NFC West: Tim Carter

Assessing Rams' situation at receiver

November, 16, 2009
11/16/09
6:17
PM ET
The Rams placed starting receiver Keenan Burton on injured reserve Monday, ending his season. The position has been hit incredibly hard by injuries this season, recalling what Seattle went through in 2008.

The Rams were already rebuilding at the position after releasing Torry Holt as part of a youth movement and salary-cap adjustment. General manager Billy Devaney made a solid move in acquiring Laurent Robinson from the Falcons before the season. Robinson was the Rams' best receiver through the first two games, but a season-ending injury landed him on injured reserve. Starter Donnie Avery has hit stride recently after battling injuries most of the season. Brandon Gibson, a rookie acquired from Philadelphia in the Will Witherspoon trade, made strong contributions Sunday.

Burton had shown significant improvement in recent weeks. He ranks second to Avery in receptions among St. Louis' wide receivers. Running back Steven Jackson leads the team overall.

The Rams have had nine receivers on their 53-man roster this season: Gibson, Avery, Burton, Robinson, Danny Amendola, Ruvell Martin, Tim Carter, Nate Jones and Derek Stanley. Fifth-round choice Brooks Foster landed on injured reserve before the season. Ronald Curry was with the team in camp.

Avery, Gibson, Amendola and Martin remain. Sean Walker is on the practice squad. Chris Davis, Skyler Green, David Tyree, Larry Beavers, Courtney Taylor, Logan Payne and Jordan Kent have had tryouts with the team over the last two months.

Keeping Avery healthy is critical. Gibson will continue getting significant reps after catching seven passes for 93 yards against the Saints in Week 10.

Around the NFC West: Hasselbeck's health

November, 13, 2009
11/13/09
9:50
AM ET


Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Matt Hasselbeck is feeling better than he has felt in five weeks.

Also from Williams: "The Seahawks have to go back into the team’s collective memory banks to 2004 to find a win against a playoff team on the road, a Dec. 12 victory against Minnesota, and that came against an 8-8 Vikings team. Seattle would have to rewind even farther back -- to 2002 -- for a road win over a playoff team with a winning record. That came against a 9-6-1 Atlanta team, with Seattle earning a 30-24 overtime win against the Falcons in December of that year."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Marcus Trufant and Patrick Kerney are healthy heading into this game against the Cardinals. Said Larry Fitzgerald: "I love Marcus, man. I got a chance to really forge a great relationship with him a couple years back at the Pro Bowl. I relish the opportunity to go against a player of his caliber. He makes me a lot better player. This week is extremely stressful, getting prepared for him, and I know what he’s capable of .Just two years ago, he had what, three interceptions, one for atouchdown return? He’s a phenomenal talent. I know I’m going to have my hands full whenever I see him." Not that anyone stresses about matching up against Fitzgerald.

Also from Farnsworth: Josh Wilson is the Seahawks' man of the year. By all accounts, Wilson has matured significantly since his precocious rookie season.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks really do face a must-win situation in Week 10. O'Neil: "The next eight games will loom large in the evaluation of three of the very most important components of this franchise: coach, quarterback and architect, Seahawks president Tim Ruskell. The playoffs aren't going to be the only measuring stick used in the evaluation of those positions moving forward."

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says the Seahawks rank 30th in rushing and are on pace for the worst rushing season in franchise history. Johns: "Only two Seahawks teams have ever averaged less than the current 3.5 yards per carry average, with the worst being a 3.3 figure in the 1984 season when star tailback Curt Warner blew out in his knee in the opening game and Chuck Knox wound up rotating Franco Harris, David Hughes, Eric Lane and Dan Doornink."

John Morgan of Field Gulls thinks a receiver screen could help Seattle against the Cardinals.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Sean Morey after the Cardinals receiver failed to report concussion symptoms a week ago. Morey: "I don't think it was a mistake (to play). My flu symptoms complicated the situation, and I felt if I could go out and play with better technique . . . limit the helmet-to-helmet contact, then I'd be able to play through it. Maybe it was just wishful thinking. Maybe it's a little bit of foolish pride on my part."

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Seahawks' Aaron Curry and the Cardinals' Beanie Wells are among several NFL rookies making impacts in 2009.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com wonders if the Cardinals' 27-3 victory at Seattle will have a carryover effect into the rematch. Ken Whisenhunt: "I don’t think the first game has anything to do with this game. They are a different team now. They are healthier. They are playing well. We are playing pretty good football. It will be a good matchup."

