NFC West: Thomas Clayton

NFL teams have until 4 p.m. ET Monday to reach the 75-man roster limit from the current 90 allowable players.

The Arizona Cardinals got a jump on their moves upon returning from their exhibition game at Tennessee.

Placing left tackle Levi Brown on injured reserve stands as the most significant move by far. The move comes as no surprise after Brown suffered a torn triceps tendon, but there's a sense of finality in the transaction. It means Brown cannot return until the 2013 season. There had been some hope he might return late in the season.

The chart shows rosters counts at each position, plus positional counts from Week 1 last season.

Among the players released: defensive tackle Landon Cohen, receiver Gino Crump, safety Eddie Elder, receiver Tre Gray, cornerback Marshay Green, receiver Jaymar Johnson, fullback Reagan Maui'a, linebacker Marcus McGraw, linebacker Zack Nash, cornerback James Nixon, kicker/punter Ricky Schmitt and linebacker Paul Vassallo.

Running back Thomas Clayton and fullback Jared Crank were waived/injured. They'll revert to injured reserve upon clearing waivers.

The team announced these transactions.

NFC West roided-out rosters: Updated

August, 1, 2012
We've ranked NFL teams by age, both for full rosters and for projected starters only.

Next up: the latest 27-column sortable rosters for NFC West teams, built by yours truly and made available for download here.

No actual 'roids were used in constructing these rosters, but they're muscular enough to provoke suspicion.

I've updated contract information for most players, revealing the final seasons for which players are under contract.

Summary information also shows various aspects of roster composition.

For example, the 49ers have a division-high 13 players with at least one Pro Bowl on their résumés, by my count. That's two more than the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams combined (Seattle has 10). Some previously acclaimed players might not be playing near a Pro Bowl level at this time, inviting a closer look. But if you find those sorts of breakdowns interesting, you might enjoy poring over these rosters.

Update: The Cardinals announced the signing of running back Thomas Clayton and guard Rich Ohrnberger. The team released receiver Stanley Arukwe and center Ryan Bartholomew. Bartholomew received a waived/injured designation. He would become eligible for injured reserve upon clearing waivers, although teams sometimes workout injury settlements that result in a player becoming a free agent.

I've updated the downloadable file as well.

The chart, updated to reflect those roster moves, shows recent counts by team and position.

Seattle Seahawks cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
Surprise move: There really weren't any because the Seahawks had already parted with so many familiar names over the past couple seasons. Colin Cole was the most established player shown the door. He had been injured, his salary was $3.75 million and the team had re-signed Brandon Mebane with an eye toward moving Mebane to nose tackle. Those factors worked against Cole sticking around.

Receiver Isaiah Stanback, valued on special teams, landed on injured reserve along with defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson and tight end John Carlson. Rookie safety Mark LeGree, a fifth-round draft choice, was the Seahawks' only 2011 selection to miss the initial cut. Jeron Johnson, one of three undrafted rookies to earn roster spots, beat him out.

No-brainers: Golden Tate's status had drawn considerable attention in recent weeks, but the Seahawks never planned to release him. Tate came through with a strong performance in the final exhibition game, putting to rest questions about his status. Running back Justin Forsett wasn't in danger, either, even though Leon Washington could be moving past him on the depth chart behind starter Marshawn Lynch. With Washington and Forsett sticking around, there was no room for Thomas Clayton. Undrafted rookies Josh Portis (quarterback) and Doug Baldwin (receiver) had clearly done enough to earn spots initially. Both stuck.

