NFC West: Oliver Ross
Shaun Alexander carried 23 times for 173 yards and two touchdowns during a 33-19 Seattle victory at Sun Devil Stadium. The Seahawks, headed to Super Bowl XL after that season, picked off Kurt Warner three times and sacked him four times.
A couple things about these teams have changed since that game. I had some fun sifting through those 2005 rosters.
Players no longer with Seattle
Offense (20): Bobby Engram, Steve Hutchinson, Robbie Tobeck, Chris Gray, Joe Jurevicius, Jerheme Urban, Mack Strong, Shaun Alexander, D.J. Hackett, Maurice Morris, Leonard Weaver, Floyd Womack, Ryan Hannam, Jerramy Stevens, Peter Warrick, David Greene, Wayne Hunter, Darrell Jackson, Itula Mili, Josh Scobey.
Defense (18): Bryce Fisher, Chuck Darby, Marcus Tubbs, Grant Wistrom, Jamie Sharper, Kelly Herndon, Michael Boulware, Marquand Manual, Jimmy Williams, John Howell, Niko Koutouvides, Kevin Bentley, Isaiah Kacyvenski, Joe Tafoya, Rocky Bernard, Etric Pruitt, Rodney Bailey, Andre Dyson.
Specialists (3): Josh Brown, Tom Rouen, J.P. Darche.Players still with Seattle
Offense (6): Walter Jones (injured reserve), Sean Locklear, Matt Hasselbeck, Seneca Wallace, Chris Spencer, Ray Willis.
Defense (6): Jordan Babineaux, Craig Terrill, D.D. Lewis, Lofa Tatupu (IR), Leroy Hill, Marcus Trufant.
Players no longer with Arizona
Offense (23): Bryant Johnson, Leonard Davis, Nick Leckey, Alex Stepanovich, Oliver Ross, Eric Edwards, Marcel Shipp, Adam Bergen, J.J. Arrington, Josh McCown, John Navarre, Reggie Newhouse, LeRon McCoy, Fred Wakefield, James Jackson, Obafemi Ayanbadejo, Harold Morrow, Jarrod Baxter, Adam Haayer, J.J. Moses, Elton Brown, Teyo Johnson, Reggie Swinton.
Defense (16): Langston Moore, Ross Kolodziej, James Darling, Robert Tate, Robert Griffith, David Macklin, Antonio Cochran, Darryl Blackstock, Orlando Huff, Eric Green, Antonio Smith, Lamont Reid, Quentin Harris, Isaac Keys, Lance Mitchell, Aaron Francisco.
Specialists (2): Scott Player, Nathan Hodel.Players still with Arizona
Offense (5): Reggie Wells, Larry Fitzgerald, Kurt Warner, Jeremy Bridges, Anquan Boldin.
Defense (6): Chike Okeafor, Darnell Dockett, Bernard Berry, Karlos Dansby, Adrian Wilson, Antrel Rolle.
Specialists (1): Neil Rackers.Note: Thanks to spaumi10 for noticing that Aaron Francisco and Lance Mitchell were initially listed on offense. There was a little cutting and pasting involved with this entry. Missed those two. Thanks!
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Biggest surprise: There weren'y any big ones. Undrafted rookie linebacker Reggie Walker did beat out veteran Victor Hobson. The team kept seven receivers for now, including Lance Long, after injuries affected Early Doucet, Anquan Boldin and (previously) Steve Breaston. I would not expect the Cardinals to keep seven receivers all season, a reminder that this is the team's initial 53-man roster, not the final one.
Arizona sought to upgrade its secondary through the draft and free agency. That spelled the end for veteran safety Aaron Francisco. I thought the team might keep veteran center Melvin Fowler as insurance. Rookie returner LaRod Stephens-Howling stuck around, costing fullback Tim Castille a chance to continue with the team. Tight end Leonard Pope's demise had been on the horizon for a while and it was a bad sign when he was playing deep into the second half of the fourth exhibition game.