Also from Urban: Will the Cardinals finall have to shake up their offensive line? Urban: "Deuce Lutui, left guard Reggie Wells, center Lyle Sendlein, right tackle Levi Brown and left tackle Mike Gandy make up the five who never fail to show. They also make up a line coming off arguably their best game of the season, after the Cards scored 41 points, rushed for 182 yards and had five touchdown passes. The streak is also in jeopardy, with Gandy having sat out the first two days of practice with a pelvic injury. If Gandy cannot play, veteran Jeremy Bridges would be put in at left tackle. Bridges can play anywhere but center, having started at right guard and right tackle in Carolina last season and having come into the NFL as a left tackle."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' receivers have struggled with dropped passes. Check out the comment someone left at the bottom of this entry: "What a suprise. Everyone said we had the worst receiving corps in the league and it looks like that is the case. I really thought Tim Carter and Ronald Curry were going to be able to carry this team. Too bad they are terrible. And too bad donnie avery is made of glass. But hey, we got Danny Amendola as our #1 WR." Zing!

Also from Thomas: The Rams have not exceeded 20 points in a game this season. The Saints are averaging nearly twice that many. Marc Bulger: "Drew (Brees) and his whole crew, they score so many points, and their offense is rolling so well, that we're going to have to keep up with them. I think it's one of those games where we know we're going to have to score more points."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams received a 24-hour blackout extension.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says fans in the Rams' market were upset when the local Fox affiliate cut away from Warner's masterpiece performance against the Bears in Week 9.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee isn't giving the 49ers much credit for their 10-6 victory over the Bears. Barrows: "The story of the game was not the 49ers but Jay Cutler, who threw five interceptions, some of them pretty terrible. The bottom line, however, is that the 49ers have snapped their losing streak and their playoff dreams are still alive. Here's some other food for thought: One of the theories as to why both teams played so poorly on offense is that they only had one real day -- Tuesday -- of practice in such a short week. If that's true than the converse also has to be true: The 49ers should be more fresh and more prepared for their Nov. 22 game against Green Bay."

Also from Barrows: "Relief" was what 49ers coach Mike Singletary felt after this one.

More from Barrows: The Bears tried to rough up Vernon Davis.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers knew they would get opportunities to intercept passes against Jay Cutler.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says Singletary was calm following the 49ers' victory.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers knew Cutler would be looking for Greg Olsen on the final play.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says the 49ers will be back at work Friday.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Rams quarterback Marc Bulger misses injured receiver Laurent Robinson, particularly as a go-to option on third down.

The charts, produced by Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information, break down Bulger's passer ratings by receiver and situation. The first chart isolates first and second downs, where Keenan Burton is evolving into a more reliable target. Burton played well against the Lions in particular.
Marc Bulger's passer rating differential by receiver on first and second downs
Receiver Times targeted Passer Rating Rating to other receivers
Differential
Billy Bajema
1 118.8 74.7 +44.1
Keenan Burton
17 100.9 71.4 +29.4
Danny Amendola
9
95.4 73.3 +22.1
Laurent Robinson
13
91.2 73.8 +17.4
Donnie Avery
21
85.6 73.6 +12.0
Mike Karney
3
75.7 75.8 -0.1
Randy McMichael
18
75.5 75.8 -0.3
Steven Jackson
16
74.2 76.0 -1.8
Kenneth Darby
2
58.3 76.1 -17.7
Daniel Fells
6
57.6 76.7 -19.1
Tim Carter
2 56.3 76.1 -19.8
Brandon Gibson
1
39.6 76.4 -36.8

The second chart isolates third down. Bulger's rating when throwing to Robinson was 110.7 in those situations, compared to 55.3 for other receiving options.
Marc Bulger's passer rating differential by receiver on third down
Receiver Times targeted Passer Rating Rating to other receivers
Differential
Billy Bajema
1 118.8 62.4 +56.4
Laurent Robinson
7 110.7 55.3 +55.4
Mike Karney
1 87.5 63.3 +24.2
Danny Amendola
5 80.4 62.4 +18.1
Randy McMichael
6 78.5 62.2 +16.3
Keenan Burton
7 67.6 63.6 +3.9
Donnie Avery
7 67.0 63.7 +3.3
Daniel Fells
3 42.4 65.7 -23.4
Kenneth Darby
1 39.6 65.4 -25.9
Tim Carter
3 39.6 68.1 -28.5
Steven Jackson
9 26.5 73.9 -47.5

Bulger played well against Detriot, in my view. It was only Detroit, of course, but these are only the Rams. Bulger was the least of their problems in that game.

