NFL Nation: Ashley Lelie

Posted by's Bill Williamson

A look at the Chiefs' 14-10 loss to visiting Seattle:

The Chiefs didn't say what Matt Cassel's injury was other than he has a leg injury. It's believed that Cassel has a knee injury that is not overly serious. He departed after being sacked on the third play of the game and he did not return. The Chiefs are expected to next address Cassel's situation Monday. The Chiefs start the season in 14 days at Baltimore.

Cassel was brought to Kansas City for stability at the position after the Chiefs saw two quarterbacks do down with injuries last season.

Cassel's injury Saturday night was another indication of how the team needs much better offensive line play. This unit is a liability, and Cassel, when he returns, is going to have to deal with playing under constant pressure.

The Chiefs have to find a way to protect the quarterback better or the injuries are going to pile up.

With Tyler Thigpen replacing Cassel, it makes you wonder if the team will still consider trading him if Cassel is going to miss any time.

Matt Gutierrez, who is competing with Thigpen to be the No. 3 quarterback, completed 10 of 13 passes. Brodie Croyle didn't play Saturday night because the Chiefs wanted to get Thigpen and Gutierrez more playing time, but Croyle still appears to be the choice as the No. 2 quarterback.

The Chiefs were terrible on third down, converting just 1 of 10 opportunities.

Top pick Tyson Jackson was terrific and showed his play-making ability.

Newly signed receiver Ashley Lelie showed a spark and he had 52 yards on four catches. Lelie has some ability and the Chiefs need receivers, so he may have a chance of making an impact.

In addition to Cassel, standout cornerback Brandon Flowers and receiver Devard Darling were injured. There injuries are not known.

Rookie kicker Ryan Succop has been good, but he missed a 27-yard field goal Saturday night.

  G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images
  Todd Haley, the new coach for Kansas City, has made his players feel his presence during the offseason and training camp.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

RIVER FALLS, Wis. --- The Kansas City Chiefs are tired.

And they should be.

Camp Haley has been no pleasure cruise.

The Chiefs, who break camp Thursday, have undergone a harsh transition from the cushy Herm Edwards days to the no-breaks, harsh methods of new coach Todd Haley. Mimicking new general manager Scott Pioli's humorless ways, Haley has not been easy on his troops.

Camp Confidential: AFC West
Raiders: Fri., July 31
Chargers: Tues., Aug. 4
Broncos: Wed., Aug. 12
Chiefs: Thurs., Aug. 20
Training camp index

It's all about making the Chiefs -- who have won a total of six games the past two years -- "hard to beat," Haley said.

"I think this camp had to be tough," Haley said Wednesday. "We need a mental toughness .... I've been on teams that have turned it around and each of those teams needed to get tougher."

In the offseason, Haley stressed conditioning and made his team lose weight. Then, he held a conditioning test before the start of camp. Several well-known players didn't pass, thus delaying their camp starting date. Camp practices in this idyllic Wisconsin college town have been long and hard-hitting.

Haley is often heard barking his displeasure at his team and often his media briefings smack of an unsatisfied coach.

Further getting everyone's attention, Haley broke down standout receiver Dwayne Bowe. The team's best receiver was made a third stringer. But the tough love has worked. Bowe has responded and it's been a lesson learned for the entire team.

Haley knows he has a lot of work to do with this team. The Chiefs are being reconstructed. Haley knows it's not going to be easy, but he's bent on making it work.

"I've seen good progress," Haley said. "This team is much tougher than it was a few months ago. But we have to keep on improving."

(Read full post)

Posted by's James Walker

The Baltimore Ravens have had an interesting week, to say the least.

On Monday, one of their most indispensable players -- receiver Derrick Mason -- caught the Ravens by surprise when he announced his retirement. But on Wednesday Baltimore had good news to report by locking up Pro Bowl defensive end/linebacker Terrell Suggs long term.

According to senior writer John Clayton, the deal is for six years and $63 million. Suggs had up until 4 p.m. Wednesday to remove the one-year franchise tender Baltimore previously placed on him this offseason.

It's been a roller-coaster two-year process negotiating with Suggs. Now that it's come to an end, expect the Ravens to immediately shift their focus to the wide receivers in an attempt to fill a huge void Mason left behind.