No-brainers: The team also released quarterback Tyler Palko, receiver Steve Sanders, receiver Ed Gant, cornerback Wilrey Fontenot, running back Chris Vincent, cornerback Jameel Dowling, fullback Reagan Maui'a, guard Trevor Canfield guard Carlton Medder, defensive end Alex Field, defensive tackle Keilen Dykes, tackle Oliver Ross, receiver Onrea Jones, defensive tackle Rodney Leisle, linebacker Chase Bullock and linebacker David Holloway. Canfield, chosen in the seventh-round, was the only 2009 draft choice released.
What's next: The heirarchy at tight end will continue to shake out, with Dominique Byrd essentially getting an extended tryout while Ben Patrick serves a four-game suspension. The team still could use a backup center with some experience.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Among the things I'll be watching to see when the Cardinals conclude their 2009 exhibition schedule Thursday night against the Broncos in Denver:
- A pulse. Coach Ken Whisenhunt rallied around the Cardinals' recent poor showing against Green Bay to motivate his team heading into the season. Was his anger for nothing, or will Arizona's starters play with more of an edge when they are in the game? Games against the Steelers, Chargers and Packers tested and in some cases exposed the Cardinals' starters. Unlike those teams, the Broncos have serious problems at quarterback. They also lack depth. The matchup should give Arizona a good chance to impress.
- Tight ends. Dominique Byrd, Anthony Becht and Leonard Pope could be competing for roster spots. Can one of them make a strong closing argument?
- Alan Branch. Pope, a third-round choice in 2006, isn't the only recent early Cardinals draft choice facing an uncertain immediate future. Branch, chosen in the second-round of the 2007 draft, could be fighting for a spot at nose tackle behind Bryan Robinson and Gabe Watson. Is it too late?
- Oliver Ross. The Cardinals have changed some of their depth at offensive tackle. They placed Elliot Vallejo on injured reserve before reaching an injury settlement with him. Rookie Herman Johnson appears ready to back up Levi Brown on the right side. Ross played quite a bit against the Packers after groin soreness sent starting left tackle Mike Gandy to the sideline as a precaution. Quality depth at tackle is a luxury.
- Lance Long. Early Doucet's latest injury clears the way for Long to make a final push for a roster spot at receiver. The team could still keep Doucet, a third-round choice in 2008, but Long probably has a chance. The Cardinals' strength atop the depth chart at receiver makes this a relatively low-stakes decision -- for them, if not for Long.
NFL Network is replaying the Cardinals-Broncos game after the Raiders-Seahawks game, which begins at 10 p.m. ET.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals backup quarterback Matt Leinart suffered a shoulder injury against the Packers while throwing for 360 yards in the second half.
Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic says analysts aren't buying into the Cardinals this season, although ESPN's Chris Berman likes Arizona on simple grounds. Berman: "When you can score 30 points a game against most teams, that's a nice thing to have in your hip pocket."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com makes a 53-man roster projection for the Cardinals. He puts tackle Oliver Ross on the bubble. My overall impression of Ross was favorable when he subbed for Mike Gandy at left tackle against the Packers.
Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind wonders if there's still a small chance Beanie Wells could challenge Tim Hightower for the starting job at halfback in Arizona.
Kris Anderson of 49ers.com profiles pass-rusher Parys Haralson.
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider checks in with cornerback Shawntae Spencer, a veteran surprise for the 49ers this summer.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat still thinks Michael Crabtree will sign with the 49ers before the regular-season opener, though he's less sure than before.
Also from Maiocco: Cornerback Nate Clements explains recent preseason struggles by saying he's working on weaknesses in his game. Also, coach Mike Singletary challenged players following a poor practice session.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the evidence points to Dre Bly starting at right corner even though defensive coordinator Greg Manusky says Spencer and Tarell Brown are still competing.
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News hasn't seen enough from Shaun Hill, Crabtree or Manny Lawson to think the 49ers have solved their problems.
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News said during a chat that 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan isn't impressed by the crop of veteran free-agent tackles. The 49ers want to see which tackles teams release on the reduction to 53 players.
David Fucillo of Niners Nation makes another 53-man roster projection. He wonders what Maiocco meant when he suggested the 49ers would add a fullback not currently on the roster. Translation: The 49ers will probably sign a veteran fullback from the pool of players available following the reduction to 53 players. There simply weren't many fullbacks available when the 49ers decided to give linebacker Brit Miller a try at the position. They added Bill Rentmeester when he came available, but they'll consider other options.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times points to the Seahawks' depth at defensive end to explain why the team moved Michael Bennett to defensive tackle.