What's next: The situation at fullback and tight end bears monitoring with Carlson landing on injured reserve, as expected. Dominique Byrd stuck as the third tight end for now. Assistant head coach/offensive line Tom Cable has valued h-back types in his offense and it's unclear whether the Seahawks' current personnel addresses that function adequately. Fullback Michael Robinson stuck on the roster as well. Seattle will have to wait six games before bringing back receiver Deon Butler, cornerback Roy Lewis and tight end Cameron Morrah. All are on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. The severity of left guard Robert Gallery's knee injury could influence how the team proceeds on the offensive line.
Matt Maiocco of says the San Francisco 49ers expect receiver Michael Crabtree to return from injury in time for the regular-season opener against Seattle on Sept. 11. That will likely be the first time Crabtree and fellow receiver Braylon Edwards play together in a game setting. Edwards: "Crab is real smooth. He has great hands. He always catches the ball away from his body. He's smooth in and out of routes. He's very smart. He's very similar to me, but I'm a little taller." Crabtree performed better than expected as a rookie after missing all of training camp and the first six weeks of the regular season. It's tough to believe he will have gone three seasons without experiencing a full training camp.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee outlines five things to watch during the 49ers' exhibition opener against New Orleans on Friday night. On Aldon Smith: "Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio tried to rein in expectations for first-round draft pick Aldon Smith this week, saying that the rookie still has plenty to learn. That's true. But Fangio's caution could not outweight the rave reviews Smith has received from teammates, particularly offensive teammates. Smith has two things you can't teach a rookie -- strength and ferocity. While he's not a starter, he's been getting just as much playing time with the first-team defense as OLBs Ahmad Brooks and Parys Haralson. The Saints have one of the better offensive lines in the league; how Smith fares against it will be an excellent first test."

Also from Barrows: The 49ers have picked up the pace at practice, according to defensive end Ray McDonald.

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News says new 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh wants "fanatical effort" from his team against the Saints. What might he expect for real games?

Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' new offense excels at disguising its intentions, forcing defenses to play a little more passively, according to defensive end Justin Smith.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times thought Leroy Hill stood out for the Seahawks during their exhibition opener against San Diego. O'Neil: "Hill could be the steal of Seattle's offseason. He has been Seattle's most athletic linebacker since he joined the team in 2005, and watching him back on the field Thursday was a reminder of the speed and violence he brings to the position. If two years of injuries and off-field injuries are behind him, he could be an absolute steal of a signing."

Also from O'Neil: Russell Okung felt "something kind of pop" in his ankle.

Clare Farnsworth of singles out Thomas Clayton's 25-yard touchdown run as the play of the game for Seattle in its exhibition opener. Farnsworth: "Part of what made Clayton’s 25-yard run so impressive was how well not only the line blocked but also the receivers downfield." The way Clayton held the ball aloft and showboated into the end zone reminded me of the time Leon Washington celebrated during a long return against Carolina last season. Clayton got away with it. Washington did not.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks held out receiver Sidney Rice and running back Justin Forsett as precautions. Both could have played. Both have minor injuries. Playing without Rice or fellow receiver Mike Williams affected the options for Tarvaris Jackson and the first-team offense. Third receiver Ben Obomanu also did not play.

Also from Williams: Charlie Whitehurst was generally pleased with his play. Whitehurst: "I think I played OK for the first preseason game. You’re not going to be perfect. But you go out and get into a rhythm, and we did that in the third quarter, and it turned out good."

John Boyle of the Everett Herald says Seattle safety Kam Chancellor impressed in run support, while 6-foot-4 cornerback Brandon Browner made a couple plays on the ball with the No. 2 defense. Boyle: "Brandon Browner was impressive at cornerback with the No. 2 defense, coming up with a couple of pass breakups in one-on-one coverage, including one that prevented a TD late in the second quarter. Browner, who stands an impressive 6-foot-4, has been a star in the CFL for the past five seasons and is hoping to break into the NFL."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic offers thoughts on the Cardinals' exhibition opener against Oakland. Somers: "It appears than tight end Todd Heap suffered the only injury on the team: a sprained left thumb in the second quarter. The X-ray was negative and Heap said afterward he would have continued to play had it been a regular season game."

Also from Somers: Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt isn't too worried about acquiring another receiver. Whisenhunt: "Everybody wants to talk about the Number 2 receiver but we really don't get caught up in a No. 2. We run so many different packages where we involved three receivers, even four receivers, and there are a lot of times where we'll tailor specific packages to fit the individual strengths of the receiver."

More from Somers: The Cardinals went into their game with low expectations given the limited practice time.

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic says Kurt Warner remains popular in retirement.

Darren Urban of said the Cardinals played better than anticipated. Urban: "The Cards went down the field early and often, with six completions of at least 20 yards. John Skelton relieved Kevin Kolb and completed 6-of-10 passes for 94 yards, and then Rich Bartel completed 4-of-9 for 69 yards."

