NFC West: Trent Shelton

Seattle brings back popular Forsett

October, 9, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Seahawks have brought back running back Justin Forsett to their practice squad, but the addition of quarterback Travis Lulay carries larger implications for Seattle.

Lulay, who spent time in camp with the Seahawks previously, gives Seattle another arm in practice while starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and backup Seneca Wallace recover from injuries. We still do not know if Hasselbeck or Wallace will be able to play against the Packers in Week 6. Charlie Frye is taking the first-team snaps in practice. Lulay allows Seattle to field a scout-team offense.

Forsett, meanwhile, joins the practice squad after spending three games on the Colts' 53-man roster. Forsett enjoyed a mostly strong exhibition season for Seattle. The team drew criticism for keeping two kickers at the expense of Forsett, but logic said Forsett might become available once again -- Indianapolis was the only team to submit a waiver claim for him.

Lulay went to camp with Seattle in 2006. The Seahawks released running back Matt Lawrence and receiver Trent Shelton from their practice squad, making room for Forsett and Lulay.

Practice-squad update: Seahawks

August, 31, 2008
Seahawks eligible for
practice squad
Pos.Current Status
Owen SchmittFB53-man roster
Kevin HobbsCB53-man roster
Red BryantDT53-man roster
Lawrence JacksonDE53-man roster
Steve VallosC53-man roster
Ray WillisOL53-man roster
Mansfield WrottoOL53-man roster
Courtney TaylorWR53-man roster
John CarlsonTE53-man roster
David HawthorneLB53-man roster
Jordan KentWR53-man roster
Brandon CoutuK53-man roster
Logan PayneWR53-man roster
Justin ForsettRB53-man roster
Joe NewtonTEPractice squad
Jamar AdamsDBPractice squad
Kyle WilliamsOLPractice squad
Michael BumpusWRPractice squad
Marquis FloydDBPractice squad
Pat MurrayOLPractice squad
Kevin BrownDLPractice squad
David KirtmanFBPractice squad/SD
Nu'u TafisiDTWaived
Dallas SartzLBWaived
Ben ClaxtonCWaived
Trent SheltonWRWaived
Dalton BellQBWaived
Kelin JohnsonSWaived
Reggie HodgesPWaived
Nick JonesOLWaived

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Seahawks filled all but one of their practice-squad spots today, but fullback David Kirtman wasn't part of the group. Kirtman, a fifth-round choice from USC in 2006, signed with the Chargers' practice squad.

Seattle's backfield is crowded. The team carried six running backs on the initial 53-man roster. None of the seven practice-squad players was a running back.

Rookie seventh-round choices Justin Forsett and Brandon Coutu earned spots on the 53-man roster, but one could become a viable candidate for the practice squad if the team decided it couldn't afford to carry six running backs or two kickers.

The chart shows every Seahawks player with practice-squad eligibility. Safety Jamar Adams and receiver Michael Bumpus probably came closest to earning spots on the 53-man roster.

In the end, the Seahawks couldn't justify keeping a ninth defensive back. Kyle Williams, a tackle from USC, also showed promise working with new line coaches Mike Solari and Mike DeBord.

Unusual circumstances have left the Seahawks' roster in flux. Receivers Deion Branch and Bobby Engram remain sidelined, but both are counting against the roster limit. Jordan Babineaux and Rocky Bernard are healthy, but neither counts against the limit while serving a one-game suspension to open the season.

