NFC West: Reggie Wells

Where NFL teams rank in line continuity

December, 1, 2011
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NFL teams strive for continuity along their offensive lines.

Seattle Seahawks fans remember the five players largely responsible for their team's Super Bowl appearance following the 2005 season. Left tackle Walter Jones, left guard Steve Hutchinson, center Robbie Tobeck, right guard Chris Gray and right tackle Sean Locklear started every game.

When the Arizona Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl a few years later, the same five linemen started all season: left tackle Mike Gandy, left guard Reggie Wells, center Lyle Sendlein, right guard Deuce Lutui and right tackle Levi Brown.

Teams shuffling their lines during a season usually do so for negative reasons such as injuries or poor performance.

The chart ranks NFC West teams by percentage of offensive snaps played by the most frequently used combination of five offensive linemen this season. The Seahawks' leading five has played 26.2 percent, third-lowest in the NFL behind those for Indianapolis (19.6 percent) and Buffalo (24.1). Download full NFL rankings here.

The most frequently used five for Seattle featured left tackle Russell Okung, left guard Robert Gallery, center Max Unger, right guard John Moffitt and right tackle James Carpenter. They have played 183 snaps together. That is two more than than a group featuring the same five, but with Paul McQuistan instead of Gallery at left guard. The current group, this one featuring Gallery at left guard, McQuistan and right guard and Breno Giacomini at right tackle, has 130 snaps. Three others line combinations have at least 50 snaps.

The Houston Texans (98.9) and Denver Broncos (95.8) are the only teams to use the same five linemen on more than 85 percent of snaps, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They rank among the NFL's top three teams in rushing yardage, with Denver's totals including 455 yards from quarterback Tim Tebow.

The 49ers' most frequently used fivesome ranks 13th at 62.8 percent. The Cardinals' primary five ranks 16th at 53.1 percent. The Rams' five ranks 29th at 34.5 percent.

San Francisco has averaged 5.1 yards per carry with Adam Snyder at right guard (418 total plays) and 3.1 per carry with Chilo Rachal in that spot (201 plays). No other frequently used combinations in the division feature such disparities. Seattle has averaged 3.6 yards per carry with its current line, down from the 4.2 and 4.3 range with the lines it used most frequently earlier in the year. Sack percentage is also up slightly.
Kevin KolbChristian Petersen/Getty ImagesSigning Kevin Kolb signals that the Cardinals are ready to bounce back after a transition season.

Kevin Kolb's arrival from Philadelphia gives the Arizona Cardinals renewed hope at quarterback and clear direction following Kurt Warner's retirement.

It provides a fresh start after a forgettable 2010 transition season for Arizona.

So much has changed for the Cardinals since their Super Bowl appearance following the 2008 season. Other rosters around the league have turned over since then, of course, but not every team was coming off a Super Bowl appearance.

Quite a few teams have sought change. For the Cardinals, it just happened.

Warner's departure, while easily the biggest change, was far from the only one. Between five and eight starters from that Super Bowl game project as starters in 2011, depending upon how many of the team's unrestricted free agents re-sign.

When Steve Breaston left the Cardinals for Kansas City this week, drawing attention to the cumulative effect of Arizona's roster upheaval, a Seahawks fan drew parallels between Seattle's post-Super Bowl decline and the Cardinals' plight last season.

"Don't misunderstand," Ricky Frey wrote on my Facebook wall, "I'm a Hawks fan, but it seems eerily familiar to watch this happen and know what happened to Holmgren/Mora. Writing on the wall?"

Not if Kolb has anything to say about it. Acquiring a relatively young, potentially ascending quarterback puts Arizona in position to avoid the decline Seattle experienced as a Matt Hasselbeck struggled with injuries while the roster around him withered away. The NFC West remains in transition overall, and the Cardinals know it.

"It’s obviously winnable, but it’s funny to think that everybody thinks you can just step in and win it," Kolb told reporters Friday. "You’re talking about NFL football teams here. I know last year 7-9 is what won it, but it doesn’t matter. ... The door is open, we know, and we’ll be ready to kick it in when it’s time, but it’s not going to be an easy task."

Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Darnell Dockett, Adrian Wilson and the recently re-signed Lyle Sendlein started for Arizona in the Super Bowl and remain starters in 2011. Another starter from that Super Bowl game, Gerald Hayes, was released this week. Three more are becoming unrestricted free agents: Deuce Lutui, Bryan Robinson and Gabe Watson.

Six Arizona starters from that game are retired or did not play last season: Mike Gandy, Warner, Edgerrin James, Terrelle Smith, Chike Okeafor and Monty Beisel. Seven more play for other teams: Reggie Wells, Leonard Pope, Anquan Boldin, Antonio Smith, Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle and the recently traded Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Some were role players. Others were tougher to replace.

Breaston was a backup on that team, but he played extensively as the third receiver and finished the season with more than 1,000 yards.

Kolb's addition headlined a flurry of transactions the Cardinals announced Thursday and Friday.

Sendlein, safety Hamza Abdullah, cornerback Michael Adams, tackle D'Anthony Batiste, center Ben Claxton, punter Ben Graham, fullback Reagan Maui'a and tight end Stephen Spach re-signed.

Five draft choices have signed. Guard Daryn Colledge, defensive end Nick Eason, tight end Jeff King, receiver Chansi Stuckey and linebacker Stewart Bradley have signed as free agents from other teams.

Re-signing Sendlein while adding Kolb, Colledge and Bradley suggests the 2011 team is still coming together, not necessarily falling apart.
DALLAS -- The Arizona Cardinals experienced more roster turnover than most from 2009 to 2010.

They felt it, too.

Arizona finished with a 5-11 record largely because quarterback Kurt Warner retired. The team hoped it had enough veteran strength throughout its roster to keep the Cardinals competitive. A favorable schedule and division in transition made it seem possible.

