NFC West: Ovie Mughelli

2012 NFC West practice squad eligibility

September, 1, 2012
9/01/12
12:33
PM ET
NFL teams can begin forming practice squads once eligible players clear waivers Saturday.

A look at which players released by NFC West teams have eligibility:

Arizona Cardinals

Eligible: Crezdon Butler, Antonio Coleman, Blake Gideon, Ricky Lumpkin, Colin Parker, Larry Parker, Steve Skelton, Quan Sturdivant, Everrette Thompson, Martell Webb, Scott Wedige, Brandon Williams, Isaiah Williams, D.J. Williams.

Not eligible: DeMarco Sampson, Alfonso Smith, Ronald Talley, Stephen Williams, Clark Haggans, Russ Hochstein

St. Louis Rams

Eligible: Cornell Banks, Tim Barnes, Tom Brandstater, Mason Brodine, Aaron Brown, Sammy Brown, Kendric Burney, Ben Guidugli, Cory Harkey, T-Bob Hebert, Jamaar Jarrett, Nick Johnson, Joe Long, Deangelo Peterson, Chase Reynolds, Scott Smith

Not eligible: Vernon Gholston, Bryan Mattison, Jose Valdez, Kellen Clemens, Ovie Mughelli

San Francisco 49ers

Eligible: Derek Hall, Joe Holland, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Cam Johnson, Matthew Masifilo, Anthony Mosley, Kyle Nelson, Al Netter, Chris Owusu, Nathan Palmer, Mike Person, Konrad Reuland, Kenny Rowe, Michael Thomas, Kenny Wiggins, Michael Wilhoite

Not eligible: Eric Bakhtiari, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Rock Cartwright, Josh Johnson, Brett Swain

Seattle Seahawks

Eligible: Pierre Allen, Allen Bradford, Kris Durham, Cooper Helfet, Rishaw Johnson, Jermaine Kearse, Kyle Knox, Cordarro Law, Pep Levingston, Ricardo Lockette, Sean McGrath, Kris O'Dowd, Josh Portis, DeShawn Shead, Vai Taua, Korey Toomer, Lavasier Tuinei

Not eligible: Phillip Adams, Deon Butler, Paul Fanaika

Note on eligibility

Straight from the collective bargaining agreement:
"The Practice Squad shall consist of the following players, provided that they have not served more than two previous seasons on a Practice Squad:
  • "players who do not have an Accrued Season of NFL experience;
  • "free agent players who were on the Active List for fewer than nine regular season games during their only Accrued Season(s).

"An otherwise eligible player may be a Practice Squad player for a third season only if the Club by which he is employed that season has at least 53 players on its Active/Inactive List during the entire period of his employment.

"A player shall be deemed to have served on a Practice Squad in a season if he has passed the club's physical and been a member of the club's Practice Squad for at least three regular season or postseason games during his first two Practice Squad seasons, and for at least one regular season or postseason game during his third Practice Squad season.

"(For purposes of this Section, a bye week counts as a game provided that the player is not terminated until after the regular season or postseason weekend in question.)"

St. Louis Rams cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
10:01
PM ET
Click here for the complete list of St. Louis Rams roster moves.

Most significant move: The Rams released No. 2 quarterback Kellen Clemens even though Clemens knew the offense better than any player on the roster. Clemens, who spent time with the New York Jets when Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer held the same job there, lost out to impressive undrafted free-agent quarterback Austin Davis.

Davis, drafted by the Boston Red Sox this year, stood out during preseason for his poise. Some players appear as though they belong. Davis did, at least initially. The preliminary assumption here is that Davis fared well enough to win the No. 2 role, although rosters remain fluid and the Rams will consider veterans at every position as they become available. The Rams also released Tom Brandstater, who was initially thought to be competing with Davis for the third-string role.

Onward and upward: Clemens could catch on with another team. Overall, however, the Rams had more holes than front-line talent to fill those holes. The players they released will not be coveted elsewhere. That was partly because the suspension Austin Pettis faces for the first two games bought the Rams time at wide receiver, where the team has quite a few mid-level prospects. With Pettis on the reserve/suspended list and not counting against the 53-man limit, the Rams kept the six receivers considered most likely to stick, including veteran Steve Smith and second-year pro Greg Salas.

Veteran fullback Ovie Mughelli received his release and could appeal to the dwindling number of teams valuing a traditional blocking fullback. The Rams kept only four running backs on this initial 53-man roster. They parted with Chase Reynolds after coach Jeff Fisher lauded the 24-year-old back as someone with the ability to close out a game.

The Rams also cut Aaron Brown, Cornell Banks, Cory Harkey, Jamaar Jarrett, Jose Valdez, Scott Smith, Mason Brodine, Nick Johnson, Ben Guidugli, Kendric Burney, Deangelo Peterson, Sammy Brown, T. Bob Hebert, Tim Barnes, Bryan Mattison, Vernon Gholston and Joe Long. Gholston could be running out of chances.

