NFC West: Sean McGrath

Wednesday's Chiefs practice report

September, 18, 2013
9/18/13
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chiefs have issued their final injury report before Thursday night's game against the Eagles in Philadelphia. Tight end Anthony Fasano (ankle) did not practice and is listed as doubtful to play in the game. Cornerback Brandon Flowers (knee) was listed as a limited practice participant, and his game availability was questionable.

Two other starters, tackle Branden Albert (shoulder) and defensive end Mike DeVito (neck), were full practice participants and listed as probable to play against the Eagles.

With a second tight end, Travis Kelce, hobbling on a sore knee, limited in practice and listed as questionable, the Chiefs are down to Sean McGrath and Kevin Brock as healthy players at the position. McGrath joined the Chiefs off waivers from Seattle at the start of the regular season while Brock re-signed only this week. He went to camp with the Chiefs but was released before the regular season started.

McGrath has two receptions for 31 yards.

Three backup linebackers were full practice participants and listed as probable: Nico Johnson (ankle), Dezman Moses (toe) and James-Michael Johnson (neck).

John Clayton's latest "Inside the Huddle" video leads with the Baltimore Ravens' expected shift to an offense featuring multiple tight ends more prominently.

We could see some evolution in the NFC West as well.

Among the considerations:

Arizona Cardinals: The Indianapolis Colts ranked among the NFL's top 10 teams for most plays using at least two tight ends last season. Bruce Arians, the Cardinals' new head coach and offensive play caller, was running the Colts' offense then. Arians favors tight ends over fullbacks, so Arizona should see its tight end usage increase without biting into playing time for the Cardinals' talented wide receivers. Rob Housler led NFC West tight ends in receptions last season, but his impact was muted within a struggling offense. He and veteran Jeff King are the top two tight ends. Arians figures to use both of them together and in various places, including the backfield.



St. Louis Rams: Jared Cook's arrival in free agency changes the position fundamentally for the Rams. The team transitioned away from using a fullback last season. Cook will figure prominently into the offense as a receiving tight end, lining up in the slot and on the perimeter. He and incumbent tight end Lance Kendricks figure to play extensively together in a one-back offense featuring three-plus wideouts with regularity.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers lost some flexibility when second tight end Delanie Walker departed in free agency. Using a second-round choice for tight end Vance McDonald signaled the team's intention to continue using a second tight end in tandem with mainstay Vernon Davis. Using additional tight ends frequently could carry additional appeal while veteran receivers Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham recover from injuries. Crabtree figures to miss much of the season. Manningham is expected to be available earlier. McDonald has a big opportunity.



Seattle Seahawks: Zach Miller will continue to play just about all the time, but it's fair to question how much playing time secondary tight ends Luke Willson and Sean McGrath might command. Percy Harvin's arrival puts the Seahawks in better position to use three wide receivers. Like the 49ers, the Seahawks also operate from a two-back offense at times. Using additional wide receivers and running backs leaves less room on the field for tight ends, at least in theory. The Seahawks aren't going to stray from their offensive philosophy, but there are some personnel-related matters to sort out during training camp, including how much a second tight end might play.
The St. Louis Rams quietly added 6-foot-7, 280-pound tight end Zach Potter in free agency earlier this month.

Potter's addition gives the Rams three tight ends with at least five starts in the NFL last season. Lance Kendricks had 14, all for the Rams. Jared Cook had five for the Tennessee Titans. Potter had five for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Rams can feel pretty good about their depth at the position.

What about the Seattle Seahawks? Zach Miller is the only tight end on the roster with starting experience. He had 15 starts and played 814 snaps last season. Sean McGrath is the only other tight end on the roster to play a single regular-season NFL snap -- ever. He played eight snaps last season.

The chart shows combined 2012 starts and snaps for current NFC West tight ends. The Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers might have the best two starting tight ends in the division, but none of their backups has even one NFL start.

San Francisco used a 2013 second-round choice for tight end Vance McDonald. Seattle used a fifth-rounder for tight end Luke Willson.

Dave Grosby, Bob Stelton and I discussed the implications for the Seahawks during our recent conversation on 710ESPN Seattle.
We've got much to discuss as our NFC West predraft positional rankings continue with input from Matt Williamson, resident scout for ESPN.com.

Tight ends are up next, followed later Wednesday by the offensive lines.



Sando: Five current NFC West tight ends entered the NFL in the first three rounds of their draft classes. San Francisco's Vernon Davis, Seattle's Zach Miller and St. Louis' Jared Cook are playing under contracts featuring a combined $59 million in guaranteed money. Their deals are scheduled to consume $23.7 million in combined cap space for 2013. Still, I could see every team in the division except for the St. Louis Rams drafting one in the first few rounds.