Programming note: I'm about to board a plane for Chicago. Will check back here late tonight.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sits down with Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo for an interview during the bye week. Spagnuolo keeps an inflatable bed in his office and stays overnight regularly. Spagnuolo: "Usually Monday and Tuesday. Every once in a while Wednesday, but I try not to do that because I like seeing my wife. I try every week to get home on Monday. Tuesday's a given that I'm sleeping here."

Also from Thomas: Steven Jackson has no issues with former Rams coach Scott Linehan.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at highs and lows for the Rams through Week 8. He lists the following players as disappointments: Tim Carter (since released), Marc Bulger, Randy McMichael, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Ron Bartell, Donnie Avery and Chris Long. On the positive side, Danny Amendola has been a surprise.

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the locals have finally come to appreciate Jackson. That's what happens when a player excels, plays hard and says the right things in public. Jackson: "I think (the public) has had a chance to get to know me and I have had a chance to get to know them. Some of the things I may say now might not take them aback as much as it would have in the past. I'm growing up too."

Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis takes a position-by-position look at the Rams' offense. On the offensive line: "Perhaps the deepest area of this Rams team -- as evidenced by the team not missing a beat with both Jacob Bell and Richie Incognito out of the lineup against Detroit. Adam Goldberg, Mark Setterstrom, and John Greco are all more than capable of stepping in to more than one position and not allowing a drop off in performance. Jason Brown has lived up to the expectation of his free agent signing, both in his play and leadership. The fifteen first downs the Rams have run up the middle leads the team and is ninth best in the NFL."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals have additional options at tight end now that Steven Spach is healthier. Somers: "Spach was rusty in practice this week, coach Ken Whisenhunt said, but improved Thursday and is healthy enough to be activated for Sunday's game against the Bears. Whisenhunt said he hasn't decided which tight ends will play against the Bears."

Also from Somers: Weather forecasts for Chicago could play in the Cardinals' favor.

More from Somers: Anquan Boldin continues to miss practice.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the team is happy with fourth receiver Jerheme Urban. Whisenhunt: "It is hard when you’re not getting a tremendous amount of reps or when you have the other receivers we have on this team. It is easy to look at Jerheme after that weird play when it bounced up in the air and there was the interception. But he has done some good things for us. He brings us speed as far as stretching the field. I am pleased with the way Jerheme has worked for us."

Also from Urban: Darnell Dockett professes to having a different outlook this season.

Pete McElroy of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals' run defense is looking for redeption against Chicago.

Revenge of the Birds' andrew602 breaks down the Cardinals and Bears heading into their game Sunday.

Tom Kowalski of mlive.com says Lions linebacker Julian Peterson has been looking forward to his Week 9 date with his former teammates in Seattle.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com quotes quarterback Matt Hasselbeck as saying he came back from injury ahead of schedule, delaying a full recovery.

Also from Farnsworth: David Hawthorne is making a strong impression at linebacker for Seattle. Lofa Tatupu: "Dave has taken that next step, and I think the only thing left for him is just experience. I’m not happy he’s getting it, because that means I’m on the shelf. But I’m very proud of the linebacker he has become. He's made the transition from just being a big hitter to being a linebacker."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times wonders what's in Hawthorne's future with the Seahawks.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks expect Marcus Trufant to start against the Lions. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley: "He’s had a good week this week, and that’s what we thought. We’d give him 30 or 40 reps last week, give him a feel for the game. And the big thing is not his ability, it’s his wind. And being out there for seven, eight plays in a row and being able to perform at a high level."

Also from Williams: Hasselbeck took notice when the Seahawks made several roster moves early in the week. Hasselbeck: "Those of us who have been around, you know roster moves are going to happen after you start like we started. He (coach Jim Mora) had said it plain out, that we were going to make some changes, we’re going to do some evaluating, and they did it. His words weren’t hollow. They definitely did it. They backed it up." None of the moves was significant, however.

More from Williams: Peterson's former teammates will be happy to see him.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye does not envision making a transition to more of a spread offense. Raye: "We can mix that, which we have done and intend to do. But as a steady diet of that ... right now, I don't delight in that prospect. Going forward, if it manifests itself into something that will help us, we will gravitate toward that. But as of now, the answer to that question would be, no."

