NFC West: Mansfield Wrotto

Tight end John Carlson's five-year contract agreement with the Minnesota Vikings leaves Seattle with three remaining draft choices from the Mike Holmgren era.

Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane and Ben Obomanu are the survivors.

The NFC North now outranks the NFC West in players entering the NFL as draft choices under Holmgren: Rob Sims and Lawrence Jackson in Detroit, Mansfield Wrotto and Chris Spencer in Chicago, and now Carlson in Minnesota.

Seattle drafted all of those players when Tim Ruskell was making the Seahawks' personnel decisions as the general manager. Carlson was the one Holmgren was most responsible for drafting. He pushed hard for Carlson because he badly wanted a versatile tight end for his offense.

Carlson set a franchise single-season receiving record with 55 catches as a rookie in 2008. Injuries, quarterback issues, roster atrophy and coaching turnover affected Carlson and the offense in subsequent seasons.

The Seahawks' current leadership was not opposed to bringing back Carlson, but the team's decision to pay $6.8 million per season to Zach Miller last offseason redefined where Carlson stood on the roster. There was less room for Carlson to become the player Holmgren envisioned when Seattle made Carlson a second-round draft choice.

The San Francisco 49ers have gone for quality over quantity in trying to build a big, powerful offensive line.

The team has drafted seven offensive linemen since 2005, one below the NFL average. But the 49ers selected a league-high three of the seven in the first round and a league-high five of them in the first two rounds.

That jumped out right away when sizing up NFC West offensive linemen from the 2005-2010 draft classes for the latest "adventures in drafting" installment.

The Arizona Cardinals have taken a different approach, using a division-low one first-round selection for the offensive line since 2005. Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Oakland, San Diego, Tennessee, Dallas, Minnesota and the New York Giants have selected no first-round offensive linemen during that span.

The charts break out NFC West selections by general draft position, with a column showing how many starts each has made for his original team. I am using the term "not active" loosely to describe players who haven't been on rosters during the regular season recently.

Italics reveal what teams might have been thinking as they entered various stages of the draft.

We should find 10-year starters with Pro Bowl potential, most often at tackle ...

Every offensive lineman selected among the top 50 or so choices should contribute and hopefully start ...

The most athletic prospects are gone by now, but tough guys still have value ...

These guys have question marks, obvious limitations or both, but we'll still get some starts from them ...

Anyone seen the Seahawks or 49ers lately?

What are our numbers on the line again? Let's get another one here.
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.

Logan Mankins and the NFC West wish list

February, 14, 2011
Signing Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins away from New England has gone from unlikely to an even longer shot after the Patriots named Mankins their franchise player.

The NFL and NFL Players Association cannot agree upon whether the franchise tag even exists this offseason, but if it does, the tag will effectively take Mankins off the market.

It's unclear whether any NFC West team would make a strong push for Mankins given the expected price tag, but the thought had appeal for Seattle Seahawks fans still stinging over Steve Hutchinson's departure as a transition player following the 2005 season.

Floyd Womack, Chris Spencer, Rob Sims, Mike Wahle, Mansfield Wrotto, Steve Vallos, Mike Gibson, Ben Hamilton, Chester Pitts and Tyler Polumbus have started at left guard for Seattle since Hutchinson got away. Trading away Sims last offseason proved unfortunate once Alex Gibbs retired as line coach and Seattle stopped favoring smaller guards.

Tom Cable's hiring as offensive line coach puts Seattle in prime position to consider Oakland Raiders guard Robert Gallery, a projected free agent.
Jackie MacMullan's piece on Deion Branch for includes some items of potential interest for Seattle Seahawks fans.

Branch caught nine passes for 98 yards and a touchdown in his first game back with New England. He added three catches for 133 yards and two scores in his most recent game for the Patriots.

These were the sorts of performances Seattle expected from Branch upon acquiring him from the Patriots in 2006. The Seahawks sent him back to New England after four games this season, thrilled to recoup even a fourth-round choice in return.

Branch told MacMullan the Seahawks were never quite sure how to use him, and that the game plans were hit-and-miss in terms of quality.

Trading Branch back to New England was a deal that worked well for both teams. Branch was more valuable to New England than he was to Seattle. The Seahawks' Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu are enjoying strong seasons.