Also from Urban: The Cardinals' receivers made plays.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Jim Hanifan, 77, is out as a Rams radio analyst. Caesar: "Hanifan, who was the rollicking, highly-charged analyst on Rams radio broadcasts until being removed two seasons ago when he was relegated to the more sterile environment of contributing to pre- and postgame programming, will be gone altogether this year on Rams game-day radio coverage other than a brief taped appearance." The station is expanding roles for Tony Softli and Rick Venturi.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says rookie Lance Kendricks is getting plenty of work with the Rams, including as a starter. Kendricks lined up in the backfield and had one carry during a recent scrimmage. Kendricks: "I did a lot of motion and stuff in the backfield (at Wisconsin), but not as much as now. It's fun, but it's a challenge because you've got to read the defense on the move instead of being stationary. ... I'm just getting adjusted to reading the coverages. In college you don't have to read the coverages as much as in the NFL. You're kind of multi-tasking on the field."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that new Rams linebacker Ben Leber has experience playing strong and weak sides.

Nick Wagoner of says the Rams approached this offseason seeking to upgrade their run defense.

Also from Wagoner: positive thoughts from Steven Jackson. Jackson: "Camp is going really good. We’re making some great strides. Sunday we had the scrimmage, I think we saw from a personnel standpoint where we’re going with it. Guys are getting comfortable with some of the language and the formations are different things that…we’ve only had a week to really be in. Guys are really learning at a fast pace and really looking forward to this first preseason game."

D'Marco Farr of 101ESPN St. Louis says there should be no doubting Jackson.
Of all the 2007 NFC West draft picks, the Cardinals' Levi Brown and the 49ers' Patrick Willis have started the most games.US PresswireOf all the 2007 NFC West draft picks, the Cardinals' Levi Brown and the 49ers' Patrick Willis have started the most games.
JaMarcus Russell's demise as an NFL player is back in the news, shining light upon the perils of investing millions in unproven prospects.

The 2007 NFL draft was about more than Russell, of course.

That draft also produced Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, Darrelle Revis and Lawrence Timmons among the top 15 choices.

For as much criticism as the Arizona Cardinals have taken for selecting tackle Levi Brown fifth overall, Brown has started 59 regular-season games, second only to Willis (63) among NFC West draft choices that year. He has also started six playoff games, including a Super Bowl, and coach Ken Whisenhunt expects good things from him.

I've put together a couple charts showing what NFC West teams have gotten from their draft choices that year. More on those in a bit.

First, I've taken a team-by-team look at the players selected, whether they remain with their original teams and how many games each has started for his drafted team.

The 49ers had the best draft among NFC West teams. They also had the most draft capital to work with, selecting twice in the first round. The Seattle Seahawks had no first-rounder that year thanks to the Deion Branch trade, so expectations were lower.

Arizona Cardinals

Total picks: five

Still with team (4): Brown (59), Steve Breaston (26), Ben Patrick (20), Alan Branch (3)

No longer with team (1): Buster Davis (0)

Comment: The Cardinals had fewer total selections than any team in the division. Hitting on Breaston in the fifth round was outstanding, but the Cardinals haven't gotten enough from their top three selections that year. Branch never panned out as a second-rounder. Davis, the third-rounder, didn't make it out of camp. Whisenhunt takes pride in making roster decisions with less regard for draft status. He wasn't going to give Davis or anyone a free pass. That's admirable, but in the bigger picture, Arizona still came up short in this draft.

San Francisco 49ers

Total picks: nine

Still with team (5): Willis (63), Joe Staley (50), Ray McDonald (9), Dashon Goldson (34), Tarell Brown (5)

No longer with team (4): Jason Hill (2), Jay Moore (0), Joe Cohen (0), Thomas Clayton (0)

Comment: Former general manager Scot McCloughan gets credit for selling former coach Mike Singletary on Willis as an elite prospect. That seems odd given Singletary's background as a Hall of Fame linebacker, but the 49ers got the right guy, so the "how" part matters less. That one selection makes this draft the best in the division for 2007. Staley is the starting left tackle. McDonald has been a solid rotation player. Goldson became a starter. All in all, this was a strong draft.

