NFC West: Pago Togafau
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.
Among the confirmed moves in the NFC West to this point Sunday:
- The Arizona Cardinals waived cornerback Marshay Green, fullback Reagan Maui'a and linebacker Pago Togafau. Arizona received fullback/linebacker Jerome Johnson (New York Giants), defensive back Brandon McDonald (Cleveland Browns) and linebacker Cyril Obiozor (Green Bay Packers) off waivers. Arizona’s Chris Johnson, Alfonso Smith and Mark Washington reverted to injured reserve after clearing waivers. It's not clear whether they'll stay there. Teams often reach injury settlements with waived/injured players.
- Speaking of injury settlements, the St. Louis Rams reached one with offensive lineman Phil Trautwein, meaning he is no longer on injured reserve.
- The Seattle Seahawks released safety Kevin Ellison, center/guard Steve Vallos and guard/tackle Mansfield Wrotto. The Seahawks added off waivers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith (Packers) and defensive back Nate Ness (Miami Dolphins). Seattle acquired offensive lineman Stacy Andrews from Philadelphia. The Seahawks also tried to claim running back Kregg Lumpkin, released by the Packers, but Tampa Bay’s waiver claim prevailed. Seattle tried to claim tight end/linebacker/special-teamer Spencer Havner, also released by the Packers, but Detroit’s waiver claim prevailed.
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.
Matt Leinart apparently has no idea where he stands with the Arizona Cardinals. That makes it tough for the rest of us to predict exactly what might happen.
Will Leinart start at quarterback for the Cardinals in Week 1? Will he serve as the backup? Will the Cardinals release him? Might they trade him?
The next week to 10 days should provide answers. NFL teams have until Saturday to reduce their rosters to 53-man limits, with the 75-man deadline passing Tuesday.
After looking at the Seahawks' roster earlier Monday, here's a quick run through the Cardinals:
Average number kept since 2003: 3.0
Keepers: Derek Anderson
Looking safe: Max Hall
On the bubble: Leinart, John Skelton
Comment: Coach Ken Whisenhunt's handling of Leinart suggests there's more than tough love at work here. It's fair to question whether Leinart fits into the team's plans at all this season. The smart move, it seems, would be to keep Anderson, Leinart and the winner of the Hall-Skelton competition. But it's clear Whisenhunt isn't convinced Leinart has what it takes to be a starting quarterback.
Running backs (8)
Average number kept since 2003: 5.3
Keepers: Tim Hightower, Beanie Wells, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Jason Wright
On the bubble: Reagan Maui'a, Charles Scott
Also: Alfonso Smith, Nehemiah Broughton
Comment: Scott arrived via trade this week after Broughton suffered a season-ending knee injury. Maui'a could be the choice heading into the regular season. Scott provides depth for the final exhibition game, but it's unlikely he would be refined enough as a blocker to factor into the offense in a meaningful way. Smith's speed caught my attention early in camp.
Wide receivers (11)
Average number kept since 2003: 6.1
Keepers: Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Early Doucet
Looking safe: Andre Roberts, Stephen Williams
On the bubble: Onrea Jones, Max Komar
Also: Isaiah Williams, Darren Mougey, Mike Jones, Ed Gant
Comment: Gant serves a suspension to open the season. Roberts will make the team as a third-round pick. Williams pretty much wrapped up a spot with his latest strong performance (at Chicago). Jones and Komar could be competing for a sixth and final spot at the position.
Tight ends (4)
Average number kept since 2003: 3.1
Keepers: Ben Patrick, Anthony Becht, Stephen Spach
Also: Jim Dray
Comment: The team released Dominique Byrd on Monday. The top three appear set. Not much drama here. Dray looks like practice-squad material.
Offensive linemen (12)
Average number kept since 2003: 8.9
Keepers: Lyle Sendlein, Alan Faneca, Brandon Keith, Reggie Wells, Levi Brown, Deuce Lutui, Rex Hadnot, Jeremy Bridges
Looking safe: Herman Johnson
Also: Ben Claxton, Tom Pestock, Jonathan Palmer
Comment: Lutui could be trending toward a spot back in the starting lineup despite reporting to camp overweight. Johnson also reported overweight. He isn't a starter, and that's why I listed him separately from the keepers (even though it's an upset, most likely, if Johnson does not stick).