A quick look at how some other Seattle castoffs are faring:
  • Rob Sims, Lions guard. Sims has played well enough with Detroit for the Lions to sign him to a four-year extension.
  • Nate Burleson, Lions WR. Detroit paid a relatively high price in free agency. Burleson has 40 receptions, four for touchdowns.
  • Lawrence Jackson, Lions DE. Has 2.5 sacks in his last two games. A concussion sidelined him last week.
  • Josh Wilson, Ravens CB. Has started the last three games. Was on the wrong end of a no-call when the Falcons' Roddy White ran over him.
  • Owen Schmitt, Eagles FB. The latest ex-Seahawk to start at fullback for Philadelphia.
  • T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Ravens WR. Has made a couple of key catches, including one game-winner, but hasn't factored much into the offense overall.
  • Mansfield Wrotto, Bills RT. Wrotto has started the Bills' last three games. The team won two of them and came within a dropped pass of winning the other.
  • Deon Grant, Giants S. Has three interceptions, one sack and four starts for the NFL's second-ranked defense.
  • Darryl Tapp, Eagles DE. Has two sacks in nine games, with no starts. Seattle has gotten 7.5 sacks and 11 starts from Chris Clemons, acquired from the Eagles in the Tapp trade.
  • Seneca Wallace, Browns QB. Has four touchdowns, two interceptions, an 88.5 rating and 1-3 starting record with Cleveland.
  • Julius Jones, Saints RB. A 54-yard run against Carolina has helped Jones average 4.6 yards per attempt on 37 rushes with New Orleans.
  • Cory Redding, Ravens DE. Has six starts for the NFL's eighth-ranked defense.

Some on the list weren't going to play prominent roles in Seattle. The team's new leadership wanted to turn over the roster, which is typical. A few castoffs invariably find success elsewhere. Of the group, Sims is the one Seattle could use the most.

Update: NFL roster turnover since 2009

November, 18, 2010
The Seattle Seahawks are making their way through "Turnover Thursday" with a league-low 23 players on their 53-man roster from last season.

Turnover, indeed.

The chart, based on information from rosters I maintain for every team in the league, shows how many players from 2009 Week 17 rosters and injured reserve lists now reside on the same teams' 53-man rosters (but not IR). The numbers measure turnover and attrition -- by design, injuries, etc.

The bottom line: Seattle has the freshest 53-man roster in the league. The team has subtracted Red Bryant (IR), Deion Branch (trade), Julius Jones (released), Leroy Hill (IR), Mansfield Wrotto (released) and Max Unger (IR) since the 2010 regular season began.

Around the NFC West: Faneca shows value

September, 15, 2010
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic credits Alan Faneca for much of the Cardinals' success running the ball against the Rams in Week 1. Somers: "At 33, he proved he's still agile enough to pull and be an effective lead blocker. By my count, Faneca pulled on 9 of the 20 called runs (Derek Anderson scrambled once). He pulled both right and left. When he pulled left, the tight end and tackle Levi Brown blocked down. On those nine plays, the Cardinals gained 78 yards and scored a touchdown. A disclaimer: I'm not saying Faneca was responsible for all those yards. Other good blocks were made, and running backs Tim Hightower and LaRod Stephens-Howling made good reads. But Faneca hit someone on almost every one of those plays." Meanwhile, right tackle Brandon Keith struggled against Chris Long.

Also from Somers: Arizona is vastly different at receiver. How different? Practice-squad wideout Tim Brown occupies Anquan Boldin's old locker.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic offers a Q-and-A transcript featuring Steve Breaston. Breaston on the Cardinals' sharpest dresser: "Adrian Wilson. He looks like he's in a Grey Poupon commercial every time he walks into a place. . . . He can pull off the suit thing and still style it up in a T-shirt. He looks fresh." Breaston on pregame meals: "In the morning, I go with the sausage-egg McMuffin from McDonald's. If we have a later game, I go with the double cheeseburger meal. It's not on the menu, but it's there. It's about $4.58."

Darren Urban of explains the origins of Breaston's inclusion in the "Backpack Boys" club.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have had trade talks in their efforts to acquire a backup running back. Also: "The Rams signed former New York Giants tight end Darcy Johnson to the active roster, releasing defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo to free up a roster spot."

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says ratings were up for the Rams' opener, presumably thanks to Sam Bradford. Looks like attendance was down, however.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch puts Bradford's 55-attempt debut in perspective by pointing out that 21 of those attempts came during two-minute situations.

Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports says the 49ers' communication problems stem from procedural changes the team made since last season. Cole: "In Singletary’s first full season last year, offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, one of the more respected veteran coaches in the league, was calling plays from the coach’s box upstairs. Raye would call plays down to offensive assistant Jason Michael, who would then send the play into the quarterback. That system worked effectively even at times when Raye struggled to find exactly the right play or say it exactly the right way. Michael, who worked closely with Raye, was good at filling the gaps in communication. However, one of the problems created by the Raye-Michael relationship was that it began to alienate quarterback coach Mike Johnson, whose involvement in building the game plan had diminished. In addition, some players began to resent Raye’s tendency to blame them if things went wrong. As a result, several players went to Singletary this offseason to complain about Raye and the overall situation. Singletary’s solution was to change the mechanics of how the plays were sent in. He replaced Michael, who is still on staff, with Johnson in the play-calling process. On Sunday, that became a problem because Johnson couldn’t decipher what Raye was saying during tense moments when the Seattle crowd was making noise. Singletary was seen several times yelling at Johnson on the sideline when plays didn’t get relayed in a timely fashion." There's no excuse for having the sorts of problems the 49ers are having. This is basic stuff. Either the 49ers fix this problem by Week 2 or the coaching staff is going to have a hard time recouping credibility.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee looks at the 49ers' receiver situation now that Ted Ginn Jr. is injured.

Clare Farnsworth of says coach Pete Carroll is looking forward to the challenge of performing in a hostile environment. Carroll on playing at Denver: "It will be very difficult for us. The thing that we want to learn how to do is how to carry our game on the road. That’s important for us. We need a game like this at this time. We need to figure this part out. And it might as well be as tough as it gets, like it is in Denver."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Max Unger finished the regular-season opener despite a toe injury, but he's finished for the season. O'Neil: "Mansfield Wrotto took Unger's spot on the roster. Wrotto was re-signed Tuesday a little more than one week after Seattle cut him. Wrotto was a fourth-round draft choice of Seattle in 2007, and though he played tackle in training camp, he is expected to be a guard." Losing Unger hurts depth, but it's not a crushing blow, in my view. Getting Chester Pitts back from knee surgery remains important for the long term, however.

Also from O'Neil: Raheem Brock is still finding his bearings in Seattle (the former Colts lineman couldn't find the team hotel Saturday night).

Greg Johns of says Brock was a factor against the 49ers.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks are plus-one in turnover differential. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck: "It’s a huge emphasis. I'm really just following Pete’s lead on that. That’s what is most sacred to him. So all of us that get to touch the ball, that’s got to be what’s most sacred to us."

Around the NFC West: Alex Smith's role

September, 9, 2010
Matt Maiocco of says the 49ers hadn't named a quarterback as captain since Trent Dilfer was on the team. Alex Smith broke the streak this week. Frank Gore: "He's grown, especially in the huddle. He talks a lot and tells us what to do. Even when we don't do something right, [he] comes to us and tells us we should've done this or that. That's a big part for this team." It's impossible to fool veteran players by forcing a leadership role onto an undeserving player. Vernon Davis did seem to grow into the role after Singletary named him a captain. Smith is not naturally an outspoken leader. His position lends itself to leadership and Smith does seem to have earned respect from teammates through his approach. Can he lead them?

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Nate Davis returned to the 49ers as a member of their practice squad.

Also from Barrows: 49ers-related notes, including this one from Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck regarding any advantage Seattle might have with former 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan onboard. Hasselbeck: "Scot, I think I've seen him one time in the cafeteria." So true. Anyone with visions of McCloughan hunkering down with coaches should know this: I drove through the Seahawks' parking lot at their facility Wednesday and couldn't immediately find one. I finally spotted an available space and drove toward it, only to discover a name plate noting it was reserved for, you guessed it, McCloughan. I'm sure McCloughan's insights on the 49ers have been welcome, but he's working as a college scout for the team and he continues to live in the Bay Area.

Sam Good of offers audio links to conference calls featuring Pete Carroll and Hasselbeck.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says McCloughan isn't the only ex-49er working for the Seahawks these days.

Also from Brown: Dilfer, now with ESPN, will hold Smith to a higher standard this season. Dilfer: "If they don’t (make the postseason), then Alex is going to be criticized very harshly, and I think that’s probably fair. Now, saying all that, I believe he will meet the expectations. I believe he’s a different man after watching him the last couple of years grow up. He’s playing with a harder edge. He definitely has more command to his personality and he has complete ownership of this offense. I would argue he has more ownership of this offense than the people calling it. He knows where everyone is supposed to be at all times, all the nuances of it. He is ready for the moment. He feels like it’s his time to run the show and get things done in San Francisco like they haven’t been done. I think that’s going to happen. I think they’re an 11-5 football team that can get in the playoffs and win a game in the playoffs. If it doesn’t happen, it’ll probably be (Smith’s) last year in San Francisco."