Looking back, the roster turnover played a leading role in the Cardinals' fall, coach Ken Whisenhunt said from the Super Bowl media center Friday.

"What you lose more than anything is that equity buildup that you have had for a couple years," Whisenhunt said.

Specifically, Whisenhunt said the Cardinals too often couldn't draw on shared experiences -- say, adjustment that worked against an opponent the previous season.

"Even though you have a Kerry Rhodes, you have Paris Lenon, you have guys you are comfortable with that are good players in the league, they don't know what you have gone through to get to that point," Whisenhunt said. "To have those guys step up and say, 'Listen, we are not practicing the right way, we are not making these plays like we should be,' you don't have that history with them. You can get away with that if it is one or two, but if you have five or six -- especially if they are good football players -- that is hard to overcome."

The Cardinals parted with a long list of players featuring Warner, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle, Bryant McFadden, Bertrand Berry, Chike Okeafor, Mike Gandy, Reggie Wells, Neil Rackers, Anthony Becht, Sean Morey, Jerheme Urban, Matt Leinart, Ralph Brown, Monty Beisel and Dan Kreider.

"You can never go in and say, 'Gosh, woe is me because we lost those guys,' because you are counting on the other guys to step in and you always want to be positive," Whisenhunt said. "But you have to recognize it's a pretty big blow to lose [key] guys."

Whisenhunt called the situation a "perfect storm" with Warner retiring, key players hitting the market and the NFL heading toward an uncertain labor situation.

"There is no operating plan for what you do or how you do it," he said. "It doesn't really matter at this point. You just have to move forward."

Quite a few younger players gained more experience than anticipated. That could help Arizona build back some of that equity Whisenhunt said was missing. But so much comes back to the quarterback situation. An upgrade at that position would cover for imperfections elsewhere on the roster.

2010 All-NFC West Offense

January, 24, 2011
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A look at my all-NFC West picks for the 2010 season, beginning with the offense:
  • There was no clear-cut choice at receiver after Larry Fitzgerald. The St. Louis Rams' Danny Amendola was more consistent than Seattle's Mike Williams or San Francisco's Michael Crabtree. Amendola ranked ninth in the NFL with 85 receptions. He had 29 catches for 298 yards and two touchdowns on third down. Only Atlanta's Roddy White and Buffalo's Steve Johnson had more third-down catches this season. Williams had 25. Amendola also carried seven times for 81 yards.
  • The 49ers' Mike Iupati was my choice at left guard. Iupati's raw power and improvement made him the choice. The Arizona Cardinals' Alan Faneca was better than advertised. The 49ers had the better offense and ground game. The Rams' Jacob Bell played well enough to factor as well. At his best, though, Iupati stood out.
  • Not much to choose from at right guard in this division. The right side in general wasn't very strong. I went with the Rams' Jason Smith for his run blocking. Was he worth the second overall choice? That isn't the relevant question here. Smith was the best right tackle in the division, I thought.
  • The Rams' Rodger Saffold will have competition from Seattle's Russell Okung at left tackle for years to come. Okung missed six games to injury this season. Otherwise, he might have been the choice.
  • Sam Bradford was the choice at quarterback. He was more consistent than the other quarterbacks and the only one to play every offensive snap (or even close to every snap). Matt Hasselbeck's strong finish made him a consideration.
  • Teams did not use fullbacks frequently enough for me to consider one. I went with the two best running backs, an easy choice even though Frank Gore missed the final five games. Gore had 853 yards and a 4.2-yard average. He averaged a career-high 9.8 yards per reception on 46 catches.

I'll be back with defense and special teams in a bit. The chart breaks down all-division choices from 2008 and 2009, plus this season.

Thoughts?

Definitive look at NFC West turnover

September, 8, 2010
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Roster turnover is a leading topic for discussion in Seattle following the release of T.J. Houshmandzadeh in particular.

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.
Tags:

San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Leonard Little, Jerheme Urban, Isaac bruce, Owen Schmitt, Josh Wilson, Justin Green, Derek Anderson, Walt Harris, Tony Pashos, Brian St.Pierre, Darryl Tapp, Sam Bradford, Mark Roman, Dan Kreider, Steve Vallos, David Carr, Randy McMIchael, Ralph Brown, Lawrence Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst, Shaun HIll, Leroy HIll, Chris Patrick, Matt Leinart, Chike Okeafor, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Brian Westbrook, Bertrand Berry, Dominique Zeigler, Ricky Schmitt, Eric Bassey, Eric Young, D.D. Lewis, Nate Burleson, Alex Barron, Samkon Gado, Kyle Boller, Brit Miller, Patrick Kerney, Quincy Butler, Michael Robinson, Arnaz Battle, Ray Willis, Jerome Johnson, Derek Walker, Glen Coffee, Brooks Foster, Monty Beisel, Renardo Foster, Mansfield Wrotto, Seneca Wallace, Donnie Avery, Karlos Dansby, Alex Boone, Marcus Hudson, Adam Carriker, Cody Brown, Kurt Warner, Cordelius Parks, Jeff Ulbrich, Chris Ogbonnaya, Neil Rackers, Pago Togafau, Scott McKillop, Kentwan Balmer, Lance Laury, Sean Morey, Mike Gandy, Mike Reilly, Anquan Boldin, Trevor Canfield, Marc Bulger, Nate Davis, Cory Redding, Antrel Rolle, Matt McCoy, Brandon Jones, Alan Faneca, Anthony Davis, Keenan Burton, Jason HIll, Joey Porter, David Roach, Phillip Trautwein, Tyler Roehl, Taylor Mays, Mark Setterstrom, Travis LaBoy, A.J. Feeley, Craig Terrill, Keith Null, Cody Wallace, K.C. Asiodu, Jordan Kent, Kyle Williams, Stacy Andrews, James Wyche, Reggie Wells, Victor Adeyanju, Jonathan Wade, Thomas Clayton, Deon Grant, LaJuan Ramsey, John Owens, Bryant McFadden, Matt Wilhelm, Gerald Hayes, Jeff Robinson, Herman Johnson, Walter Jones, Mike Williams, Justin Griffith, Jason Banks, Jamar Adams, Kevin Houser, Anthony Becht, Damion McIntosh, Louis Rankin, Brandon Frye, Ruvell Martin, Paris Lenon, Leger Douzable, Ryan Neill, Danny Gorrer, Russell Okung, Anthony McCoy, Clinton Hart, Earl Thomas, Leon Washington, Andre Roberts, Chester Pitts, Dan Williams, Mike Iupati, Ben Hamilton, Ryan McKee, Kennard Cox, Kerry Rhodes, Fred Robbins, Chris Baker, William James, Rex Hadnot, Hank Fraley, Mark Clayton, Quinton Ganther, Na'il Diggs, Chris Clemons, John Skelton, Mardy Gilyard, Rodger Saffold, Daryl Washington, Golden Tate, Jerome Murphy, Navorro Bowman, Walter Thurmond, E.J. Wilson, Mike Hoomanawanui, Nate Byham, Fendi Onobun, George Selvie, Thaddeus Lewis, Stephen Williams, A.J. Jefferson, Anthony Dixon, Eugene Sims, Kam Chancellor, Dexter Davis, Jermelle Cudjo, Darian Stewart, Keith Toston, Tramaine Brock, Dominique Curry, Phillip Adams, Trumaine McBride, Kevin Dockery, Shane Andrus, Tyler Polumbus, Clint Gresham, Roger III Allen, Cyril Obiozor, Brandon McDonald, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Junior Siavii, Troy Smith, Ted Jr. Ginn, Raheem Brock