Williamson: I'd be shocked if I moved San Francisco out of the No. 1 ranking, especially if the 49ers drafted one, which I expect them to do. Vernon Davis is clearly the best tight end in the division. Cook may end up being that some day, but I do not trust him yet.

Sando: The Cardinals were the only NFL team without a touchdown reception from a tight end last season. Bad quarterback play had quite a bit to do with that, of course.

Williamson: Arizona has to be fourth even though I think Rob Housler can become a player. Jeff King and Jim Dray are the backups there.

Sando: Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has said he "loved" Housler coming out of college and thought about drafting him as a big receiver. Overall, however, he would prefer his tight ends to be multidimensional players -- guys who block and catch well. Davis and Miller fit that profile. Each had 12 receptions, including one for a touchdown, during the playoffs last season. Both will enter the upcoming season more familiar with their young quarterbacks. But with John Carlson leaving Seattle one year ago and Delanie Walker leaving San Francisco this offseason, the Rams could now own the best one-two punch at the position heading into the draft.

Williamson: Miller came on strong. We could argue Cook versus Miller, but I give the Rams the edge over Seattle at tight end overall because Lance Kendricks is a decent backup who still has upside.

Sando: The Rams are obviously going to feature Cook in their receiving game. They gave him $19 million guaranteed while watching their more proven wideouts leave in free agency. Cook is going to serve as a wide receiver in some ways. Does that make Kendricks more of the traditional in-line tight end?

Williamson: Kendricks will never be a true inline 'Y' dealing with the Chris Clemonses of the world, but he can do that moreso than Cook. Cook is very much a receiver.

Sando: I can't argue with your tight end rankings too much, Matt. I'll be interested in seeing whether Miller picks up where he left off last season. This will be a position to revisit after the draft, too.

2012 NFC West practice squad eligibility

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

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

Arizona Cardinals

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

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

St. Louis Rams

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

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

San Francisco 49ers

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

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

Seattle Seahawks

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

Not eligible: Phillip Adams, Deon Butler, Paul Fanaika

Note on eligibility

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

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

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

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

Seattle Seahawks cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
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Click here for the complete list of Seattle Seahawks' roster moves.

Most significant move. The Seattle Seahawks emerged from last season with high hopes for Josh Portis as a developmental quarterback. The arrival of Matt Flynn in free agency and new starter Russell Wilson through the draft left Portis on the outside. The Seahawks released him, leaving Wilson and Flynn as the only quarterbacks on the initial 53-man roster.

Some teams with rookie starters brace themselves for what they know will be a long season. The Seahawks think Wilson upgrades the position immediately. They appear unworried by rookie walls and all the other ominous metaphors that typically pop up with inexperienced players behind center. The team could always consider adding a third quarterback in the future, but the value wasn't there given what Seattle thinks about its top two quarterbacks.

Onward and upward: Portis, cornerback Phillip Adams, guard Rishaw Johnson, linebacker Korey Toomer and defensive tackle Pep Levingston (injury settlement) have all shown positive signs. Toomer in particular appears to have practice-squad potential, at least.

The cut list also included Pierre Allen, Cordarro Law, Allen Bradford, Paul Fanaika, Jermaine Kearse, Kyle Knox, Sean McGrath, DeShawn Shead, Lavasier Tuinei, Cooper Helfet (injured) and Vai Taua (injured).

Receivers Deon Butler and Kris Durham lost out as former mid-round draft choices. They remain young and could carry appeal, as could speed receiver Ricardo Lockette. But with veteran Braylon Edwards playing well enough to earn a roster spot comfortably, there were fewer spots for less-proven prospects at the position.

Note that the unspectacular but steady Ben Obomanu stuck on the roster, at least for now. Seattle hasn't fared as well upgrading depth at receiver as it has at other positions. Obomanu's continued annual presence as a 2006 seventh-round choice reflects that, in my view.

What's next: The Seahawks could use depth at linebacker, one reason I was a little surprised to see the team release Toomer, a rookie fifth-round choice with speed. Another linebacker, Matt McCoy, landed on injured reserve.

Seattle also could consider pursuing a slot receiver as insurance against lingering injury concerns for Doug Baldwin.

It's looking like running back Marshawn Lynch will avoid, for now, a suspension stemming from his DUI arrest earlier this offseason. That was a potential concern, mitigated some by rookie Robert Turbin's emergence.