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle looks at what the 49ers might do if something happened to Patrick Willis.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider examines the 49ers' status as a division favorite.

Clare Farnsworth of says Jordan Babineaux is going back to the role that helped him earn some acclaim as "Big Play Babs" during the Seahawks' run of division titles. Babineaux: "I kind of go back to being that plug-in guy, the guy who comes in on third down and is a nickel and dime guy; the guy who is the first to go in in emergency situations. Really, I’m back to being that move-around guy, which is good for me because I’m eager to accept the situation because I missed playing inside. That’s where I was able to make most of my plays and kind of earn a name a little bit. You know the name …"

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times sizes up the Seahawks' makeshift offensive line, noting that coach Pete Carroll called his potential starting left tackle, Tyler Polumbus, by the wrong first name four times during his news conference Wednesday. Seattle acquired Polumbus from Detroit during the latter stages of the exhibition season.

Also from O'Neill: Carroll sees the glass half-full.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks' new starting running back, Justin Forsett, knows he has much to prove.

Also from Brewer: This season will test Carroll's patience.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune passes along comments from Seahawks offensive line coach Art Valero, noting that offensive linemen Ben Hamilton and Chester Pitts heckled Valero while the assistant fulfilled media obligations. Hamilton and guard Mike Gibson acted similarly toward quarterback Matt Hasselbeck while he chatted with reporters. I understand the need for offensive linemen to create their own little world to help build camaraderie, and I know former line coach Alex Gibbs tried to foster that by telling his players to skip their league-mandated media obligations, but courtesy and professionalism are appreciated from this end.

Also from Williams: Seahawks owner Paul Allen showed up for practice Wednesday.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune offers highlights from Carroll's news conference Wednesday. Boling: "Pitts got most of the work Monday but was limping around a little. They're already familiar working on a weakness at left tackle because they had to shape a game plan in the preseason against Minnesota with Mansfield Wrotto starting over there when Russell Okung went down."

John Morgan of Field Gulls runs through potential scenarios for Seattle this season.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Derek Anderson eagerly awaits his first start as Cardinals quarterback. Somers: "It's not a coincidence that Anderson's best season, 2007, came when he was surrounded by the most talent. He had three excellent receiving targets in Joe Jurevicius, Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards. He handed the ball off to running back Jamal Lewis, who gained 1,304 yards that season. Then, the Browns disintegrated. Jurevicius missed the 2008 season after knee surgery and a staph infection. He was released in 2009. Winslow and Edwards were later traded. Meanwhile, Anderson was battling (Brady) Quinn for a job, and neither one was making an impression."

Also from Somers: Ken Whisenhunt remains vague on Beanie Well's injury situation.

More from Somers: a chat transcript featuring his thoughts on which player not named Kurt Warner the team will miss most in 2010. Somers: "Karlos Dansby, no question. He was so versatile. I think Kerry Rhodes could be better than Antrel Rolle, who blew some coverages and missed tackles. Anquan Boldin is one of the all-time Cardinal greats, but we didn't see the great Q runs last year."

Darren Urban of says receiver Larry Fitzgerald had nothing to do with the quarterback change from Matt Leinart to Anderson, according to Fitzgerald. Have any Cardinals players said anything publicly that would count as supporting Leinart? I wouldn't expect strong statements, but for a player who had been with the team since the Dennis Green years, Leinart didn't seem to get much support publicly.

Also from Urban: Darnell Dockett is no longer openly using the term "fresh meat" to describe new Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo is spending plenty of time at the office -- enough time, in fact, to justify adding a bed within the bathroom adjoining his office. Miklasz: "Not that a 1-15 rookie coach can sleep peacefully. When I asked Spagnuolo what it was like to go 1-15 last season as a rookie coach, he laughed and pointed to the bathroom."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says new Rams receiver Mark Clayton is catching on quickly. Bradford: "To see him come out Day 1 and have what seemed to be a great grasp on the offense already, he didn't ask a lot of questions. He just got in the huddle, I called the play, and he knew where to go, knew where to line up and knew what to run."

Also from Coats: The Rams avoided a local television blackout for Week 1.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the Rams' struggles within the division, specifically against Arizona.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Bradford knows he's going to see new looks from Arizona.

