NFL Nation: Leonard Davis

Cowboys done with OL rebuild

May, 14, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- Pam Martin asked her son to do some research on the Dallas Cowboys' offensive line, so the team’s first-round pick dutifully did what his mother told him.

Zack Martin quickly realized he was older than Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, the other two first-round picks Martin will join on the line in 2014. Smith, the 2011 first rounder, was born Dec. 12, 1990. Frederick, the 2013 first rounder, was born march 18, 1991.

Martin was born Nov. 20, 1990.

[+] EnlargeZack Martin
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsNotre Dame's Zack Martin is the latest first-round pick Dallas has added to its young offensive line.
“That’s a little weird,” Martin said.

Weird and potentially terrific for the Cowboys. Before Smith, Jerry Jones never used a first-round pick on an offensive lineman. Tom Landry, Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt also kept their distance from the offensive line. Before Smith, Howard Richards was the most recent first-round offensive lineman, coming in 1981 with the 26th overall pick.

Now the Cowboys are like the San Francisco 49ers with three first-round starters on the offensive line. In 2007, the Niners took Joe Staley. In 2010, they added Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis.

“We believe games in the National Football League are won up front,” coach Jason Garrett said. “If you look at the best teams in the league now and for a lot of years, they are able to control the line of scrimmage on the offensive side of the ball. We did that for years here when we won championships here in the ‘90s. You need to build the infrastructure of your team.”

San Francisco went 6-10 in 2010, but has gone 36-11-1 in the past three seasons. They have played in three straight NFC Championship Games, making it to the Super Bowl in 2012.

“We’ve been pretty lucky getting (Andre) Gurode, getting the Flozell Adamses and Larry Allens (in the second round), but those days are over apparently,” Jones said. “So we want to get some of that quality in the future offensive line. These guys are long-term players that are good, and all of that is about franchise.”

The Cowboys have an offensive line that can grow together.

Smith made his first Pro Bowl last season and is the best young tackle in the NFL. Frederick started every game as a rookie and cemented the interior of the Cowboys’ line. Martin will be a Day 1 starter and was considered the safest pick in the draft.

Right tackle Doug Free is the oldest up front and is just 30. Ronald Leary recently turned 25. Mackenzy Bernadeau, who could still compete for a starting job, is just 28.

Having Smith, Frederick and Martin grow together should make everyone associated with the Cowboys’ offense happier, from Garrett to passing game coordinator Scott Linehan to assistant head coach Bill Callahan to quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray.

The selection of Martin ends the rebuilding of an offensive line that started in 2011 when the Cowboys parted ways with Gurode, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo. A year later they said goodbye to Kyle Kosier.

It took time.

In 2011, the Cowboys started a seventh-round pick, Bill Nagy, at left guard and a second-year undrafted center in Phil Costa. When Nagy got hurt, they looked to journeymen Montrae Holland and Derrick Dockery.

Smith played as a rookie at right tackle and needed 2012 to be seasoned as a left tackle. Nate Livings was signed as a free agent in 2012, but injuries led the team away from him last season. Bernadeau’s play improved last year after he re-took the right guard spot following Brian Waters' season-ending triceps’ injury.

“We are going to be a better offensive line, a better offense, and we will probably play better defense the better we play on the offensive line,” Garrett said. “We will be able to run the ball better and control the football a little more.”

2013 UFA counts for NFC West teams

March, 12, 2013
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The NFL has released its official list of restricted and unrestricted free agents.

The chart breaks down the UFA counts by team in the NFC West.

A quick look at the lists, which include a couple players who have already reached agreement on new contracts:

Arizona Cardinals

UFA offense (4): D'Anthony Batiste, Pat McQuistan, Rich Ohrnberger, LaRod Stephens-Howling

UFA defense (8): Michael Adams, Nick Eason, Quentin Groves, Vonnie Holliday, Rashad Johnson, Paris Lenon, James Sanders, Greg Toler

RFA: Brian Hoyer, tendered to second-round pick.

Note: The Cardinals announced Johnson's agreement to a three-year contract.

St. Louis Rams

UFA offense (8): Danny Amendola, Kellen Clemens, Brandon Gibson, Steven Jackson, Barry Richardson, Steve Smith, Robert Turner, Chris Williams

UFA defense (6): Craig Dahl, Bradley Fletcher, Mario Haggan, William Hayes, Trevor Laws, Rocky McIntosh

RFA: Darian Stewart, tendered to right of first refusal.