While cornerback Walter Thurmond went on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list, offensive lineman James Carpenter did not. With Carpenter available early in the year, the Seahawks appear relatively set on their offensive line. Rookie J.R. Sweezy's emergence as the potential starting right guard was another factor there, even with guard Allen Barbre going on the reserve/suspended list.
Looking back on three things discussed here before the Seattle Seahawks' fourth and final exhibition game, a 21-3 home victory over the Oakland Raiders:

1. The feel on Flynn. Backup quarterback Matt Flynn completed 11 of 13 passes for 102 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and no sacks. He was efficient. Flynn dropped a pass over starting weak-side linebacker Miles Burris and into the hands of tight end Sean McGrath. He sold play-action to set up a rollout to the right, where he threw accurately for receiver Kris Durham along the sideline. That play netted 25 yards. Flynn was more accurate than starter Russell Wilson in this game. Mission accomplished for Flynn. Now, about that moustache ...

2. Irvin's impact. First-round draft choice Bruce Irvin played deep into the game as the Seahawks tried to get their rookie defensive end into a rhythm. They were going to leave him in the game until Irvin produced, and once he did, they weren't going to take him out. Irvin feasted on the Raiders' backups in the second half. He finished with 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits after failing to register on the defensive stat sheet in the first three preseason games. Irvin also forced a fumble while working on the punt-coverage team. Irvin can now emerge from the preseason with something to build upon.

3. Receiver mix. This one was very difficult for me to evaluate in real time. Durham's 25-yard reception and Sidney Rice's 22-yarder from Wilson were the only completions to Seattle wideouts covering more than nine yards. The Seahawks completed five passes to wide receivers overall.
Looking back on three things discussed here before Seattle's 30-10 preseason victory at Denver on Saturday night:

1. QB competition continued. Matt Flynn did not appear to play his way out of the starting job, but another impressive showing from rookie Russell Wilson should give the Seahawks something to think about.

Penalties and pressure were problems early. Flynn held the ball too long another time. He overthrew Braylon Edwards in the end zone (not sure if that was a throwaway). Flynn was on target other times, including when he found Kellen Winslow. He scrambled effectively on a bootleg. Flynn and Terrell Owens weren't on the same page. They had multiple opportunities to make positive plays, both long and short. It never happened. Flynn completed 6 of 13 passes for 31 yards overall.

Wilson started the second half and made an impact initially with his ability to avoid the rush. He showed good timing and touch on a pass over the middle to Sean McGrath. Phil Bates was open deep for what should have been a touchdown, but the ball sailed long (Bates appeared to lose his stride at one point, a potential factor). Wilson completed 10 of 17 passes for 155 yards and two scores with no interceptions.

Wilson showed ample arm strength and poise in making a desperation pass appear routine. The Broncos were knocking him to the ground when Wilson, his body at roughly a 45-degree angle to the ground, threw a laser of a pass from his own 45-yard line to Lavasier Tuinei at the Denver 34. That's a pass traveling 21 yards through a defense to its target while the quarterback was getting drilled. How many guys can do that?

2. Terrell Owens’ debut. This was a step backward for Owens after the free-agent addition seemed to be making progress in practices. Flynn force-fed the ball to Owens early in the game, but the two weren't in sync. Owens' negative body language following one of the miscues stood out. That sort of stuff doesn't go over well. Owens won't be on the team for the long haul if that continues, in my view.

When Owens got deep down the middle, he dropped Flynn's perfectly thrown pass for what should have been a touchdown. Another time, Flynn threw shorter when Owens took off for the end zone. One pass from Flynn fell incomplete behind Owens.

3. That other QB. The Seahawks hoped to sign Peyton Manning this offseason, but Manning ignored their advances. Manning completed 16 of 23 passes for 177 yards against the Seahawks, often moving the ball effectively. But Seattle picked him off twice, once on a tipped pass deep in Seahawks territory.
RENTON, Wash. -- A few notes after watching the Seattle Seahawks practice Thursday at team headquarters:
  • Terrell Owens took a step forward in his second day practicing with the team. Most of the receivers seem to have stepped up their games since Owens became a factor with the team. Kris Durham continues to be an exception, however. The second-year receiver projected as the successor to Mike Williams, but he has struggled with drops and doesn't appear to be playing with confidence. Owens caught the ball consistently and made two notable plays. He turned around corner Byron Maxwell to free himself along the right sideline. Later, Owens beat veteran corner Marcus Trufant for a touchdown on a fade route, tipping the ball to himself and getting both feed inbounds before falling to the ground.
  • No word yet from the Seahawks on a report suggesting the team might have violated rules by working Owens into practice too quickly. League spokesman Greg Aiello said the NFL was gathering facts on the matter. The rule, according to Aiello: "Players have a 3-day acclimation period after reporting during the preseason. Day 1 is for the physical and meetings. Day 2 and 3 the player may participate, but only in helmet and shells or a padded shirt. Day 4 and for the rest of camp is in full pads." Owens appeared to wear shoulder pads Wednesday, which would have been his second day with the team, assuming he signed Tuesday.
  • Guard John Moffitt left practice with an apparent arm injury. Deuce Lutui replaced him at right guard with the starters. The team had no details on the severity of Moffitt's injury. A knee injury sidelined Moffitt for much of 2011. Lutui, signed from Arizona in free agency, owns 72 starts over six seasons, but none in 2011.
  • Matt Flynn shined in practice with the starters Wednesday. Russell Wilson caught my attention Thursday. His ability to hit receivers and tight ends with accuracy and while on the move stood out. He rolled left and found tight end Sean McGrath for a moderate gain on one play. McGrath has been catching the ball well, and frequently. He's a rookie from Henderson State in Arkansas.