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

Battling perceptions in the NFC West

September, 8, 2010
KTAR radio's Doug Franz and Ron Wolfley just finished grilling me medium rare over the far-flung (to them) notion that the San Francisco 49ers should be favored in the NFC West this season.

They think the 49ers face at least as many questions as the Arizona Cardinals, from Alex Smith's abilities as a starting quarterback to the effects of playing two rookies on the offensive line.

Our conversation pointed to something I wrestle with all the time: perception vs. reality.

Sometimes those perceptions get out of hand. It could be happening in the NFC West right now. A few things to consider along those lines heading into the regular season:
  • The Seattle Seahawks are taking flak for dumping T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Josh Wilson and others (Rob Sims and Nate Burleson come to mind) during an ongoing roster overhaul. It's fair to ask whether all the changes were necessary. It's fair to question whether Seattle might fall off some in the immediate term while less experienced players take over. But why pretend as though the Seahawks needed only some fine-tuning? They needed an overhaul and they're getting one. Sometimes a team gets a little worse before it gets better. But if you honestly assess each roster change, you might find more upgrades than downgrades. How much will this really team miss Ken Lucas, Cory Redding, Justin Griffith, D.D. Lewis, Damion McIntosh, Owen Schmitt, Mansfield Wrotto, Lawrence Jackson, John Owens, Darryl Tapp, Deon Grant, Lance Laury and the others? It's tough to argue that those players were part of the solution.
  • The Cardinals are worse off without Kurt Warner. That much is a given. But should recent instability at quarterback significantly lower those already reduced expectations for the upcoming season? It's probably better to rule out Matt Leinart now than to do so four or five games into the regular season. Quarterback was already a concern. It's still a concern. But let's not pretend the 49ers are dramatically better off with Smith under center. I'm favoring the 49ers in the division because they're the safest bet following an offseason without much roster turnover. They appear slightly better than the team that went 8-8 in 2009. But it's no shock if the Cardinals win this division. I'd call it only a mild surprise.
  • The Rams are easy to write off with a rookie quarterback under center and only six wins over the last three seasons. It's not the upset of the century, however, if they find a way to prevail in Week 1. They trailed the Cardinals 21-3 at halftime in the Edward Jones Dome last season. A concussion prevented Warner from returning. Final score: 21-13. If you're the Rams and you know Warner won't be there Sunday, and you know Marc Bulger posted a 57.8 rating as your quarterback in that 21-13 defeat, you're thinking you've got a chance this time around, right? Right.
  • About those 49ers. Let's not get carried away with the 12-4 predictions, OK? One step at a time. The 49ers were 5-1 in the division last season. Are they really going to match that record or improve upon it and then add three more victories outside the NFC West? It's possible with AFC West teams on the schedule, but the 49ers have only seven true home games this season. Two of those are against New Orleans and Philadelphia. They play road games against Atlanta, Green Bay and San Diego. Find a dozen sure victories on that schedule and I'm guessing you're a 49ers fan.

To be continued in the comments section, and beyond.

Confirmed roster moves in NFC West

September, 5, 2010
The San Francisco 49ers appeared mostly quiet Sunday, signing players to their practice squad while the rest of the division scrambled to rearrange 53-man rosters.

Among the confirmed moves in the NFC West to this point Sunday:
By "confirmed" moves, I'm talking about ones either announced by the teams, confirmed by the teams, processed by the NFL office, or all of the above. As noted before lawn-maintenance obligations intervened, rosters remain quite fluid.
The Seattle Seahawks looked up long enough Sunday to announce a few roster moves, but not the ones reported previously.

The team said it has released offensive linemen Mansfield Wrotto and Steve Vallos, and safety Kevin Ellison. The team said it has claimed off waivers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith from the Green Bay Packers and defensive back Nate Ness from the Miami Dolphins. The team also announced offensive lineman Stacy Andrews' acquisition from Philadelphia.

The team made no mention of previously reported moves involving Julius Jones, Jordan Babineaux, Kevin Vickerson or Junior Siavii.

The roster appears in flux to such a degree that meaningful analysis should be postponed. My plan is to step outside for the next hour or so, mow the lawn, then come back inside and see if the pieces have come together any more clearly. The grass is getting high, anyway -- unless Pete Carroll and John Schneider cut that, too.