Seattle Seahawks

Total picks: eight

Still with team (2): Brandon Mebane (53), Will Herring (7)

No longer with team (6): Josh Wilson (24), Steve Vallos (8), Mansfield Wrotto (5), Courtney Taylor (4), Jordan Kent (1), Baraka Atkins (0)

Comment: Not having a first-round selection severely hurt this class' overall potential. Wilson seemed like a solid selection in the second round given the playmaking value he offered, but multiple changes in organizational leadership left him on the outside in terms of fit. Mebane was a solid choice in the third round. Vallos and Wrotto remain in the league elsewhere.

St. Louis Rams

Total picks: eight

Still with team (1): Clifton Ryan (27)

No longer with team (7): Adam Carriker (25), Brian Leonard (7), Jonathan Wade (6), Dustin Fry (0), Ken Shackleford (0), Keith Jackson (0), Derek Stanley (0)

Comment: This draft was a disaster for the Rams and made worse by massive organizational changes. On the bright side, the Rams might not have been in position to select Sam Bradford first overall in 2010 without selecting so many non-contributors in 2007.

Now, on to the charts. The first one takes a round-by-round look at the number of starts each team has gotten from its 2007 selections. I have used dashes instead of zeroes to show when teams did not have a selection in a specific round.

The second chart divides the number of starts by the values of the selections each team held, using the draft-value chart.

For example, the value chart said the Seahawks' picks that year were worth 669.2 points, far less than the picks for other NFC West teams were worth. Using this measure, Seattle got more bang for its buck if we valued all starts equally (and we should not value them all equally, but we can still use this as a general guide).

Some of the choices were compensatory and could not be traded, so the chart would not have valued them for trading purposes. I assigned values to them for this exercise, however, because we were not considering the picks for trading purposes.

Definitive look at NFC West turnover

September, 8, 2010
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.

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

On the radar: Surprise injuries

June, 24, 2010
» NFC On the Radar: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

A sore hip bothered Kurt Warner at Arizona Cardinals camp last summer. It wasn't a big deal.

[+] EnlargePatrick WIllis
Brett Davis/US PresswirePatrick Willis has already practiced after his offseason knee surgery and will seemingly be ready for training camp.
Two summers ago, the Seattle Seahawks downplayed Matt Hasselbeck's bad back because they didn't know the full extent of the problem. That one turned out to be more serious than expected.

Having the right feel for each injury situation can be tough. I'm sure a surprise injury or two will become a story after NFC West teams report for training camps in late July.

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis (knee), St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (back), Arizona Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (knee) and Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu (pectoral) are among the high-profile NFC West players coming off surgery rehabs. Their situations will bear monitoring.

The following players ended last season on injured reserve (some are no longer with NFC West teams):

Arizona Cardinals

Matt Ware, Mike Gandy, Justin Green, Cody Brown

San Francisco 49ers

Tony Pashos, Ricky Schmitt, Thomas Clayton, Jeff Ulbrich, Walt Harris, Kentwan Balmer, Curtis Taylor

Seattle Seahawks

Tyler Roehl, Walter Jones, Kevin Houser, Brandon Frye, Tatupu, Mike Hass

St. Louis Rams

Marc Bulger, Adam Carriker, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Eric Bassey, C.J. Ah You, Brooks Foster, Gary Gibson, Jacob Bell, Daniel Fells, Chris Massey, Bradley Fletcher, Laurent Robinson, Keenan Burton
Bad teams tend to change coaches and overhaul their rosters.

It should come as little surprise, then, to see the Seattle Seahawks retain a league-low 66.1 percent of their players from last season. It should likewise make sense to see the NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings retain a league-high 94.4 percent over the same period.

But when the two-time defending NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals rank right behind Seattle and the Detroit Lions with a 70.2 percent retention rate, third-lowest in the league, we gain context for the magnitude of change in the desert. Anquan Boldin, Kurt Warner, Antrel Rolle, Karlos Dansby, Bryant McFadden, Mike Gandy, Chike Okeafor and Bertrand Berry combined to start 107 games for the Cardinals last season. All are gone.

Not that change is always bad, even for good teams.

The Indianapolis Colts (73.0 percent retained) and Philadelphia Eagles (74.6 percent) made quite a few changes this offseason. The Colts annually field one of the NFL's youngest teams while funneling massive amounts of cash toward their star players. The Eagles sought to get younger.

