NFC West: LenDale White
ESPN.com Seattle Seahawks reporter Terry Blount makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.
Week 1: Green Bay Packers
All the pregame hype will center around the so-called Inaccurate Reception, the controversial Hail Mary catch by Golden Tate two years ago that won the game over the Packers at Seattle on a Monday night. Tate has moved on to Detroit, but the Seahawks now have too many weapons for the Packers to stop, no Hail Mary required. Prediction: Win
Week 2: at San Diego Chargers
The Chargers better hope they play a lot better than they did in the preseason game at Seattle, a 41-14 victory for the Seahawks on Aug. 15. San Diego will play better, but not good enough to beat a much better team. Prediction: Win
Week 3: Denver Broncos
The Broncos and their fans got a tiny bit of meaningless Super Bowl revenge in the preseason opener with a 21-16 victory over the Seahawks in Denver. Enjoy it while it lasts, boys. Repeating that outcome in Seattle is not an option. Prediction: Win
Week 5: at Washington Redskins
Traveling coast to coast to play on the road for a Monday night game is a tough task against any NFL opponent, and even tougher against quarterback Robert Griffin III. But the Seahawks catch a break in this one by coming off a bye week with plenty of time to prepare and be fresh for the journey. Prediction: Win
Week 6: Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave Seattle a little bulletin-board material last month when he said the Seahawks were to blame for the increase in penalty flags during the preseason. There won't be near enough flags against Seattle for the Cowboys to win this one. Prediction: Win
Week 7: at St. Louis Rams
Any division game in the NFC West is a rugged battle. The Rams have a defensive line that gave the Seahawks problems a year ago. But they aren't strong enough overall to beat Seattle, even at home in their out-of-date dome. Prediction: Win
Week 8: at Carolina Panthers
The Seahawks were fortunate to win the season opener at Charlotte a year ago. That Panthers team was better than this one, but back-to-back road games against very physical defensive teams will end the Seattle winning streak. Prediction: Loss
Week 9: Oakland Raiders
Coming off their first loss of the season and returning home against an outmanned opponent, is there any doubt? Prediction: Win
Week 10: New York Giants
The Seahawks easily defeated the Giants 23-0 last year in New Jersey, a dress rehearsal for their Super Bowl victory at the same location -- MetLife Stadium. The Seahawks won't need a rehearsal to roll past the Giants in this one. Prediction: Win
Week 11: at Kansas City Chiefs
This likely will be a low-scoring game between two strong defensive teams. Odds are against any team that has to try to win by matching its defense against the Seahawks' D. Prediction: Win
Week 12: Arizona Cardinals
The last time the Cardinals played at CenturyLink Field was last December when they handed the Seahawks a 17-10 loss. That won't happen again unless the Seahawks get caught looking ahead to the 49ers game. The Seahawks don't look ahead. Prediction: Win
Week 13: at San Francisco 49ers
It's a Thanksgiving night, national TV game in the 49ers' shiny new stadium against the hated Seahawks. If San Francisco can't win this one, its time as a championship contender is over. Prediction: Loss
Week 14: at Philadelphia Eagles
This is the toughest part of the season for the Seahawks with back-to-back road games against likely playoff contenders. But the 10 days between games will help and be enough of a cushion to keep Seattle from losing two in a row. Prediction: Win
Week 15: San Francisco 49ers
This is a game that could decide which team wins the NFC West. No way the Seahawks lose to the 49ers twice in three weeks, especially not in front of a rabid full house of 12s. Prediction: Win
Week 16: at Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals probably will be fighting for a playoff spot, and the Seahawks already will be in at 12-2. That difference will be just enough for Arizona to win at home in the same stadium where the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl a few weeks later. Prediction: Loss
Week 17: St. Louis Rams
For the second consecutive year, the Rams close the regular season in Seattle. And for the second consecutive year, the Seahawks will beat them without much trouble. Prediction: Win
Predicted Record: 13-3
The Seattle Seahawks have acquired 13 of them, including current contributors Percy Harvin, Marshawn Lynch, Chris Clemons and Clinton McDonald.
Palmer, acquired by the Arizona Cardinals from the Oakland Raiders on Tuesday, joins Vonnie Holliday, Kevin Kolb and Kerry Rhodes as veteran acquisitions for the Arizona Cardinals over the past three seasons.
The chart lists all 27 for NFC West teams. Shading identifies players still on the acquiring teams' rosters.
That makes it tough to criticize the Bills too harshly for making a move that could cost them when the Seahawks face Buffalo in Week 15.
I thought I'd use the occasion to review NFC West player trade acquisitions since early 2010. The time period dates to John Schneider's arrival as the Seahawks' general manager. It also covers Trent Baalke's stint in the role for San Francisco and Les Snead's hiring as GM in St. Louis. Arizona fans might find the subject helpful, too, as they consider whether longtime GM Rod Graves, perceived as relatively inactive, has been aggressive enough in procuring talent.