Note: The Rams announced Hayes' agreement to a three-year contract.

San Francisco 49ers

UFA offense (4): Leonard Davis, Ted Ginn Jr., Randy Moss, Delanie Walker

UFA defense (6): Dashon Goldson, Tavares Gooden, Larry Grant, Clark Haggans, Ricky Jean-Francois, Isaac Sopoaga

RFA: Tramaine Brock, tendered to right of first refusal.

Note: Walker has reportedly agreed to terms on a contract with the Tennessee Titans.

Seattle Seahawks

UFA offense (2): Cameron Morrah, Frank Omiyale

UFA defense (5): Alan Branch, Patrick Chukwurah, Leroy Hill, Jason Jones, Marcus Trufant

UFA special teams (2): Steve Hauschka, Ryan Longwell

RFA: Clint Gresham and Chris Maragos, tendered to right of first refusal; and Clinton McDonald, tendered to seventh-round choice.
Pro Football Hall of Famer John Madden has chosen the San Francisco 49ers' offensive line as the NFL's best for the 2012 season.



Left tackle Joe Staley, left guard Mike Iupati, center Jonathan Goodwin, right guard Alex Boone and right tackle Anthony Davis can take pride in the honor. So can the 49ers' tight ends and backup guards Leonard Davis and Daniel Kilgore, who have also helped out.

Football is a team sport, but individuals often command much of the attention.

Years ago, smart analysts would look past the skill-position players to credit offensive lines for much of a team's success. Now, it's assumed people know offensive lines are critically important. We've progressed to a point where offensive lines can get too much credit or blame for sacks allowed and overall offensive performance.

The 49ers provide an opportunity to pursue the truth. They started the same five offensive linemen in the same spots in each of their 18 games, counting playoffs. Quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick have each started nine games.



With that in mind, I've produced a couple of charts showing how much better the 49ers' offensive line might appear in pass protection based on which quarterback was in the game. Even the best linemen can look bad if their quarterbacks hold onto the ball too long or fail to make plays when pressured.

Both charts show stats only for games when each quarterback started.

The first one shows how many seconds Smith and Kaepernick have spent in the pocket on average, and how many seconds on average they have held the ball before passing. Kaepernick spends a little more time than Smith on both counts, but his percentage of sacks taken is about half.

We might conclude that Kaepernick helps out the 49ers' offensive line more than Smith helps out the line.

The second chart shows how both quarterbacks fare when pressured by opposing defenses. Smith averages negative yardage on a per drop-back basis, a figure counting sacks. Kaepernick averages 4.7 yards per drop-back when pressured. That is one reason Kaepernick has the much higher Total QBR score in these situations (43.2 to 2.2).

So, be sure to give the 49ers' offensive line credit for a strong season. Those guys have played a leading role in the team's success. Let's also realize quarterbacks can help put a good line over the top.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Sights and sounds while making my way from Seattle to San Francisco for the Seahawks-49ers game Thursday night:
  • The 7:15 a.m. flight I boarded had fans for both teams aboard. This was one of those flights packed with frequent business travelers. The guy to my right said he regularly travels to Santa Clara, site of 49ers headquarters and the team's future stadium, on company business. He scheduled a meeting for San Francisco on this day, just so he could attend the game. He's a Seahawks fan. The guy to my left was also going to the game. He was also a business traveler. Good work if you can get it. There were a couple fans in full 49ers gear seated near the front of the plane. No one seemed to harass them from what I could tell.
  • I swung by the 49ers' team hotel, which is across the street from the Seahawks' team hotel. I arrived at the hotel right at 10 a.m. local time, which was also the scheduled start time for the NFC West chat. I broke out the laptop and took a seat in the lobby. Various 49ers players walked past. Wonder how many times 49ers guard Leonard Davis has to hear people marvel at his size, as though they were the first people to notice it? The man riding the elevator with Davis made a size-related comment as the two strangers went their separate ways upon exiting. How original.
  • The officiating crew for the game is also staying here. They're seated in the restaurant talking about what frequent travelers talk about: delays, unplanned itinerary changes, poor customer service at one of the legacy airlines. One expresses concern for a colleague sidelined by injury. Officials get hurt, too.
  • Another guy seated in the lobby looked a lot like agent Drew Rosenhaus. The T-shirt reading "Rosenhaus Sports Representation" provided confirmation. Rosenhaus has been one of the most media-accessible agents over the years. For years, he would answer his own phone and take calls from reporters he barely knew or didn't know at all. This seemed like a good chance to just let him sit there.
  • A man I recognized to be Jonathan Goodwin, the 49ers' starting center, came into the hotel restaurant with a big binder presumably filled with game notes. Even veteran players have to study. Goodwin faces a tough matchup against the Seahawks' stout interior defensive linemen. He's 33 years old and about to play after only three days off between games. The mental side of the game is critical for a player in his position.