Defensive line (9)
Average number kept since 2003: 7.4
Keepers: Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Bryan Robinson
Looking safe: Alan Branch, Gabe Watson, Kenny Iwebema
Also: John Fletcher, Jeremy Clark
Comment: This position appears pretty much set. I would expect seven to earn roster spots.
Average number kept since 2003: 7.1
Keepers: Gerald Hayes, Paris Lenon, Clark Haggans, Joey Porter, Daryl Washington
Looking safe: Will Davis, Cody Brown
Bubble: Monty Beisel, Reggie Walker
Also: O'Brien Schofield, Steve Baggs, Mark Washington, Chris Johnson, Pago Togafau
Comment: Hayes and Schofield could open the season on reserve/physically unable to perform, opening two roster spots. Beisel and Walker could be competing for the final spot at this position.
Defensive backs (13)
Average number kept since 2003: 8.9
Keepers: Adrian Wilson, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Kerry Rhodes, Greg Toler, Trumaine McBride, Matt Ware
Looking safe: Michael Adams, Hamza Abdullah, Rashad Johnson
On the bubble: Marshay Green
Also: A.J. Jefferson, Trevor Ford, Justin Miller
Comment: Toler could be passing McBride on the depth chart as the starting right cornerback, fulfilling expectations. Johnson appeared more physical early in camp. Haven't heard much about him lately, though.
Average number kept since 2003: 2.9
Keepers: Jay Feely, Ben Graham, Mike Leach
Comment: Arizona has three on the roster and that's how many the team will keep. Simple enough.
Also from Williams: checks in with Seahawks rookie E.J. Wilson. Draft analyst Rob Rang says he probably underrated Wilson coming out of college.
More from Williams: Deon Butler has more than speed to offer Seattle's offense.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says linebacker Leroy Hill downplayed the knee injury he suffered during practice. Hill could miss some time, however. Hill has never played a full 16-game regular season since entering the NFL as a third-round draft choice in 2005. He has missed nine games over the past two seasons and he'll miss at least one more in 2010 thanks to an NFL suspension.
Rod Mar of seahawks.com offers photos from practice, including one showing rookie Golden Tate making a one-handed grab.
Ben Malcolmson of seahawks.com says T.J. Houshmandzadeh was highly productive in practice Tuesday.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times was ringside for the Seahawks' most contentious practice of camp. Brandon Mebane took a swing at someone (it might have been Max Unger).
Also from O'Neil: Aaron Curry was back at practice following a concussion and determined to make a strong impression.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says the Seahawks formally made Russell Okung their starting left tackle Tuesday. Also, Kevin Ellison picked off a pass. Ellison appears to have a good shot at sticking in the secondary.
Also from Johns: The defense seemed to like practice Tuesday. Safety Earl Thomas: "Today was just a great day. The defensive line and O-line were battling it out. That's what we've got to have in practice. It felt good. It gave me chills in my body. I'm just glad to be part of this team. We're going in the right direction and are just looking forward to the first game."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals like having some seasoned veterans on their roster. They have 12 players in their 30s at present, including Joey Porter. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "If you watch Joey walk into a meeting room and you watch the younger players, they watch him. They look at where he sits, how he prepares, because this guy is a Pro Bowl player. So when things aren't going well, or are going well, that's where the younger players are going to look to, to see how those guys are going to handle it."
Also from Somers: Beanie Wells might not play Sunday after taking a hit to the ribs this week. Sitting out sounds like the safest strategy.
More from Somers: an early Cardinals depth chart with rookie Dan Williams listed as the third nose tackle.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals could be looking to sign a veteran at inside linebacker, where Pago Togafau worked with the starters Tuesday. Also, second-year outside linebacker Cody Brown is showing signs of progress, a very good sign for Arizona.
Also from Urban: a look at how the 7,000-foot altitude affects players at Cardinals camp.
More from Urban: Safety Hamza Abdullah fasts from sunrise to sunset during camp in observance of Ramadan.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch heads to Bears camp to check out former Rams Lovie Smith, Mike Martz, Isaac Bruce, Pisa Tinoisamoa and Brandon Manumaleuna. Too bad the Bears did not bring back Orlando Pace. Martz: "This is a good football team. I love the organization. Good players. The coaching staff has a real special chemistry with this group. You know, you get in those moments where things are really good and everything kind of meshes. This has that kind of feel. Everything's just kind of -- it's hard to explain -- there's a lot of good things that could happen. We'll just see."
