NFC West: Lance Ball

NFL scorekeepers changed Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington's 40-yard interception return for a touchdown into a 39-yard return with a fumble.

Teammate Darnell Dockett recovered in the end zone.

Dockett gets the touchdown. Washington learns a lesson about finishing plays.

The Denver Broncos' Lance Ball hustled downfield to knock loose the football after Washington appeared to lose focus toward the end of his return.

One positive for Washington and the Cardinals on the fumble: Dockett's recovery gave Arizona six fumble recoveries for touchdowns this season, an NFL record. Four teams had accomplished the feat five times in a season, most recently Oakland in 1978. The San Francisco 49ers did it in 1965.

Practice-squad update: Rams

September, 1, 2008
9/01/08
2:15
PM ET
Rams eligible for
practice squad
Pos.Current Status
Brock BerlinQB53-man roster
Chris LongDE53-man roster
John GrecoOL53-man roster
Donnie AveryWR53-man roster
Roy SchueningOL53-man roster
Chris ChamberlainLB53-man roster
David VoboraLB53-man roster
Derek StanleyWRPractice Squad
C.J. Ah YouDLPractice Squad
Russ WeilFBPractice Squad
Marc MagroLBPractice Squad
Lance BallRBPractice Squad
Dustin FryOLPractice Squad
Darius Vinnett
CB
Practice Squad
Mark LeVoirOL53-man roster (Pats)
Marques HagansWRPractice Squad (Chiefs)
Julius WilsonOLPractice Squad (Bucs)
Cortney GrixbyDBWaived
Nick CleaverTEWaived
Marcus RileyLBWaived
Donovan RaiolaOLWaived
Henry SmithDLWaived
Willie WilliamsDLWaived
Matt CaddellWRWaived
Tanard DavisDBWaived
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams have filled seven of eight spots on their practice squad. Cornerback Darius Vinnett was the notable addition; he previously slipped through the cracks when I listed Rams players with practice-squad eligibility.

Derek Stanley provides needed practice depth at receiver. Injuries continue to affect that position for the Rams.

The Patriots' signing of Mark LeVoir to their active roster surprised me. The Rams lack depth on the offensive line after placing Mark Setterstrom and Brandon Gorin on injured reserve. But the Patriots' might be even more desperate for help at tackle. New England has considered everyone but Bruce Armstrong as potential stopgaps at the position this summer. We'll see how long LeVoir lasts.

Update: The Chiefs signed Marques Hagans to their practice squad. Earlier in camp, a scout for another team asked me if I thought Hagans would earn a roster spot. Hagans' potential as a return specialist had caught his attention. 

Julius Wilson obviously has some talent. He went from the Dolphins to the Rams to the Bucs' practice squad in a short time period. Scouts must see potential.

I watched Wilson struggle terribly during the Rams scrimmage.

As noted then: "Defensive end Eric Moore beat [Wilson] for what would have been a sack on Brock Berlin. [Marc] Magro tossed Wilson to the outside and surged forward for what would have been a free shot on Berlin. Shortly thereafter, running back Lance Ball was gliding along for what should have been an easy touchdown, but a linebacker slammed him to the ground in front of Wilson as Ball crossed the goal line.

Rams eligible for
practice squad
Pos.Probable Status
Brock BerlinQBKeeper
Chris LongDEKeeper
John GrecoOLKeeper
Donnie AveryWRKeeper
Roy SchueningOLKeeper
Chris ChamberlainLBKeeper
David VoboraLBBubble
Derek StanleyWRBubble
C.J. Ah YouDLBubble
Russ WeilFBLikely cut
Marc MagroLBLikely cut
Cortney GrixbyDBWaived
Lance BallRBLikely cut
Nick CleaverTEWaived
Marcus RileyLBWaived
Donovan RaiolaOLWaived
Dustin FryOLLikely cut
Julius WilsonOLLikely cut
Henry SmithDLWaived
Mark LeVoirOLLikely cut
Willie WilliamsDLWaived
Matt CaddellWRWaived
Marques HagansWRWaived

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams' released 10 players in anticipation of the 53-man roster limit, which goes into effect Saturday.

I've singled out eight of them on our chart of Rams players with practice-squad eligibility. The eighth and ninth players released, veteran safety Jerome Carter, and cornerback Tanard Davis, have no such eligibility.

Expect the Rams to make their remaining cuts before the 6 p.m. ET deadline Saturday.

The Rams are carrying 66 players once they move Steven Jackson to the active roster from the exempt list.

Die-hard alert: Updated roided-out NFC West rosters here.

Earlier: The chart shows each of the Rams' players with practice-squad eligibility, according to the team.

Practice-squad rules can be confusing, and exceptions sometimes apply to relatively experienced players.

I've categorized each player based on his perceived likelihood of earning a spot on the 53-man roster. Those are rough characterizations. Teams still have not made decisions. It's conceivable that a player listed as a "keeper" could face his release.