Around the NFC West: Arizona tradewinds

September, 2, 2010
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are open to trading Matt Leinart and guard Reggie Wells. Somers: "The Cardinals became overstocked at guard this offseason when they signed Alan Faneca and Rex Hadnot in free agency. Wells moved from left guard to right guard to make room for Faneca and has been on the first team since last spring. Lutui reported to training camp overweight but has been dropping pounds and making the contest closer. With Hadnot and Jeremy Bridges capable of playing guard, there has been speculation that the Cardinals could part with either Lutui or Wells, barring injuries at the position. Wells is in the last year of his contract and is due to make $2.4 million this year."

Trading Wells would make sense given the depth Arizona enjoys, but how many teams would want to absorb that salary two days before roster cuts?

Also from Somers: says Darnell Dockett wants to retire as a member of the Cardinals. Somers: "This is Dockett's second extension and was two years in the making. Until this year, Dockett didn't hesitate to express his unhappiness with his contract. In 2009, he sat out minicamp because of a hamstring injury that coach Ken Whisenhunt compared to a seasonal allergy. Dockett also skipped all off-season workouts. Cardinals management, meanwhile, was adamant about not extending any contract that had more than two years left. This year, however, Dockett was a regular at off-season workouts. His goal, he said, was not to convince the Cardinals to pay him, but to keep his word to free agents he helped recruit, including outside linebacker Joey Porter."

More from Somers: key players in the Dockett negotiations. No mention of general manager Rod Graves, though, and that's probably fine by Graves, who prefers a low profile. It's also a reflection of Whisenhunt's standing within the organization.

Darren Urban of passes along this thought from Dockett regarding the players Arizona has lost recently: "Granted, we can’t keep everybody. We wish we had those guys, but we tried to get those guys. That’s what a lot of people have to understand, we tried to keep people, it wasn’t like we ignored them and let them go. I have talked to Coach about those things. I wanted to make sure I am here and will do whatever I can to keep other guys around with a winning attitude."

Ben Malcolmson of says Jerry Rice surprised Seahawks players by showing up at their team meeting in Oakland on Wednesday. A photo shows a smiling Matt Hasselbeck greeting his former teammate. Sean Locklear and Craig Terrill were rookies when Rice played for Seattle in 2004. Rice: "If you want me to play 10-15 plays tomorrow night, I could probably do it."

Clare Farnsworth of updates Mike Williams' progress in the receiver's return from career irrelevance. Williams' signing could stand as one of the most improbable home runs in recent NFL personnel memory. There are times when Williams appears to be the best receiver on Seattle's roster. He has excellent hands and he's a willing blocker, too. Coach Pete Carroll: "To see Mike come out and be effective, that’s a really good sign for him. Physically, it’s the best I’ve seen him since maybe his sophomore year of college. He’s very serious about it, so maybe he has a chance to give us some help."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times singles out veterans to watch in the Seahawks' final game of the 2010 exhibition season: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Owen Schmitt, Julius Jones and Jordan Babineaux. A scout I spoke with Wednesday thought releasing Babineaux could be a consideration. Babineaux is scheduled to earn $2.45 million in salary this season, hardly a prohibitive number, but more than his role might justify. Babineaux has had additional value in the past because the Seahawks knew he could play some cornerback if necessary. Rookie Earl Thomas provides even greater flexibility that way, and the Josh Wilson trade showed how much Seattle likes its depth at cornerback anyway.

Also from O'Neil: a run through the Seahawks' roster. He thinks the Tyler Polumbus trade could put Mansfield Wrotto on notice. Polumbus did start eight games for the Broncos last season.

Greg Johns of checks in with Lawyer Milloy. Carroll: "He's had an excellent preseason. He's been all over the place. He's shown the kind of hitting that we love to see on defense, the toughness that he brings. He's been very, very studious as far as his alignments and calls and all that kind of stuff. It doesn't matter how old he is, he's a good football player and we're lucky to have him."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Ben Obomanu finds himself in a familiar position heading into the final exhibition game of the season.

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has the Seahawks keeping 11 defensive linemen on their initial 53-man roster. That's an unusually high number, but Seattle did keep 11 in Week 1 last season -- the highest number I can recall for any team in the NFC West.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams kicker Josh Brown is seeking greater accuracy after a down 2009 season. A hip injury this summer has actually helped Brown get needed rest, the kicker said. Brown on his 2009 stats: "Those numbers are not the numbers I want to have or to reflect how much I care about what I'm doing. Took a lot of inventory this year in what we were doing and how we were approaching the game, and it's been paying off."