Here are some intriguing names left on the open market:


Marvin Harrison

Skinny: With 1,102 career receptions, the former Indianapolis Colts star is the best of what's available. The future Hall of Famer's possession skills are somewhat similar to Mason's, but age and health might be issues.

Matt Jones

Skinny: The former first-round pick will not face a suspension for his prior run-ins with the law in the past year, the NFL announced in May. But the Ravens are usually careful not to take many chances with character risks and Jones would qualify as one.


Plaxico Burress

Skinny: Burress is a legit No. 1 receiver who also has some character concerns, in addition to a looming trial and uncertain future in the NFL. If the league clears Burress to play at any point this season, there will be several teams jumping at the opportunity to sign him. Would the Ravens?

Amani Toomer

Skinny: A former teammate of Burress', Toomer is 34 and wouldn't be the answer for the Ravens if they're looking for an immediate No. 1 receiver. But Toomer caught 48 passes last season for 580 yards and might be able to add experience in a support role for a young group of receivers in Baltimore.


Ashley Lelie

Skinny: Despite prior flashes, Lelie never lived up to his potential. His best season was in 2004 when he caught 54 passes for 1,084 yards, averaging a whopping 20.1 yards per catch. Since then it's been all downhill. But Lelie, who played for the Oakland Raiders in 2008, still has the speed Baltimore covets.

Jerry Porter

Skinny: Porter was invited to Ravens minicamp in the spring and didn't show much. Eventually, he was beat out by Kelley Washington for a roster spot. Word around the league is that Porter's work ethic is no longer NFL caliber. But perhaps Porter is in better shape to help a team closer to training camp than he was in the spring.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

OAKLAND -- Raiders wide receiver Javon Walker will be inactivate for tonight's Broncos-Raiders game. Walker will miss playing against the team that cut him because of a hamstring injury he suffered Saturday. Raiders coach Lane Kiffin had said Walker would play. Johnnie Lee Higgins will replace him in the starting lineup and just-signed Ashley Lelie will likely play as well.

More on both team's inactive list shortly.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Nancy Gay of the San Francisco Chronicle explores Ashley Lelie's move from the 49ers to the Raiders. Barry Sims and Kwame Harris have also played for both franchises. "In the right situation and with the right coaching, Lelie could be a decent vertical option for a team," she writes. Lelie has speed, which can't be coached. The Raiders have long coveted speed at the position. Drew Carter's injury left them depleted at receiver.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Quinton Culberson is beating the odds once again. Culberson surprised when he earned a roster spot as an undrafted free agent in 2007. He finished last season strong and won a starting job this summer when injuries limited veteran Chris Draft. The Rams need Culberson to produce after Brandon Chillar left in free agency.

Darren Urban of perked up when former Cardinals linebacker Calvin Pace, now with the Jets, ragged on the talent in Arizona. Pace: "This is a far better situation than Arizona because we have talent here. I'm not saying they don't have talent there, but when I first got out there it was ridiculous. Here you got guys that are Pro Bowlers, guys that have played in the Super Bowl, guys that have been in the league nine, 10 years. You've got some good rookies. It's a good mix of people."

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks' unknown receivers relish being unknown receivers. Courtney Taylor, Jordan Kent and Logan Payne call themselves "The Mystery Group" -- not the most creative nickname, but an accurate one. Romero: "Kent led the team in receptions in exhibition play with 11. Payne overcame a rib injury from the public scrimmage a month ago and made eight catches while showing his worth on special teams. Taylor had just four catches in exhibition play, but has regular-season game experience and will likely start with veteran Nate Burleson."

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seahawks running back Julius Jones, who has found a laid-back atmosphere in Seattle after stints at Dallas and Notre Dame.

Also from Hughes: Olindo Mare's strategy for winning the kicking job in Seattle.

John Clayton looks at news from around the NFL.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic gives an overview of the Cardinals heading into the season. A line about Antrel Rolle stood out to me: "Rolle has moved from corner and looks like he'll be a solid player at the other [free] safety spot."

Also from Somers: The Cardinals' coordinators single out Tim Hightower, Clark Haggans and Travis LaBoy as players to watch this season.