Players acquired: 12
Overall impact: Significant
Best acquisitions: Lynch, Chris Clemons, Leon Washington.
Worst acquisition: Charlie Whitehurst
Also acquired: Clinton McDonald, Kellen Winslow, Kentwan Balmer, Kevin Vickerson, LenDale White, Robert Henderson, Stacy Andrews, Tyler Polumbus
Comment: Lynch has 3,043 yards rushing since making his Seahawks debut. Only Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice have more over that span. His 27 rushing touchdowns rank tied for fourth. Seattle got him for a 2011 fourth-round pick and a 2012 fifth-rounder. Clemons, acquired from Philadelphia along with a fourth-round choice for Darryl Tapp, has 31 sacks since Seattle acquired him. That ranks eighth in the NFL. Washington, acquired for a 2010 fifth-round choice, has four kickoff returns for touchdowns since the Seahawks acquired him. That is tied with Jacoby Ford for most in the NFL. He averages 31.2 yards per kickoff return this season, a career-high figure that ranks third in the NFL among players with at least 10 returns. The Whitehurst deal was a rip-off, but a least the Seahawks didn't commit too much financially. It's a deal Seattle won't hear about much if current starting quarterback Russell Wilson continues on his current course.
Players acquired: 4
Overall impact: Moderate to high
Best acquisitions: Kerry Rhodes
Worst acquisition: Kevin Kolb
Also acquired: Vonnie Holliday, Charles Scott
Comment: Kolb cost too much for what Arizona has reaped in return. The team was desperate for quarterback help at the time, however, and the move was defensible under the circumstances. Rhodes has been a solid starter since Arizona acquired him from the New York Jets for a 2010 fourth-round choice and a 2011 seventh-rounder. His fumble-forcing sack against Michael Vick triggered a blowout. His pass defensed in the end zone helped preserve a victory at New England. His interception against Miami set up the winning field goal in overtime. Rhodes also had two picks and a forced fumble against the Jets. He and Green Bay's Charles Woodson are the only NFL players with at least eight picks and four sacks since 2010.
San Francisco 49ers
Players acquired: 1
Overall impact: Moderate
Best acquisitions: Ted Ginn Jr.
Worst acquisition: N/A
Also acquired: N/A
Comment: Ginn has two kickoff returns for touchdowns and one punt return for a touchdown since joining the 49ers. He has averaged 11.9 yards per punt return, second only to Patrick Peterson's 12.2-yard average since 2010 among NFC West players with at least 10 returns over that span. Ginn's kickoff return average with the 49ers (23.5) ranks below the NFC West average (24.6) since 2010. Ginn has not made a significant impact as a wide receiver.
St. Louis Rams
Players acquired: 6
Overall impact: Low
Best acquisitions: Mark Clayton, Brandon Lloyd
Worst acquisitions: N/A
Also acquired: Bobby Carpenter, Dennis Morris, Kevin Payne, Wayne Hunter
Comment: Hunter is the only veteran player acquired through trade by the Rams' current leadership. He has been better than Jason Smith, the player St. Louis traded away in the Hunter deal. Clayton was looking like a terrific last-minute acquisition in 2010, but injuries prevented him from making a sustained impact. Lloyd wound up being a short-term rental during a lost 2011 season. He did provide a needed upgrade. I didn't see any "worst" acquisitions for the Rams. These were small-stakes deals.
RENTON, Wash. -- Doug Baldwin, the Seattle Seahawks' leading receiver as a rookie in 2011, was among those present for Terrell Owens' workout with the team Monday.
What did the 23-year-old Baldwin see?
"4.45 40," Baldwin said Tuesday. "That is faster than my pro day and he's 38 years old."
"He had crisp routes, came out of his breaks unbelievably for 38 years old," Baldwin said. "I mean, even if he was 24 years old, he would still look good. He caught everything that was thrown to him. He absorbed everything the coaches were saying to him. He is hungry to be back on the field."
Owens' pending arrival has put the Seahawks' other receivers on notice. They realize Owens' credentials dwarf their own. Though Owens did not play in 2011, his stats from 2010 -- 72 receptions for 983 yards and nine touchdowns -- exceed what any current Seattle player has contributed to the Seahawks over the past two seasons combined.
What no one can know yet is whether Owens will live up to his reputation as a high-maintenance player and potential locker room malcontent.
"We are just going to try to control it the best we can," starting receiver Sidney Rice said. "We're not here to critique anybody. We're welcoming the guy here. We're not going to talk bad about him or anything like that. We're going to try to keep him comfortable in the locker room and get out here on the field as much as possible and make plays for us."
There is little risk for now. The team can release Owens at any point before the first week of the season without salary-cap ramifications. There's enough time before the regular-season opener for Seattle to figure out where Owens fits -- if he fits -- without compromising game plans or receiving rotations.
"He's going to come in and we're going to welcome him with open arms and he is going to see how we treat our players here, how we treat our teammates," Baldwin said. "I don't think it's going to be an issue at all."