Also from Barrows: Mike Singletary has reached a critical point in his first full season as the 49ers' head coach.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat checks in with 49ers rookie Ricky Jean-Francois.

Also from Maiocco: Raye offers one reason the 49ers' passing attack remains in transition. Raye: "It's difficult because we're still, in certain things, trying to get No.15 (Michael Crabtree) to line up in the right place. There are more elements to it than just the physical body of the people we have. So there are a lot of things that go into that before we can say, ‘We're going to switch gears and go in another direction.' "

Rams, Cardinals make roster moves

November, 3, 2009
11/03/09
2:51
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams have cut receiver Tim Carter again even though Danny Amendola suffered a concussion against the Lions.

Carter has struggled. The Rams expect recently acquired receiver Brandon Gibson to give them more. Carter was a stopgap signing.

Cornerback Danny Gorrer, signed from the Saints' practice squad, fills Carter's spot on the Rams' 53-man roster. He is an undrafted rookie.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, placed practice-squad defensive tackle Keilen Dykes on injured reserve. They signed former Vikings defensive tackle Antoine Holmes to fill Dykes' spot on the practice squad.

NFC West: Injury situations that matter

October, 28, 2009
10/28/09
7:32
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Arizona: The Cardinals' secondary is hurting and that's the No. 1 concern for Arizona heading into the next couple weeks. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie practiced on his sprained ankle Wednesday, a good sign, and he told reporters the ankle was at about 85 percent strength. Safety Antrel Rolle rested a foot injury Wednesday. Strong safety Adrian Wilson has recovered from the cramps that prevented him from finishing the Cardinals' game against the Giants. Receiver Anquan Boldin practiced some Wednesday despite his ankle injury. He was clearly hobbling during the Giants game, but he still managed to get open for a couple of key receptions. Getting Boldin healthier for the long term should be a priority.

San Francisco: The 49ers are dangerously thin at right tackle after Marvel Smith retired and Tony Pashos landed on injured reserve. Adam Snyder and Barry Sims are the options Sunday. Either one will have a very difficult time against Colts defensive end Robert Mathis. Whichever player starts at right tackle will have additional problems given how poorly the situation at right guard has evolved. On defense, strong safety Michael Lewis is expected to return after suffering three concussions since August. Lewis is best as an in-the-box run defender. In-the-box run defenders aren't going to faze the Colts' Peyton Manning. Any team foolish enough to load the box against Manning deserves to suffer the consequences. Takeo Spikes' shoulder injury could affect his availability. Spikes' experience could be useful against Manning. Without Spikes, rookie Scott McKillop would find himself in Manning's sights.

St. Louis: The season-ending injury receiver Laurent Robinson suffered early in the season continues to haunt the Rams. Perhaps Brandon Gibson's availability against the Lions on Sunday will protect the Rams from what Tim Carter offered in Week 7. With or without Gibson, the Rams miss Robinson in a big way. Right guard Richie Incognito's foot injury has led the team to move Adam Goldberg from right tackle into Incognito's spot. The fallout -- more playing time for first-round rookie Jason Smith at right tackle -- seems like a net positive for the Rams. On defense, the Rams miss starting right end James Hall. Hall was limited Wednesday. The team's already shaky pass rush is weaker for his absence. The Rams' pass defense will likely suffer without promising young cornerback Bradley Fletcher, who was lost for the season. The special teams also face challenges as the Rams break in a new snapper, a potential concern in the kicking game as Josh Brown adjusts.

Seattle: Placing left tackle Walter Jones on injured reserve actually helps the Seahawks by clearing a roster spot. Lately, the team had been carrying Jones on its roster seemingly more out of respect for him than any real hope that his knee would suddenly improve. The fact that starting right tackle Sean Locklear probably will not play against the Cowboys carries more immediate ramifications. Locklear was the No. 2 left tackle. Without him and without No. 3 left tackle Brandon Frye, who is already on injured reserve, the Seahawks will ask aging free-agent addition Damion McIntosh to help protect quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. The last time the Seahawks visited Dallas, Jones allowed two sacks while essentially playing on one leg. Seattle might conceivably be better off with Jones in that state than without him and without Locklear. On defense, the Seahawks will miss Lofa Tatupu's leadership. Patrick Kerney's groin injury is another potential concern. Getting cornerback Marcus Trufant and linebacker Leroy Hill back should help.