Practice-squad report: Seahawks

August, 29, 2008
Seahawks eligible for
practice squad
Pos.Probable Status
Owen SchmittFBKeeper
Kevin HobbsCBKeeper
Red BryantDTKeeper
Lawrence JacksonDEKeeper
Steve VallosCKeeper
Ray WillisOLKeeper
Mansfield WrottoOLKeeper
Courtney TaylorWRKeeper
John CarlsonTEKeeper
Jamar AdamsDBBubble
David HawthorneLBBubble
Kyle WilliamsOLBubble
Michael BumpusWRBubble
Jordan KentWRBubble
Brandon CoutuKBubble
Reggie HodgesPBubble
Logan PayneWRBubble
Justin ForsettRBBubble
Trent SheltonWRLikely cut
Dalton BellQBLikely cut
Joe NewtonTELikely cut
David KirtmanFBLikely cut
Marquis FloydDBLikely cut
Kelin JohnsonSLikely cut
Kevin BrownDLLikely cut
Nu'u TafisiDTLikely cut
Dallas SartzLBLikely cut
Ben ClaxtonCLikely cut
Nick JonesOLLikely cut
Pat MurrayOLLikely cut

Posted by's Mike Sando

Rosters spots are serious business for NFL players lacking job security. For some, the next 30 hours or so will determine whether they'll earn $17,352.94 per week or whatever the real world pays.

The minimum NFL salary is $295,000. Players get paid in 17 installments, one for every week they spend as a paid member of the organization.

NFL teams must trim rosters from 75 players to 53 players by Saturday afternoon. Teams can establish eight-man practice squads beginning Sunday. Practice-squad players earn a minimum of $5,200 per week during the regular season and playoffs.

Once a player signs with a practice squad, he can practice with the team. He becomes eligible to play in games only if a team signs him to its 53-man roster. Practice-squad players are free to sign with any team's active roster at any time during the season.

The chart shows each of the Seahawks' players with practice-squad eligibility, according to the team (I'll hit all the teams in the division as the day continues).

I was surprised to see Ray Willis' name on Seattle's list, but practice-squad rules can be confusing, and exceptions sometimes apply to relatively experienced players. In this case, Willis is a lock to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.

To be clear: Players need nine games on the 45-man (active) roster to burn their practice-squad eligibility, even if they have multiple accrued seasons, as Willis does.

I've categorized each player based on his perceived likelihood of earning a spot on the 53-man roster. Those are rough characterizations. Teams still have not made decisions. It's conceivable that a player listed as a "keeper" could face his release.

Mailbag: Seahawks, 49ers dominate

August, 16, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

John from Tucson, Ariz., writes: Mike, why cant the 49ers just admit they don't have a vaild starter at quarterback and look elsewhere? It's embarrassing as a fan to watch them kick field goals for their only points every game. Any possibility they can steal Kurt Warner from the Cardinals?

Mike Sando: I can't imagine the Cardinals dealing Warner within the division. Warner provides a terrific fallback option for the Cardinals if Matt Leinart falters. As for admitting they don't have a valid starter, the 49ers have done that by their actions. If they thought they had a legit starter, they would have named him by now.

Adam from Boston writes: Hey Mike. Whats the situation with Nate Burleson's contract? I know it was designed as a poison pill to exact revenge on Minnesota, and it seemed widely understood that it would have to be renegotiated in the future because it was so back loaded. Could this become an issue for the Hawks next year's off season?

Mike Sando: You are right about the nature of Burleson's contract, but the Seahawks reworked it in March 2007. Burleson's cap numbers are right around $4 million for 2008, 2009 and 2010. The 2010 season voids.

(Read full post)

Hawks need Branch to perform early

August, 11, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

Seahawks receiver Deion Branch has been ahead of schedule in recovering from reconstructive knee surgery this offseason. The team has become increasingly hopeful that Branch might be back in time for the regular-season opener. Getting him back soon has become additionally important now that Bobby Engram could miss the first two or three games of the regular season.

The Seahawks have never kept more than seven receivers on their opening day roster since Mike Holmgren arrived as head coach, and probably much longer. Carrying an idled Engram becomes less painful if Branch is healthy. But if Engram is out and Branch is hurting, the Seahawks will need to develop some of their young receivers on the fly.

Ben Obomanu appears ready to help in games. Logan Payne could fall into the same category if his rib injury allows. Jordan Kent has come on strong lately. Courtney Taylor still has a chance to show. The talent is there. Even Michael Bumpus, Trent Shelton and Joel Filani had their moments in the exhibition opener. None of them comes close to Engram in terms of overall value to quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the offense, but Seattle could be OK if one or more emerges over the short term.