Seattle needs a big body at wide receiver.
Mike Williams filled that role until injuries sidelined him and weight concerns resurfaced. Braylon Edwards, signed last week, fits that mold. Owens would have to be the favorite, however, based on the speed he showed Monday. The time he ran was faster than the one Owens posted coming out of college to San Francisco in 1996, when Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was finishing a three-year run as the 49ers' defensive coordinator.
"I saw him at the start when it was just raw bones, a young man trying to make the club," Carroll said. "It is interesting how he is. He is extremely hungry, and he is humbled. He is determined to finish his career on a good note."
Also interesting: how Carroll phrased things. He sounded as if he already knew Owens would factor for his team.
"He is famous for his work ethic," Carroll said of Owens. "Adding that to our football team and letting our guys see what he is like will help everybody this season."
Owens hadn't even stepped on the practice field and already Carroll was referring to how Owens would impact the team beyond these next few weeks of camp. That's the kind of confidence a 4.45-second time can inspire.
"I put a lot of pressure on him," Carroll said. "He'd better cook when he gets here, which he will. I know he will because we worked him out the other day and his workout was phenomenal. You would not be able to imagine a guy could work out that well."
Carroll and general manager John Schneider have eagerly collected former first-round picks from other teams. They've added Owens, Edwards, tight end Kellen Winslow and running back Marshawn Lynch to the offense. Robert Gallery, since released and now retired, was another highly drafted offensive player Seattle employed under the Carroll-Schneider tenure. Williams was another one.
A few others, notably Reggie Williams and LenDale White, failed to stick around long enough to factor. Their experiences show Carroll and Schneider will quickly move on from a talented player when the fit isn't right.
"I think it just becomes a matter of, as long as everyone is on the same page, which is winning for the Seahawks and all else is out the window, this could be a heckuva move for everyone involved," Edwards said.
Owens is different from White, Mike Williams and some of the other attempted reclamation projects, however. Owens has always produced on the field. He's always competed hard. He's played through injuries. He's also gotten into locker room fights. He has undermined quarterbacks, including Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia. This time, Owens has to know he's about out of second chances. He has to make this one work, or he's likely done.
Carroll was asked whether one player could wreck a locker room.
"That’s not even a topic around here," Carroll said. "Our team is so strong and our guys are so together and our message and what we stand for and all of that. There’s no one guy that’s going to do that to this football team, not even close.
"We're a bunch of young guys growing, and if some older guys want to fit into it, they’re going to have to do it our way. That was a really clear statement to Terrell and he knows what he’s getting into."
- By my count, six current NFL receivers are older than Burress, who turns 34 in August: Terrell Owens (37), Derrick Mason (37), Donald Driver (36), Brian Finneran (35), Hines Ward (35) and Brandon Stokley (35 in June);
- Thirty players have caught at least 50 passes in a season at age 34 or older, according to Pro Football Reference; Jerry Rice, Isaac Bruce and Bobby Engram accomplished the feat for current NFC West teams;
- Burress caught 35 passes for 454 yards and four touchdowns over 10 games for the New York Giants in 2008, his last season before serving a jail term on a weapons charge; St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo was the Giants' defensive coordinator that year, giving the NFC West one solid connection to Burress;
- Ken Whisenhunt, Russ Grimm and Ray Horton are among the Arizona Cardinals coaches who were with the Pittsburgh Steelers before Burress signed with the Giants in 2005, giving the NFC West another connection;
- These types of connections can sometimes explain why teams do not pursue players; they know the bad as well as the good;
- My initial feel is that Burress probably will not land in this division; Burress has played his entire career, from high school to the NFL, for teams in the East; I doubt he'll seek out a team in the West after spending two years away from his family;
- Burress wore a Philadephia Phillies hat upon his release Monday, and the Eagles were the team considered most likely to sign him in a survey of ESPN.com bloggers;
- The Rams' situation at receiver remains unsettled; bringing in Burress for a visit could make sense; the Cardinals' situation at receiver is more defined, and at least one Arizona-based reporter is saying there's no chance the Cardinals will sign him; I tend to agree and do not see the need, either;
- Burress is five years older than any receiver on the Rams' roster and nine years older than the team's receivers on average, a potential consideration as the team decides how Burress would fit into the equation;
- The Rams have previously resisted adding older receivers, passing on Owens and Moss over the last couple of seasons; Mark Clayton, who turns 29 in July, is the oldest receiver on the roster;
- Seattle has been aggressive in considering unlikely options, making low-risk bets on Mike Williams, Reggie Williams, LenDale White and others; the team would ideally like to go with younger players at this stage;
- Please let me know if you've seen anything, anywhere, suggesting the San Francisco 49ers would have interest; I do not see a great fit as the team establishes a new program under a first-year coach.
Would you want Burress on your favorite team?
Should the Seattle Seahawks consider him?
