NFC West: Pat Ross

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Aaron Weinberg of Seahawk Addicts says recent history is against Matt Hasselbeck staying healthy enough to produce at age 34. I looked from 1983 through 2008 for quarterbacks 34 and older who started at least 10 games and finished with passer ratings of 90 or higher. Randall Cunningham, Steve Young, Vinny Testaverde, Rich Gannon, Joe Theismann, Warren Moon, Steve DeBerg, Brett Favre, Trent Green, Jeff Garcia, Steve Beuerlein, John Elway, Brad Johnson, Phil Simms, Dan Marino and Kurt Warner combined to do it 25 times in 26 seasons. Can Hasselbeck join the list?

Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press checks in with former Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson. Peterson: "Football is an adverse sport anyway. But coming from 0-16, a lot of people in the sports world, analysts, have written us down as the 32nd team already, knowing that anything can change, subject to change, injuries can happen, anything. But we're not looking upon that and try to say, 'Oh, we're going to be the same old Lions from last year.' It's a whole new year. We've got a whole new coaching staff, whole new players, a whole new mentality. So this is going to be great for all of us."

Gary Plummer of the 49ers' radio team breaks down a Rams-Seahawks play from last season illustrating the experience that helped Walt Harris make an interception. He also points out areas where Rams receiver Donnie Avery could stand to improve.

Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' scouts think fifth-round linebacker Scott McKillop could be a steal. They'll have a much better idea two weeks into training camp.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says rookie draft choices Glen Coffee and Nate Davis are close to signing contracts. Once they sign, first-rounder Michael Crabtree will become the 49ers' only unsigned draft choice.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee expects the 49ers to sit out the supplemental draft Thursday.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says rookies Cody Brown and Will Davis, making the switch from college defensive ends to NFL outside linebackers, aren't the first Cardinals players to change positions. Antrel Rolle did it entering last season. Roy Green and Fred Wakefield also made successful transitions.

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind thinks Pat Ross is the favorite by default to back up Lyle Sendlein at center for the Cardinals this season. Seems to me the Cardinals should be looking to upgrade their depth at that position.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' contract negotiator would be "shocked" if any of the team's rookies failed to sign in time for training camp. Kevin Demoff also left open the possibility of a deal for safety Oshiomogho Atogwe before the July 15 deadline for franchise players to sign long-term deals. Demoff: "We've been talking with O.J. since January. We value O.J. as a player, and we understand where the market is. ... We're not there on a long-term deal yet, but we could be there by Wednesday."

VanRam of Turf Show Times expresses excitement upon reading Football Outsiders' forecast for the Rams. Not that Rams fans should schedule vacation time for Super Bowl week -- yet.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

A quick look at 53-man rosters from Feb. 1, date of Super Bowl XLIII, provides a reference point for seeing how NFC West teams have changed so far this offseason.

I'll continue with Arizona.

Gone from the Cardinals' 53-man roster and injured reserve list in the 58 days since the Super Bowl (9):

Offense

Pat Ross, C

J.J. Arrington, RB

Terrelle Smith, FB

Jerame Tuman, TE

Scott Peters, OL

Defense

Eric Green, CB

Monty Beisel, LB

Antonio Smith, DE

Special teams

Nathan Hodel, LS

(Read full post)

Cardinals' line depth takes a hit

September, 6, 2008
9/06/08
4:20
PM ET
TeamPos.LinemanAgeStarterNFL Starts
ARILTMike Gandy29.6Yes78
ARILGReggie Wells27.8Yes58
ARICLyle Sendlein24.4Yes2
ARIRGDeuce Lutui25.3Yes
24
ARIRTLevi Brown24.4Yes11
ARIG/TElton Brown26.2No14
ARITElliot Vallejo24.3No0
ARIGBrandon Keith23.7No0
ARICPat Ross25.4No0

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Cardinals had heard enough about depth problems on their offensive line before the team placed starting center Al Johnson on injured reserve Saturday.

Johnson had been ruled out for the season opener, but previous reports suggested he would return from a knee injury in time for the second game. That will not happen. The injured-reserve designation ends Johnson's season. Lyle Sendlein becomes the full-time starter.

With Johnson hurting this summer, I had expected the Cardinals to keep backup center Pat Ross on their initial 53-man roster, at the expense of safety Oliver Celestin. Johnson's placement on injured reserve made that happen today. The team signed Ross from the practice squad after releasing Celestin.

Sendlein, 24, has two regular-season NFL starts in one season (2007, with Arizona). Johnson owned 45 starts, including 14 with the Cardinals last season. He previously started for Dallas during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Ross, 25, has never played in an NFL game. He spent time with Seattle as an undrafted free agent from Boston College. The Cardinals had claimed him off waivers from Carolina.

Backup Elton Brown conceivably has the ability to start at guard if needed. He pushed Deuce Lutui for the starting job on the right side. Starting left guard Reggie Wells has started games at both guard spots and right tackle, but the team needs him at left guard. Guard Brandon Keith, a rookie, impressed the Cardinals during camp. He was a seventh-round choice from Northern Iowa.