Around the NFC West: Rams make it 17

October, 26, 2009
10/26/09
9:54
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams cannot fix what ails them simply by beating the Lions in Week 8. Burwell: "This is not about short-term pleasure. It has to be about climbing all the way back up the pro football summit, where the Rams used to dwell and these powerful Colts seem to be holding permanent residence. Who cares how close the Rams are to bad teams like Jacksonville or Washington, or even ordinary ones like Seattle and San Francisco. Who cares if at the end of this season all they have to show for their efforts is one measly victory against a miserable team like Detroit or Tennessee."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders why in the world the Rams left Tim Carter active instead of the newly acquired Brandon Gibson. Not that it mattered to the outcome, of course, but I'd also like to hear the explanation for that one. Wasn't Gibson the guy who was going to help right away? Miklasz: "Can anyone explain to me why WR Tim Carter is on this team? What does he bring you? What’s the point? OK, he played for the NY Giants. I get it. Spags likes the Giants. But Carter can’t catch the ball. He can’t get open. He’s got a history of injuries. Other than that, he’s Paul Warfield. I don’t care if the new acquisition, Brandon Gibson, had only two practices this week after coming over in the trade with Philadelphia. Give him a uniform and put him on the field. Go with the talent. If the Rams think Gibson is a player, then get him going, and deactivate or release Carter. Ridiculous."

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com sees hope for the Rams. The Lions are next, after all.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams hung with the Colts as best they could for three quarters. Coach Steve Spagnuolo on what happened next: "That's not us. We haven't seen that before. We've got to get back to what we're doing, which is just battling and playing hard."

Also from Thomas: Steven Jackson couldn't get past the Rams' 0-7 record when answering questions Sunday.

Rod Kloeckner of the Bellevue News-Democrat says the Rams' Marc Bulger suffered through a difficult day against the Colts.

Steve Korte of the Bellevue News-Democrat says Rams long-snapper Chris Massey suffered what was believed to be a torn anterior-cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Also from Korte: After facing Peyton Manning, the Rams draw Drew Brees and Kurt Warner in their next two home games.

Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis offers postgame Rams notes, including this one: "With the exception of the flea-flicker play early in the game, there was no passing attack from the Rams. After that play, Bulger completed only 13 more passes for 90 yards. Lots of reasons for this -- some of the newer receivers cut the wrong direction, some passes were dropped, others were hurried. And after Indy built a comfortable lead there wasn't much open down the field--which led to some of Steven Jackson's big runs but ate up the clock."

Around the NFC West: Crabtree as starter

October, 20, 2009
10/20/09
9:42
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat quotes 49ers coach Mike Singletary as saying there is a "strong possibility" rookie Michael Crabtree will start for the 49ers in Week 7. So much for bringing him along slowly. If Crabtree is indeed ready for that role, the 49ers selected the right man with the 10th overall choice, regardless of the contract dispute. If they rush him into the lineup and Crabtree struggles or suffers an injury, they should have known better. This decision might show how eager the 49ers are to upgrade their talent in the passing game, particularly with games against the high-scoring Texans and Colts ahead. Josh Morgan: "I'm helping him learn my position and take my position. It is what it is. If he can help us win, I'm all right with that. They gave him my spot. So if he's going to be in there, I might as well help him out so I can make sure he gets it right."

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News is a bit surprised the 49ers would start Crabtree so quickly. Kawakami: "This sounds very fast, but also very 49ers: They need instant oomph in their offense, and Crabtree clearly has been impressive in the practices and workouts during the bye week. And Mike Singletary and Scot McCloughan are not people who like to keep their best, fastest talent sitting on the sidelines while the team struggles."

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says Jeff Ulbrich's career could be finished after the 49ers placed him on injured reserve with a concussion.

Rod Mar of seahawks.com fills his photo blog with high-resolution shots from the Cardinals-Seahawks game.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks are waiting to find out whether Lofa Tatupu might be able to play again this season. The team expects to have a more definitive diagnosis in the next few days. O'Neil: "Tatupu's prognosis is uncertain, and even in a best-case scenario Tatupu suffered a partial tear and likely will miss some time, meaning second-year player David Hawthorne must get ready to start. The next step in Tatupu's diagnosis was to have images taken of his right pectoral muscle for a comparison to see just how severe the tear is on the left pectoral."