Also from Thomas: That was Jason Smith working with the starters during team drills for the first time this summer.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have lots to figure out at tight end. The Rams have been happy with what Billy Bajema has added, not only as a blocker but as a receiver.
Also from Coats: The Rams' exhibition opener will not be televised live in St. Louis.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams have worked on contingencies at kicker while Josh Brown rests a hip injury.
Also from Korte: Rookie George Selvie has made a positive impression lately.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says two Alex Smith completions stood out as highlights of 49ers practice Tuesday morning.
Also from Maiocco: New special-teams coach Kurt Schottenheimer had nice things to say about returners Ted Ginn Jr. and Kyle Williams.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye says Smith will be judged on whether the team wins, nothing more, and that is one reason not to worry about a rough practice. Barrows: "Raye also said there were extenuating circumstances to Smith's day. He noted that Smith usually makes 94 throws in the morning and another 86-90 in the afternoon. He said this is the point in camp that quarterbacks get what Raye called 'arm weary'. And he also noted that both of Smith's top targets, Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, were given the morning off. (That's two straight practices for Davis). One more obstacle: Smith is getting used to a new center, David Baas, who had a few errant snaps. Raye said he hoped to settle the center competition between Baas and Tony Wragge by the third preseason game."
Also from Barrows: The mystery of Kentwan Balmer continues.
Taylor Price of 49ers.com offers notes from 49ers practice, plus a photo of Dominique Zeigler's acrobatic grab over Shawntae Spencer.
Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat looks at the linebackers San Francisco signed for depth.
Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with Baas, who is on to his next challenge. Brown: "David Baas has a knack for showing up unexpectedly, starting with the day he was born. His parents steered their Datsun into a parking lot upon realizing there was no time to make it to the hospital. Baas greeted the world just outside a bank in Tulsa, Okla. That set the tone for a life in which Baas could pop up almost anywhere." Next stop: center.
Also from Brown: notes from practice and a challenge (name the five running backs with the most rushes of at least 20 yards last season).
David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says the conversion to Baas at center is tougher because the team has inexperienced guards around him.
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider wonders how Crabtree gets a veteran's day off in only his second season. By playing like a veteran, perhaps?
Also from Urban: a look at some personnel changes on the fringe of the Cardinals' roster. The team signed safety Aaron Rouse and linebacker Pago Togafau. Gone are defensive lineman Dean Muhtadi and linebacker Ali Highsmith.
More from Urban: Fitzgerald and Mike Adams got into a tussle Tuesday. Adams: "It was just a normal Fitz-and-Mike day. If Mike gets the better of Fitz … you can take it back to my rookie year, me and Fitz. We get into scuffles all the time. I get a little bit emotional at times. I guess it is that short man’s syndrome in me." The Cardinals list Adams at 5-foot-8 and 181 pounds. Fitzgerald checks in at 6-3 and 218.
More yet from Urban: Dominique Byrd is a candidate to help at fullback.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Deuce Lutui is enjoying a strong start to camp. Lutui has much on the line in camp, something I'll expand upon in a Cardinals Camp Confidential later Wednesday.
Also from Somers: First-round choice Dan Williams reported to Cardinals camp at 325 pounds, lighter than his target weight. He also passed a conditioning test.
More from Somers: classic quotes from Russ Grimm as the Cardinals' line coach and former Washington Redskins guard prepares for Hall of Fame induction. Grimm: "They have the schedule," said Grimm, the team's run-game coordinator and offensive-line coach. "I know there is something on Thursday night. My [clothes] are marked, 'This is what you wear on Thursday. This is what I have to wear Friday.' If it looks good, it looks good. If it doesn't ..."
The defending NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals have parted with 15 of the 53 players on their Week 17 roster from last season. Only the rebuilding Seahawks have parted with more -- 16 -- among division teams this offseason. The Rams have parted with 11. The 49ers, seeking continuity as they try to build on an 8-8 season, have parted with only three.
The first chart shows how many Week 17 starters and backups have returned to each NFC West team.
The second chart shows how many Week 17 starters and backups have left each NFC West team.
I'll first list the players by team.