We're within about six hours of kickoff. I'll be heading over to Candlestick Park to get set up from there. Hoping to drop by the tailgate32.com setup.
A look at the implications for two positive developments on the injury front Tuesday:
  • Arizona Cardinals: Kevin Kolb has a "thigh contusion" and should practice as early as Wednesday. Injuries ruined Kolb's first season with the Cardinals. He needs to remain on the field to hold off John Skelton for the starting job this season. Further, the Cardinals need both quarterbacks healthy to maximize their chances for getting the best quarterback on the field. So much is at stake for Kolb and the organization, including coach Ken Whisenhunt. Initial indications suggested Kolb would be OK after absorbing a knee to his thigh in practice Monday. Now we know.
  • San Francisco 49ers: Rookie offensive lineman Joe Looney suffered a serious foot injury during Senior Bowl week. The injury hurt Looney's draft stock, allowing the 49ers to snag him relatively late in the draft (fourth round). The fact that Looney has passed a physical and can make his NFL training camp debut gives the 49ers another option at a position (right guard) carrying some uncertainty, and depth at the other guard spot as well. Alex Boone has been the favorite to win the job on the right side even though he's probably best suited at tackle. Free-agent addition Leonard Davis provides an experienced alternative. Looney might represent the longer-term future of the position in San Francisco if he develops as planned.

All for now. Back in a bit with some telling numbers on Braylon Edwards, the Seahawks' newest addition.
Jason Brown should be reaching his prime years as an NFL offensive lineman.

Instead, he has reached a career crossroads.

Brown, scheduled to visit San Francisco, would give the 49ers veteran depth and a potential starting candidate, most likely at right guard.

Brown owns 90 starts for St. Louis and Baltimore over the last six seasons, but in the past six months, Brown has been benched by the Rams' previous leadership, released by its new leadership and left unsigned through three weeks of free agency.

What's wrong with this picture?

The Rams made signing Brown a top priority when Steve Spagnuolo was taking over as head coach in early 2009. They called him minutes into the free-agent signing period and signed him to a deal averaging $7 million per season with an $11 million signing bonus. Brown started the next 40 games at center, but with the 2011 season having slipped away, the Rams benched him following a Week 9 overtime defeat at Arizona.

Brown finished the 2011 season as a starter at guard, but only because injuries forced the Rams to adjust their lineup. The Rams subsequently released Brown, who would have earned $5 million in salary for 2012, and signed Green Bay Packers free-agent center Scott Wells.

Brown was not a model of consistency for the Rams last season, but neither were most of his teammates. In retrospect, the Rams paid Pro Bowl money for a player without Pro Bowl credentials, then moved on when they thought Brown's play slipped last season.

Brown was, by all accounts, a hard worker and dedicated player in St. Louis. He was also an increasingly reflective one after the Iraq War claimed his brother in 2003. Last season, Brown touched upon how his brother's death affected his outlook toward football.

"I question how much attention is given to football," Brown told ESPN's Seth Wickersham for a profile. "But it's tough. It's a huge machine that I'm benefiting from."

Brown could be a bargain for the 49ers. He stands 6-foot-3, weighs 328 pounds and would give the team reliable insurance if Daniel Kilgore does not develop into a starter at right guard. Brown could also play center if needed, and his price tag would be far lower than it was when the Rams signed him back in 2009.

The 49ers have met with free-agent guards Deuce Lutui, Leonard Davis and Geoff Schwartz this offseason. Schwartz subsequently signed with the Minnesota Vikings.

NFC West free-agency assessment

March, 30, 2012
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AFC Assessments: East | West | North | South NFC: East | West | North | South

Arizona Cardinals

Key additions: OL Adam Snyder, CB William Gay

Key losses: CB Richard Marshall

Sando's grade so far: C-minus. Arizona gets credit for making a strong run at Peyton Manning and securing a visit with him at Cardinals headquarters. That was a bold move and one that could have instantly transformed the Cardinals into a contending team. But it did not work. Coach Ken Whisenhunt had a point when he said the Cardinals were comfortable moving forward with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton as their quarterbacks. However, it was still telling that Arizona would aggressively pursue another quarterback eight months after allocating $12.4 million per year to Kolb. Most of the other teams making big investments in quarterbacks last offseason sat out the Manning sweepstakes.