More from Somers: Travis LaBoy starts over Bert Berry. Deuce Lutui starts over Elton Brown. Reggie Wells and Elton Brown are candidates to play center if something happens to Lyle Sendlein before Al Johnson returns from injury.

And this from Somers: optimism abounding in Tempe.

Darren Urban of checks in with Kurt Warner after the Cardinals named him their starting quarterback. On a related topic, Matt Leinart was unavailable to reporters.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune circles the Cardinals' Nov. 16 game at Seattle as one that could send Arizona on its way.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Craig Terrill and Josh Wilson will likely replace Rocky Bernard and Jordan Babineaux during the season opener. Bernard and Babineaux will be serving suspensions.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune expects Deion Branch back on the field for the Seahawks sooner rather than later. Otherwise, Branch might have landed on the physically unable to perform list.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch revisits the exhibition season to see what the Rams learned about themselves. Improved red-zone defense was evident.

Also from Thomas: No surprises among the Rams' roster cuts. That in itself is no surprise. Most cuts around the league could have been predicted five or six weeks ago.

And this from Thomas: Chris Long faces a difficult adjustment going from a 3-4 scheme in college to a 4-3 scheme in the NFL. Long: "The overwhelming thing is not the physicality of it. It's the technique. You have to work on that every day. I'm doing OK. I've just got to keep chipping away every day." 

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Nick Leckey will open the regular season as the Rams' starting center.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Ashley Lelie has the highest yards-per-catch average of any active NFL receiver. That didn't mean much in the training room.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle channels Frank Gore's sheer delight at the 49ers' offensive capabilities this season. The realist in me expects mixed results. I expect to see weeks when the offense flourishes, and others when little goes right.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider blames former 49ers center Jeremy Newberry, now with San Diego, for injuring current 49ers defensive lineman Aubrayo Franklin.

Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers provides Mike Nolan's reasoning for various cuts. He also notes that Jeff Ulbrich remains the starting "Ted" linebacker ahead of Takeo Spikes. The 49ers would like another receiver, but they viewed Ashley Lelie as a durability issue. I wonder if they'll feel so strongly after the opener, when teams can re-sign veterans without guaranteeing their salaries for the season.

Also from Maiocco: Gone are the days when the 49ers ran low on defensive backs. The team kept 11 on the initial cut to 53 -- 12 if you count return man Allen Rossum.

Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee tells a tragic story of a 49ers fan killed at Candlestick Park when a runaway police horse named "Seattle" ran over him. Eugene "Bud" Caldwell was 78 and had recently overcome a severe heart attack. Caldwell was a longtime 49ers season-ticket holder.

Posted by's Mike Sando

The 49ers have made their roster cuts in compliance with the 53-man cutdown, and Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers lists them here. Receiver Ashley Lelie and running back Thomas Clayton were among the cuts. I'll have an updated 25-category 49ers roster available shortly.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic takes a stab at the Cardinals' 53-man roster. He favors Sean Morey over Lance Long for the sixth receiving spot. He saves a spot for Pat Ross because the team is low on depth at center. He can't find a spot for Joe Tafoya. He makes room for Monty Beisel and Ali Highsmith.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says safety Eric Bassey might have earned a roster spot after forcing a fumble in the Rams' final exhibition game. I figured Bassey would make it anyway given depth issues in the secondary. Center Nick Leckey was the only projected opening-day starter to play for the Rams in this game.

Also from Thomas: Running back Steven Jackson can void the final two years of his new six-year deal by averaging 1,200 yards rushing and 400 yards receiving over the first four seasons.

And this from Thomas: The Rams' radio headsets did not work against the Chiefs. Coach Scott Linehan: "We are running plays like they do in high school."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' special teams struggled against the Chiefs. That can happen with so many backups playing. Kicker Josh Brown missed a 40-yard field-goal try. That would have been no big deal in the past, but money changes everything. Coats: "In a downpour, Brown pushed the ball wide right, a rare miss for the highest-paid kicker in NFL history."