"Absolutely not!" Anointed102969 wrote. "Look at our roster on offense? Russell Okung, Max Unger, John Moffitt, James Carpenter and Golden Tate could all be starters next season. Those are five guys on offense with less than one year of NFL experience. Vince Young quit on his team. He walked out on his coaches during a film-review session. Cops had to look for him. You want this kind of head case leading a bunch of young bucks on offense? No thanks!"
The Seahawks, without even considering whether Young would fit their offense, will likely eliminate Young from serious consideration for these reasons alone. General manager John Schneider said the team avoided drafting Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith, among other players with off-field question marks, because the Seattle locker room was not yet strong enough to assimilate such players. Of course, Smith would have cost the team a first-round draft choice. Young would not require such an investment.
"I am a Seahawks fan that has been stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., for the last seven years," Jeroli1 wrote. "I have seen Young play, including going to a preseason game when he was a rookie. This kid has raw talant. The problem is his mouth. If Pete Carroll can put a gag on him and keep him from pouting, Young could be just what Seattle needs. With the addition of two young offensive linemen and a quarterback that can flat out run, they could be scary again."
Young's mix of athleticism and arm strength might have fit the Seahawks' passing game better last season, when coordinator Jeremy Bates was running a Mike Shanahan-style offense. The team is expected to place more value on accuracy and timing under new coordinator Darrell Bevell, although Carroll has sometimes downplayed the changes.
The bigger question is really whether Young's baggage would be tolerable at his position, under these circumstances. Taking chances on non-quarterbacks is easier. The stakes are lower. Teams generally carry only three quarterbacks on their rosters. Young would be at least one-third of the equation at the position. Other players look to quarterbacks for leadership. Quarterbacks must lead by example with their work habits, how they interact with others in the organization and how they project themselves publicly. Young has failed on some of those levels.
"Between Carroll and line coach Tom Cable, there should be plenty of 'tough love' to keep his head straight," akmac61 wrote.
Let's say Young played well in 2011. Then what? Could a rebuilding team seriously consider making a more significant commitment? I have serious doubts.
"Hey naysayers, there's no risk!" iamdugan wrote. "No loss of draft picks, no real investments -- no harm, no foul. Either Pete Carroll helps Young reach his potential and we get an absolute stud horse superstar, or he flops and probably gets cut faster then LenDale White. Also, I know we all have high hopes for the two latest rookie additions to our offensive line, but what if they don't pan out? What if we're crippled by injuries again? Wouldn't having a QB with Young's athleticism and mobility be a huge plus?"
The White experiment applies on a couple levels.
One, the Seahawks gave White a look even though they had to know exactly what they were getting into. Carroll had coached White at USC. Schneider, vice president of pro personnel Will Lewis and others in the Seattle organization have strong ties to Tennessee general manager Mike Reinfeldt and numerous others in the Titans organization. Those ties would have enhanced the Seahawks' feel for the situation.
Two, the Seahawks proved with White that they would act preemptively if they felt as though a player weren't holding up his end. They could, at least in theory, take a similar approach with Young, provided they could sign him to a deal without significant guarantees.
"A team should only consider Young if they have a veteran in place who is able and willing to shepherd him into the team's offense and culture," ptech wrote. "Young is talented, but juvenile and fragile and he will require the right mix of both tough-love and unfettered support. By all reports, he's a huge headache and his return to the league would need to happen in a perfect place. I'm not sure Seattle is that place."
What happens to the offensive line?
We've been asking, answering and asking some more questions about the Cardinals' quarterback situation for months. Let's tap a few brain cells to discuss the guys up front.
Center Lyle Sendlein and right guard Deuce Lutui are without contracts for 2011. Left guard Alan Faneca might retire. Right tackle Brandon Keith is coming off hamstring and knee injuries that shortened his first season as a starter. The Cardinals do not have fresh talent in reserve. They have drafted only one offensive lineman in the first four rounds since Ken Whisenhunt became head coach in 2007. Twenty-seven teams have drafted more. As much as the team trusts assistant head coach Russ Grimm to get the most from its offensive line, Arizona could use fresh young talent for him to groom.
The Cardinals went through the 2010 season with the NFL's oldest offensive linemen, counting backups. That wouldn't matter so much if left tackle Levi Brown were meeting the Pro Bowl expectations that came with his status as a top-five overall selection in the 2007 draft. Brown was underwhelming at right tackle to begin his career and a liability at left tackle last season. His salary balloons in 2012, so this could be his last season in Arizona.
ST. LOUIS RAMS
Can the defense take the next step?
The Rams allowed 328 points last season, tied for the third-lowest total since the team moved from Los Angeles for the 1995 season. They allowed seven rushing touchdowns, their lowest total since 1999 and down from 50 combined over the previous two seasons. But with starting defensive linemen James Hall and Fred Robbins turning 34 this offseason, and with questions at linebacker, the Rams' defense will not automatically go from competitive toward dominant.