Seattle (16): receiver Nate Burleson, quarterback Seneca Wallace, linebacker Lance Laury, defensive end Cory Redding, guard Trevor Canfield, quarterback Mike Teel, tackle Damion McIntosh, linebacker D.D. Lewis, snapper Jeff Robinson, fullback Justin Griffith, cornerback Ken Lucas, safety Deon Grant, defensive end Darryl Tapp, guard Rob Sims, tight end John Owens and defensive end Patrick Kerney.
Arizona (15): linebacker Pago Togafau, safety Antrel Rolle, receiver Jerheme Urban, receiver Sean Morey, kicker Neil Rackers, linebacker Bertrand Berry, fullback Dan Kreider, cornerback Ralph Brown, quarterback Brian St. Pierre, defensive end Jason Banks, receiver Anquan Boldin, linebacker Karlos Dansby, quarterback Kurt Warner, cornerback Bryant McFadden and linebacker Chike Okeafor. Note that Rolle did not start in Week 17.
St. Louis (11): defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey, cornerback Jonathan Wade, receiver Ruvell Martin, quarterback Mike Reilly, defensive end Leonard Little, safety Clinton Hart, snapper Ryan Neill, running back Samkon Gado, linebacker Paris Lenon, tackle Alex Barron and tight end Randy McMichael.
San Francisco (5): receiver Arnaz Battle, cornerback Marcus Hudson, quarterback Shaun Hill, safety Mark Roman and cornerback Dre Bly.
The third chart shows what happened to players who were on injured reserve in Week 17.
I'll first list by team the players who were on IR but are no longer with their teams.
San Francisco (5): tackle Tony Pashos, punter Ricky Schmitt, linebacker Jeff Ulbrich, cornerback Walt Harris and running back Thomas Clayton.
Seattle (4): running back Tyler Roehl, tackle Walter Jones, snapper Kevin Houser and tackle Brandon Frye.
St. Louis (3): quarterback Marc Bulger, defensive tackle Adam Carriker and safety Eric Bassey.
Arizona (2): tackle Mike Gandy and fullback Justin Green.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
I've gone through the initial NFC West cut lists -- those players released at the 53-man deadline -- to see which ones have returned to their teams or caught on elsewhere.
The chart shows results for Arizona.
Veteran safety Aaron Francisco signed with the Colts. Receiver Onrea Jones signed with the Redskins' practice squad. Arizona re-signed four players to its practice squad.
Four others -- Wilrey Fontenot, Chris Vincent, Carlton Medder and Pago Togafau -- were injured when the Cardinals released them. All but Fontenot have reached injury settlements, leaving the roster. Fontenot remains on injured reserve. Update: Fontenot has also reached an injury settlement.
Some veterans on the list might have an easier time finding work after Week 1. Rules require teams to guarantee salaries to some veterans who are active for Week 1 and then released.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
NFL teams can begin forming eight-man practice squads once released players clear waivers this afternoon.
I've put together a list of recently released Cardinals players with eligibility for the practice squad. Each was released on the reduction to 53 players. Wilrey Fontenot, Carlton Medder and Pago Togafau were injured when they were released. I've placed asterisks next to their names.
Quarterback Tyler Palko showed enough during preseason for consideration, although the Cardinals have not been inclined to carry a fourth quarterback during the regular season. Guard Trevor Canfield was a draft choice. Defensive end Keilen Dykes appeared to make a strong run early in camp. Receiver Onrea Jones showed promise at times.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
It has become cliche for NFL coaches to lament how much tougher roster cuts will be this season given the team's allegedly improved depth. The moves Arizona made in getting to the impending 75-man limit were more significant than usual, largely because injuries played a role.
The team placed second-round choice Cody Brown on injured reserve, as expected, while waiving injured receiver Michael Ray Garvin (knee) and injured linebacker Pago Togafau (foot). Garvin and Togafau would be eligible for injured reserve or injury settlements once they clear waivers. Brown will spend the season recovering from wrist surgery.
The Cardinals also released veteran safety Keith Lewis, formerly of the 49ers, and tackle Brandon Pearce. Lewis seemingly had a shot at earning a roster spot, but the Cardinals got younger at safety through the draft.