Around the NFC West: Baddest Cardinal?

September, 8, 2010
9/08/10
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Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic checks in with Tom Pestock, an offensive lineman trying to earn a roster spot with Arizona. Pestock landed on the practice squad and strong safety Adrian Wilson said he wouldn't want to tangle with the little-known lineman. Why? Bickley: "Pestock is 6 feet 6 and listed at 318 pounds. He played college football at Division II Northwest Missouri State. He is a three-time Golden Gloves champion, and a former Jiu-Jitsu champion. He trains at the Lion's Den in Scottsdale as a mixed martial arts fighter and has jumped in the ring for a few unsanctioned fights."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Deuce Lutui is back in the Cardinals' starting lineup despite weight concerns. Somers: "In training camp, Lutui joked that he was the Cardinals' Lindsay Lohan of the summer because of all the bad publicity he received. A restricted free agent, Lutui chose to wait until mid-June to sign his one-year tender of $1.76 million, which didn't please coach Ken Whisenhunt and team management. They feared that Lutui would gain weight, which he did, and made it clear Lutui's job was not secure. The club signed two guards in free agency this year, Alan Faneca and Rex Hadnot, and Lutui spent the preseason playing behind Reggie Wells. But it was also clear from the beginning of camp that Lutui was better than Wells, and that it would be hard for coaches to keep Lutui out of the lineup."

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic passes along a question-and-answer session with Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says rookie Daryl Washington will start at linebacker for Arizona in Week 1. The team has a shortage at linebacker and surplus at cornerback. Urban: "The Cards are clearly still looking to find the right combination in the secondary, which is why they have kept six cornerbacks right now. A.J. Jefferson has upside -- I doubt he’ll be active on game days at first -- and they aren’t sure yet what they have in Brandon McDonald, the newcomer from Cleveland. I am also guessing there will be a lot of nickel and dime looks, like strong safety Adrian Wilson playing in/near the box. That’s one way to not worry about needing too many linebackers." The Cardinals will probably need Wilson near the line of scrimmage against Steven Jackson and the Rams.

Also from Urban: Larry Fitzgerald hopes to ditch his knee brace Sunday, but he might have to wear it.

Ben Malcolmson of seahawks.com lists daily themes installed by new coach Pete Carroll, from "tell the truth Monday" to game day.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with new defensive lineman Junior Siavii, who has this to say about Seahawks practices: "I tell you, they practice hard here. We were really going out there."

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks are making too many moves right before the regular-season opener.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times compares the Seahawks' roster to past versions, noting that there are 27 new players. Indeed, according to my rosters, Seattle has a league-low 26 players returning from Week 17 last season (counting players who were on injured reserve at that time).

John Morgan of Field Gulls sizes up Siavii and says the newly signed defensive lineman isn't a two-gapping Colin Cole type. Morgan: "I am not happy about losing (Kevin) Vickerson, and do not think Siavii replaces Vickerson, but I do think Siavii is a good player and can contribute."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are expecting contributions from their rookies, and not just from quarterback Sam Bradford.

Also from Thomas: The Rams' regular-season opener is not yet sold out even though Bradford is making his first career start.

More from Thomas: Keenan Burton was the odd man out after the Rams acquired Mark Gibson. The Rams liked Burton but did not value him as one of the six best wide receivers on the team.

More yet from Thomas: a chat transcript featuring this thought on whether the Rams already have the best quarterback in the NFC West: "Very interesting question. And I think the fact that the QB situations in SF and Ariz. are still relatively unsettled means the Rams could make a quick advancement in the standings if Bradford comes along and if the front office continues to build a better supporting cast. Let's face it, there are still more than a couple holes on this team. I still have a lot of respect for (Matt) Hasselbeck in Seattle although it looks like he's nearing the end."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers hope to re-sign Nate Davis to their practice squad. Also, Troy Smith will compete with David Carr for the No. 2 job. Singletary on KNBR radio: "Absolutely. I think that's a very safe thing to say. We're always working to get better and I want our guys to know that now that the season's started we're still on the progression of competing. And the toughest competition should be right here, and that's the push to get better each day." Smith's addition affected more than Davis, in other words. It also signaled uncertainty with what Carr might be able to do in relief.