Also from Coats: Marques Hagans caught four passes for 47 yards in a last-ditch effort to secure a roster spot at receiver.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer checks in with the Seahawks' bubble players. The situation at receiver continues to intrigue. Farnsworth expects Bobby Engram and Deion Branch to miss the regular-season opener.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune expects Justin Forsett to play extensively with the Seattle starters tonight. The rookie running back has been working with the first unit in practice this week. Forsett appears headed to the practice squad if the Seahawks cut him.

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times describes Seahawks receiver Ben Obomanu as confident despite weak preseason stats. Obomanu, who is on the bubble for a job at receiver, put it this way: "Catching passes in a preseason game doesn't always tell the story of whether you're doing a good job." Obomanu caught eight passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns in the 2007 exhibition season. Each of those figures led the team. He earned a roster spot but was not active for the regular-season opener.

Randy Covitz of the Kansas City Star covered Trent Green's return to Arrowhead Stadium, but there wasn't much to see. The Rams gave Green three snaps, then replaced him with Brock Berlin.

Dan Brown of 49ers Hot Read takes a closer look at the team's receivers. How bad were they last season? Well, three NFL players finished with more receiving yards than the 49ers as a team in 2007. Brown lists the current receivers in this order: Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson, Arnaz Battle, Josh Morgan, Ashley Lelie, Jason Hill, Dominique Zeigler, Cam Colvin, Jerard Rabb and Robert Ortiz. I might put them in this order: Bruce, Battle, Johnson, Morgan, Hill and Lelie. And I do think the 49ers want to keep six, a good number for the Mike Martz offense.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider projects five receivers hanging around on the 49ers' cutdown to 53 players. At other positions, he expects Moran Norris and Marcus Hudson to miss the cut.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee outlines positions of interest heading into the 49ers' final exhibition game: receiver, fullback, outside linebacker and defensive back. He thinks Roderick Green and Tully Banta-Cain will stick around.

Also from Barrows: an in-depth look at the 49ers' defensive linemen. He sticks up for rookie first-round choice Kentwan Balmer. I see his point. Balmer plays a low-profile position (defensive end in a 3-4 scheme). He's not going to gain much notice even if he's playing well. Ask Bryant Young. He became invisible when the 49ers went from 4-3 to 3-4, but that didn't mean he was playing poorly. The position simply specializes in grunt work.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says this is a brutal time of the year for players on the bubble. But as J.T. O'Sullivan has proved, persistence can pay off. NFL teams have waived O'Sullivan five times, Maiocco notes.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' starting offense might play only a series in the exhibition finale. FitzGerald's bubble players include: Norris, Thomas Clayton, Ashley Lelie, Roderick Green, Larry Grant, Marcus Hudson, Zeigler and Brian de la Puente.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the Rams' depth at receiver, noting that Marques Hagans, Brandon Williams, Derek Stanley and Reche Caldwell might not earn spots on the 53-man roster. Thomas sees veteran Dane Looker as the likely sixth receiver.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch assesses Adam Goldberg's value to the Rams as an offensive lineman with experience at all five spots. Goldberg has started at left tackle recently, giving Orlando Pace a rest. The photo accompanying this story doesn't inspire confidence, but coach Scott Linehan says Goldberg has played well this summer.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat checks in with backup Rams quarterback Trent Green, who will start the final exhibition game -- against the Chiefs, one of his former teams. Green needs the work after attempting only eight passes during the first three exhibition games.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News quotes Jerry Rice as "expecting [49ers rookie receiver Josh Morgan] to do some great things this year."

Also from Brown: Ashley Lelie's uncertain future heading toward the 53-man cutdown. Lelie has 21 career receptions of at least 40 yards. Can he be a deep threat in Mike Martz's offense?

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers haven't seen enough from their receivers to know how they'll react during the regular season. Injuries and even illness have kept players off the field. Morgan will miss the final exhibition game.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle describes 49ers guard Tony Wragge as an inspiration to players fighting for roster spots. The Cardinals cut him three times. Wragge played in the Arena League and even took a job at Home Depot before finally earning a spot with the 49ers.