Overall, Arizona has done little to upgrade its roster. Committing $19 million in bonus money to Snyder, Levi Brown and Kolb will not make the team $19 million better. Marshall was a valued contributor and the MVP on defense last season, according to coordinator Ray Horton. He'll be missed after signing with Miami. On the other hand, the Cardinals did win seven of their final nine games last season. Perhaps they have fewer holes than conventional wisdom suggests.

What’s next: The Cardinals need help at offensive tackle and have shown interest in Buffalo Bills free agent Demetrius Bell. The team would be fortunate to address the position before the draft. Whisenhunt has consistently defended Brown, who has played both tackle spots since 2007. The team's decision to give Brown a $7 million signing bonus as part of a streamlined contract showed Whisenhunt wasn't bluffing. But another starting tackle would help.

The Cardinals have yet to reach a long-term agreement with franchise player Calais Campbell. Getting a deal done with Campbell would reduce the defensive end's salary-cap charge ($10.6 million for now). It would reward a rising young player and head off future headaches associated with using the tag a second time next offseason.

Receiver and possibly outside linebacker are also areas where the Cardinals could use reinforcements.

San Francisco 49ers

Key additions: WR Randy Moss, WR Mario Manningham, RB Brandon Jacobs

Key losses: Snyder, WR Josh Morgan, ST Blake Costanzo

Sando's grade so far: B-plus. The 49ers had relatively few holes on their roster after a 13-3 season. Pursuing Manning provided a temporary distraction without inflicting long-term damage. The 49ers needed to keep together their core, and they accomplished that goal. Alex Smith's re-signing to a three-year deal was key. Smith will return to the team, maintaining continuity and giving the 49ers' offense a chance to build on last season. But the contract terms will not limit the 49ers' options beyond this season, a plus.

The 49ers succeeded in re-signing Pro Bowl cornerback Carlos Rogers after using the franchise tag to retain Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson. Those moves solidified the secondary. Addressing the situation at wide receiver was a top priority heading into free agency. Moss and Manningham were low-risk, high-reward additions. Both have the potential to provide qualities the 49ers were lacking last season, but neither carried a high price tag. Retaining receiver Ted Ginn Jr. restored firepower to the return game.

What’s next: Using the draft to improve the long-term outlook at receiver still could be an option. But with Moss, Manningham and Ginn on the roster, the 49ers should not feel pressured to select a wideout with the 30th overall choice in the draft. The team now has flexibility. There has been no indication that the 49ers or any team will seriously pursue Pittsburgh Steelers restricted free agent Mike Wallace, who reportedly wants Larry Fitzgerald money.

The 49ers could use a veteran right guard for insurance in case Daniel Kilgore isn't ready for the starting job. They have visited with Leonard Davis and Deuce Lutui, both former Cardinals. Keeping Snyder would have been nice, but the Cardinals paid a $5 million signing bonus to get him. That price was too high for the 49ers, who similarly balked last offseason when the New York Giants gave center David Baas an $8.5 million bonus.

St. Louis Rams

Key additions: CB Cortland Finnegan, C Scott Wells, DT Kendall Langford, WR Steve Smith

Key losses: WR Brandon Lloyd, P Donnie Jones, OLB Chris Chamberlain

Sando's grade so far: B. The Rams would get a higher grade for their offseason in general, but this item focuses on free agency. That excludes from consideration Jeff Fisher's hiring as head coach, and general manager Les Snead's ability to maximize value for the second overall pick in the draft. The Finnegan and Wells signings give the Rams welcome leadership while upgrading important positions. Langford should help the run defense.

The Rams have yet to address their playmaking deficiencies. They did not land any of the high-profile wide receivers in free agency. There's a chance Smith will recapture old form in his second season back from microfracture knee surgery, but the Rams are not counting on that. They will almost certainly emerge from free agency without even marginally upgrading the weaponry for quarterback Sam Bradford. That is a disappointment.

What’s next: The outlook remains bright for St. Louis. The team owns the sixth, 33rd and 39th choices in the 2012 draft, plus two first-rounders in each of the following two drafts. There will be time and opportunity for the Rams to add the offensive firepower they need so badly, perhaps with Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon or Alabama running back Trent Richardson at No. 6 overall.