49ers scout Ethan Waugh explains what the start of the season means to him. Waugh: "I am currently headed to my first game of the season. I’ll be watching West Texas A&M play at Grand Valley State in Allendale, Mich. I have done some background work on Grand Valley State but have not yet seen them live. It should be a competitive game because both teams are powerhouses in Division II and have a number of quality players. We are always looking for diamonds in the rough and hopefully we can find one at the game."

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News compares the 2010 49ers to the 1985 Chicago Bears. Gary Fencik sees similarities but says, "Now I just hope they have a quarterback who can provide as much leadership and as many intangibles as Jim McMahon did for us."
ESPN's John Clayton says the Seattle Seahawks are trying to trade right tackle Sean Locklear, whose status appears affected by various moves. Locklear's salary is $5.45 million and his performance during preseason, though not atypical, apparently didn't impress the Seahawks' new leadership. Acquiring Tyler Polumbus and Stacy Andrews gives the Seahawks options. The team has largely remade the tackle position this offseason, drafting Russell Okung sixth overall and making the moves for Polumbus and Andrews. Placing Ray Willis on injured reserve almost completes the transformation. Locklear's departure would overhaul it completely.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times updates Seahawks-related moves from Sunday. He confirms reports that Owen Schmitt, Kevin Vickerson and Jordan Babineaux will be released.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen says former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart has accepted a one-year deal to play for the Houston Texans. Leinart will be reunited with former Cardinals teammates Antonio Smith and Neil Rackers. He'll work with another NFC West alumnus; Greg Knapp, dismissed as Seahawks offensive coordinator with Jim Mora's firing, coaches quarterbacks in Houston. Mortensen: "Leinart will become the Texans' third quarterback behind starter Matt Schaub and backup Dan Orlovsky, who will remain the No. 2 at least until Leinart has some command of Houston's offensive scheme, sources said."

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic says Leinart wasn't able to win over teammates in Arizona. Boivin: "A change of scenery will serve Leinart well. He forever will be remembered for his beer-bong photo, but he should be remembered, too, for all the money he raised for charity. And maybe at the next stop, he can win over his teammates." Leinart can do that by playing at a high level.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com offers thoughts on Leinart's departure from Arizona. Urban: "If Leinart was better on the field, he’d be here. That sounds so general, but it’s true. The basic, fundamental reason Deuce Lutui is going to be starting at guard -- after missing all the offseason and showing up well overweight -- when Reggie Wells was traded after doing everything asked of him this summer? They think, in the end, Deuce is a better player. They didn’t think Leinart was a better player than Derek Anderson. It was close -- close enough that the other stuff comes into play, the stuff (Ken) Whisenhunt declined to get into publicly Saturday and probably never will."

ESPN's Adam Schefter provides clarification on his earlier report that the Seahawks had cut running back Julius Jones. Schefter: "No official cut yet on Seahawks RB Julius Jones, but am told it is 'imminent'." The Seahawks made no announcement regarding Jones, but the running back's departure would be consistent with other sweeping changes in Seattle. Stay tuned.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are giving fans reason for hope. Coach Steve Spagnuolo: "While I was in church Sunday morning, a couple of people there told me, 'Hey, Steve, you have no idea how excited the town is.' And that's when I picked up on it. I hope our players feel it. And I hope we give the fans a reason to feel good about what we're doing." Having Sam Bradford onboard makes a difference heading into the season. Rams fans were tired of the status quo. Nothing represents change more than a complete overhaul at quarterback (none of the Rams' quarterbacks from 2009 is on the 53-man roster now).

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are filling out their practice squad. Former Rams running back Chris Ogbonnaya, released on the reduction to 53 players, signed with the Texans' practice squad.

Also from Thomas: There was no doubt Spagnuolo would name Bradford the Rams' starting quarterback.

More from Thomas: checking in with former Rams safety Nolan Cromwell, now the Rams' receivers coach.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee profiles new members of the 49ers' practice squad. On safety Chris Maragos: "This is a surprise only in that the 49ers already have five safeties on the active roster and three of those -- Reggie Smith, Curtis Taylor and Taylor Mays -- are youngsters with precious little playing experience. Otherwise, Maragos has been very solid throughout the offseason and was particularly conspicuous on special teams. He's undersized for a safety -- he was mentored at Wisconsin by Jim Leonhard -- but was on the first-team coverage unit for kick returns the last two games. Again, the 49ers could lose both Michael Lewis and Dashon Goldson after the season. It can't hurt to have some quality safeties on the back burner."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says Tramaine Brock proved doubters wrong by earning a spot on the 49ers' initial 53-man roster.

Also from Maiocco: a look at the 49ers' practice squad. On Will Tukuafu: "When the 49ers received a roster exemption after Kentwan Balmer quit the team, Tukuafu was signed. An undrafted rookie from Oregon, he received a brief look from the Seattle Seahawks before getting released. At 6-foot-4, 272 pounds, Tukuafu recorded a sack in his first snap against the Indianapolis Colts. He was added to the practice squad ahead of Khalif Mitchell."

More from Maiocco: The 49ers' new deal for Michael Lewis is among several moves foreshadowing the longer-term future for San Francisco.

Cardinals' trade affects Seahawks' line

September, 4, 2010
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The Arizona Cardinals' decision to trade guard Reggie Wells to Philadelphia helped the Seattle Seahawks land guard Stacy Andrews from the Eagles in a deal made Saturday.

ESPN's John Clayton reporteds the Andrews trade and said terms were not available.

Andrews became expendable to the Eagles after they landed Wells.

Andrews weighs 342 pounds, making him an odd fit for Alex Gibbs' zone blocking scheme, which favors much smaller guards. With Gibbs resigning from the Seahawks on Saturday, it's fair to ask whether personnel disagreements played any role in the abrupt departure.