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are bracing for a tougher test when they visit the Giants in Week 7. Arizona has a 6-22 record in road games against the Giants since 1976. The Cardinals are 2-0 on the road this season, a bit of a surprise. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "It's exciting, but I don't want to get too caught up in it, because it's only the fifth game of the season. The thing I'm excited about is we're improving. We've improved over our game last week. We played a good half of football against Houston, and this week we played a good game against Seattle. Now the challenge for us is to sustain that."

Also from McManaman: The Cardinals will not know until later in the week whether Anquan Boldin's ankle injury will prevent him from playing against the Giants.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are being left behind in a season when teams are passing with tremendous success. Miklasz: "Sunday in Jacksonville, after Donnie Avery limped off with yet another injury, the Rams were left with (Marc) Bulger throwing the ball to only three healthy wide receivers: Keenan Burton, Tim Carter and Danny Amendola. Burton has his moments but isn't a speed guy; in 19 NFL games he has only four receptions of 25-plus yards. Carter and Amendola weren't on an active NFL roster as the 2009 season began. Burton, Carter and Amendola entered 2009 with a combined 93 career catches, and no more than 26 in a season. If you want to include Avery, then you can put his 72 career catches into the equation. But Avery -- easily the fastest and most dangerous wideout here -- can't stay healthy."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo is defending his game management against the Jaguars. Thomas outlined Spagnuolo's late-game rules this way: "Do not attempt to run a play from scrimmage if there are fewer than 8 seconds remaining in a game, when a field goal can tie the game. Do not attempt to try a field goal with no timeouts left unless you have at least 22 seconds to get that unit on the field and set up for the kick."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says an MRI exam showed no fracture in Avery's injured hip.

Jeff Gordon of the stltoday.com blames the Rams' front office for the team's situation at receiver. It's a fair criticism as long as one acknowledges how many holes the team needed to fill during the offseason. The decision to release Torry Holt made sense from a salary-cap standpoint, particularly given that Holt had asked for his release. The decisions the Rams made early in the draft -- selecting James Laurinaitis in the second round, specifically -- made more sense than taking a chance on a wideout.

Roster shuffling in the NFC West

October, 12, 2009
10/12/09
7:07
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


NFC West personnel people were busy Monday. Here's what they were up to:

Arizona: The Cardinals released defensive tackle Keilen Dykes. They asked for and received a roster exemption for tight end Ben Patrick. The exemption expires Oct. 19. I would expect the Cardinals to activate Patrick for their Week 6 game at Seattle. They'll want to check out his conditioning level to be sure. NFL rules banned Patrick from team-related activities during his four-game suspension.

San Francisco: The 49ers released return specialist Allen Rossum and submitted a waiver claim for Seahawks defensive tackle Michael Bennett. The NFL awarded Bennett to the Bucs, who had waiver priority based on an inferior record. The 49ers activated receiver Michael Crabtree to make sure the team had 53 players on its roster. Failing to keep 53 players on the roster would have forced the team to release Dominique Zeigler from its practice squad.

St. Louis: The Rams planned to re-sign receiver Tim Carter after placing defensive tackle Gary Gibson on injured reserve. Carter and former Seahawks receiver Jordan Kent had tryouts Monday. The Rams signed linebacker K.C. Asiodu and defensive tackle Chris Bradwell to their practice squad. To make room, they released defensive tackle Adrian Gandy and cornerback Lamar Myles.

Seattle: The Seahawks lost Bennett to the Bucs. The team did not immediately make a roster move.

Bulger expected to start for Rams

October, 12, 2009
10/12/09
4:36
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

A few Rams-related notes coming out of Week 5:
  • The team expects Marc Bulger to start at quarterback against the Jaguars in Week 6 after Kyle Boller struggled and suffered a concussion against the Vikings. The Jaguars' pass defense struggled against the Cardinals and Seahawks. Is there an outside chance the Rams get a victory this week?
  • Veteran receiver Tim Carter is returning to the Rams after the team placed defensive tackle Gary Gibson on injured reserve. Carter provides needed depth and experience at the position. His speed impressed the Rams during minicamps, but Carter did not show enough during the exhibition season to earn a spot.
  • Defensive end Chris Long will undergo a chest scan to identify the source of discomfort there. The Rams have been carrying extra players on the defensive line, where coach Steve Spagnuolo likes to rotate players.