Hall will be looking to become the 14th player since 1982 (when the NFL began tracking sacks as an official stat) to collect 10 sacks in a season at age 34 or older. The others: Trace Armstrong, Chris Doleman, William Fuller, Kevin Greene, Rickey Jackson, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Tony McGee, Steve McMichael, John Randle, Warren Sapp, Bruce Smith, Michael Strahan and Reggie White.
Robbins is coming off one of his finest seasons. He joined Keith Traylor, Jeff Zgonina and Ray Agnew among defensive tackles to set career highs for sacks at age 32 or older in the free-agency era (since 1993).
Getting similar production and continued good health from two older players is no given. The Rams also need to find help at outside linebacker after losing 32-year-old Na'il Diggs to a torn pectoral muscle 12 games into the 2010 season. The Rams are set at middle linebacker with James Laurinaitis, but they could stand to upgrade around him.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
How well can Jim Harbaugh coach up a quarterback?
When the 49ers' new coach needed a quarterback at Stanford, he recruited one. Andrew Luck set records and led the Cardinal to national prominence. Recruiting isn't a significant part of the equation in the NFL, so Harbaugh will have to settle for the best quarterback he can draft or otherwise acquire. He might even have to give Alex Smith a shot.
The 49ers will need Harbaugh to do what his recent predecessors could not: get good production from limited or flawed talent at the most important position.
Rich Gannon was well-established as an NFL quarterback when Harbaugh arrived as his position coach in Oakland for the 2002 season. The pairing reflected well on all parties. Gannon set career highs for completed passes, attempts, completion percentage, passing yards and passer rating. Gannon was already a good quarterback and the Raiders were already a good team, so it's tough to measure Harbaugh's impact.
Gannon is long since retired. Harbaugh is back in the NFL for the first time since the two were together on the Raiders in 2003. The 49ers don't have a legitimate starting quarterback under contract. Harbaugh has been meeting with Smith and keeping open his options. The stakes are high in the short term because the 49ers have enough talent elsewhere on their roster to compete for a playoff spot.
Outside expectations for Smith are so low that Harbaugh could appear heroic if he could get even a 9-7 record out of the 49ers with Smith in the lineup.
How much more roster turnover lies ahead?
The Seahawks were fearless in overhauling their roster during their first year under general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.
The team added Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington, Chris Clemons, Stacy Andrews, Tyler Polumbus, Kentwan Balmer, Kevin Vickerson, Robert Henderson and LenDale White, though Seattle parted with Vickerson, Henderson, White and 2009 regulars Deion Branch, Julius Jones, Owen Schmitt, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Josh Wilson, Lawrence Jackson, Rob Sims, Darryl Tapp, Deon Grant and Seneca Wallace. The Seahawks watched a couple other starters, Nate Burleson and Cory Redding, leave in free agency.
If those were the moves the Seahawks felt comfortable making right away, I figured there would be quite a few to come after the team's new leadership watched players for a full season. And there still could be, but similar wheeling and dealing could be impractical or even impossible if the current labor standoff continues deep into the offseason.
Teams cannot make trades without a new labor agreement. They cannot know for sure whether or not a salary cap will come into play as part of any new deal. It's just tough to act as decisively as Seattle acted last offseason without knowing the rules. That's a disadvantage for Seattle and other teams with much work to do this offseason.
This can only be a good thing for Seattle from a personnel standpoint.
Lynch instantly becomes the most physically gifted runner on the team. He is 24 years old and was a Pro Bowl choice two seasons ago. Expect Lynch to share time with his former college roommate, Justin Forsett, and veteran Leon Washington. Julius Jones, already the odd man out of the rotation, presumably has no place on the roster.
Lynch's carries and rushing yardage declined every season in Buffalo and his departure from the team appeared more likely once the Bills used a high choice for Spiller.
Lynch does come with baggage. He ran afoul of the law multiple times while with the Bills. One NFL personnel evaluator told me years ago he thought bringing Lynch back to the West Coast could carry risk if it meant reuniting the running back with negative influences from his youth.
A fresh start could also serve Lynch well and he'll get that in Seattle.
The Seahawks were expected to trade a fourth-round choice to the Bills as part of the deal. The team already sent its 2011 third-rounder to San Diego in the Charlie Whitehurst deal, but Seattle subsequently added a mid-round choice in the Josh Wilson deal with Baltimore. The pick from Baltimore is a fifth-rounder that could become a fourth-rounder based on how Wilson performs for the Ravens.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he was most disappointed with the Seahawks running game following a 20-3 defeat at St. Louis in Week 4. Personnel issues on the offensive line were one obvious issue. The Seahawks also wanted a more physical presence in the backfield. They signed LenDale White, then released him.
Also from Thomas: thoughts on whether James Laurinaitis is approaching elite status.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with new Rams running back Chauncey Washington, who considers himself famous even without "Hard Knocks." Washington: "I think I was famous before that. Just maybe you guys didn't know about me. But on the West Coast, I'm famous."