Much work lies ahead. The Rams emerged from this week with eight fewer players on their roster than the average for the other 31 teams. Using free agency to address holes at outside linebacker and left guard would provide flexibility heading into the draft. The Rams still need a backup quarterback as well. Bradford is the only QB on the roster. It's looking like the team is serious about bringing back right tackle Jason Smith despite injury concerns and a fat contract that will presumably require adjustment.

Seattle Seahawks

Key additions: QB Matt Flynn, DT Jason Jones

Key losses: TE John Carlson, DT Anthony Hargrove

Sando's grade so far: B-plus: The Seahawks knew for months that Manning would probably hit the market and still could not secure a meeting with him. Their pursuit included a flight by coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider to Denver in a desperation move that failed to impress Manning. That was a rare disappointment for Seattle in free agency.

Re-signing Marshawn Lynch before the signing period took off much of the pressure. Re-signing Red Bryant without using the franchise tag rewarded the Seahawks for a disciplined approach to the market. That approach paid off again when the Seahawks landed Flynn without rushing into an imprudent contract. Flynn spent five days on the market before signing with Seattle. The Seahawks got him for about half as much per season as Kolb cost a year ago, without even promising him the starting job. That was impressive.

What’s next: Quarterback and pass-rusher were Seattle's top two needs heading into free agency. Flynn solved one of them for now, at least. Jones, an inside pass-rusher signed from Tennessee, should help the other area. But the need for outside pass-rush help persists. The team could use the 12th overall choice in the draft for a defensive end.

Linebacker is another obvious position of need for Seattle. Market conditions favor Seattle's re-signing veterans David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill at reasonable rates. Both were starters last season. Hawthorne visited Detroit and New Orleans in free agency, but those teams subsequently signed other linebackers. Hill turns 30 in September, has had some off-field issues in the past and should have more value to Seattle than to another team. Still, it's an upset if the Seahawks do not address linebacker in the draft.
The San Francisco 49ers' running game perked up considerably when Adam Snyder replaced Chilo Rachal at right guard last season.

That did not necessarily mean the 49ers wanted to proceed with Snyder as their long-term starter. They valued him initially as a backup at center, guard and right tackle.

Snyder has nonetheless started 69 of 107 career games since the 49ers drafted him in 2005. He'll get a chance to start in Arizona after agreeing to terms on a five-year contract with the Cardinals, a deal announced by the team Wednesday afternoon.

Rachal is also a free agent.

The 49ers are visiting with former Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys guard Leonard Davis. It's clear they're interested in changing up their personnel at right guard.

The chart shows the 49ers' regular-season offensive stats when Snyder and Rachal were at right guard, according to ESPN Stats & Information. There were other factors affecting the stats. In general, however, the offense was better off when Snyder was on the field.

The fourth, seventh and 21st players drafted in 2001 play or have played for the San Francisco 49ers.

The second overall choice from that class might join the list.

Leonard Davis, who earned Pro Bowl acclaim with Dallas after leaving the Arizona Cardinals, plans to visit the 49ers after never seeing game action in 2011, Matt Maiocco reports.

Current 49ers defensive end Justin Smith was the fourth player chosen in 2001. Former 49ers Andre Carter (seventh) and Nate Clements (21st) were also first-round picks that year.

Davis would qualify as a stopgap at right guard, where the team has struggled recently. Adam Snyder, valued mostly for his versatility as a backup, became the starter last season after Chilo Rachal struggled. Snyder is visiting the Arizona Cardinals. He and Rachal are unrestricted free agents.

Daniel Kilgore, a rookie draft choice in 2011, projects as a candidate for the role eventually.

Davis, 33, has started each of the 155 games he has played with Arizona and Dallas. He is a massive man, listed at 6-foot-6 and 355 pounds. Pairing him with tackle Anthony Davis would give the 49ers close to 700 pounds of Davises on the right side, expandable to more than 900 pounds when tight end Vernon Davis lined up next to them.

On Rams giving Jason Smith a chance

February, 27, 2012
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The St. Louis Rams have not given up on 2009 first-round draft choice Jason Smith.

Their new coach, Jeff Fisher, and new general manager, Les Snead, said during the NFL scouting combine that they hoped to bring back Smith following three disappointing seasons.

The strategy makes sense if Smith agrees to reduce his scheduled $10 million salary. The team might as well find out whether new line coach Paul Boudreau can help salvage some return on a massive investment. Better luck with injuries might help Smith more than anything. The concussion he suffered against Dallas came on a freak play when Smith was making a tackle following a turnover.