(Read full post)

Practice-squad report: Rams

August, 29, 2008
8/29/08
12:20
PM ET
Rams eligible for
practice squad
Pos.Probable Status
Brock BerlinQBKeeper
Chris LongDEKeeper
John GrecoOLKeeper
Donnie AveryWRKeeper
Roy SchueningOLKeeper
Chris ChamberlainLBKeeper
David VoboraLBBubble
Derek StanleyWRBubble
C.J. Ah YouDLBubble
Tanard DavisDBLikely cut
Russ WeilFBLikely cut
Marc MagroLBLikely cut
Cortney GrixbyDBLikely cut
Lance BallRBLikely cut
Nick CleaverTELikely cut
Marcus RileyLBLikely cut
Donovan RaiolaOLLikely cut
Dustin FryOLLikely cut
Julius WilsonOLLikely cut
Henry SmithDLLikely cut
Mark LeVoirOLLikely cut
Willie WilliamsDLLikely cut
Matt CaddellWRLikely cut
Marques HagansWRCut

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The chart shows each of the Rams' players with practice-squad eligibility, according to the team.

Practice-squad rules can be confusing, and exceptions sometimes apply to relatively experienced players.

I've categorized each player based on his perceived likelihood of earning a spot on the 53-man roster. Those are rough characterizations. Teams still have not made decisions. It's conceivable that a player listed as a "keeper" could face his release.

As noted: Rosters spots are serious business for NFL players lacking job security. For some, the next 30 hours or so will determine whether they'll earn $17,352.94 per week or whatever the real world pays.

The minimum NFL salary is $295,000. Players get paid in 17 installments, one for every week they spend as a paid member of the organization.

NFL teams must trim rosters from 75 players to 53 players by Saturday afternoon. Teams can establish eight-man practice squads beginning Sunday. Practice-squad players earn a minimum of $5,200 per week during the regular season and playoffs.

Once a player signs with a practice squad, he can practice with the team. He becomes eligible to play in games only if a team signs him to its 53-man roster. Practice-squad players are free to sign with any team's active roster at any time during the season.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

MEQUON, Wis. -- The Rams made it through their scrimmage without serious injuries, coach Scott Linehan said, although linebacker Quinton Culberson "tweaked" an ankle. Culberson is competing with injured veteran Chris Draft to be the starting strong-side linebacker. The injury did not appear serious at all. I just saw Culberson walking without a limp near the locker room. With that, we visit the notebook:

  • New kicker Josh Brown was perfect on five field-goal tries, hitting from 26, 38, 41, 48 and 53 yards. Fellow kicker Justin Medlock, who hopes to catch on elsewhere, hit from 25, 38, 41 and 53 yards. His 48-yard try bounced off the right upright and missed. Brown sent his kickoffs to the 7-yard-line and 1 yard deep in the end zone. Medlock's kickoffs went to the 8-yard-line and 1 yard deep. Brown wore an ice pack on his right hip after kicking, but said he was fine.
  • Running back Brian Leonard welcomed rookie linebacker David Vobora to life on special teams, slamming him during a kick return.
  • Orlando Pace appears to be in the best shape of his career from a conditioning standpoint, but he is still rounding into game form. Pace is at 320 pounds. He won most of his matchups with rookie Chris Long, but Long did beat him with an inside pass-rush move that would have resulted in a sack. Pace appeared out of sorts on the play. He might have moved early, and Long beat him with a quick first step and a dip of his outside shoulder as he ducked underneath and into the clear.
  • Linehan appeared to chastise defensive coordinator Jim Haslett for riding the officials, but Haslett said it was all in good fun. Haslett was barking at official Steve Freeman. The two have quite a history. They played together in Buffalo for a decade and remain good friends. Freeman was telling stories about Haslett to the players.
  • Running back Antonio Pittman couldn't control a short pass in the right flat against pressure. The pass from Marc Bulger was moving quickly, but this was a play Bulger clearly wanted to hit. Pittman bobbled another pass, allowing Tye Hill to hit him and break it up.
  • Rookie linebacker Marc Magro broke up a deep pass over the middle from Bruce Gradkowski to tight end Nick Cleaver. Magro also dominated as a pass rusher against newly signed tackle Julius Wilson, formerly of the Dolphins. Wilson struggled. Defensive end Eric Moore beat him for what would have been a sack on Brock Berlin. Magro tossed Wilson to the outside and surged forward for what would have been a free shot on Berlin. Shortly thereafter, running back Lance Ball was gliding along for what should have been an easy touchdown, but a linebacker slammed him to the ground in front of Wilson as Ball crossed the goal line.
  • Defensive end C.J. Ah You beat fullback Richard Owens in pass protection. Linebacker Chris Chamberlain flattened Ball, a rookie from Maryland. Tackling was prohibited when starters were on the field, but the backups beat up on each other.
  • Drew Bennett got open and made catches without much trouble. The Rams have problems at safety, particularly with O.J. Atogwe resting an injury.
  • The Rams used multiple combinations on the offensive line, making it tough to distinguish between second- and third-teamers. Brett Romberg worked at center with the starters.
The Rams drew an estimated 2,000 fans to Concordia University for the scrimmage. I'll have more on the Rams as we continue to analyze rosters. Look for a "Camp Confidential" report in the coming week.

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