What's next: The Rams need help throughout their roster. They have the No. 2 priority in waiver claims. Expect them to put that privilege to use. The Rams should be active in pursuing help at defensive tackle after losing first-round pick Michael Brockers for a month (estimated) with a high-ankle sprain. Trevor Laws is already on injured reserve.

The Rams have only eight offensive linemen, one fewer than teams generally prefer to keep. They could use another one. They kept six linebackers, on the low side. The team is carrying 11 defensive backs at present. I wouldn't be surprised if they shopped former starting corner Bradley Fletcher, who was playing deep into games in preseason.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- With a nudge from @Amazing_Jagman, I've updated rosters to produce age rankings for every team in the NFL. I'll begin with a look at where NFC West teams rank by position and overall.
  • QB: All four teams rank in the youngest third or so. The San Francisco 49ers have the most experienced starter in the division, but also the youngest group overall.
  • RB: I was a little surprised to see Seattle (third-oldest) and San Francisco (fifth-oldest) rank among the five oldest at this position, with St. Louis considerably younger on average. The Seahawks' Leon Washington turns 30 next month. Teammate Michael Robinson turns 30 in February. The 49ers added 32-year-old veteran special-teamer Rock Cartwright, who counts as a fullback, and veteran halfback Brandon Jacobs, 30. Frank Gore turned 29 in May. The St. Louis Rams, despite Steven Jackson (29) and fullback Ovie Mughelli (32), have quite a few young players at the position.
  • WR: Randy Moss, 35, contributed to the 49ers fielding the 10th-oldest group of receivers on average as training camps were beginning. For Seattle, the newly signed Antonio Bryant, 31, contributed to a No 13 ranking. The Rams have youth, youth and more youth at the position.
  • TE: Arizona ranks seventh-oldest at the position thanks to the presence of veterans such as Todd Heap, 32, and Jeff King, 29. But the team is most excited about second-year tight end Rob Housler. Seven of the Rams' eight tight ends are between 22 and 25 years old, helping St. Louis rank 30th in average age at the position.
  • OL: The Cardinals have previously ranked No. 1 in average age at this position. They've dropped to seventh after addressing the position in the draft at the expense of a few veterans. Adding 34-year-old veteran Russ Hochstein upped the average, however.
  • DL: The Cardinals have the oldest defensive linemen by average age. Darnell Dockett turned 31 this offseason. Vonnie Holliday is 36. Nick Eason is 32. Arizona has promising younger players at the position, notably nose tackle Dan Williams and defensive end Calais Campbell. But the group could use a youth infusion in the not-too-distant future. The Rams, meanwhile, got much younger by parting with James Hall, Fred Robbins and Justin Bannan. Chris Long, 27, is now the oldest defensive lineman on the team.
  • LB: The Cardinals' Clark Haggans, 35, and Paris Lenon, 34, help give Arizona the ninth-oldest linebackers in the NFL. The Rams' No. 14 ranking reflects their decision to add veterans on the outside. The team needs to address that position in upcoming drafts, it appears.
  • DB: The division features ample young talent in its secondaries. The Cardinals, despite fielding the oldest secondary in the division, have one of the most promising young cornerbacks in the NFL, Patrick Peterson. Seattle has the youngest secondary in the division. Three of four starters achieved Pro Bowl status last season. That's a great combination. The fourth starter, Richard Sherman, was arguably deserving of Pro Bowl honors as a rookie.
  • ST: The Cardinals continue to field the oldest specialists in the NFL on average. The Rams field the youngest group after parting with Donnie Jones and Josh Brown. I'm interested in seeing how the Rams' decision plays out.
  • Total: The Cardinals have some exciting young players, but their roster is third-oldest in the NFL. The team cannot realistically cite youth for any shortcomings this season. The Rams remain the youngest team -- slightly younger than Carolina -- despite adding Mughelli on Saturday. Seattle ranked among the youngest teams last season. Re-signing cornerback Marcus Trufant and adding Bryant, both 31, upped the Seahawks' average age. Unrestricted free-agent additions Deuce Lutui and Barrett Ruud are 29. The team now ranks 20th oldest in the NFL.

I'll pass along updated rosters once I've finished updating a few other categories. The chart shows age rankings by position group and overall for NFC West teams.
EARTH CITY, Mo. - The St. Louis Rams used two running backs on 12 percent of plays last season, the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL.

Mughelli
That's going to change in a big way under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

To that end, the Rams signed veteran fullback Ovie Mughelli on Saturday. Age (32) and a 2011 knee injury (torn MCL) made the two-time Pro Bowl choice available to NFL teams this offseason. The former lead blocker for Michael Turner in Atlanta has ties to the Rams' front office (general manager Les Snead), coaching staff (offensive line coach Paul T. Boudreau) and roster (guard Harvey Dahl) from their time together in Atlanta.