The chart compares the Cardinals' current roster counts by position to 0pening-day totals since 2003. The team must reduce to 53 players by Sunday.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders if Jason Smith has moved closer to the Rams' starting lineup. With right guard Richie Incognito resting a sprained knee, coaches moved right tackle Adam Goldberg into Incognito's spot, clearing the way for Smith to play right tackle with the first-team unit in practice. Coats also provides injury updates.
Also from Coats: Rams receiver Laurent Robinson keeps making strides. Also, cornerback Jonathan Wade is getting some first-team reps at Tye Hill's expense.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams guard Jacob Bell is trying to make up lost ground following a concussion. Bell never saw what hit him against the Jets two weeks ago. He stayed in the game one more play, but teammates had to tell him which player to block. Bell: "And I'm practically blocking him with my eyes closed. They probably should've left me in there and seen what happened."
Jim Corbett of USA Today revisits Larry Fitzgerald's ambitions offseason. Corbett: "The only thing more impressive than Fitzgerald's remarkable postseason ascent was his ambitious offseason agenda. There's little concern about a post-Super Bowl letdown for the sixth-year wideout, who reinvented himself as a respected league-wide leader."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals can clear two roster spots by placing Cody Brown and Pago Togafau on injured reserve. The team would then need to clear three roster spots to comply with the 75-man limit.
Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle sees little value in exhibition results, counter to 49ers coach Mike Singletary's stated position.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle breaks out positive aspects of the 49ers' performances while posting a 3-0 record during the exhibition season. The team has succeeded in forcing turnovers.
Also from Crumpacker: 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan says he expects first-round choice Michael Crabtree to sign at some point.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Josh Morgan's hold on a starting job at receiver could be tenuous. Singletary: "He's still learning how to be a pro. At some point, the light's going to go on and he's going to take off." The 49ers' passing game hasn't made anyone but Arnaz Battle look good recently. Remember Jason Hill?
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Andre Smith's signing in Cincinnati doesn't necessarily mean the 49ers are closer to signing Crabtree, the last unsigned draft choice. Maiocco: "The sides are no closer in principle, but ... it is another day closer to the beginning of the regular season. That's significant because a player without a contract starts to feel the pinch on his wallet once the regular season begins. Players get 1/17th of their base salaries every week during the regular season. So, Crabtree will only begin losing money when he's not collecting game checks."
Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News lists players who helped and hurt their standing in the 49ers' game against the Cowboys.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times takes a closer look at the Seahawks following their exhibition game at Kansas City. He notes: "Fullback Justin Griffith plays like the bushwhacking trailblazer the running game needs. Through one quarter Saturday, Julius Jones had carried five times for 15 yards behind starting fullback Owen Schmitt. Griffith entered in the second quarter, and Jones popped consecutive 8-yard runs, which isn't mind-blowing but certainly constituted improvement."
John Morgan of Field Gulls examines the interception Matt Hasselbeck threw early in the game against the Chiefs. Morgan: "Hasselbeck either didn't see (Mike) Vrabel or underestimated him."
Brian McIntyre of NorthwestFootball.net provides updated snap counts and information on personnel groupings for the Seahawks during the exhibition season.Mike Salk of 710ESPN Seattle wants to see more from the Seahawks' Lofa Tatupu and Patrick Kerney. It's tough to know how to analyze these exhibition games. Some veteran players seem to pick their spots. I've noticed it when watching other teams in the NFC West as well. Singletary said he thought Nate Clements lost focus at times.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Cardinals figured injuries could be a risk for Beanie Wells when they made the Ohio State running back their first-round draft choice this year.
Wells had dealt with injuries throughout his college career.
The Cardinals couldn't have foreseen the injury that will end Cody Brown's rookie season before it begins. As Brown's agent suggested and as Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt has now confirmed, the team will place Brown on injured reserve after the outside linebacker suffered a wrist injury.
Arizona was not necessarily counting on Brown to make a significant impact right away. But the injury does deprive the team of young depth at a position where the Cardinals are aging. Outside linebackers Chike Okeafor, Bertrand Berry and Clark Haggans are in their 30s.
Brown did not miss a game to injury during his final two seasons at Connecticut. He did miss part of the 2006 season after suffering a broken arm.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt's recent comments about LaRod Stephens-Howling highlight a subject likely to shape the team's plans for its practice squad.
What to do with a talented player who doesn't fit neatly into a general position, in this case, running back?Stephens-Howling would be a prime candidate for the practice squad if the Cardinals did not initially make room for him on their 53-man roster. Specialist Michael Ray Garvin also could be a factor depending on how he recovers from knee surgery.