The Seahawks were withholding their list of cuts pending league approval on the Andrews trade. But if Andrews is on the team at the expense of Gibbs' hand-picked guard, Ben Hamilton, it'll be tougher to believe that Gibbs walked away purely because he burned out.

Update: The Seahawks apparently plan to use Andrews at tackle, which would diminish the Gibbs-got-mad angle.

Rounding up known NFC West moves

September, 3, 2010
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I'll provide a separate file breaking down each NFC West team's roster moves once they meet the 53-man limit.

In the meantime, a few odds and ends:

Arizona Cardinals

Traded guard Reggie Wells to Philadelphia; released tight end Anthony Becht; released linebacker Steve Baggs; released linebacker Monty Beisel; apparently informed receiver Max Komar he made the initial 53-man roster; apparently did not tell quarterback Matt Leinart about his status to this point; scheduled a news conference for 6 p.m. ET (but nothing significant on Leinart is expected at that time).

San Francisco 49ers

Released running back Michael Robinson, released fullback Brit Miller; released fullback Jehuu Caulcrick; released receiver Jason Hill; released receiver Kevin Jurovich; released offensive lineman Cody Wallace; released defensive lineman Khalif Mitchell; released tight ends Tony Curtis and J.J. Finley; released linebacker Bruce Davis; released cornerback Karl Paymah.

Seattle Seahawks

No known moves to this point; Seattle waited until Saturday to announce its cuts last season.

St. Louis Rams

No known moves to this point; the Rams also waited until Saturday last season.

Around the NFC West: Arizona tradewinds

September, 2, 2010
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Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are open to trading Matt Leinart and guard Reggie Wells. Somers: "The Cardinals became overstocked at guard this offseason when they signed Alan Faneca and Rex Hadnot in free agency. Wells moved from left guard to right guard to make room for Faneca and has been on the first team since last spring. Lutui reported to training camp overweight but has been dropping pounds and making the contest closer. With Hadnot and Jeremy Bridges capable of playing guard, there has been speculation that the Cardinals could part with either Lutui or Wells, barring injuries at the position. Wells is in the last year of his contract and is due to make $2.4 million this year."

Trading Wells would make sense given the depth Arizona enjoys, but how many teams would want to absorb that salary two days before roster cuts?

Also from Somers: says Darnell Dockett wants to retire as a member of the Cardinals. Somers: "This is Dockett's second extension and was two years in the making. Until this year, Dockett didn't hesitate to express his unhappiness with his contract. In 2009, he sat out minicamp because of a hamstring injury that coach Ken Whisenhunt compared to a seasonal allergy. Dockett also skipped all off-season workouts. Cardinals management, meanwhile, was adamant about not extending any contract that had more than two years left. This year, however, Dockett was a regular at off-season workouts. His goal, he said, was not to convince the Cardinals to pay him, but to keep his word to free agents he helped recruit, including outside linebacker Joey Porter."

More from Somers: key players in the Dockett negotiations. No mention of general manager Rod Graves, though, and that's probably fine by Graves, who prefers a low profile. It's also a reflection of Whisenhunt's standing within the organization.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com passes along this thought from Dockett regarding the players Arizona has lost recently: "Granted, we can’t keep everybody. We wish we had those guys, but we tried to get those guys. That’s what a lot of people have to understand, we tried to keep people, it wasn’t like we ignored them and let them go. I have talked to Coach about those things. I wanted to make sure I am here and will do whatever I can to keep other guys around with a winning attitude."

Ben Malcolmson of seahawks.com says Jerry Rice surprised Seahawks players by showing up at their team meeting in Oakland on Wednesday. A photo shows a smiling Matt Hasselbeck greeting his former teammate. Sean Locklear and Craig Terrill were rookies when Rice played for Seattle in 2004. Rice: "If you want me to play 10-15 plays tomorrow night, I could probably do it."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com updates Mike Williams' progress in the receiver's return from career irrelevance. Williams' signing could stand as one of the most improbable home runs in recent NFL personnel memory. There are times when Williams appears to be the best receiver on Seattle's roster. He has excellent hands and he's a willing blocker, too. Coach Pete Carroll: "To see Mike come out and be effective, that’s a really good sign for him. Physically, it’s the best I’ve seen him since maybe his sophomore year of college. He’s very serious about it, so maybe he has a chance to give us some help."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times singles out veterans to watch in the Seahawks' final game of the 2010 exhibition season: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Owen Schmitt, Julius Jones and Jordan Babineaux. A scout I spoke with Wednesday thought releasing Babineaux could be a consideration. Babineaux is scheduled to earn $2.45 million in salary this season, hardly a prohibitive number, but more than his role might justify. Babineaux has had additional value in the past because the Seahawks knew he could play some cornerback if necessary. Rookie Earl Thomas provides even greater flexibility that way, and the Josh Wilson trade showed how much Seattle likes its depth at cornerback anyway.

Also from O'Neil: a run through the Seahawks' roster. He thinks the Tyler Polumbus trade could put Mansfield Wrotto on notice. Polumbus did start eight games for the Broncos last season.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com checks in with Lawyer Milloy. Carroll: "He's had an excellent preseason. He's been all over the place. He's shown the kind of hitting that we love to see on defense, the toughness that he brings. He's been very, very studious as far as his alignments and calls and all that kind of stuff. It doesn't matter how old he is, he's a good football player and we're lucky to have him."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Ben Obomanu finds himself in a familiar position heading into the final exhibition game of the season.

John Boyle of the Everett Herald has the Seahawks keeping 11 defensive linemen on their initial 53-man roster. That's an unusually high number, but Seattle did keep 11 in Week 1 last season -- the highest number I can recall for any team in the NFC West.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams kicker Josh Brown is seeking greater accuracy after a down 2009 season. A hip injury this summer has actually helped Brown get needed rest, the kicker said. Brown on his 2009 stats: "Those numbers are not the numbers I want to have or to reflect how much I care about what I'm doing. Took a lot of inventory this year in what we were doing and how we were approaching the game, and it's been paying off."