Also from O'Neil: a look at position battles still undecided heading into the Seahawks' final exhibition game. Defensive line tops the list.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune looks at the race between Seahawks kickers Brandon Coutu and Olindo Mare.
Also from Williams: a look at Bennett's conversion to defensive tackle. Williams: "Bennett has stepped up his game in his first year as a pro. He’s recorded two sacks and four tackles for loss in three preseason games for Seattle, and is solidly in the conversation" for a spot on the initial 53-man roster.
John Morgan of Field Gulls sees Ben Obomanu and Courtney Taylor competing to be the Seahawks' fifth receiver.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams must clear 21 roster spots by Saturday. Running back Samkon Gado: "I was talking to my roommate [Phil Trautwein], who is a rookie. And I just told him if you're going to play in this league, you've got to be prepared to be cut. I've been cut I think six or seven times in five years. It's just the nature of the beast. You do the best that you can. And a lot of times, it's not really up to you. It's not really how well you played or how poorly you played. It's just there's not a need for you. So I think the best thing to do is just continue working hard. There's going to be someone out there who has a need for you, and I think I'm a wonderful example of that."
Also from Thomas: Five things to watch in the Rams' final exhibition game of the 2009 season. Thomas: "Teams traditionally keep four defensive tackles. The Rams have five bona fide roster candidates in Adam Carriker, Gary Gibson, Clifton Ryan, Darell Scott and Hollis Thomas. Who's the odd man out? And should 2007 first-round pick Carriker, who's on the second-team defense coming off an ankle injury, be worried?"
Turf Show Times' VanRam wonders if Eagles receiver Reggie Brown could be in the Rams' plans.
Tim Klutsarits of examiner.com outlines five things to watch when the Rams face the Chiefs in their final exhibition game. Cornerback play tops the list after St. Louis traded Tye Hill.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Cardinals have gotten dramatically younger at running back this offseason. Edgerrin James and Terrelle Smith are gone, leaving Tim Hightower and Dan Kreider as the only current Cardinals running backs with starting experience.
The team kept three halfbacks and two fullbacks on its Week 1 roster last season. Nine other teams also kept more than one fullback for the opener.
Hightower, Chris Wells, Jason Wright, Kreider and Tim Castille entered camp as the likely choices for those spots, should the team keep five. LaRod Stephens-Howling would have to significantly liven up the return game to earn a spot, most likely.
The chart provides a framework for how many players the Cardinals might keep at each position heading into the regular-season opener against the 49ers.
Here's a quick look at which Cardinals players I might keep on the cutdown to 53 players:
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune saw good things from Seahawks offensive lineman Max Unger against the Chargers. Boling: "First-round pick Aaron Curry, who missed eight days of training camp while holding out, showed that he's not entirely up to speed with his responsibilities when he got lost in coverage on a crossing route in the first period. Second-round pick Max Unger had a much more impressive outing. At right guard in the first half, Unger looked solid enough for a first appearance in both run and pass situations. He seemed to know where to go and was able to get the job done once he got there."
John Morgan of Field Gulls singles out winners and losers from the Seahawks' exhibition opener. That would be Nick Reed among the winners.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune offers notes and observations from the Seahawks' first exhibition game. Williams: "The pass defense is still in a work in progress. The Seahawks finished last in the league in pass defense last season, and gave up a league-leading 59 plays of 20-yards or more. That disturbing trend continued on Saturday, with the Seahawks giving up four plays of 20-yards or more through the air. Cornerback Kevin Hobbs was twice victimized, and Kelly Jennings also was beat deep, although he did manage an interception."
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com says Matt Hasselbeck's scramble against the Chargers suggests the quarterback has moved past a back injury.
Doug Farrar of Scout.com sees significant changes to the Seahawks' offensive and defensive schemes under new coach Jim Mora.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times profiles Curry, exploring the linebacker's sensitive side.
Chris Sullivan of Seahawk Addicts offers first-half notes from the Seahawks' opener. Cole: "The defensive line, especially the first unit, has looked quite good. I was most impressed by Colin Cole, who I did not expect a whole lot from him."