That's the short update. I've been gathering info for the upcoming "Camp Confidential" file. One more note from Seahawks practice to come shortly.
NFL teams are pretty much finished tweaking their rosters until training camps begin later this month.

Organized team activities have passed, as have minicamps.

It's a good time to reassess where teams stand and where they might be headed at various positions based on the admittedly limited information available at this time. So, beginning with this item and continuing through Tuesday, I'll offer up for consideration roster breakdowns for each NFC West team, beginning with the offenses.

Quarterbacks (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.8

Safest bets: Matt Flynn, Russell Wilson, Tarvaris Jackson

Leading contenders: Josh Portis

Longer odds: none

Comment: The plan calls for Jackson, Flynn and Wilson to take turns with the first-team offense when training camp opens. The roster spots for Flynn and Wilson appear most secure. Jackson's situation appears most volatile. He could start, he could serve as a veteran backup at a reduced salary or he could be released. Seattle has to hope Flynn or Wilson takes advantage of the opportunity, on the theory that Jackson has most likely peaked. The Seahawks still like Portis as well, but keeping four quarterbacks isn't a realistic option.

Running backs (7)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.1

Safest bets: Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington, Robert Turbin, Michael Robinson

Leading contenders: Kregg Lumpkin, Tyrell Sutton

Longer odds: Vai Taua

Comment: Turbin becomes the big back Seattle wanted as insurance for Lynch. Washington emerges as the undisputed change-of-pace back after the Seahawks decided against re-signing Justin Forsett, who landed in Houston. Robinson's value on special teams and at fullback would seem to buy security for him at a position of decreasing value around the league.

Wide receivers (13)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.3

Safest bets: Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate

Leading contenders: Kris Durham, Ricardo Lockette, Ben Obomanu, Mike Williams, Deon Butler

Longer odds: Phil Bates, Charly Martin, Lavasier Tuinei, Cameron Kenney

Comment: Baldwin appears to be the receiver Seattle can count on the most. That is good and bad. The team needs Rice to hold up physically after undergoing surgeries on both shoulders this offseason. Concussions were another problem for Rice last season. Tate was ascending when last season ended. The broken hand he suffered this offseason prevented Tate from participating fully in minicamps. He needs to avoid additional setbacks to build on last season. Durham could make Williams expendable. Lockette's speed separates him from the other receivers on the roster. He's raw, but two long receptions late last season showed big-play potential.

Tight ends (5)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.2

Safest bets: Zach Miller, Kellen Winslow

Leading contenders: Anthony McCoy, Cameron Morrah

Longer odds: Sean McGrath

Comment: Winslow's addition altered Seattle's outlook at the position. The team hopes to use him in tandem with Miller to force unfavorable matchups upon opponents. The plan will be to pound away with Lynch if defenses play sub packages against Miller and Winslow, or to pass if teams show base looks. That was part of the plan a year ago as well, but John Carlson's injury limited Seattle's options. Carlson's departure in free agency stung. Winslow was a viable fallback even though knee problems limit his speed and prevent him from practicing regularly.

Offensive linemen (15)

Average number kept since 2003: 9.1

Safest bets: Russell Okung, Paul McQuistan, Max Unger, John Moffitt, Breno Giacomini, James Carpenter, Deuce Lutui

Leading contenders: Alex Barron, J.R. Sweezy, Frank Omiyale, Allen Barbre, Rishaw Johnson, Lemuel Jeanpierre

Longer odds: Edawn Coughman, Paul Fanaika

Comment: Seattle has kept 10 offensive linemen in Week 1 during each of its first two seasons under coach Pete Carroll. Short-term injury concerns generally play into any decision to keep more than nine. Seattle figures to save a spot early in the season by leaving Carpenter on the physically unable to perform list. That would leave room, in theory, for three players from the "leading contenders" list above. Jeanpierre has value as a guard with the ability to back up at center. Moffitt also got work at center this offseason. Johnson made a positive impression as an undrafted rookie this offseason. Barbre will serve a suspension to open the season. Barron could project as a swing tackle.

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