NFC West: On the radar 61710

On the radar: Surprise injuries

June, 24, 2010
NFC On the Radar: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

A sore hip bothered Kurt Warner at Arizona Cardinals camp last summer. It wasn't a big deal.

[+] EnlargePatrick WIllis
Brett Davis/US PresswirePatrick Willis has already practiced after his offseason knee surgery and will seemingly be ready for training camp.
Two summers ago, the Seattle Seahawks downplayed Matt Hasselbeck's bad back because they didn't know the full extent of the problem. That one turned out to be more serious than expected.

Having the right feel for each injury situation can be tough. I'm sure a surprise injury or two will become a story after NFC West teams report for training camps in late July.

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis (knee), St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (back), Arizona Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (knee) and Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu (pectoral) are among the high-profile NFC West players coming off surgery rehabs. Their situations will bear monitoring.

The following players ended last season on injured reserve (some are no longer with NFC West teams):

Arizona Cardinals

Matt Ware, Mike Gandy, Justin Green, Cody Brown

San Francisco 49ers

Tony Pashos, Ricky Schmitt, Thomas Clayton, Jeff Ulbrich, Walt Harris, Kentwan Balmer, Curtis Taylor

Seattle Seahawks

Tyler Roehl, Walter Jones, Kevin Houser, Brandon Frye, Tatupu, Mike Hass

St. Louis Rams

Marc Bulger, Adam Carriker, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Eric Bassey, C.J. Ah You, Brooks Foster, Gary Gibson, Jacob Bell, Daniel Fells, Chris Massey, Bradley Fletcher, Laurent Robinson, Keenan Burton
NFC On the Radar: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

Some fans seem to get a little anxious this time of year as the weeks pass without top rookie draft choices signing contracts.

[+] EnlargeSam Bradford
Tim Heitman/US PresswireThere's still plenty of time left for the Rams to sign rookie Sam Bradford.
My typical response: Relax. There's plenty of time. Top picks generally don't sign until right before camp.

Those feelings are warranted again this offseason. We're still six weeks away from training camps. No need to panic.

The uncertain labor situation does raise questions about whether teams and agents will have a harder time reaching agreement. Some teams have been more cautious this offseason and we could see that thinking affecting all negotiations, including those with rookie draft choices. Tom Condon, the agent for No. 1 overall choice Sam Bradford, offered some thoughts during a predraft chat with
Forbes: How does the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement in March 2011 affect contracts for this year's draft class?

Condon: The expiration of the collective bargaining agreement gives us more flexibility with the contract structure because we have two more years to guarantee for skill, injury and cap. Additionally, we do not have to deal with the 30 percent rule restriction which applies to contracts under the current CBA. [Rookie contracts previously were restricted to a 30 percent annual salary increase.]

The flexibility Condon cites refers to mechanisms by which teams and agents can account for the most important aspect of any contract -- guaranteed money. Those mechanisms, limited last offseason as the NFL moved toward life without a CBA, are restored this offseason. Teams should be able to conduct business as they did previously.

The Rams in particular have budgeted for paying the No. 1 overall choice. They will want Bradford in camp. Bradford will want to be in camp. I would expect a deal to get done in time for Bradford to report on time or close to it. Meanwhile, teams continue to sign players drafted after the first two rounds.