NFC West: Steve Skelton

2012 NFC West practice squad eligibility

September, 1, 2012
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.)"
Our two-day look at NFC West rosters continues with projections for the Arizona Cardinals' offense.

Quarterbacks (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.0

Safest bets: Kevin Kolb, John Skelton

Leading contenders: Ryan Lindley, Rich Bartel

Longer odds: none

Comment: Coach Ken Whisenhunt was ready with a quip when asked to pinpoint when the team would like to have its quarterback competition settled. Two years ago, he said. Instead, Kolb and Skelton figure to battle deep into the exhibition season. The Cardinals have five preseason games to use for evaluation. Bartel's grip on the No. 3 job could be ending after Arizona used a sixth-round pick for Lindley.

Running backs (8)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.2

Safest bets: Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams, Anthony Sherman, LaRod Stephens-Howling

Leading contenders: Alfonso Smith

Longer odds: William Powell, Javarris James, Jared Crank

Comment: The Cardinals have been banking on Wells and Williams returning from knee injuries. Neither participated fully in offseason workouts or practices. Wells' agent said the team was playing it safe with his client to maximize Wells' availability in 2012. The team did not make lineup contingency plans in case Wells or Williams isn't ready or suffers additional injuries. It's Wells and Williams or bust at this point. Sherman is developing into a first-rate fullback. Stephens-Howling has been one of the better special-teams players around. Smith also has value on special teams if the Cardinals decide to keep a fifth back in Week 1, as they have done for the past four seasons.

Wide receivers (12)

Average number kept since 2003: 6.1

Safest bets: Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts, Early Doucet

Leading contenders: Isaiah Williams, Stephen Williams, DeMarco Sampson, Jaymar Johnson

Longer odds: LaRon Byrd, Stanley Arukwe, Tre Gray, Gino Crump

Comment: The Cardinals have never kept fewer than six wideouts on their Week 1 roster since Whisenhunt became coach. They kept seven in 2009. Arizona appears to have excellent quality through its top four options at the position. Fitzgerald is an all-time great and in his prime. His presence should help free Floyd to produce as a rookie first-round draft choice, provided the team's quarterbacks do a better job finding open receivers. Floyd's arrival signals Roberts' move to the slot, where the Cardinals think he's ideally suited. Doucet was productive from the slot on third down last season.

Tight ends (6)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.2

Safest bets: Todd Heap, Jeff King, Rob Housler

Leading contenders: Jim Dray, Steve Skelton

Longer odds: Martell Webb

Comment: This position should become a strength with Housler's expected emergence as a fast, athletic receiving threat. Again, the Cardinals are counting on Kolb and/or Skelton to find the open receivers they missed too frequently last season. Age and injury concerns follow the 32-year-old Heap into his 12th season and second with the Cardinals. His $2 million salary would not appear to put him at significant risk, provided Heap bounces back this season. King exceeded expectations as a receiver last season. The Cardinals had never kept more than three tight ends on their Week 1 roster until last season, when they kept four.

Offensive linemen (15)

Average number kept since 2003: 8.7

Safest bets: Levi Brown, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Adam Snyder, Jeremy Bridges, Bobby Massie

Leading contenders: Senio Kelemete, D'Anthony Batiste, Nate Potter

Longer odds: D.J. Young, Braeden Clayson, Ryan Bartholomew, Scott Wedige, Chris Stewart, Blake DeChristopher

Comment: Sendlein and Colledge give the Cardinals two solid contributors on the perimeter. The team is counting on Brown to build upon the improvement he showed at left tackle late last season. Brown does appear determined to shake his negative reputation. Questions abound on the right side of the line. Snyder appeared headed for a backup job somewhere when the Cardinals gave him $3.5 million per season, including $5 million up front, to start at right guard. Pairing Snyder with Bridges or Massie on the right side would seem to invite trouble. Perhaps the Cardinals know something others do not. Can line coach Russ Grimm develop the young talent Arizona added through the draft?
The San Francisco 49ers' Alex Smith has company among NFC West quarterbacks seeking to improve their mechanics this season.

Kevin Kolb and John Skelton of the Arizona Cardinals have a new position coach and, unlike last offseason, ample time to work on the finer points. This is one area where Kolb should take a step forward. Learning a new offense and getting acclimated to new teammates were the priority during a lockout-shortened 2011 offseason.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic has the details, including a note from quarterbacks coach John McNulty regarding bad habits each player developed. Somers: "Last year Skelton had a tendency to not move his feet when he had to go to a second option. Sometimes the pass got there, sometimes it didn't, McNulty said. In the same situations, Kolb would just start moving, rather than adjust his feet to throw to a secondary target."