Thanks to Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com for passing along the updates from St. Louis.

Catching up with the Rams' cut list

September, 10, 2009
9/10/09
11:25
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Rams Player Released on Cutdown Pos. Current Team Capacity
Phil Trautwein
OL Browns Active Roster
Brock Berlin
QB Lions Practice Squad
Roy Schuening
OL Raiders Practice Squad
K.C. Asiodu
LB Rams Practice Squad
Eric Butler
TE Rams Practice Squad
Dominic Douglas
LB Rams Practice Squad
Chris Ogbonnaya
RB Rams Practice Squad
Sean Walker
WR Rams Practice Squad
Antwon Burton
DL -- --
Ian Campbell
DL -- --
Renardo Foster
OL -- --
Jerome Johnson
RB -- --
Tim Mattran
OL -- --
Cord Parks
DB -- --
Antonio Pittman
RB -- --
Mark Rubin
DB -- --
Tim Carter
WR -- --
Ronald Curry
WR -- --
Todd Johnson
DB -- --

The Rams' depth on the offensive line might be better than anticipated for a team with a 5-27 record over the past two seasons.

The team is carrying 10 offensive linemen, one more than typical, while John Greco recovers from wrist surgery.

An 11th, Phil Trautwein, landed on the Browns' active roster when Cleveland claimed him off waivers. A 12th, Roy Schuening, signed with the Raiders' practice squad. Another, tackle Renardo Foster, would seem to be a candidate for catching on somewhere eventually.

I've gone through the initial NFC West cut lists -- those players released at the 53-man deadline -- to see which ones have returned to their teams or caught on elsewhere.

The chart shows results for St. Louis.

Quarterback Brock Berlin signed to the Lions' practice squad after the Rams released him. Defensive lineman Ian Campbell briefly spent time on the Rams' practice squad before the team released him.

A few veterans -- running back Antonio Pittman, receiver Tim Carter, receiver Ronald Curry and special-teamer Todd Johnson -- remain available.

Rams: Cutdown analysis

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
3:49
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Biggest surprise: The Rams cut former special-teams captain Todd Johnson, a safety, and they also flushed out two veteran receivers they hoped would contribute, Ronald Curry and Tim Carter. Keeping rookie quarterback Keith Null over the more experienced Brock Berlin made sense because the Rams' top two quarterbacks, Marc Bulger and Kyle Boller, have lots of seasoning. The biggest roster surprise came when the team traded 2006 first-round cornerback Tye Hill to the Falcons. Free-agent addition Quincy Butler stuck on the 53-man roster after a strong training camp and preseason. He looked better than Hill, frankly, and the Rams' new leadership wasn't afraid to part with symbols of past failures. Placing defensive tackle Adam Carriker on injured reserve cleared another spot.

No-brainers: The Rams also released linebacker K.C. Asiodu, defensive tackle Antwon Burton, tight end Eric Butler, defensive end Ian Campbell, linebacker Dominic Douglas, tackle Renardo Foster, fullback Jerome Johnson, center Tim Mattran, running back Chris Ogbonnaya, cornerback Cord Parks, running back Antonio Pittman, safety Mark Rubin, guard Roy Schuening, tackle Phil Trautwein and receiver Sean Walker.

What's next: The Rams still need to make one move by the 6 p.m. ET deadline for complying with the 53-man limit. With only four running backs on the roster, counting fullback Mike Karney, the team probably needs to seek help at the position. Backup Samkon Gado suffered injured ribs in the final exhibition game. The Rams lack quality depth and they are starting over. As a result, the team could pursue players released from other teams.