Frank Hughes of Seahawks Insider expects Justin Forsett to get plenty of work in the final exhibition game. Forsett might need an impressive performance to earn a roster spot. The practice squad could be the most likely option.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with new Seahawks long snapper Jeff Robinson, who isn't very new at all. The way Boling breaks it down, Robinson could earn more than $5,000 per snap this season. Boling: "The fact that his wife is a physical therapist and dietician is a key to his readiness, he said. While she's busy running their business, a wellness center named '5focus' on South Lake Union, Robinson has been staying nimble by chasing down their 16-month-old daughter, Mae Louise. It should enhance his coverage skills."

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune saw Seahawks center Chris Spencer fall down twice while making routine blocks in his first practice back from injury. Spencer expects to make his preseason debut Friday night against Oakland.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks signed Robinson to snap after Tim Lindsey suffered a back injury against the Chargers on Monday night. Lindsey had replaced Tyler Schmitt, who also suffered a back injury.

Also from Farnsworth: highlights from practice, including two touchdown catches by John Carlson. The rookie tight end could have a big season.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune breaks down the Cardinals' position battles at receiver and linebacker. Sean Morey, Jamaica Rector and Lance Long could be fighting for the sixth receiving spot. Ali Highsmith, Brandon Moore, Matt Stewart and Monty Beisel could be fighting for two spots at linebacker.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals feel good about third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre, who learned the offense with Pittsburgh and has completed 76.7 percent of his passes during the exhibition season.

Also from Somers: Kurt Warner gets the start in the final exhibition game. Still no announcement on who starts the regular-season opener, but giving Warner time with the first-team offense puts him in a favorable position.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals haven't announced how they'll play their quarterbacks in the final exhibition game. The depth chart remains unchanged for now, with Matt Leinart starting ahead of Kurt Warner. Also, center Al Johnson will miss the regular-season opener, leaving Lyle Sendlein as the starter at San Francisco on Sept. 7.

Mitch Levy of KRJ radio in Seattle joins Hugh Millen in breaking down all things Seahawks, including Mike Tirico's on-air comments about Seattle-area media. Note: This links to audio.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee takes an in-depth look at the 49ers' offensive linemen. Rookie Cody Wallace has improved, but he doesn't fit the 49ers' established prototypes at the position. Fellow rookie Chilo Rachal looks like a future starter.

Also from Barrows: Alex Smith says he trusts coach Mike Nolan's explanation for comments made to's Peter King.

Also from Barrows: Bryant Johnson was back at practice today.

Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers predicts the 53-man roster for the 49ers. He sees evidence the 49ers want to keep Ashley Lelie as the sixth receiver, based on Lelie's speed. He thinks Mike Martz might want to move Delanie Walker from tight end to receiver. Maiocco also gives a roster spot for Keith Lewis at the expense of Marcus Hudson. And he thinks another team will claim Jay Moore off waivers.

Dan Brown of 49ers Hot Read joins Maiocco in spelling out King's interpretation of what Nolan told him about the 49ers' quarterbacks.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Mike Holmgren wasn't happy with a pass-interference call levied against Seattle cornerback Kevin Hobbs. I watched the play repeatedly and thought Hobbs played the ball well, except for when he reached his right hand around the right shoulder pad of the receiver. That was the only appearance of interference, but Holmgren wasn't buying: "Can I get fined in the preseason? Holy Toledo. I thought Kevin Hobbs made a great play on that long ball. I couldn't ask him to do it any better. I didn't agree with the call, and it's too bad because we needed that."

Also from Farnsworth: Lofa Tatupu says he'll be OK after suffering a knee injury. The three-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker is arguably the Seahawks' most important player on defense. Counting today, Tatupu has 13 days to get ready for the regular-season opener at Buffalo.

Michael Steffes of Seahawks Addicts found the play on which Tatupu suffered the knee injury against the Chargers. It happened at the 3:15 mark of the second quarter. Steffes: "My first thought was that it might be a bad high ankle sprain. However, Lofa actually plays the next play, but he struggles pushing off the knee and then walks off."

Frank Hughes of Seahawks Insider wonders how the Seahawks will proceed at quarterback for their final exhibition game. Starter Matt Hasselbeck (back), backup Seneca Wallace (groin) and third-stringer Charlie Frye (knee) all have injury concerns.

Also from Hughes: Patrick Kerney felt good in his first extended action of the exhibition season, while Leonard Weaver said he likes his new backfield pairing with Owen Schmitt.