Rosters throughout the league will change significantly again as teams comply with 53-man limits in September.

The chart shows how many Week 17 starters, backups and players from injured reserve remain with their 2009 teams. The retention rate divides those totals by the sum of 53 plus all players who were on IR lists in Week 17. The starter totals can be somewhat misleading for teams that rested key players before the playoffs, but the retention rates apply equally. Every team had 53 players on its roster in Week 17.

In double-checking totals, I noticed that teams have parted with 107 of the 294 players listed on IR in Week 17. That works out to 63.6 percent retention for players who were on IR, compared to 82.1 percent retention for players who were on 53-man rosters. The total retention rate -- 79.4 percent -- reflects both sets of players.

The chart breaks down totals based on rosters I have updated through moves made Thursday. I also accounted for the Denver Broncos' reported release of quarterback Tom Brandstater, who was with the team in Week 17. I'm counting unsigned franchise players (Aubrayo Franklin) and unsigned restricted free agents as still being with their 2009 teams, based on the fact that their teams hold rights to them.

Update: I adjusted the San Diego Chargers' total and the Tampa Bay Bucs' total after accounting for trades involving Tim Dobbins and Byron Leftwich, respectively. San Diego dropped two spots. Tampa Bay dropped one spot. The overall retention rate fell slightly.

NFC West thoughts

San Francisco (.833): The 49ers like their team and they have been proactive in re-signing younger players. Continuity has been a top priority and that shows in the totals. The 49ers' retention rate fell because the team has not brought back five of the seven players it listed on IR in Week 17 (Thomas Clayton, Walt Harris, Tony Pashos, Ricky Schmitt and Jeff Ulbrich).

St. Louis (.773): It's a little surprising, on the surface, to see the rebuilding Rams rank second only to the 49ers in retention rate within the division. The Rams made massive overhauls last offseason, however, so there were fewer moves to make in recent months. Only the Lions and Baltimore Ravens brought back more players from IR, a total that could grow if Oshiomogho Atogwe re-signs. How well some of those players recover and hold up will be important for the Rams.

Arizona (.702): The turnover in Arizona has been documented thoroughly. Only Seattle has fewer players back from Week 17.

Seattle (.661): New coach plus new general manager plus a mandate for change leaves the Seahawks with only 39 players on their roster from Week 17 (counting those listed on IR). Every other team in the league has more. The league average is 49.4 players back.

Bad teams aren't the only ones churning their rosters during the offseason.

The defending NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals have parted with 15 of the 53 players on their Week 17 roster from last season. Only the rebuilding Seahawks have parted with more -- 16 -- among division teams this offseason. The Rams have parted with 11. The 49ers, seeking continuity as they try to build on an 8-8 season, have parted with only three.

The first chart shows how many Week 17 starters and backups have returned to each NFC West team.

The second chart shows how many Week 17 starters and backups have left each NFC West team.

I'll first list the players by team.

Seattle (16): receiver Nate Burleson, quarterback Seneca Wallace, linebacker Lance Laury, defensive end Cory Redding, guard Trevor Canfield, quarterback Mike Teel, tackle Damion McIntosh, linebacker D.D. Lewis, snapper Jeff Robinson, fullback Justin Griffith, cornerback Ken Lucas, safety Deon Grant, defensive end Darryl Tapp, guard Rob Sims, tight end John Owens and defensive end Patrick Kerney.

Arizona (15): linebacker Pago Togafau, safety Antrel Rolle, receiver Jerheme Urban, receiver Sean Morey, kicker Neil Rackers, linebacker Bertrand Berry, fullback Dan Kreider, cornerback Ralph Brown, quarterback Brian St. Pierre, defensive end Jason Banks, receiver Anquan Boldin, linebacker Karlos Dansby, quarterback Kurt Warner, cornerback Bryant McFadden and linebacker Chike Okeafor. Note that Rolle did not start in Week 17.

St. Louis (11): defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey, cornerback Jonathan Wade, receiver Ruvell Martin, quarterback Mike Reilly, defensive end Leonard Little, safety Clinton Hart, snapper Ryan Neill, running back Samkon Gado, linebacker Paris Lenon, tackle Alex Barron and tight end Randy McMichael.

