true No. 1. The obscure supporting cast behind these two includes Keenan Burton, Brandon Gibson, Danny Amendola, Brooks Foster and Jordan Kent."

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat quotes former Rams coach Dick Vermeil this way on Bradford's new contract: "I wouldn't advise him to turn it down. I think if you give the money to the right kind of people, it doesn't change anything. It adds a sense of responsibility to meet that commitment that the organization has made to him. Obviously they would have invested that kind of money if they didn't feel he was mature enough to handle it, and keep it in the proper perspective. From what everybody says, he is the kind of guy who will want to prove he is worth every dollar.''

Also from Korte: Linebacker James Laurinaitis is more comfortable in his second NFL season.

Rams back away from Terrell Owens

July, 26, 2010
The Cincinnati Bengals, apparently suspecting Terrell Owens might be using the St. Louis Rams for leverage, called the free-agent receiver's bluff earlier Monday.

Now the Rams have made it clear they won't be used, either.

As Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, the Rams have decided not to pursue Owens after discussing the matter in recent days.

This is probably a wise move even though Owens would have become the best receiver on the team. Current Rams receivers include Brandon Gibson, Keenan Burton, Dominique Curry, Danny Amendola, Donnie Avery, Laurent Robinson, Brandon McRae, Mardy Gilyard, Jordan Kent and Brooks Foster.

Earlier: Pros, cons of adding Owens to the Rams.

Carroll hasn't really left the Pac-10

April, 30, 2010
The Seahawks have 26 players from Pac-10 schools on their roster heading into their post-draft minicamp.

The rest of the NFC West has a combined 25 players from the conference.

Seattle had more Pac-10 players than most teams even before the team hired Pete Carroll away from USC as head coach.

The numbers have only grown (and I have added the newly acquired LenDale White to Seattle's list).

Update: The team has re-signed safety Lawyer Milloy, formerly of the University of Washington. That makes the total 26.

A look at Pac-10 players from each NFC West team:

Arizona (7)

Quarterback Derek Anderson (Oregon State), quarterback Matt Leinart (USC), safety Matt Ware (UCLA), safety Hamza Abdullah (Washington State), tight end Jim Dray (Stanford), tight end Dominique Byrd (USC) and unsigned restricted free agent guard Deuce Lutui (USC).

St. Louis (7)

Quarterback A.J. Feeley (Oregon), receiver Brandon Gibson (Washington State), running back Steven Jackson (Oregon State), fullback Mike Karney (Arizona State), guard Mark Lewis (Oregon), receiver Jordan Kent (Oregon) and unsigned restricted free agent safety Oshiomogho Atogwe (Stanford).

San Francisco (11)

Safety Taylor Mays (USC), safety Dashon Goldson (Washington), cornerback Karl Paymah (Washington State), linebacker Keaton Kristick (Oregon State), guard Brian De La Puente (California), guard Chilo Rachal (USC), center Eric Heitmann (Stanford), tackle Adam Snyder (Oregon), receiver Kyle Williams (Arizona State), snapper Brian Jennings (Arizona State) and receiver Jason Hill (Washington State).

Seattle (26)

Linebacker Reggie Carter (UCLA), receiver Mike Williams (USC), cornerback Josh Pinkard (USC), receiver Reggie Williams (Washington), receiver Mike Hass (Oregon State), receiver Michael Jones (Arizona State), running back Justin Forsett (California), cornerback Marcus Trufant (Washington State), cornerback Walter Thurmond (Oregon), cornerback Roy Lewis (Washington), safety Will Harris (USC), running back Louis Rankin (Washington), fullback Ryan Powdrell (USC), linebacker Lofa Tatupu (USC), defensive end Dexter Davis (Arizona State), guard Max Unger (Oregon), center Jeff Byers (USC), guard Mike Gibson (California), receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh (Oregon State), tight end Anthony McCoy (USC), tight end Cameron Morrah (California), defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (California), defensive end Lawrence Jackson (USC), LenDale White (USC), Lawyer Milloy (Washington) and defensive end Nick Reed (Oregon).

Rams complete RFA tenders

March, 4, 2010
The Rams have tendered their restricted free agents as follows:
  • Oshiomogho Atogwe, FS, right of first refusal. The team must upgrade its $1.226 million offer to nearly $7 million guaranteed in June if Atogwe is unsigned and the Rams want to retain his rights.
  • Clifton Ryan, DE, second round.
  • Alex Barron, OT, second round.
  • Victor Adeyanju, DE, original round (fourth).
  • Craig Dahl, S, right of first refusal.

The Rams can match any offers these players receive. All but Atogwe and Dahl would return a draft choice as compensation if the Rams decided against matching.