Quarterback Tyler Palko made an impression during the Cardinals' exhibition opener, but the team generally does not keep a quarterback on its practice squad. The need for an additional arm seems diminished with new quarterbacks coach Chris Miller sometimes throwing during practice.
Defensive end Keilen Dykes was making a strong push for a roster spot before suffering an injury. His status seems a bit less settled.Receivers Onrea Jones and Lance Long could also be strong candidates for the practice squad if they do not land spots on the 53-man roster.
The chart shows all 31 current Cardinals players with eligibility, arranged by position.
NFL teams must reduce rosters from 80 to 75 players Sept. 1. They must reduce to 53 players Sept. 5. They can begin forming eight-man practice squads Sept. 6 at noon ET.
As the NFL puts it:
After 12 noon, New York ti
me, clubs may establish a practice squad of eight players by signing free agents who do not have an accrued season of free-agency credit or who were on the 45-player active list for less than nine regular-season games during their only accrued season(s). A player cannot participate on the practice squad for more than three seasons.
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
The Cardinals have re-signed four of their own unrestricted free agents after Clark Haggans accepted a three-year deal.
The other NFC West teams have each re-signed two UFAs.
Haggans, 32, provides depth and leadership at linebacker. He is also coming off a foot injury that ended his 2008 season early.
The chart lists the Cardinals' linebackers from oldest to youngest.
Chike Okeafor's ability to stay healthy proved important for Arizona last season. He started 16 games after missing the 2007 season. He previously had not missed a game since 2001.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat offers thoughts on former 49ers receiver Antonio Bryant. Former coach Mike Nolan regrets releasing Bryant, but if you pay attention to Nolan's wording, the blame apparently lies elsewhere. Nolan: "There's no question he was making more effort than I was made aware of. I truly regret that."
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says Dominique Zeigler, not Allen Rossum, will return punts against the Dolphins. That's a change from previous expectations. Rossum apparently isn't quite healthy enough to resume his role.
Tully Banta-Cain uses 49ers.com to take a look at the Dolphins' special teams. Miami's punter is tall, which means the defense will have an easier time sniffing out a fake.
Chrissy Mauck of 49ers.com checks in with offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who compares the Dolphins' 3-4 defense to the one the 49ers faced in Dallas. Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky prepares for the Wildcat offense, which the Dolphins have used to score eight touchdowns this season.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer looks at the red-zone troubles facing the Seahawks and Rams. Seattle's offense did score touchdowns on all three red-zone trips in Week 14, with Seneca Wallace playing one of his better games.
Also from Farnsworth: Teammates would never know if Walter Jones were hurting from an injury. Bobby Engram recalled the time in 2001 when Jones suffered a severe ankle sprain in the season opener. Engram: "Here I am thinking he's going to be done for five or six games, and he never missed a game. I guess Big Walt has an unbelievable pain tolerance. He is a warrior."
Jose Romero of the Seattle Times quotes Mike Holmgren as saying Sean Locklear is getting a three-game audition at left tackle. Locklear's contract includes escalators should he play half the snaps at left tackle during a season.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals are working with Kurt Warner to help him avoid the type of interception Warner threw against the Rams. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "You don't want to take away his aggressiveness to an extent because that is why he is so good. But in that situation, we can't turn the ball over."
More from Urban: He looks at the last game in Arizona between the Vikings and Cardinals. The 2003 matchup left the Cardinals with the third overall pick in the draft, a pick they used for Larry Fitzgerald. Had Arizona lost, the Cardinals would have had the first overall pick, a choice they might have used for Eli Manning. For the Vikings, their 18-17 defeat bounced them from the playoffs, a memory Vikings center Matt Birk declined to discuss this week.
Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says Warner has thrown ill-advised interceptions in each of the last two games.
Kyle Odegard of the East Valley Tribune says Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has overcome dou
bts to prove he's an elite player. "DRC" received no Division I scholarship offers after playing sparingly in high school.
Also from Coats: Torry Holt is looking to finish strong in what might be the receiver's final season with the Rams.
More from Coats: Rams kicker Josh Brown expects to play against his former team despite a groin injury.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat say Holt is lamenting the Rams' fall from Super Bowl contender to NFC West doormat.