San Francisco (5): receiver Arnaz Battle, cornerback Marcus Hudson, quarterback Shaun Hill, safety Mark Roman and cornerback Dre Bly.

The third chart shows what happened to players who were on injured reserve in Week 17.

I'll first list by team the players who were on IR but are no longer with their teams.

San Francisco (5): tackle Tony Pashos, punter Ricky Schmitt, linebacker Jeff Ulbrich, cornerback Walt Harris and running back Thomas Clayton.

Seattle (4): running back Tyler Roehl, tackle Walter Jones, snapper Kevin Houser and tackle Brandon Frye.

St. Louis (3): quarterback Marc Bulger, defensive tackle Adam Carriker and safety Eric Bassey.

Arizona (2): tackle Mike Gandy and fullback Justin Green.

Sizing up injuries in the NFC West

November, 20, 2009

Posted by's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Marc Bulger has suffered more sacks since 2003 than any NFL quarterback. The Jets sacked him three times in seven dropbacks during the exhibition opener, thanks largely to problems in blitz pickup. The problems running backs had in protection could be addressed through the type of game planning that takes place during the regular season, in my view.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Kenneth Darby worked mostly with the third team after a rough outing in the Rams' exhibition opener. Coats: "RB Samkon Gado, who had a big game vs. the Jets, took some snaps with the No. 1 offense. Antonio Pittman, who also had a nice outing Friday, and Gado shared second-team reps. Darby, who struggled in the preseason opener, spent most of his time with the third unit."

Brian Stull of 101ESPN in St. Louis provides a Rams-related injury update, with audio. Stull: "Jacob Bell was still a little fuzzy from his concussion and underwent the testing to compare to his initial baseline results. In his absence, Mark Setterstrom moved to left guard. Tim Mattran took Setterstrom's reps at center with the 2s while John Greco handled the snaps with the 3s."

The 49ers' Web site provides a transcript from Mike Singletary's conference call with reporters Sunday. On rookie linebacker Scott McKillop: "I see a young guy that's trying to have the game slow down for him. He continues to work on his technique and all of the little things that he needs to do in order to make this football team and make a contribution in his first year. He's trying to make calls. So, right now, the game is big for him, not too big, but it's big, and for him, he's trying to get it to slow down a bit so that he can get his eyes in the right place and get the correct reads. I think right now that's the biggest thing for him."

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle says the Broncos weren't a very good measuring stick for the 49ers in the exhibition opener.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the Eagles were thought to be among the teams with interest in Thomas Clayton before the running back suffered a season-ending injury Friday night.

Also from Maiocco: Score the 49ers' exhibition opener for Shaun Hill. Maiocco: "Even into the first week of training camp, I had my questions whether Hill could fit Jimmy Raye's offense. It is essential that the quarterback be able to get the ball down the field to keep defenses from stacking the box against the 49ers' power-running game. Hill is showing more and more every day that he can do that."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals running back Beanie Wells was back at practice Sunday, but coaches held him out of team drills. Wells wanted to do more in his first practice back from an ankle injury. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "I think Beanie is going to be begging to get some reps off here in the near future. So be careful what you wish for, right?"

Also from Somers: Receiver Early Doucet could return from a shoulder injury this week.

Darren Urban of says Steve Breaston's right knee has some swelling. The bone bruise is more problematic than the posterior-cruciate ligament sprain. The Cardinals have not ruled out Breaston for their next exhibition game, however.

Greg Johns of had this to say about the Seahawks' exhibition opener: "I wasn't impressed by young Deon Butler on kick returns as he didn't look comfortable yet and Brandon Coutu's kickoffs weren't as long as he'll need to be to beat out Olindo Mare, though he continues to be very accurate on medium-range field goals."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times looks at the Seahawks' numbers at defensive end, where Nick Reed is making a push for a roster spot.

John Morgan of Field Gulls offers five observations from Seattle's opener. He also noticed fullback Owen Schmitt's cut blocking in the run game.

Also from Morgan: Brandon Mebane's speed set up Cory Redding for a sack on the Seattle defense's first play of the game.

Posted by's Mike Sando

The 49ers waived running back Thomas Clayton following his knee injury Friday night. Waived/injured was the formal designation, the team announced, which means Clayton will likely land on injured reserve once he clears waivers. Clayton has a torn ACL, the team said.