Also from Somers: The Cardinals would miss tight end Jeff King, who is recovering from a quadriceps injury. Somers: "King's contract remains unaffected because it is a football related injury. He is due to make $1.95 million in salary this season. Losing King for any amount of time would be a blow. He started 10 games last season and had 27 receptions, fourth on the team and the most of any tight end. With King out, the tight ends in these practices are Todd Heap, Rob Housler, Jim Dray, Steve Skelton and Martell Webb."

More from Somers: The start of training camp July 24 is the target date for Beanie Wells' return from knee surgery.

Matt Maiocco of says Frank Gore has good reason for attending the 49ers' offseason conditioning program. Maiocco: "Gore said he took six weeks after the season to let his body rest. As part of the contract extension he signed last summer, Gore receives a $400,000 annual bonus for taking part in the 49ers' offseason program. He reported to the Bay Area to join his teammates three weeks ago."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee provides a transcript from Kyle Williams' interview session. Williams on the impact Randy Moss has had on him: "Oh, a huge impact. He's a vet and he's a savvy vet and he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer once he gets done playing. So if you can't learn something from a guy like that, then you're not paying attention. So just the way he goes about his business, the way he works and the way he takes care of himself every day -- it's something that you can't help but learn from."

710ESPN Seattle offers commentary from Bucs beat reporter Roy Cummings regarding Kellen Winslow, acquired Monday by Seattle. Cummings: "He's got -- for whatever reason and I'm not sure why -- he's got this image out in the public of being a trouble-maker or not being a conformist or anything like that."

Clare Farnsworth of offers notes from the team's practice Tuesday, including this one: "Another new wrinkle in the defense could be veteran Marcus Trufant sliding inside as the nickelback. A first-round draft choice in 2003, he has started 123 games and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2007. But when a back problem forced Trufant to sit out the final 12 games last season, Sherman stepped in and played well enough to remain the starter on the left side."

Stu Durando of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' new offensive playbook features a larger role for the fullback. Brit Miller: "It's great. Last year there wasn't really anything in there for us that stood out where we could get downhill and block people and do the things we like, things we're good at. This playbook is full of it. I've had familiarity with this system in the past, so coming in I can jump right into everything." Noted: There's a tendency to think players get better from one generation to the next. I question whether that's true at fullback. The college game no longer produces many players at the position. Miller played linebacker in college. The 49ers' Bruce Miller converted from defensive end. Seattle's Michael Robinson played quarterback and tailback in college, among other positions.

Around the NFC West: 49ers' QB play fine

November, 23, 2011
The St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals were once seen as likely NFC West favorites this season, largely because their quarterback situations appeared to be improving.

The subject came up when I ran across Trent Dilfer at 49ers training camp. He made the point then that Sam Bradford, though apparently headed for a bright future, might be only the second- or third-best quarterback in the division for now. And he said the 49ers could win with Alex Smith because they would not ask too much from him.

Three months later, Smith is executing his duties better than the other quarterbacks in the division. The 49ers do not need him to carry the team.

Keith Goldner of Drive-By Football, writing for Advanced NFL Stats, offers evidence putting Smith in the same category Dilfer inhabited when Dilfer was part of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.

Matt Maiocco of has this to say about Smith during his player-by-player review of the 49ers' offense against Arizona: "While Smith was not always on target with his throws, his receivers got their hands on seven of his first eight incomplete throws. ... Missed wide-open receiver Michael Crabtree in second quarter for what would've been a 16-yard touchdown in second quarter. ... He got away from pressure on first play of fourth quarter but threw his second career interception in the red zone as linebacker Daryl Washington picked him off."

Also from Maiocco: player-by-player review for the defense. On Patrick Willis: "Started at middle linebacker and recorded a team-high seven tackles. He also had an interception, three passes defensed and one forced fumble. ... His forced fumble of Beanie Wells was initially ruled down by contact, but Willis urged coach Jim Harbaugh to throw the challenge flag. ... Called for unnecessary roughness on a fourth-down play when he hit Bartel as he was sliding."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is quite familiar with the Ravens' defense, given that he helped coach it in Baltimore several years back.

Clare Farnsworth of says the team is very happy with Leroy Hill's contributions at linebacker. Coach Pete Carroll: "He's one of the toughest guys on the team and if you’re going to pick one guy to go fight for you, a lot of guys would pick him. It was attractive when you talk about linebackers."

Also from Farnsworth: The Seahawks' last two opponents made little effort to run the ball.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Carroll defended Kam Chancellor's recent hits drawing penalties.