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers coach Mike Singletary singled out right tackle Adam Snyder for playing well against the Broncos. Singletary also liked what he saw from rookie running back Glen Coffee. Singletary: "I'm really excited about what I saw of him. He's really a tough guy. I thought he did a decent job in pass protection. Glen is going to be a good addition to our team."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Singletary lauded Shaun Hill's game management. Singletary: "He's great at managing the game. You know he can manage a game, but he can also throw the ball downfield. ... How consistent, and on what basis? That's something we still have to look at, but we pretty much know what's there."Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers running back Thomas Clayton suffered "major" ligament damage in his knee against the Broncos. Singletary withheld a formal announcement pending MRI results.
Also from Maiocco: The following players "showed nothing" against the Broncos: "Manny Lawson, Marques Harris, Kentwan Balmer, Isaac Sopoaga, Aubrayo Franklin, Demetric Evans, Pannel Egboh, Ricky Jean-Francois."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says results from Steve Breaston's MRI remained a mystery. Also from Somers: "QB Brian St. Pierre didn't play well, obviously, but he didn't have much help, as coach Ken Whisenhunt noted. Oliver Ross moved from right tackle to left because of the injury to Elliot Vallejo. Ross was beaten a time or two. There appeared to be some miscommunication in protection on other occasions."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com offers notes from the Cardinals-Steelers game. Urban: "You've got to love the potential as a return guy of Michael Ray Garvin, but it just seems like he's a long shot given his limited abilities beyond the return game (unless he can become a gunner on punt coverage). He seems like more of a practice-squad candidate, although if he sparkles the rest of the preseason, maybe he'll sneak in. We'll see if Antrel Rolle keeps getting a try as a punt returner; he just doesn't look as comfortable as I would have thought."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Samkon Gado's stock with the Rams is rising after his 77-yard touchdown run against the Jets. Thomas: "[Steven] Jackson took note of the fact Gado's big run came after spending most of the first half playing fullback in place of Mike Karney, who dressed but didn't play because of an ankle injury."
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch updates Rams injuries. Coats: "Quarterback Brock Berlin and guard Jacob Bell will be day-to-day this week after being knocked out of the game with injuries. Spagnuolo reported that Berlin suffered a sprained knee and Bell a mild concussion. Also, MRI exams were scheduled for wide receivers Tim Carter (groin) and Brooks Foster (ankle). Defensive end Adam Carriker (ankle) will be out again this week."
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo pointed to pass protection as one of the areas needing improvement.
Turf Show Times' CoachConnors sees room for improvement from Rams cornerback Justin King.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Count Rams defensive end Leonard Little among those thankful the team signed run-stuffing
defensive tackle Hollis Thomas.
"Oh yeah," Little told reporters in St. Louis, "I am not the oldest guy on the team no more, so that is good.
"Me and him talk about that, too. I'm like, 'I'm glad you signed because you are a little bit older than me, so you can be the grandpa around here now."
Not to worry, Leonard. You're not even one of the 10 oldest players in the NFC West (Oliver Ross is one month older).
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Cardinals have re-signed offensive tackle Oliver Ross. The Seahawks have re-signed fullback David Kirtman. I would consider it an upset if either player earned a 53-man roster spot or contributed in 2009, but both will have a chance to compete.
The Cardinals now have 16 offensive linemen: Levi Brown, Duece Lutui, Lyle Sendlein, Reggie Wells, Mike Gandy and backups Brandon Keith, Elliot Vallejo, Elton Brown, Herman Johnson, Carlton Medder, Brandon Pearce, Khalil El-Amin, Ben Claxton, Trevor Canfield, Donovan Raiola and Ross. Nine is the likely maximum for the regular season.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with some of the 49ers' undrafted free agents. Offensive lineman Alex Boone said not getting drafted was a humbling experience that showed him how actions have consequences. Brown: "Boone, a mammoth (6-foot-7, 328 pounds) tackle out of Ohio State, was arrested after being subdued with a Taser in what law enforcement officials say was a drunken tirade. The Orange County sheriff's office told the Associated Press in February that Boone was jumping car hoods, yanking on a tow-truck cable and trying to break a window when he was arrested. Boone was taken to a hospital and then to a jail medical ward."
The 49ers' Web site says the team has signed former Nicholls State kicker Alex Romero.