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat passes along this comment from Washington: "I got drafted by Jacksonville and I was there with Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, and then I got the opportunity to go to the Cowboys with Marion Barber and Julius Jones, and then I got the opportunity to go to the Jets and be with Thomas Jones and L.T. (LaDainian Tomlinson). I think everywhere I have been I have been blessed to be able to learn from the great backs. I think here I am going to continue to learn from Steven Jackson." He was with Reggie Bush and LenDale White at USC.
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says John Greco gave the Rams' running game a boost when he got reps at right guard against the Redskins.
Also from Wagoner: The Rams sought to move on from their 30-16 victory over Washington even though victories have been scarce.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the team practiced in full pads for 100 minutes Wednesday. Also: "Rookie Walter Thurmond worked at left cornerback for (Marcus) Trufant, Will Herring was at strong-side linebacker for (Aaron) Curry and Junior Siavii and Kentwan Balmer got work at tackle for (Brandon) Mebane."
Also from Farnsworth: a look at changing dynamics on the Seahawks' offensive line.
John Morgan of Field Gulls offers thoughts on the Seahawks' blitzes against San Diego. Morgan: "Maybe not all of the blitzes worked, but quite a few did, and while San Diego was chewing yards, they were playing snap after snap on the verge of turnover."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times offers an interview transcript featuring comments from Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Bradley on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford: "Even if he does get sacked or throws a bad ball, he bounces back and will come back and throw a nice ball. One stat that impressed me, I think he's like third in the league with passes over 30 yards. So he has done a nice job for their team, and doesn't make many mistakes. He's real impressive."
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says the Seahawks were happy to have Russell Okung and Chester Pitts practicing Wednesday. Ben Hamilton and Sean Locklear rested knee injuries.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Okung wore a brace on his heavily wrapped ankle.
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says newly acquired Seahawks receiver Brandon Stokley could give the Seahawks what Bobby Engram once gave them. Stokley on what he can offer: "Veteran leadership … a guy who is willing to do whatever it takes to help win football games. … I just love to compete. I’m a guy who’s not worried about stats or individual accolades, I just try to do whatever it takes to win games."
Todd Fredrickson of the Everett Herald says Seahawks safety Earl Thomas felt like he was back at Texas Tech when defending the Chargers' all-out passing attack.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic looks at the challenges Arizona faces at receiver with Steve Breaston and Early Doucet unavailable. Somers: "Playing with inexperienced receivers is not ideal, however, and the Cardinals could make adjustments in scheme and personnel to compensate. They could go to more to formations using two tight ends, or use a running back as a slot receiver."
Also from Somers: Philip Rivers once served as Adrian Wilson's chauffeur.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says LaRod Stephens-Howling met with the couple for whom his return touchdown secured a new home as part of a promotion. Said the husband: "He's got a place to stay forever."
Also from Urban: why it's tough to add a new quarterback during the season.
More from Urban: The Cardinals liked their young receivers better than any they might have signed off the street.
More still from Urban: Arizona could have an edge on special teams against the Chargers in Week 4.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com passes along these thoughts from Mike Singletary regarding 49ers quarterback Alex Smith: "I don't think I've ever underestimated the quarterback situation. I think the quarterback is very important. Do I think he's the most important? No, I don't. A great example is the game we played on Sunday. I think (Chiefs quarterback) Matt Cassel is a good quarterback. Do I think he's a great quarterback? Do I think he's the most important part of that offense? No, I do not. But they won the game. If I'm a passing team, if I'm the Indianapolis Colts, yes, I think the quarterback is the most important part of the team. If I'm the New England Patriots, I think the quarterback is the most important part of that offense. The 49ers right now, I feel the quarterback is very important. But I don't think he's the most important part of our offense. I think there are 11 guys, and on this offense I want 11 guys to know that each and every one of them on every play is important." Quarterback is the most important position on any team, and if he is just one of 11 equals, the team will have a harder time beating the best teams.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Singletary went with Mike Johnson at offensive coordinator after Johnson provided Singletary a list, upon request, of things he would do differently. Smith: "I do think there will be more variation. I think personnel and formations and things like that, there will be some different things. I think we'll find out how they're going to play certain personnel, find out how they're going to play certain formations and then go from there."
Also from Barrows: Singletary lost his cool and got into a shouting match with Falcons guard Harvey Dahl the last time the 49ers faced Atlanta. Almost forgot about that one.
Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' offense will strive to be more flexible. Barber: "Smith conceded the offense hasn't been 'real dynamic' this season and suggested that its inability to adjust to opposing defenses was part of the problem. Smith stressed the importance of being flexible and said Johnson shares his beliefs."
Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group says the 49ers' defense shouldn't get a free pass with all the focus on the team's new offensive coordinator.
David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers are not considering a quarterback change. They don't appear to have a viable alternative.
What does it mean?