Also from the Post-Dispatch: a look at the Rams' roster. Daniel Fells and Fendi Onobun reside on the bubble.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at Rams roster battles. Quarterback Keith Null: "I don't think anybody in this business can ever really get comfortable. I think once you do that, then you're not really giving out your full effort -- you're not really competing like you should. I still feel like I'm trying to get here (on the final 53), and even get on the field somehow."

Matt Maiocco of says the 49ers will give Alex Smith the night off when the team plays its final game of the exhibition season, an indication the coaching staff is pleased with Smith to this point and no longer concerned about getting reps for him.

Also from Maiocco: a 49ers roster projection showing Nate Davis, Kyle Williams, Tony Wragge, Alex Boone, Dominique Zeigler and Phillip Adams earning roster spots.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee wonders whether Michael Crabtree will play in the 49ers' final exhibition game.

Sam Good of checks in with Khalif Mitchell, who is fighting for a roster spot with the 49ers.

Also from a transcript from coach Mike Singletary's media session, featuring comments about the confrontation involving Crabtree and Vernon Davis. Singletary: "They were both wrong. And we will not have distractions on this team. Vernon just forgot temporarily, and that is not allowed. We don’t do that. We don’t treat family like that. We don’t disrespect each other. And I just needed to remind him that that’s not who we are. He’s fine. He did a great job. He’s one of the captains. He did the right thing, but he did it the wrong way. So, that’s all I’m going to say about that."

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat checks in with the 49ers' Adams.

More from Barber: Could the 49ers' entire 2010 draft class earn roster spots?

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle details the Crabtree-Davis dispute.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Crabtree's extended injury-related absence from practice could have been a point of contention between Crabtree and Davis. That stands as a logical issue.
Three years is a long, long time in the NFL.

It was 2007 when Ken Whisenhunt joined an NFC West head coaching fraternity featuring Mike Holmgren, Mike Nolan and Scott Linehan. The landscape has changed dramatically since then, shifting further Tuesday when the Seattle Seahawks traded 2007 second-round draft choice Josh Wilson to Baltimore.

Wilson's departure leaves the Arizona Cardinals' Alan Branch as the only 2007 NFC West second-round choice still with his original team. The St. Louis Rams have only one player remaining from that draft class, fifth-round choice Clifton Ryan. That draft also featured Adam Carriker and Brian Leonard.

The San Francisco 49ers came away from that draft with Patrick Willis and Joe Staley. Jason Hill, Ray McDonald, Dashon Goldson and Tarell Brown also remain from that draft, making it easily the strongest 2007 class for an NFC West team.

The Cardinals still have Levi Brown, Branch, Steve Breaston and Ben Patrick. The Seahawks traded their 2007 first-rounder to New England for Deion Branch. They still have Brandon Mebane, Mansfield Wrotto, Will Herring and Steve Vallos from that class.

The chart takes a round-by-round look at how many 2007 NFC West draft choices remain with their original teams.

Post-camp roster analysis: Seahawks

August, 30, 2010
NFL teams have until Saturday to reduce their rosters to 53-man limits, with the 75-man deadline passing Tuesday.

I've been putting together roster breakdowns similar to this one for roughly 10 years. They're a quick read and worthwhile exercise because they require thinking through each position. The numbers in parentheses shows how many players the team has on its roster. The average number kept since 2003 reflects Week 1 counts by position.

In some cases I've used the "looking safe" category for players that could qualify as "keepers" (the term "locks" is one I used previously). The Seattle Seahawks remain somewhat unsettled at quite a few positions and they could be active in claiming players off waivers. Some players looking safe one day could become expendable quickly. The same could be said for some keepers.

Here's what I'm thinking Monday:

Quarterbacks (3)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.9

Keepers: Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst

Looking safe: J.P. Losman

Comment: Some teams keep only two quarterbacks when other positions demand special considerations. Seattle could have some interest in Matt Leinart if the Arizona Cardinals released him. I wouldn't expect the Seahawks to invest anything trade-wise, however.

Running backs (6)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.3

Keepers: Justin Forsett, Leon Washington, Julius Jones, Quinton Ganther

On the bubble: Owen Schmitt

Also: Louis Rankin

Comment: Schmitt isn't a top special-teams player and he isn't versatile enough to carry the ball. Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates says he has room for traditional fullbacks on his roster. We'll see if that's enough to spare Schmitt. I don't think the team would release Jones even though Forsett and Washington have sometimes looked better.