Also from 49ers.com: A transcript from coach Mike Singletary's latest session with reporters. Singletary isn't leaving the quarterback race to coordinator Jimmy Raye and quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson. Singletary: "Every day we talk about, 'What do you see? What's happening? What were the conversations?' Because for me, it's that quarterback that when he steps in that huddle, magic happens. There's something that wakes up everybody."
Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle says the last few months are a blur to new 49ers running back Glen Coffee. Ratto: "[Frank] Gore is at the stage of his own career where teams start wondering about the amount of tread left on the tires, no matter how much is actually there, and 812 carries and 157 receptions in three years suggests that the 49ers needed to get serious about either lightening Gore's load or finding potential future replacements."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Alex Smith and Shaun Hill took all the quarterback reps on the first day of the post-draft camp. Maiocco also runs a depth chart showing new names in prominent roles because not all veterans are in attendance.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic traces the link between contractual unhappiness and hamstring soreness. Anquan Boldin and Darnell Dockett demonstrate the theory. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "Hey, we know what's going on, so I'm really not going to have much to say about that."
Also from Somers: Quarterback Kurt Warner took part in practice despite undergoing hip surgery recently.
More from Somers: Karlos Dansby says he's focused on football, not a new contract.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Boldin thinks the Cardinals didn't legitimately try to trade him in recent weeks. "I never give up hope [about being traded]," Boldin said. Can earning $2.75 million in salary from the NFC champs be that much of a hardship?
Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals' success last season is no match for economics. Bordow: "Yes, the flotilla of warm feelings that carried the Cardinals to the Super Bowl has washed up on shore. Once again, it's all about the money. Boldin and Dockett want their existing contracts renegotiated and they're going to refuse to do their chores until they get what they want."
Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind says the Cardinals are taking a flier on Oliver Ross even though the offensive tackle hasn't played since 2006. Ross is one of three veterans participating in camp on a tryout basis. Former Rams tight end Dominique Byrd is also there.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Seahawks rookie receiver Deon Butler make a positive first impression at minicamp.
Also from Johns: First-round Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry estimates he has spent 10 to 15 hours "staring" at his playbook. Said fellow linebacker Leroy Hill: "He's smart. A lot of the questions that [linebackers coach Zerick Rollins] was asking him in meetings, he was picking up just like that. I'm like, 'Man, I didn't even know that yet.' On the field, he's running with the first team and fitting right in. I think it's going to be fun to watch and play with him."
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com takes a big-picture view of the Seahawks' first post-draft practice. Farnsworth: "Hill was huffing and puffing a bit after his first on-field action since Week 13 last season, as he missed the final four games with a neck injury. But he also showed the traits that made retaining his services a priority for the Seahawks. On one play, Hill was all over a pass into the flat to running back Justin Forsett. Later, on a running play, Hill got to the back before the back could get anywhere near the line of scrimmage."
Mary Beth King of Seahawks.com opens the mailbag. She says the Seahawks like their current situation at running back.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times lists players who did not practice with the Seahawks on Friday: CB Kelly Jennings (shoulder), FB Justin Griffith (knee), LB D.D. Lewis (knee), G Mike Wahle (shoulder), T Walter Jones (knee), WR Deion Branch (knee), DL Cory Redding and DE Patrick Kerney (shoulder).
Also from O'Neil: A camp overview.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Curry fit in well on his first day of camp and did not appear out of place running with the starters.
Michael Steffes of Seahawk Addicts looks at the "upside" and "downside" of the Seahawks' various moves this offseason.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explores Rams rookie running back Chris Ogbannaya's background. Ogbannaya's father grew up in Nigeria and moved to the United States in 1976. Ogbannaya: "He was lucky enough to get sponsored by a family in South Carolina who ended up being my godparents. Self-made man. Went to Clemson University. Went to medical school after that."
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are counting on newly acquired receiver Laurent Robinson to contribute. Injuries slowed Robinson with the Falcons last season.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Steven Jackson likes the Rams' offseason additions. Jackson: "They've also made decisions in the draft and free agency to help me out. That's the biggest thing. You just don't want to throw it all on one guy, and don't give him anything to work with. I think in free agency and the draft, the things that needed to be addressed were addressed."