Eight players will become unrestricted free agents after the Rams declined to make RFA offers: safety Eric Bassey, long snapper Ryan Neill, cornerback Jonathan Wade, running back Samkon Gado, wide receiver Ruvell Martin, guard Mark Setterstrom, tight end Daniel Fells and defensive tackle Gary Gibson.

The minimum RFA offers exceed $1 million. Some of those eight players could conceivably return for less.

The team also retained rights to defensive end C.J. Ah You, cornerback Quincy Butler, running back Kenneth Darby, linebacker Larry Grant, wide receiver Jordan Kent, tackle Ryan McKee, safety David Roach and linebacker David Vobora.

Silver linings: Rams at Bears

December, 7, 2009
The facts: The Rams fell to 1-11 with a 17-6 road defeat to the Bears in Week 13.

The upside: Even the worst defeats tend to feature a bright spot or two.

  • Steven Jackson exceeded 100 yards rushing for the seventh time this season and the fifth time in his last six games. Jackson has 1,232 yards rushing this season, the second-highest total of his career.
  • Second-year defensive end Chris Long collected another sack. He has 4.0 this season, matching his 2008 total. This was his fourth sack in the Rams' last five games.
  • Strong play from punter Donnie Jones, receiver Jordan Kent and the rest of the coverage team helped the Rams dictate favorable field position.
  • Josh Brown made all three field goal attempts, including a 50-yarder in the fourth quarter. He has made all but one of his five tries from 50-plus yards this season. Brown leads the NFL in successful 50-plus field goal attempts since 2003.
  • Danny Amendola averaged 27 yards per kickoff return thanks to a 43-yarder.
  • Center Jason Brown started the game despite suffering a sprained knee a week earlier. Brown's presence on the offensive line is critical for Jackson and the offense.
  • The Rams held Bears quarterback Jay Cutler to 143 yards passing and less than 50 percent completions. Cutler managed 12 yards passing after the first quarter. The Rams moved up to a No. 16 ranking in passing yards allowed per game.
Looking ahead: The Rams visit the Titans in Week 14.

Around the NFC West: Rams no threat

December, 7, 2009
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is having a hard time watching the Rams in their current state. Miklasz: "(Offensive coordinator Pat) Shurmur is running the murmur offense. Sunday he called for 28 Steven Jackson runs and a bunch of dink and dunk passes that wouldn't faze a high school defense. The Rams dressed five wide receivers for the first time all season. Why, was this a costume party? I have no idea why they put five wideouts in uniform. The Rams didn't spread the field, they didn't try to make the Bears pay for assigning everyone except the Chicago Police Department to stop Jackson. The Rams attempted only 16 throws to the wideouts, and the longest completion went for 21 yards. The Rams finished with 98 net yards passing." Fifth receiver Jordan Kent was active for special teams, and he dominated in that aspect. Kent downed three punts inside the Chicago 20, including two at the 2, and he tackled Bears return man Earl Bennett at the Chicago 3 on another play.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers a Rams report card. This one won't be taped to the fridge anytime soon.

Also from Coats: The Rams could not capitalize on the stellar field position Kent helped them secure repeatedly. Quarterback Kyle Boller: "It's extremely frustrating. You get field position like that, you've got to score touchdowns. There's no secret. In this league, you've got to score to win. Field goals aren't going to cut it."

More from Coats: Steven Jackson turned in another top-notch effort despite missing practice with a back injury. Guard Jacob Bell: "Guys like him, you get banged up, the team's not doing great, but you come out and you perform. He's one of the best. I'm just happy to be out there with him."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says punter Donnie Jones is putting together a Pro Bowl-caliber season for the Rams. Performing at a high level in cold weather is impressive. Also: "It was 34 degrees at game time, making Sunday only the eighth time in 246 regular-season and playoff games for the 'St. Louis' Rams that the temperature was below 40 degrees at kickoff. Unfortunately for the Rams, they are now 1-7 in such contests. Their only cold-weather triumph since the move to St. Louis in 1995 was a 26-20 victory over Cleveland on a Monday night in 2003."

Jackson active for Rams against Seattle

November, 29, 2009
The Rams have declared their inactive players for Week 12 and Steven Jackson's name was not on the list.

Their inactive players include quarterback Marc Bulger, defensive back Danny Gorrer, fullback Mike Karney, offensive lineman Roger Allen III, guard Richie Incognito, tackle Jason Smith, receiver Jordan Kent and running back Chris Ogbonnaya.

Not having Karney hurts the running game. I would expect more reps for third receiver Danny Amendola and second tight end Daniel Fells.

Adam Goldberg starts for Smith at right tackle. Mark Setterstrom starts at right guard.

Thanks to Nick Wagoner of for passing along the info.