Also, fullback Zak Keasey is expected to miss eight weeks after suffering a broken forearm. The team has signed fullback Bill Rentmeester. I do not have a scouting report on Rentmeester. Do you? Update: He was with the Chargers. Big special-teams contributor in college at Wisconsin.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune saw good things from Seahawks offensive lineman Max Unger against the Chargers. Boling: "First-round pick Aaron Curry, who missed eight days of training camp while holding out, showed that he's not entirely up to speed with his responsibilities when he got lost in coverage on a crossing route in the first period. Second-round pick Max Unger had a much more impressive outing. At right guard in the first half, Unger looked solid enough for a first appearance in both run and pass situations. He seemed to know where to go and was able to get the job done once he got there."

John Morgan of Field Gulls singles out winners and losers from the Seahawks' exhibition opener. That would be Nick Reed among the winners.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune offers notes and observations from the Seahawks' first exhibition game. Williams: "The pass defense is still in a work in progress. The Seahawks finished last in the league in pass defense last season, and gave up a league-leading 59 plays of 20-yards or more. That disturbing trend continued on Saturday, with the Seahawks giving up four plays of 20-yards or more through the air. Cornerback Kevin Hobbs was twice victimized, and Kelly Jennings also was beat deep, although he did manage an interception."

Clare Farnsworth of says Matt Hasselbeck's scramble against the Chargers suggests the quarterback has moved past a back injury.

Doug Farrar of sees significant changes to the Seahawks' offensive and defensive schemes under new coach Jim Mora.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times profiles Curry, exploring the linebacker's sensitive side.

Chris Sullivan of Seahawk Addicts offers first-half notes from the Seahawks' opener. Cole: "The defensive line, especially the first unit, has looked quite good. I was most impressed by Colin Cole, who I did not expect a whole lot from him."

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers coach Mike Singletary singled out right tackle Adam Snyder for playing well against the Broncos. Singletary also liked what he saw from rookie running back Glen Coffee. Singletary: "I'm really excited about what I saw of him. He's really a tough guy. I thought he did a decent job in pass protection. Glen is going to be a good addition to our team."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Singletary lauded Shaun Hill's game management. Singletary: "He's great at managing the game. You know he can manage a game, but he can also throw the ball downfield. ... How consistent, and on what basis? That's something we still have to look at, but we pretty much know what's there." 

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers running back Thomas Clayton suffered "major" ligament damage in his knee against the Broncos. Singletary withheld a formal announcement pending MRI results.

Also from Maiocco: The following players "showed nothing" against the Broncos: "Manny Lawson, Marques Harris, Kentwan Balmer, Isaac Sopoaga, Aubrayo Franklin, Demetric Evans, Pannel Egboh, Ricky Jean-Francois."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says results from Steve Breaston's MRI remained a mystery. Also from Somers: "QB Brian St. Pierre didn't play well, obviously, but he didn't have much help, as coach Ken Whisenhunt noted. Oliver Ross moved from right tackle to left because of the injury to Elliot Vallejo. Ross was beaten a time or two. There appeared to be some miscommunication in protection on other occasions."

Darren Urban of offers notes from the Cardinals-Steelers game. Urban: "You've got to love the potential as a return guy of Michael Ray Garvin, but it just seems like he's a long shot given his limited abilities beyond the return game (unless he can become a gunner on punt coverage). He seems like more of a practice-squad candidate, although if he sparkles the rest of the preseason, maybe he'll sneak in. We'll see if Antrel Rolle keeps getting a try as a punt returner; he just doesn't look as comfortable as I would have thought."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Samkon Gado's stock with the Rams is rising after his 77-yard touchdown run against the Jets. Thomas: "[Steven] Jackson took note of the fact Gado's big run came after spending most of the first half playing fullback in place of Mike Karney, who dressed but didn't play because of an ankle injury."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch updates Rams injuries. Coats: "Quarterback Brock Berlin and guard Jacob Bell will be day-to-day this week after being knocked out of the game with injuries. Spagnuolo reported that Berlin suffered a sprained knee and Bell a mild concussion. Also, MRI exams were scheduled for wide receivers Tim Carter (groin) and Brooks Foster (ankle). Defensive end Adam Carriker (ankle) will be out again this week."