Wide receivers (9)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.3

Keepers: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch, Mike Williams, Golden Tate

Looking safe: Deon Butler

On the bubble: Ben Obomanu, Brandon Jones

Also: Ruvell Martin, Kole Heckendorf

Comment: Jones probably needs to make an impact over the next week, including during the final exhibition game, to prove he's worth a roster spot. Obomanu can play multiple positions, he's good on special teams and he's caught the ball when given chances. Jones has shown more during past regular seasons and he can also provide special-teams value. Butler's strong offseason should be enough. Houshmandzadeh seems to be gaining momentum following an injury-affected offseason.

Tight ends (5)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.1

Keepers: John Carlson, Chris Baker

On the bubble: Anthony McCoy, Cameron Morrah

Also: Nick Tow-Arnett

Comment: McCoy has dropped too many passes, but he's a draft choice and he also scored a touchdown during the preseason. It's possible the Seahawks could keep four tight ends. They'll use more double-tight personnel groupings this season, most likely. Carlson and Baker are clearly the top two. I'm not sure McCoy or Morrah would rank among the 53 best players overall.

Offensive linemen (15)

Average number kept since 2003: 8.9

Keepers: Russell Okung, Sean Locklear, Chris Spencer, Max Unger, Mansfield Wrotto, Mike Gibson, Ray Willis, Chester Pitts

Not sure what to think: Steve Vallos, Ben Hamilton

Also: Mitch Erickson, Jeff Byers, Joe Toledo, Gregg Peat, Jacob Phillips

Comment: This position is difficult to figure. The Seahawks expect Willis back at some point early in the season. If that holds true, the team wouldn't want to place him on injured reserve. Pitts falls into the keeper category if his knee holds up (reserve/PUP is not an option for him after Pitts passed a physical). Spencer and Unger can both play center, and Gibson could start at guard, making me wonder if there's a spot for Vallos. Hamilton entered camp as a starter. Line coach Alex Gibbs values him as a mentor for Okung. But with Gibson overtaking Hamilton recently and with Pitts getting medical clearance, Hamilton appears less valuable. Seattle might want to keep 10 while the injury situation settles out. Expect the Seahawks to check out the waiver wire, too.

Defensive line (15)

Average number kept since 2003: 9.6

Keepers: Chris Clemons, Brandon Mebane, Red Bryant, Colin Cole, Kevin Vickerson, Nick Reed, Kentwan Balmer, E.J. Wilson, Dexter Davis

Looking safe: Quinn Pitcock

On the bubble: Craig Terrill

Also: Ricky Foley, Rob Rose, Amon Gordon, Jonathan Lewis

Comment: Clemons suddenly rivals Okung as the non-quarterback Seattle could least afford to lose. This reflects Clemons' strong play during preseason and the lack of attractive alternatives. Pitcock's youth and third-round potential could give him an edge over Terrill, at least in my view. Terrill has fought through knee trouble to remain in the mix.

Linebackers (8)

Average number kept since 2003: 6.9

Keepers: Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry, David Hawthorne

Looking safe: Matt McCoy, Tyjuan Hagler, Will Herring

Also: Joe Pawelek

Comment: Leroy Hill will open the regular season on the reserve/suspended list. He'll join the keepers once eligible. Hill, Curry and Tatupu have never played a full game together during the 2009 regular season or the 2010 exhibition season.

Defensive backs (15)

Average number kept since 2003: 7.9

Keepers: Marcus Trufant, Earl Thomas, Josh Wilson, Lawyer Milloy, Walter Thurmond, Kam Chancellor

Looking safe: Kelly Jennings, Jordan Babineaux

On the bubble: Kevin Ellison, Jamar Adams, Roy Lewis

Also: Cordelius Parks, Kennard Cox, Josh Pinkard, Marcus Brown

Comment: Trufant's return to form stands out as one of the most welcome developments for Seattle this summer. Thomas upgrades the coverage and playmaking ability of the secondary. The more Milloy plays, the more he looks like an enforcer type. Thurmond's return from knee surgery qualifies as the most pleasant surprise for Seattle in the secondary. Jennings' durability could be a concern. Babineaux's versatility makes him valuable even though it's looking as though the team doesn't have significant long-term plans for him.

Specialists (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.1

Keepers: Olindo Mare, Jon Ryan, Clint Gresham

Also: Clint Stitser

Comment: Mare missed from 43 yards against Minnesota on a strange night for kickers in the NFC West. Joe Nedney and Shane Adrus missed for the San Francisco 49ers.