Also from the Post-Dispatch: a look at the Rams' roster. Daniel Fells and Fendi Onobun reside on the bubble.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at Rams roster battles. Quarterback Keith Null: "I don't think anybody in this business can ever really get comfortable. I think once you do that, then you're not really giving out your full effort -- you're not really competing like you should. I still feel like I'm trying to get here (on the final 53), and even get on the field somehow."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers will give Alex Smith the night off when the team plays its final game of the exhibition season, an indication the coaching staff is pleased with Smith to this point and no longer concerned about getting reps for him.

Also from Maiocco: a 49ers roster projection showing Nate Davis, Kyle Williams, Tony Wragge, Alex Boone, Dominique Zeigler and Phillip Adams earning roster spots.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee wonders whether Michael Crabtree will play in the 49ers' final exhibition game.

Sam Good of 49ers.com checks in with Khalif Mitchell, who is fighting for a roster spot with the 49ers.

Also from 49ers.com: a transcript from coach Mike Singletary's media session, featuring comments about the confrontation involving Crabtree and Vernon Davis. Singletary: "They were both wrong. And we will not have distractions on this team. Vernon just forgot temporarily, and that is not allowed. We don’t do that. We don’t treat family like that. We don’t disrespect each other. And I just needed to remind him that that’s not who we are. He’s fine. He did a great job. He’s one of the captains. He did the right thing, but he did it the wrong way. So, that’s all I’m going to say about that."

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat checks in with the 49ers' Adams.

More from Barber: Could the 49ers' entire 2010 draft class earn roster spots?

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle details the Crabtree-Davis dispute.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Crabtree's extended injury-related absence from practice could have been a point of contention between Crabtree and Davis. That stands as a logical issue.

Post-camp roster analysis: Cardinals

August, 30, 2010
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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:

Quarterbacks (4)

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.

Linebackers (14)

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.

Specialists (3)

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.

Valuing that veteran seasoning

August, 11, 2010
8/11/10
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Age can be a sensitive subject, even in the NFL. Especially in the NFL, where a couple down seasons past age 30 can leave even accomplished players on the outside.

Teams try to find the right mix of youth, players in their primes and older veterans.

The St. Louis Rams, one of the NFL's youngest teams last season, signed a few players well in their 30s this offseason as they tried to add seasoning. Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt pointed to veteran leadership as one of the things he likes about his roster.

I've gone through NFC West rosters to see how many players in their 30s each team employs. The numbers were about what I would have expected.
Arizona (13): punter Ben Graham 36, defensive tackle Bryan Robinson 36, kicker Jay Feely 34, snapper Mike Leach 33, guard Alan Faneca 33, linebacker Clark Haggans 33, linebacker Joey Porter 33, tight end Anthony Becht 33, linebacker Paris Lenon 32, linebacker Monty Beisel 31, safety Adrian Wilson 30, tackle Jeremy Bridges 30, center Ben Claxton 30.

San Francisco (13): kicker Joe Nedney 37, tackle Barry Sims 35, snapper Brian Jennings 33, linebacker Takeo Spikes 33, fullback Moran Norris 32, cornerback William James 31, quarterback David Carr 31, guard Tony Wragge 30, defensive end Demetric Evans 30, defensive end Justin Smith 30, cornerback Nate Clements 30, center Eric Heitmann 30, safety Michael Lewis 30.

Seattle (10): kicker Olindo Mare 37, safety Lawyer Milloy 36, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck 34, guard Ben Hamilton 32, receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh 32, guard Chester Pitts 31, receiver Deion Branch 31, tight end Chris Baker 30, defensive tackle Craig Terrill 30, defensive tackle Colin Cole 30.

St. Louis (8): defensive end James Hall 33, defensive tackle Fred Robbins 33, quarterback A.J. Feeley 33, center Hank Fraley 32, linebacker Na'il Diggs 32, kicker Josh Brown 31, snapper Chris Massey 30 and punter Donnie Jones 30.

Several other players turn 30 this season: nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin (49ers), guard Adam Goldberg (Rams), linebacker Gerald Hayes (Cardinals), kicker Shane Andrus (49ers), guard Reggie Wells (Cardinals) and cornerback Marcus Trufant (Seahawks).

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Thoughts and observations after watching the Arizona Cardinals relocate their Sunday practice indoors to avoid rains at Northern Arizona University:

  • Offensive line coach Russ Grimm's selection to the Hall of Fame raises his profile among Cardinals players who might have known he played without knowing he was one of the great guards. Grimm and Pro Bowl defensive lineman Darnell Dockett spoke for about 15 minutes at one point during practice. Grimm was sharing pointers based on his knowledge of the game and personal experiences. The two shook hands about 10 minutes into the conversation as if they were finished, only to quickly reconvene and continue. I'll have more on this subject another time.
  • [+] EnlargeCardinals
    AP Photo/Matt YorkRain forced the Cardinals and their defensive line to practice indoors on Sunday.
    Defensive tackle Alan Branch, facing a make-or-break season is obviously lighter. He even led teammates in sideline-to-sideline runs before practice. I caught him stopping about 5 yards short of the sideline on one of the runs, though.
  • It's tough for the offense to function sometimes with Dockett blowing up plays. He drove right guard Reggie Wells into the backfield on one play, sending Wells flying into quarterback Matt Leinart, who hit the FieldTurf surface at the 16,000-seat Walkup Skydome. Dockett expanded his offseason training regimen to include pushing his Cadillac for 30 to 40 feet at a time, with 2-minute breaks between sets (former Seattle Seahawks tackle Walter Jones used to push around a pickup truck as part of his training). Dockett said it's "no sweat" matching up against 340-pound offensive linemen after pushing around a vehicle weighing several thousand pounds.
  • Second-year safety Rashad Johnson might be making a conscious effort to become more physical, something he must do to challenge for playing time. The Cardinals practiced in pads and Johnson took advantage of the opportunity to hit. He tagged receiver Onrea Jones on one play when both met at the ball. Johnson also scuffled with tight end Stephen Spach.
  • Speaking of Spach, he made a one-handed grab to beat new Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes for a 35-yard touchdown up the left seam.
  • Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is not yet full strength following knee surgery, coach Ken Whisenhunt said. It was obvious between plays because Rodgers-Cromartie sometimes moved with a limp. But he was very active and ran well when plays were live. Learning to play through injuries and at less than full strength can be difficult for some young players. I thought that was a challenge for Rodgers-Cromartie late last season.
  • The first-team offensive line, from left to right: Levi Brown, Alan Faneca, Lyle Sendlein, Wells, Brandon Keith.
  • The second-team offensive line, left to right: Jeremy Bridges, Rex Hadnot, Ben Claxton, Deuce Lutui, Herman Johnson.
  • Lutui weighs about 360. I would have guessed 345 to 350. He's a big guy and he can hide weight. He did not appear sloppy to me. The Cardinals would like him to play in the low 340s.
  • Keith looks the part at right tackle. He appears strong. I didn't see the Cardinals hold full-speed pass-rush drills, however. The offensive and defensive lines took a break lasting perhaps 15 minutes at one point during practice.
  • A long-term extension for Dockett remains a possibility this season, Whisenhunt said. The Cardinals want to reward him.
  • The Cardinals think Faneca still has something left even though the Jets ate millions in salary to remove Faneca from their roster. Dockett and Whisenhunt both said they've seen good things from Faneca. "Very athletic," Dockett said.
  • For a minute, I thought the Cardinals had an elite new prospect at safety, but Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson was wearing No. 9 instead of his usual No. 24. He wore No. 9 in high school and recently returned to have his jersey retired.
  • Beanie Wells, Steve Breaston and Charles Ali were among the players I saw drop passes. Breaston couldn't make the grab on what would have been a long touchdown pass.
  • Rookie receiver Max Komar made the best catch of the day, snatching a pass while lying on his back.

I'm looking forward to spending the next few days at Cardinals camp. I'll have more observations Monday.
The Arizona Cardinals have the best defensive line in the NFC West even though the San Francisco 49ers' line deserves strong consideration. That was how Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. and I saw it during our latest conversation.

That item played off an earlier one sizing up the Cardinals' chances in the division. My thought at the time was that Arizona might have the best offensive and defensive lines in the division.

While Williamson generally agreed on the defensive side, he gave the 49ers' offensive line a significant edge over the Cardinals' version. We shouldn't discount the other offensive lines in the division, of course. The St. Louis Rams' line has strong potential when everyone's healthy, although veteran depth suffered with Alex Barron's departure, and Jason Smith will be changing positions. The Seattle Seahawks' line could improve with Alex Gibbs leading a group featuring No. 6 overall choice Russell Okung.

[+] EnlargeAnthony Davis
AP Photo/Jeff ChiuAnthony Davis should be an upgrade for the 49ers at right tackle, but expect some growing pains.
But the offensive lines of the Cardinals and 49ers provided fodder for my discussion with Williamson.

Matt Williamson: I would much rather have San Francisco's offensive line over Arizona's line.

Mike Sando: My thought was that the 49ers could suffer some growing pains while Anthony Davis gets up to speed at right tackle. The other rookie first-rounder, Mike Iupati, might also need some time. There's a chance the Cardinals' line could be better in the short term even if the 49ers' prospects are better for the long term.

Matt Williamson: Right tackle was such a problem for the 49ers last year. I don’t know how they could be worse. Davis is so young. You could really see growing pains. But he is far more talented than the guys they've had over there. Iupati will be fine as a run-blocker and he will be embarrassed at times as a pass-blocker. They do not have to start right away.

Mike Sando: I know the 49ers were excited about adding Mike Solari to coach their line.

Matt Williamson: I also think [the Cardinals'] Russ Grimm is as good an offensive line coach as there is in the league. Alan Faneca is more or less washed up, but his toughness, leadership and intelligence will help all the linemen in general. Having a full-blown leader to look to in the huddle and the meeting room helps. The other guys can learn how to prepare as a professional. You can ask Faneca anything. But he is a declining player that cannot protect very well. I think Arizona's tackles not very good and Kurt Warner made them look better than they are.

Mike Sando: They're moving Levi Brown from right tackle to left tackle, but I'm not sure there's any reason to think he'll suddenly become a consistently effective all-around tackle. He can be a tough run-blocker, though.

Matt Williamson: The Cardinals' line is better suited to be run-blockers than pass-blockers. But because you had Warner, he got the ball out quick. He could hold it to the last second, then get it out quickly enough to avoid the sack. Like with Indy, their pass protection isn’t as good as it's made out to be. With Matt Leinart, they are going to look worse than they really are.

Mike Sando: That's why it's logical to expect more of a run-oriented offense.

Matt Williamson: Getting Warner for one more year last year was gravy. When Ken Whisenhunt and Grimm took over, they wanted to establish this. They had fullbacks on the roster. Their tight ends are all blockers.

Mike Sando: I'll close by providing another reason the Cardinals' offensive line looked better in recent seasons -- continuity. They had the same five starting across multiple seasons. That is gone. Brown is switching sides. Faneca is replacing Wells at left guard. We do not yet know who will start at right guard or right tackle. I think Arizona can put together a good-looking five on paper, but I think you raise valid concerns and I would definitely rather have the 49ers' line for the long term. The Rams' and Seahawks' lines might even have more promise when we're looking beyond this season, depending upon how well Smith and Okung develop.
Steve Wyche of NFL.com quotes Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo as being "very, very hopeful" about re-signing safety Oshiomogho Atogwe. It's pretty clear Atogwe has few options beyond the Rams. Spagnuolo's comments suggest something should get done to keep Atogwe in St. Louis. Wyche: "Atogwe isn't seeking an outrageous salary or guaranteed bonuses, according to a league source, but his desired take still could be too high for teams –- including the Rams -- that are reluctant to pay amid labor uncertainty and a troublesome economic climate."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke has indicated his son, former Missouri basketball player Josh Kroenke, could take over ownership of the Denver Nuggets as the elder Kroenke complies with NFL cross-ownership rules.