My take: Jones didn't distinguish himself during the recently completed exhibition season. He hasn't built up much equity. Accomplishments predating the Seahawks' current leadership don't buy much security. Jones was on the roster bubble heading into the initial reduction to 53 players. If the Seahawks could have upgraded following cuts, they might have made a move (they took a flier on LenDale White earlier this offseason and acquired Leon Washington). But as the situation stands right now, keeping Jones at a price lower than his $2.45 million salary beat the alternatives. If Jones plays better because he's on notice, all the better for Seattle.
The Seahawks did sign former Tennessee Titans running back Chris Henry to their practice squad. Henry is 234 pounds (Seattle could use a power back for coordinator Jeremy Bates' offense).
It's a little surprising to me that Buffalo has held onto Marshawn Lynch, but if the Seahawks had a shot at landing that type of runner, I think they'd have to consider it.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com did not expect Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt to make a quarterback change at this stage. Urban: "I’m not going to lie, and anyone who has read my stuff knows this anyway: I thought all along Matt Leinart would at least start the season under center. I suppose that can still happen. He will have Beanie Wells behind him at running back for the first time in Chicago barring something unforeseen, so maybe that helps in some way. But clearly, had Leinart played the way the Cards were hoping, Derek Anderson would not be starting against the Bears. I can still see a scenario where Leinart plays against the Rams Sept. 12, and obviously, I can see Anderson playing as well."
Also from Urban: The Cardinals want to see how Leinart and the rest of the team respond to Anderson's promotion.
Ben Malcolmson of seahawks.com says Earl Thomas was among the Seattle players most scared by a snake prank at team headquarters. This one comes with video. Nicely played.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the team is looking for a way to keep cornerback Roy Lewis.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times gives Jamar Adams the edge over Kevin Ellison for a Seahawks roster spot at safety.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Leon Washington, not LenDale White, wound up being the most important running back Seattle acquired during the draft.
Also from Johns: A sore hip is sidelining Seahawks linebacker David Hawthorne.
John Boyle of the Everett Herald says the Seahawks plan to play their starters into the third quarter at Minnesota.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers and quarterback Alex Smith probably will not talk seriously about a new contract until after the season. Smith's agent was at practice Thursday. Also: "Undrafted rookie receiver Kevin Jurovich and rookie cornerback Phillip Adams are expected to see some action on punt and kickoff returns, along with Bobby Guillory, who muffed two punts in the first two exhibition games."
Also from Maiocco: Frank Gore will play one series, possibly more, against the Raiders on Saturday night. The starting offensive line will play the first half.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Gore, Michael Crabtree and Brian Westbrook will make their 2010 preseason debuts for the 49ers at Oakland.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Sam Bradford passed a significant test by playing well in his first preseason start. Thomas: "Yes, Bradford missed a wide-open Laurent Robinson for what would have been a third TD in the closing seconds of the first half. Robinson caught the ball, but out of bounds, right at the goal line. But maybe coach Steve Spagnuolo should concede what looked obvious Thursday, that Bradford will be his starter on Sept. 12 against Arizona."
Also from Thomas: New Rams majority owner Stan Kroenke addressed the team before the game Thursday night. He also had nice things to say about Bradford.
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams suddenly appear relevant with Bradford at quarterback and Kroenke owning the team. Burwell: "So here's where new owner Stan Kroenke's presence could be immediately felt. No longer hamstrung by any budgetary restraints, general manager Billy Devaney needs to find a way to get Bradford some real receiving weapons. If you have invested as much in Bradford as reported (guaranteed $50 million), and now it looks like he's clearly worth the investment, wouldn't it be an equally wise strategy to surround him with the tools he needs to not only survive, but thrive?"
More from Thomas: Donnie Avery's knee injury appears serious.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says during a chat he thinks the NBA's recent experience with Lebron James pretty much ensures the return of the franchise tag in the NFL, which will pretty much prevent someone such as Tom Brady from signing with the 49ers or anyone else. Maiocco: "No player is going to be bigger than the NFL. The Patriots will have the chance to place the franchise tag on Brady to retain his services. Now, if he's so disgruntled, he could demand a trade. But, I'd still say, there's a very slim chance Brady will be playing for the 49ers while he's still among the game's elite quarterbacks." Peyton Manning is probably the closest thing the NFL has to a player who is bigger than even his team, but his value is also highest to the Colts based on what all parties have invested over the years. Pro football is so much more a team sport than pro basketball. That is one reason why pro football players have a harder time commanding as much guaranteed money. An All-Star basketball player is generally worth more to his team than a Pro Bowl football player.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com explains how to register for Seahawks practices at training camp. Johns: "Fans interested in attending Seahawks' training camp practices this summer will be able to pre-register on the team's website starting Monday at 10 a.m. Open practices at the team's Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton will be held from July 31 through Aug. 16, but will be available only to those who sign up in advance at seahawks.com. The team will also host an open practice at Husky Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 8 that will not require preregistration since the stadium has plenty of seating. Registration for the VMAC practices will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis and fans 15 years or younger must be accompanied by an adult. A $5 transportation fee will be charged per person, as fans will be required to park at an off-site location and be shuttled to the VMAC before and after each practice."