Also from O'Neil: a look at where the Seahawks stand after nearly two seasons under Carroll.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks currently stand 12th in the draft order for 2012. He discusses options with analyst Rob Rang.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic profiles Cardinals quarterback Rich Bartel. Somers: "It's fitting that the ball Cardinals quarterback Rich Bartel threw for his first NFL touchdown pass took a circuitous route to Sunday's game in San Francisco. A 'K Ball,' for use by kickers only, somehow was included in the Cardinals' ball bag and found its way into the game in the fourth quarter. A few seconds after receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught the deflected ball for a 23-yard touchdown, he handed it to Bartel, who had waited almost five seasons to get it."

Darren Urban of says the team placed nose tackle Dan Williams on injured reserve, filling his roster spot by signing Ronald Talley from the practice squad. Urban: "The Cardinals actually made multiple moves on the practice squad. Filling Talley’s spot, the Cards brought back nose tackle Ricky Lumpkin. The Cardinals also released tight end Steve Skelton from the practice squad and replaced him with linebacker Brandon Williams, who was drafted by Dallas in 2009 before tearing his ACL in preseason of that year."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says protecting Sam Bradford should be the Rams' top priority. Miklasz: "Having Bradford rocked and slammed to the ground would be OK if the Rams actually had something to show for his bruises. Kurt Warner took more hits than any QB during the 'Greatest Show' glory days, but the trade-off resulted in one of the greatest performances in NFL history. ... Sam and the Rams are getting nothing in return for this steady QB abuse. They're last in the NFL in points per game (12), they're last in touchdowns from scrimmage (10), they have the league's worst third-down conversion rate (29.9 pct.) they rank 30th of 32 teams in yards per passing attempt (5.81), they are 27th in average yards at the point of the catch (5.5) and are tied with Jacksonville for the fewest number of TD passes (6)."

D'Marco Farr of 101ESPN St. Louis has this to say about the Rams: "Large investments in the offensive line haven't paid off and now are going to be reshuffled again due to injuries. The cornerback position is a mess. Franchise quarterback Sam Bradford is taking a beating to the point where you hope it doesn't ruin his future. If someone asked me to identify the Rams offense, I don't think I could. I'm not positive the skill players tell me enough information so I can make that type of determination. The team is last in the league in scoring, and there are a few names inherently attached to that. But there's still six weeks left. Six weeks to prove that this team is close to breaking through." Noted: Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels wasn't seeking "identity" in the traditional sense on offense. He wanted to mix up game plans from week to week and play to play, based on what gave the Rams their best chance. When I think of identity for this offense, I'm wondering what it does well. So far, the team has occasionally gotten the ground game going with inside handoffs from shotgun formations. Not much to go on.

Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis says the Rams put another cornerback, Marquis Johnson, on injured reserve.
The following recently released and waived/injured NFC West players are eligible for practice squads if they clear waivers:
Arizona Cardinals

Jared Campbell, Marshay Green, Sean Jeffcoat, Ricky Lumpkin, Jeremy Navarre, Aaron Nichols, Bryant Nnabuife, Kris O'Dowd, Tom Pestock, William Powell, Steve Skelton, Kendall Smith, Thad Turner, Isaiah Williams, D.J. Young.

St. Louis Rams

Damario Ambrose, Tim Atchison, DeMarco Cosby, Tae Evans, Marlon Favorite, Pete Fleps, Cody Habben, John Henderson, Kevin Hughes, Randall Hunt, Thaddeus Lewis, Greg Mathews, Jeremy McGee, Ryan McKee, Jonathan Nelson, Fendi Onobun, Chase Reynolds, Van Stumon.

San Francisco 49ers

Chase Beeler, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Brian Bulcke, Jack Corcoran, Phillip Davis, Derek Hall, Joe Hastings, Chris Hogan, Ronald Johnson, Alex Joseph, Chris Maragos, Cory Nelms, Xavier Omon, Konrad Reuland, Kenny Rowe, Sealver Siliga, Monte Simmons, Curtis Taylor, Kenny Wiggins.

Seattle Seahawks

Pierre Allen, Dorson Boyce, Chris Carter, Paul Fanaika, Maurice Fountain, David Howard, Michael Johnson, Jameson Konz, Mark LeGree, Ricardo Lockette, Michael Morgan, Josh Pinkard, William Robinson, Owen Spencer, Vai Taua, Patrick Williams.

A few younger players are not eligible, including former St. Louis Rams receiver Mardy Gilyard, who spent 11 games on the game-day roster last season. Players with no accrued seasons or fewer than nine appearances on game-day rosters in their only accrued season are among those eligible. Players can spend a third season on a team's practice squad as long as their team keeps its 53-man roster full at all times.