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times says Holmgren was pleased with Frye's efforts against the Chargers. The better Frye plays, the more comfortable Holmgren feels using Wallace as a receiver or return specialist (although that probably changes if Hasselbeck's sore back remains an issue).

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee describes 49ers coach Mike Nolan as "on the fence" as to keeping five or six receivers. Ashley Lelie probably doesn't make the team unless the 49ers keep six.

Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers says the 49ers are getting players back from injuries, but receiver Bryant Johnson isn't one of them. It's fair to wonder if Johnson can recover from his hamstring injury in time to enter the regular season as a starter.

Darren Urban of describes Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart as upbeat for a guy who tossed three interceptions Saturday night, then heard about Chris Mortensen's report about Kurt Warner's expected ascension to the starting job.

Also from Urban: "Kurt Warner named Week 1 starter" flashed on the screen in the Cardinals' locker room as ESPN covered the quarterback situation. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "Contrary to everything [reported], nothing has changed. We have not made a decision. We have not named Kurt the starting quarterback."

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic quotes Leinart on news of Warner's expected ascendancy to the starting job. Leinart: "You can't afford to listen to that stuff because everybody's going to have their own opinion and that's basically what it is, an opinion."

Romando Dixson of the Asheville Citizen-Times says the locals are grateful after Rams defensive end Leonard Little paid for 116 youth football helmets. Said Little, who is from the area: "When I retire, I will do a lot more in the city. I have a busy schedule right now. Once I leave the game, I can make an impact in the community."

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle checks in with 49ers right tackle Jonas Jennings, who disputes his reputation as an injury-prone outcast lacking toughness.

Also from FitzGerald: The 49ers aren't sure on a starter at split end, and they continue to juggle starters on the offensive line. Tony Wragge worked at left guard, with rookie Chilo Rachal at right guard.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' offensive line drew praise for its performance against the Ravens on Saturday night.

Also from Coats: Brock Berlin is looking good as the likely No. 3 quarterback for the Rams.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch assesses injuries in the Rams' secondary. Safety Oshimogho Atogwe is back at practice after suffering a hamstring injury. Cornerback Fakhir Brown hasn't participated fully in a practice since suffering a shoulder injury July 25.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat checks in with Rams rookies Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton, talented receivers who made an impact against the Ravens. Nerves got the better of Avery early in the game, but he settled down and finished with five receptions for 65 yards. The Rams put together a 91-yard touchdown drive with both rookies in the game.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers answers questions about Alex Smith's present and future with the organization. Smith says he wouldn't mind playing in the same offense for a while.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Smith could learn from J.T. O'Sullivan's approach.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle sees receiver Ashley Lelie and fullback Moran Norris as "on the bubble" heading toward the 53-man roster reduction date. I would be surprised if either veteran made the cut.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says he, too, expects the Cardinals to name Kurt Warner as their starting quarterback. But no team sources are saying the decision has been made. As Somers notes, it's only a matter of when, not if, Warner gets the call.

Scott Bodrow of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals have no choice but to name  Warner their starting quarterback. 

Mike Kahn of quotes secondary coach Jim Mora on second-year cornerback Josh Wilson: "He's much more consistent as a football player in every phase of the game. This year Josh is much better out on the edge as a corner, his footwork is better and his technique out of his break is better. When we move him inside to the nickel position, he's very solid in there. He understands all the coverage now, the route concepts, and he knows where to fit on the run. This is how to become a complete player."

Brian McIntyre of previews the Seahawks-Chargers game tonight, singling out a few position battles to watch. He wonders how Seattle's young receivers will fare against a Chargers secondary stocked with high draft choices.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer looks at the Seahawks' young receivers through the eyes of Nate Burleson. Years ago, Burleson emerged somewhat unexpectedly in Minnesota.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will watch the team's game in San Diego tonight from Seattle. Charlie Frye gets another chance to get comfortable in the offense.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are pleased with Chris Long and fellow defensive lineman Adam Carriker. Carriker does a "great job" eating up blockers, freeing up linebackers to run sideline to sideline, coach Scott Linehan said.