Mughelli, 6-foot-1 and 255 pounds, played 38 percent of the Falcons' offensive snaps in 2010, a high number for a fullback in the current NFL.

The Rams used two backs 123 times last season, the fifth-lowest total in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That figure will surge with Schottenheimer taking over for Josh McDaniels as the Rams' offensive coordinator.

Schottenheimer's Jets ran 370 plays with two backs last season, the eighth-highest total in the league. That works out to 36 percent of the time for the Jets and 12 percent of the time for the Rams. The league average was 27 percent.

The knee injury Mughelli suffered against Detroit in October appeared grotesque on replays, but Mughelli assured fans the damage wasn't all that bad. Brit Miller, Todd Anderson and former tight end Ben Guidugli were the fullbacks under contract to St. Louis before Mughelli's addition.

Rams running back Steven Jackson has said he prefers running behind a fullback. He'll get that chance in 2012.

The Rams open training camp Sunday.
Five things I noticed while watching the Seattle Seahawks during their 30-28 defeat to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4:
  • Right tackle James Carpenter looked good. He drove the Falcons' John Abraham across the formation on one play, then landed on him the way offensive linemen love to do when imposing their physical dominance on defenders. Carpenter sometimes looked like the Seahawks' best tackle in this game. That is partly because left tackle Russell Okung still doesn't appear fully comfortable planting hard on his ankles to anchor against strong pass-rushers. Abraham beat Okung to the inside and hit Tarvaris Jackson in the lower legs on the first play of the game. Okung responded by pancaking Ray Edwards on the next play. The line did not allow a sack, so this was improvement across the board and a confidence-builder heading into a road game against the New York Giants' defensive front. But if Okung can get back to how he played when healthy in 2010, the line will take another giant step forward.
  • At least they had the fullback covered. Something wasn't right when the Falcons' Michael Turner ran over left tackle for the touchdown that gave Atlanta a 14-0 lead. Linebacker Aaron Curry thought the Falcons were passing on the play. He appeared to peek into the backfield at the snap, only to run with fullback Ovie Mughelli directly away from the onrushing Turner. Curry kept running with Mughelli toward the sideline without looking back. Middle linebacker David Hawthorne tried to make the play, but Falcons left tackle Sam Baker blocked him. Defensive end Chris Clemons seemed to be stunting to the inside. Whatever the case, this was a bizarre letdown for a pretty strong run defense, and a case where Curry, if indeed assigned to the fullback in coverage on this play, would have been better off breaking away to stop Turner.
  • Brandon Browner is scrappy. There were some attitude plays from the Seahawks' right cornerback. He made an aggressive tackle in the run game. One play after running with Julio Jones on a deep ball that was caught out of bounds, Browner lined up against Falcons cornerback Christopher Owens, a gunner on the punt team. Browner shadowed Owens toward the middle of the field and knocked him down with a push to the back. When Owens got up, Browner immediate decked him.
  • Zach Miller atoned for his end-zone drop. The Seahawks' tight end could not hold onto the ball in the end zone when absorbing a big hit, leading to an interception. But after Leon Washington's punt return quickly put Seattle back in scoring position, Miller helped spring Lynch's 11-yard touchdown run. Seattle used three-receiver personnel on the play, with Miller motioning from his H-back spot and clearing out linebacker Mike Peterson. Receiver Mike Williams cracked back on free safety Thomas DeCoud to free Lynch completely. DeCoud is a big hitter, though, and Williams was worse off for the collision. He left the game with a concussion. The Falcons were the harder-hitting team. Strong safety William Moore shook up Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin and even right guard John Moffitt. Seattle missed one of its biggest hitters, injured strong safety Kam Chancellor.
  • Tarvaris Jackson exploited the Falcons' passivity. The Falcons largely sat back in coverage as though they didn't think Jackson could make them pay. They rushed three defenders on the third-and-7 play when Jackson held the ball for an extended period before finding Ben Obomanu wide open for a touchdown. Jackson did a good job making defenders flock first to Justin Forsett over the middle and then to Golden Tate to the left before throwing further left for Obomanu. The Falcons also rushed only three when Jackson found Miller over the middle as Seattle tried to get into field-goal range in the final minute. Having extra blockers on this play afforded left guard Paul McQuistan a free shot on Abraham while Okung was battling Abraham to a stalemate. That play, like Carpenter's hit on Abraham and Moffitt's insistence on returning to the game quickly following his injury, shows the line is adopting Tom Cable's mindset.

That makes five observations. A sixth: Coach Pete Carroll has to regret his decision to opt for a 61-yard field goal on fourth-and-8 with 13 seconds left and one timeout remaining. I understand he didn't want his offense to fail after coming back so strong, but the reward for trusting the offense outweighed the risk, I thought.

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