John Morgan of Field Gulls says the Seahawks' Olindo Mare will probably remain underappreciated even though the Seahawks named him their franchise player.
Ben Malcolmson of seahawks.com profiles quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch, whose coaching career began improbably with Steve Spurrier at the University of Florida. Malcolmson: "Fisch blindly and ambitiously packed up and went to school in Gainesville, with no connections to Spurrier or the program. He tried being an equipment manager for the team his freshman year, but that didn’t pan out. Then he decided to get back to hands-on coaching by volunteering at a high school just off campus. ... But then fortune struck and Fisch’s hard work began to pay off with a glimmer of hope. An assistant coach for the Gators was recruiting one of the players on Fisch’s high school team, and before long, he had invited Fisch to do odd jobs around the football office. (Fisch) spent a year quietly laboring before another assistant started giving Fisch higher-profile tasks."
Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times lists three NFC West players -- Justin Forsett, Dashon Goldson and Calais Campbell -- among his potential breakout players for 2010. I thought Campbell broke out last season with 7.0 sacks, a high number for a 3-4 defensive end. Farmer on Forsett: "Forsett, in his third season out of Cal, is everything LenDale White wasn't — undersized, dedicated, productive, and an instant Pete Carroll favorite. The Seahawks had the league's 26th-ranked running game last season, but they might have been much more effective had they put the ball in Forsett's hands. The 5-foot-8, 194-pound back averaged 5.4 yards in 114 carries with four touchdowns, and caught 41 balls out of the backfield. He was far more explosive than Julius Jones, who was limited to fewer than 50 yards in more than half of his starts last season."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com thinks the Cardinals should be ranked higher than ESPN had them recently. He also wonders how Adrian Wilson's name could elude a CBS list of top NFL safeties. Urban: "Wilson isn’t better than Brian Dawkins these days? And even if you feel that strongly about Bernard Pollard or Nick Collins, Wilson has to be in the discussion, right?" Yes.
Also from Urban: The Cardinals' top five draft choices remain unsigned after the team reached agreement with sixth-round choice Jorrick Calvin, a potential return specialist. Urban: "Calvin, a cornerback who did not play his senior season at Troy because he was academically ineligible, is trying to find a spot in the team’s secondary. But his most likely avenue to the active roster would be on returns, after averaging 10 yards a punt return and 25.7 yards a kick return in 2008."
NFL Network's 32 teams in 32 days series hits on the Cardinals, with the focus on what's missing from last year's club and what Arizona has to do to not take a step back.
Derek Anderson gives the Cardinals the insurance policy they need should Matt Leinart not take a firm grasp of the starting quarterback spot.
San Francisco 49ers
Joe Staley will be back in Michigan Thursday to take part in a charity softball game.
A look at 10 late-round draft steals from the past 30 years.
LenDale White wasn't at a shortage for words in an interview Wednesday with The Zone.
Defensive lineman Red Bryant is taking advantage of a fresh start with a new Seattle coaching staff.
Earl Thomas' interception of a Matt Hasselbeck pass highlighted the conclusion of the team's final offseason workout.
St. Louis Rams
Safety Oshiomogho Atogwe signed a five-year deal to remain in St. Louis.
Bernie Miklasz says the Rams and Atogwe needed each other.
For a while, they were the only team publicly expressing interest in former Denver Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall. They scooped up J.P. Losman as if to say, "Hey, why not?"
However, news that Atogwe has interest in Seattle doesn't mean the Seahawks have interest in him. The team has no plans to bring him in for a visit.
The fit in Seattle would seem questionable because the Seahawks have already invested heavily in rookie safety Earl Thomas, the 14th player chosen in the NFL draft. Atogwe, like Thomas, projects as a coverage safety. It's tough to envision the Seahawks investing significantly in two players at the same position.
Safeties can be somewhat interchangeable depending on scheme and Thomas has the ability to play cornerback if needed, but that hasn't been the plan so far this offseason.
That tells me White hasn't changed in ways that matter to NFL teams, or at least the Seahawks and Titans.
As for his relationship with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, his former coach at USC?
"Pete Carroll? The same Pete Carroll who ran out on 'SC?" White told Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. "I have no comment on Pete. I better wait ’til I’m on a team one day before I say anything.’"
No comment? That comment said plenty.
"No one told me why I was really released, so I don’t really know and I don’t like to comment on what-ifs or why," White said. "Obviously, it didn’t work out for a reason. But … I love football and I am going to work hard. I did work hard. I look myself in the mirror and there are things I obviously need to change and I am working on that. But I had no clue it was coming. It’s crazy, really.’"
White wasn't as committed as the Seahawks wanted him to be. That became obvious as information trickled out following his release.