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo pointed to pass protection as one of the areas needing improvement. 

Turf Show Times' CoachConnors sees room for improvement from Rams cornerback Justin King.

Posted by's Mike Sando

The 49ers have lost fullback Zak Keasey to a broken arm Friday night. Running back Thomas Clayton appeared to suffer a serious knee injury.

Losing Keasey could affect depth. Clayton was fighting longer odds in earning a roster spot, particularly after the team drafted Glen Coffee in the third round. Drafting Coffee even while Frank Gore was in his prime gave the 49ers quality depth at running back.

The 49ers kept only four running backs on their 53-man roster in Week 1 of the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Keasey's injury probably makes them less likely to open this season with five. Gore, Coffee, Michael Robinson and Moran Norris project as the likely four.

Robinson has the versatility to help at fullback if needed. The 49ers also like their one-back, two-tight end personnel group. The team should be OK as long as Norris, 31, stays healthy.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals feel as though they are taking steps toward improvement on defense. Strong safety Adrian Wilson: "I thought we played well. We can take a lot of positives from this game defensively. I think we executed what we wanted to execute, which was not to give up big plays, not to give up big running plays and try to keep everything in front of us and get off on third down." 

Matt Levin of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals receiver Steve Breaston will undergo an MRI exam on a stiff knee. Coach Ken Whisenhunt did not sound concerned.

Darren Urban of says the Cardinals expect rookie running back Beanie Wells to return from an ankle injury in time to play in the next exhibition game. Also, Whisenhunt was generally pleased with the Cardinals' performance against the Steelers.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers coach Mike Singletary didn't see much from the quarterbacks Friday night. He also called the pass rush non-existent. On the injury front: "Fullback Zak Keasey sustained a fractured right forearm. Running back Thomas Clayton sustained a right knee injury and was carted off the field in obvious pain."

Also from Maiocco: running commentary from the first half of the 49ers' game against Denver.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says injuries to the 49ers' running backs could mean more playing time for scoring machine Brit Miller.

Also from Barrows: some in-game notes.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers quarterbacks Alex Smith and Shaun Hill looked OK -- particularly compared to Kyle Orton.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News quotes 49ers president Jed York as saying the team will eventually sign first-round choice Michael Crabtree. Not that York was going to say the team likely never would sign Crabtree.

Also from Brown: Dre Bly was quite pleased to pick off a pass against his old team.

Andrew Davidson of Niners Nation provides a 49ers game overview. Was that Brit Miller or Leonard Weaver out there?

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams were generally pleased by their performance against the Jets -- and ecstatic for rookie quarterback Keith Null. Marc Bulger even retrieved the ball Null threw for his first NFL touchdown pass. Bulger: "I said, 'Who cares if it's preseason? It's still your first touchdown pass in the NFL. It was a great throw. That pass looked like it was (thrown) by a 10-year vet." Sounds like a little camaraderie.

Also from Thomas: Samkon Gado and Antonio Pittman were far better than Kenneth Darby. All three are battling to be the second-team running back.

More from Thomas: positives and negatives from the Rams. Rookies Brooks Foster, Sean Walker and Null made big plays.

Turf Show Times' VanRam saw improvement from the Rams' linebackers.

Greg Johns of says the Seahawks will let backup quarterback Seneca Wallace get some snaps behind the starting offensive line. 

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times sizes up the competition for one or two spots at receiver on the Seahawks' roster. I would think the team would find a spot for Ben Obomanu.

Also from O'Neil: The Seahawks are unapologetic about adopting cut-blocking techniques even though defensive linemen despise them.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune explains how the Seahawks identify the strong side, thereby determining where Aaron Curry lines up.

John Morgan of Field Gulls sizes up the Seahawks' offensive line heading into the team's exhibition opener at San Diego. Morgan: "The other matter is seeing the team's progress zone blocking. Everyone matters, but I will pay special attention to Rob Sims, because he never looked good pulling in Mike Holmgren's system, and Ray Willis, because he has potential to be an elite run-blocking right tackle. Overall, the line must move and slide and block as a unit."

Also from Morgan: a look at attempts to project Matt Hasselbeck's production in 2009.