Practice-squad update: Cardinals

September, 1, 2008
9/01/08
1:43
PM ET
Cardinals eligible for
practice squad
Pos.Cardinals Status
Calais CampbellDE53-man roster
Tim CastilleFB53-man roster
Dominique Rodgers-
Cromartie
CB53-man roster
Early DoucetWR53-man roster
Tim HightowerRB53-man roster
Kenny IwebemaWR53-man roster
Brandon KeithOL53-man roster
Ben PatrickTE53-man roster
Elliot Vallejo
T
53-man roster
Brian St. PierreQB53-man roster
Ali HighsmithLB53-man roster
Lance LongWRPractice Squad
Pat Ross
OLPractice Squad
Michael AdamsCBPractice Squad
Jason BanksDLPractice Squad
Keilen DykesDLPractice Squad
Onrea Jones
WRPractice Squad
Wilrey Fontenot
CBPractice Squad
Dennis KeyesSWaived
Carlton MedderOLWaived
Brent MillerTEWaived
DeMario MinterCBWaived
Anthony MorelliQBWaived
Alex ShorTEWaived
Chris VincentRBWaived
Travarous BainCBWaived
Steve BaylarkRBWaived
Peter CliffordOLWaived
Chris HarringtonLBWaived
Jasper HarveyOLWaived

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Cardinals' practice squad is coming together with the signing of seven players. One spot remains open. Five of the seven spent training camp with Arizona. Two others, receiver Onrea Jones and cornerback Wilrey Fontenot, were elsewhere.

The chart shows every Cardinals player with practice-squad eligibility.

Re-signing Pat Ross to the practice squad gives the Cardinals needed depth at the position. The team couldn't justify setting aside a spot on its 53-man roster for him, and that made sense. Ross isn't one of the Cardinals' 53 best players.

But with starting center Al Johnson sidelined for the short term, the team wasn't going to proceed with only Lyle Sendlein at the position.

The Cardinals
liked offensive lineman Elliot Vallejo's potential enough to carry him on the 53-man roster. They also thought linebacker Ali Highsmith, though undrafted, played well enough this summer to catch scouts' attention around the league.

This is the tough part for NFL teams. They tend to overvalue their own practice-squad-eligible prospects -- not enough to sign them to the 53-man roster, but enough to sweat the time it takes for these players to pass through waivers. The fear isn't justified most of the time.

Lance Long had a very good rookie camp for the Cardinals. No one signed him. Jamar Adams and Michael Bumpus had strong camps for Seattle. The 49ers like running back Thomas Clayton and receiver Dominique Zeigler.

Yet, these players made it through waivers. Other teams can sign them at any time, but teams get comfortable with their own players. They rarely sign players from another team's practice squad. When they do, it's usually a short-term fix.

Cardinals: Cutdown analysis

August, 30, 2008
8/30/08
4:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Biggest surprise: There weren't any. The Cardinals enter the season thin at center after releasing third-stringer Pat Ross, but Ross wasn't going to solve the problem. The team is banking on Lyle Sendlein staying healthy while Al Johnson recovers from injury.

No-brainers: Undrafted rookie receiver Lance Long had a strong camp at times, but the Cardinals knew he wasn't going to contribute right away. Look for Long to land on the practice squad.

What's next: The Cardinals head into the season with Kurt Warner as their newly-named opening day starter. The long-anticipated move, announced today, ends any suspense and lets the Cardinals focus on the Sept. 7 opener at San Francisco.

Practice-squad report: Cardinals

August, 29, 2008
8/29/08
12:25
PM ET
Cardinals eligible for
practice squad
Pos.Probable Status
Calais CampbellDEKeeper
Tim CastilleFBKeeper
Dominique Rodgers-CromartieCBKeeper
Early DoucetWRKeeper
Tim HightowerRBKeeper
Kenny IwebemaWRKeeper
Brandon KeithOLKeeper
Ben PatrickTEKeeper
Pat RossCKeeper
Brian St. PierreQBKeeper
Ali HighsmithLBBubble
Dennis KeyesSBubble
Lance LongWRBubble
Carlton MedderOLLikely cut
Brent MillerTELikely cut
Demario MinterCBLikely cut
Anthony MorelliQBLikely cut
Alex ShorTELikely cut
Elliot VallejoOLLikely cut
Chris VincentRBLikely cut
Michael AdamsCBLikely cut
Travarous BainCBLikely cut
Jason BanksDLLikely cut
Steve BaylarkRBLikely cut
Peter CliffordOLLikely cut
Keilen DykesDLLikely cut
Chris HarringtonLBLikely cut
Jasper HarveyOLLikely cut

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The chart shows each of the Cardinals' players with practice-squad eligibility, according to the team.

Practice-squad rules can be confusing, and exceptions sometimes apply to relatively experienced players. Brian St. Pierre has been around longer than most players with eligibility. He'll make the 53-man roster, though, so the practice squad won't be an issue for him.

I've categorized each player based on his perceived likelihood of earning a spot on the 53-man roster. Those are rough characterizations. Teams still have not made decisions. It's conceivable that a player listed as a "keeper" could face his release.

As noted: Rosters spots are serious business for NFL players lacking job security. For some, the next 30 hours or so will determine whether they'll earn $17,352.94 per week or whatever the real world pays.

The minimum NFL salary is $295,000. Players get paid in 17 installments, one for every week they spend as a paid member of the organization.

NFL teams must trim rosters from 75 players to 53 players by Saturday afternoon. Teams can establish eight-man practice squads beginning Sunday. Practice-squad players earn a minimum of $5,200 per week during the regular season and playoffs.

Once a player signs with a practice squad, he can practice with the team. He becomes eligible to play in games only if a team signs him to its 53-man roster. Practice-squad players are free to sign with any team's active roster at any time during the season.

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