We might also expect tight end John Carlson to get a few more chances in the passing game. Hasselbeck seems to be building a rapport with him.

I'll revisit and the "wide receivers" section of our Seahawks roster analysis below.

Wide receivers (11)
Average number kept since 2003: 5.2
Locks: Deion Branch, Bobby Engram, Nate Burleson
Looking safe
: Logan Payne, Courtney Taylor, Ben Obomanu
On the bubble: Jordan Kent
Also: Joel Filani, Michael Bumpus, Trent Shelton, Bryan Gilmore
What we said then: Seattle might be wise to keep six while Branch works his way back from knee surgery. Obomanu is gaining momentum.
What we say now: Might be time to wrap Burleson in bubblewrap as a precaution.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee checks in with "Ted" and "Mike" in assessing how Takeo Spikes will fit into the defense. He checks in with two Mikes, actually, and one of them -- 49ers coach Mike Nolan -- provides a telling quote about freshly released linebacker Brandon Moore. What happened to the player who led the 49ers in tackles two seasons ago? Nolan: "I think the biggest thing is we've gotten better since then from a personnel standpoint. Obviously, (having) Patrick Willis inside - that exposes the guys next to you a lot."

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers signed Spikes after making sure the linebacker's shoulder checked out. Spikes had been unable to pass a physical examination when he visited 49ers headquarters earlier in the offseason.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers defensive end/linebacker Justin Smith is excited about adding Spikes to the defense. Smith and Spikes played together in Cincinnati. Smith: "He's everything you want in a football player - smart, gifted, talented and a sure tackler. He's just a leader. He has that quality about him. He knows his stuff."

Also from Brown: Niners kicker Joe Nedney explains why kicking a 22-yard field goal during the exhibition opener was so important: "(The distance) doesn't matter. It's hearing the contact in front of me, feeling the contact in front of me and the adrenaline of being out there in a game. There is no other preparation for that."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat quotes Smith as saying Spikes will help give the 49ers one of the best inside linebacker situations in the league.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks were thrilled by Owen Schmitt's blocking in the exhibition opener. Schmitt had been looking like mostly a special-teams contributor in camp, but he showed much more in his first game situation. Farnsworth also has a note about Howard Green channeling Cortez Kennedy.

(Read full post)

Plenty of intrigue in receiver races

August, 9, 2008

Posted by's Mike Sando

WR on roster today10

Races are heating up at receiver as teams work through their exhibition schedules.

I'll put the NFC West races in perspective with a little help from the graphics department.

The chart shows how many receivers NFC West teams have kept on their opening-day rosters over each of the last five seasons. The bottom row shows how many receivers each team is carrying now.

Arizona: Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are the starters. Steve Breaston tightened his grip on the No. 3 job by catching three passes for 50 yards in the opener, including a 34-yard grab. Rookie third-round choice Early Doucet is resting a sore hamstring, but the Cardinals will save a roster spot for him. Jamaica Rector and Jerheme Urban each caught four passes against the Saints on Thursday night. Lance Long has enjoyed a strong camp. Sean Morey, the fourth receiver last season, is fighting for a spot. Also in camp: Ahmad Merritt and Jemalle Cornelius.

St. Louis: Torry Holt and Drew Bennett are the starters. Second-round choice Donnie Avery and fourth-rounder Keenan Burton will make the team. Veteran Dante Hall has value as a return specialist. Dane Looker always seems to find a way to stick around. Reche Caldwell and Derek Stanley could be in the mix for a sixth spot. Stanley has value as a returner. Marques Hagans, Brandon Williams, Shaine Smith and Matt Caddell have a chance to state their cases when the Rams open their exhibition schedule at Tennessee tonight. Avery has a hip injury and probably won't play.

(Read full post)