Also from Coats: Rookie receivers Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton looked good Saturday night. Leonard Little remains on pace for a bounce-back season. The linebackers seem to be coming together. On the down side, cornerback Tye Hill suffered through a rough game.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams are pleased with their offensive line. Adam Goldberg started the most recent exhibition game at left tackle, allowing Orlando Pace to rest an apparently minor injury.

Also from Korte: a progress report on the Rams' Long, who has yet to turn effort into production.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders if Avery and Burton might become a formidable receiving tanden for the Rams. Both showed promise Saturday night.

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times sees the Seahawks carrying both kickers past the 75-man roster cutdown Tuesday. Neither Brandon Coutu nor Olindo Mare has won the job convincingly.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times sizes up Seahawks rookie running back Justin Forsett as tougher than his diminutive frame might indicate. Forsett has performed well during camp so far. A strong exhibition season could force the Seahawks to consider keeping him. At practice the other day, I asked Mike Holmgren about the numbers at running back. He said they usually go with a combined 11 players at running back and receiver (six of one, five of the other). Forsett would likely be the sixth running back if Seattle kept that many. Jordan Kent might be the sixth receiver if Seattle kept that many.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee explains why J.T. O'Sullivan appeals to 49ers coach Mike Nolan. The quarterback's businesslike demeanor and command of the offense set him apart from the other quarterbacks in camp. The team wants to see how that translates from the practice field to a live situation.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle compares the 49ers' quarterback auditions to American Idol, minus Paula Abdul. Former starter Alex Smith is the second quarterback. Smith: "It's weird. It's certainly different. Even today, not taking reps with the ones (the first team, in the last practice before a game) is something different."

Also from FitzGerald: Niners receiver Isaac Bruce might not play in the exhibition opener at Oakland Friday. The team wants Bruce rested for the regular season. Fellow receivers Bryant Johnson (hamstring) and Ashley Lelie (calf) are resting injuries. Keep an eye on rookie receiver Josh Morgan and second-year receiver Jason Hill.

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune describes Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart as even better than his impressive stat line. I'll have more on Leinart later this morning.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic singled out several Cardinals for praise following the team's exhibition opener against the Saints. Somers: "Quarterback Matt Leinart, in his third year, was sharp. Receiver Steve Breaston, in his second season, was dynamic. And a handful of rookies, including running back Tim Hightower, defensive end Calais Campbell and linebacker Ali Highsmith, turned in some big plays."

Also from Somers: Highs and lows from the Cardinals' performance. Rookie defensive end Kenny Iwebema had a sack. From what I saw, Iwebema appeared active.

Also from Somers, II: A notebook with items about the Cardinals' penalty problems and coach Ken Whisenhunt's belief that Arizona has better depth than the score might indicate. The Saints outscored the Cardinals by a 17-0 count in the second half. Arizona's depth is an issue.

Bob Young of the Arizona Republic channels comedian Jeff Foxworthy with a column entitled, "You might be a Redbird if ..." Sample material: "If the Bears are who you thought they were, you might be a Redbird." Be sure to check out the comments on this one. As reader Chocolatemilk countered: "If you're making reference to a comedy bit from 1992 in a 2008 sports story, you might be Bob Young." Not bad.

Darren Urban of singles out Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Steve Breaston and Jerheme Urban among those Cardinals to play well against New Orleans. On the flip side, free safety Antrel Rolle muffed a punt while getting work as a return specialist.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune points out the Cardinals' 0-5 record in exhibition games under Whisenhunt. But with Leinart's strong showing, the team doesn't have to worry about increased calls for backup Kurt Warner, who did not play against the Saints.

Eric Williams of Seahawks Insider breaks down some key matchups and opportunities for Seattle players entering the exhibition opener at Minnesota. He wonders if Kyle Williams' development might make it tough for injury-plagued offensive lineman Floyd Womack to earn a roster spot this summer. A fair question.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks have brought a fatter playbook to camp, giving the offense a better chance against a veteran defense returning all 11 starters. Also: Former Cowboys running back Julius Jones is fired up about finally getting into a game situation with his new team. That would be a Texas-sized chip on Jones' shoulder.