Also from Coats: Receivers Dominique Curry and Brandon McRae are trying to earn roster spots at receiver as undrafted free agents.

More from Coats: The toe injury Jason Smith suffered in practice was apparently minor.

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says Kroenke's comments suggest the Rams' minority owner expects the NFL to approve his plans to transfer ownership of his Denver teams to family members.

Brad Biggs of National Football Post says defensive tackle Chris Hovan has agreed to terms with the Rams. Hovan has started 149 games over the last 10 seasons, including all 16 for Tampa Bay last season. This looks like a good depth signing by the Rams. They've now added Hovan and Fred Robbins after deciding to draft Sam Bradford instead of Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy atop the first round.

The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters shows the 49ers' stadium measure gaining approval with 59.61 percent support. The registrar shows 11,231 votes in favor and 7,609 opposed with all 58 precincts reporting. The results are probably even better than the 49ers expected, although support seemed strong throughout.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers appear confident about getting a stadium built in Santa Clara even though approval of Measure J assures nothing. Maiocco: "The term sheet that voters approved is non-binding. If Santa Clara and the 49ers do not reach agreement on key terms, negotiations can be terminated without penalty to either side. But the overwhelming support of the stadium by the voters of Santa Clara might signal a strong commitment from the city's side."

Also from Maiocco: Brandon Jones is frustrated by a lack of opportunities during offseason practices. Jones: "But if I show I can make plays, they can't hold me out for too long."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Alex Smith's rapport with Vernon Davis was on display at 49ers practice Tuesday.

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat offers notes from 49ers practice, including one about newly signed offensive lineman Matt Kopa.

Also from Barber: Travis LaBoy got more reps in practice Tuesday.

John Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle offers a report on the 49ers' stadium situation. Wildermuth: "San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has argued that Santa Clara's stadium election does not guarantee that the 49ers will leave the city, which will move ahead with plans for a new stadium site as part of the Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment project. The numbers don't work for a Santa Clara stadium, Newsom said, and when the 49ers realize that, San Francisco's plan will look better and better."

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says Michael Crabtree is benefiting from a full offseason in the 49ers' program.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals guard Deuce Lutui plans to sign the one-year offer Arizona made to him as a restricted free agent. Lutui has no realistic alternatives. Somers: "Lutui is not alone in his disappointment. As of this week, 35 restricted free agents remained unsigned. Lutui is gambling that he will be able to regain his starting spot. The Cardinals acquired two veteran guards this off-season, Alan Faneca and Rex Hadnot. Faneca and Reggie Wells have been starting at the guard positions this spring. Coach Ken Whisenhunt declined comment Tuesday on Lutui's situation." Lutui has only hurt his standing by staying away this offseason.

Also from Somers: The Cardinals are experimenting with combinations in their secondary. Michael Adams, Greg Toler and Trumaine McBride have worked at right cornerback with the starters. Toler was the player Whisenhunt singled out previously as a leading candidate to start.

More from Somers: a pick-by-pick look at the Cardinals' draft choices. On linebacker Daryl Washington: "As billed, he's an excellent athlete who can really run. His challenge is learning the defense and dealing with the complexity of NFL offense. An early guess: Washington plays in pass situations to start the season. If he develops, he'll become the regular starter. That's the way the Cardinals have handled other rookies, including cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and running back Beanie Wells."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the Seahawks are looking for ways for rookie Dexter Davis to contribute beyond his initial role as a backup "Leo" linebacker. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley: "He has shown some flashes, and we know he can rush. So if he can play that (strong-side) linebacker spot for us – he’s athletic enough – that would give him another role in addition to being a nickel rusher."

Also from Farnsworth: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has no immediate plans to declare a starting running back.

Agent Marc Lillibridge says the Seahawks have signed defensive end Will Tukuafu.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says running back Leon Washington has switched jersey numbers to 33, an indication former fullback Justin Griffith will not return.

TMZ.com offers audio from the 911 call related to Golden Tate's implication in a doughnut-shop incident. The woman making the call identifies herself as one of the night bakers. She was not amused by Tate's antics.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Carroll sounded amused by the doughnut caper. Carroll: "I’m not disappointed in the guy being at a doughnut shop when they’ve got maple bars like Top Pot has. However, under the circumstances I think they were closed, or something like that, or they were trying to close or whatever. So that’s definitely wrong, and we’ve talked about it and addressed it. And he’s most remorseful and all of that. But I do understand the allure of the maple bars."

Also from Williams: Quinton Ganther appeals to the Seahawks as a fullback with some running ability. Ganther played for Seahawks assistant Sherman Smith with the Redskins. Ganther: "I’m one of those guys that will do things that the other guys don’t want to do. You tell me to run down on kickoffs and hit the wedge, and I’ll do it. You tell me to get in there at fullback, that’s what I’ll do because I’m a team player, not a me player."

John Boyle of the Everett Herald quotes Carroll as saying linebacker Leroy Hill has fallen behind by missing offseason practices (at the Seahawks' request). Carroll: "Practice is hugely important. There’s a new system, there’s a whole new approach to doing things. This certainly hinders his opportunity without question. The other guys have rocketed ahead with their chances and taken advantage of that, and that’s just part of the competition. You do what you can with your opportunities. So he’s going to have to battle back if we can get him back out here. We’ll see when the time comes."

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