Update: The Rams placed defensive lineman Eric Moore on injured reserve to comply with the 53-man limit.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Among the things I'll want to see when the Rams conclude their exhibition season Thursday night against the Chiefs:
  • Prominent holdovers. Parting with recent first-round cornerback Tye Hill had to put other disappointing high draft choices on notice. After pushing out aging vets a few months ago, the Rams have targeted young underachievers, including Brian Leonard, Joe Klopfenstein and Hill. If the Rams valued Hill only as much as they valued a 2010 seventh-round choice, how much do they value, say, Adam Carriker?
  • Backup receivers. The final exhibition game often helps shake out the final one or two spots at receiver. That appears true for the Rams. They sounded high on veteran Tim Carter earlier in the offseason. They acquired Ronald Curry from the Lions. Neither seems to have made a strong impression. Where do they stand?
  • Special teams. The Rams had some problems defending returns in their previous exhibition game. Punter Donnie Jones can help solve that with better punts. Still, lapses in coverage could raise red flags.
  • Jason Smith. The No. 2 overall draft choice gets another chance to prove he belongs in the starting lineup for Week 1. He could play extensively at right tackle.
NFL Network is replaying this game Friday at 7 a.m. ET.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Thoughts and observations from the Rams' exhibition game against the Bengals on Thursday night:
  • Defense capitalizes. The Rams appeared much more active and alert defensively than they did last week. Rookie James Laurinaitis pounced on an unforced fumble early in the game. Chris Long or Jonathan Wade probably would have recovered if Laurinaitis had not. Later, Laurinaitis made Bengals guard Nate Livings whiff badly as the rookie swarmed toward running back Cedric Benson. Ball-hawking safety Oshiomogho Atogwe forced a fumble, setting up James Butler's touchdown return. Butler later missed badly in run support, letting Benson get into the secondary. James Hall pressured effectively up the middle. Victor Adeyanju and C.J. Ah You seemed to play well.
  • Asterisk duly noted. Former 49ers starter J.T. O'Sullivan was in the lineup at quarterback for the Bengals. Carson Palmer did not play.
  • Mixed reviews at receiver. Laurent Robinson continued to show he can be effective on quick slants, a staple of the West Coast offense. Robinson also had a rough start. He dropped the ball on third down to kill the Rams' first drive. His illegal block also negated a first-down conversion on a running play. Keenan Burton worked underneath to catch a short pass. The Rams used a dink-and-dunk approach to the passing game. There weren't many chances to make plays downfield.
  • Horrible special teams. The Bengals' return specialists found far too much room to run, gaining 104 yards on four punt returns. The Rams even had trouble executing an extra point, with Richie Incognito committing a false-start penalty on one of them. That was one of four special-teams penalties against the Rams. Josh Brown, a very good long-range kicker, missed from 50 and 51 yards. Quincy Butler fumbled after fielding a punt.
  • Butler steps up on 'D'. The cornerback continues to make a push for a roster spot. He made a tackle for loss in the flat, then picked off a Jordan Palmer pass on the next play. Butler turned his head early in the route while covering Chris Henry, allowing him to play the ball. Butler was one of the lesser-known players who stood out when I visited Rams training camp. He did fumble after fielding a punt, but that was the least of the Rams' worries on special teams.
  • Jason Brown sighting. Watching free-agent addition Jason Brown isn't particularly exciting. He's not a nimble, active center making plays in the run game 10 or 15 yards downfield. What Brown does seem to do is prevent immediate trouble up the middle. That is my initial impression of him and that is an improvement for the Rams.
  • Jason Smith update. The rookie tackle played both sides for the Rams. I didn't notice him as much this week and that's probably a good thing. Smith did not seem to miss badly on blocks. He plays to the whistle, seeks out defenders late in plays and helps up teammates. He remains a work in progress, but he clearly wants it.

I've watched the first three-plus quarters of this game. The Rams finally did throw deep, with Brock Berlin looking unsuccessfully for Tim Carter along the left sideline. Smith tied up his man and didn't let him get to the quarterback.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo updated injuries Saturday, less than 24 hours after the team's exhibition game against the Falcons:

  • Receiver Donnie Avery remains sidelined by his foot injury, as expected.
  • Guard Jacob Bell (concussion) will do some running early in the week. Bell's symptoms have not cleared. The team will test him against neurological baselines once remaining symptoms clear.
  • Quarterback Marc Bulger remains sidelined by his broken pinky finger, as expected.
  • Receiver Tim Carter (groin) will do some running this coming week. His status for the next game is questionable.
  • Rookie receiver Brooks Foster underwent knee surgery Friday and will miss 6-8 weeks.
  • Tackle Phil Trautwein is day-to-day after suffering a back injury against the Falcons.
  • Tackle Alex Barron is day-to-day while dealing with knee swelling.
  • Defensive tackle Adam Carriker (ankle) probably will miss the next game.
  • Running back Kenneth Darby should not miss much time, if any, after injuring his knee against the Falcons.
  • Defensive end James Hall did not suffer significant damage to his sternum, an X-ray showed, but he'll be in pain.
Brock Berlin and Darell Scott played through knee injuries and seemed to come out OK, Spagnuolo said.

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