Jim Moore of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the NFL borrowed from the Seahawks for its recently released policy on fan behavior at games. Years ago, I remember sitting in the stands at the L.A. Coliseum while marijuana smoke wafted through the stands. I also remember sitting behind a fan wearing an expletive-laden sign telling then-Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer what to do with himself. The environment was rated NC-17. The Seahawks' motto for fan behavior is, "Keep it PG."

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks aren't saying how much quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will play against the Vikings tonight. Hasselbeck suffered a knee injury playing against the Vikings in 2006. He wasn't happy with Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson, the player who rolled into his legs.

Greg Johns of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says former Browns quarterback Charlie Frye hasn't forgotten what happened to him in Cleveland after only one game last season. Hasselbeck helped Frye adjust upon arriving in Seattle. Offensive coordinator Gil Haskell on the Seahawks No. 3 quarterback: "He's a very smart guy and he wants to be a good player, but the system takes awhile to learn. Trent Dilfer had a tough time with it. Matt had a little bit of a tough time with it. But (Frye) can definitely throw, so we'll go from there."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the Rams liked what they saw during practices with the Titans. Coach Scott Linehan liked how the Rams stood up to the Titans during a fight-marred practice session.

Jim Thomas of the
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
was there when former Titans Drew Bennett and Jacob Bell, now with the Rams, caught up with their former teammates.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams running back Steven Jackson is taking a big risk by holding out past Tuesday. Thomas previously reported that Jackson needed to show up no later than 30 days before the Rams' regular-season opener to receive credit for the final season of his contract. This new story says Jackson, demanding a new deal as he enters the final year of his contract, must show up within 30 days of the NFL's regular-season opener, which makes the deadline today, not the previously reported Aug. 8.

Discussions of such matters invariably explain what players must do to earn "accrued seasons" toward free agency. Jackson's contract expires after the 2008 season; he needs one accrued season to become an unrestricted free agent.

An NFLPA memo dated June 10 says: "Players earn an Accrued Season for any season in which they are on full pay status for at least six regular season games."

But wait. The collective bargaining agreement reads: "A player shall not receive an Accrued Season for any League Year in which the player is under contract to a Club and in which he failed to report to such Club at least thirty days prior to the first regular season game of that season ..."

We have not heard the end of this one. ...

Also from Thomas: A look at how Rams quarterback Marc Bulger is learning Al Saunders' offense, right down to the tests Bulger received via FedEx earlier in the offseason.

Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers provides the transcript to a fantastic interview with right tackle Jonas Jennings. Maiocco also turned the interview into a story for the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. Jennings isn't happy about moving from left tackle to right tackle. He doesn't have anything nice to say about coach Mike Nolan, describing their relationship as one of necessity (Nolan as coach, Jennings as player). Jennings also takes issue with how people portray him. Winning makes a lot of things better, but the 49ers haven't won enough.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer gets into what Chris Gray has meant for the Seahawks. Mike Holmgren and Lofa Tatupu offered kind words. Clare and I were standing along the sideline at practice on July 26 when Gray, in obvious pain, walked past us toward the locker room. He was walking with his back angled awkwardly. The look on his face suggested wooziness, as if Gray had been involved in a collision. All he had done was hit a blocking sled. We had no idea at the time that Gray's career was finished. Gray had no idea. As Holmgren said, the sudden ending comes as a shock.

The 49ers' coaching staff has released a tentative depth chart showing rookie Josh Morgan buried behind Bryant Johnson, Jason Hill and Ashley Lelie at one receiver spot. Isaac Bruce is the other starting receiver. The depth chart shows Alex Smith, Shaun Hill and J.T. O'Sullivan as the starting quarterback. A referee would see this as 13 men on the field. The depth chart also shows the injured Mark Roman ahead of Dashon Goldson at the free safety spot. Jeff Ulbrich is the starting "Ted" linebacker. Fullback Moran Norris is ahead of Zak Keasey. As I've said before, stuff this one under the mattress. Do not take it to the bank.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle quotes 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz as saying Cam Colvin has emerged, unexpectedly, as a receiver to watch in camp. Colvin caught six passes practicing against the Raiders.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee quotes 49ers tight end Vernon Davis celebrating the human race's inability to cover him. Davis averaged 9.8 yards per reception last season. That ranked tied for 210th in the NFL.