For the Rams, there's no sense in making tackle a bigger need by dumping Smith prematurely. Publicly declaring interest in Smith sets a positive tone for expected negotiations on a new deal.

Smith has started 26 of 48 games for the Rams, the third-lowest total for three seasons among players drafted second overall from 1990-2009.

The chart ranks three-year start totals for players drafted second overall since 1998, beginning with Ryan Leaf. The final column shows total starts each player has made for his original team.
NEW ORLEANS -- There are no major surprises on the Detroit Lions' inactive list for Saturday night's wild-card playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. One minor shift from the recent norm: Cornerback Don Carey is active and cornerback Brandon McDonald is inactive.

That could be a nod toward special teams, considering the Lions secondary will be at full strength with Aaron Berry back in the nickel and Alphonso Smith available to play the dime. McDonald had been active for the past two games while Berry rehabilitated a shoulder injury.

As expected, safety Louis Delmas is active and will start his first game since Thanksgiving Day. That moves Chris Harris to the inactive list; Harris has also been dealing with a back injury.

The rest of the inactives: Quarterback Drew Stanton, running back Joique Bell, linebacker Doug Hogue, guard Leonard Davis and defensive lineman Andre Fluellen.

Chris Ivory inactive for Saints

December, 4, 2011
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NEW ORLEANS -- Running back Chris Ivory is inactive for Sunday night’s game against the Detroit Lions.

Ivory is healthy, but the Saints made him inactive last week as well. They’ve been using Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and rookie Mark Ingram in a backfield rotation.

Also inactive for the Saints are receiver Adrian Arrington, cornerback Johnny Patrick, linebacker Martez Wilson, lineman Will Robinson, defensive end Turk McBride and tight end Michael Higgins.

Linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who had been out with a knee injury, is active and is expected to start.

The inactives for Detroit are safety Louis Delmas, defensive back Chris Houston, quarterback Drew Stanton, defensive end Lawrence Jackson, guard Leonard Davis, running back Aaron Brown and cornerback Brandon McDonald are inactive.
Make that two veteran signings for the Detroit Lions. We noted the arrival of offensive lineman Leonard Davis Monday, and the team just confirmed that it also re-signed tailback Kevin Smith from a group of 24 players who worked out for the team during its bye week.

Smith played for the Lions from 2008-10, but the decision to pair starter Jahvid Best with rookie Mikel Leshoure squeezed him out of their 2011 plans. Leshoure's ruptured Achilles tendon was the beginning of a positional breakdown that has continued with Jerome Harrison's brain tumor and Best's latest concussion.

The Lions have been using a combination of Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams in recent weeks. Smith knows their offense well enough to step in right away, but it's not clear how quickly the Lions want to get him on the field or if they view him as insurance against Best's continued absence.

The Lions were off Monday and will return to the practice field Tuesday. Stay tuned.

Cowboys bring back Kyle Kosier

July, 28, 2011
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For the second night in a row, the Cowboys agreed to terms on a new contract with a key piece of the left side of their offensive line. This time, it's left guard Kyle Kosier, who will return to Dallas on a three-year deal worth about $9 million. Tuesday night, they reached agreement on a new deal with left tackle Doug Free.

The Cowboys' focus this offseason was going to be on defense, and in the end it will be. But these two offensive line moves were critical at the outset of free agency. Free was the big name everybody thought they had to keep, but Kosier makes a lot of the line calls from his spot on the left side and was a big help to Free last year in his transition from right tackle to left. With right guard Leonard Davis being cut and center Andre Gurode revealing that he had knee surgery last month, the Cowboys may still have some work to do on the interior of the line. But Free and Kosier were the two key moves, and each seems to have been pulled off without much difficulty.

Now, about those safeties ...

NFC East: How was your day?

July, 26, 2011
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It's clear by now that this first week or so of post-lockout NFL business is going to be as insane as Eagles fans likely remember Crazy Eddie's prices were. A quick review shows that I did 13 NFC East blog posts and a live chat in a 12-hour stretch Tuesday, and things are just getting revved up. So, because we're doing quick-hit analysis move-by-move and some things are obviously going to slip through the cracks, I'm going to try and do a daily Day-in-Review post that tries to assess what kind of day each team in the division had. I was originally planning to do one per team, but for now we'll try this. Going to try, I said. If it doesn't work... hey, I tried.

So, how was your day...

Dallas Cowboys?

"Efficient." Dallas needed to make some cuts to work on getting under the salary cap, and they trimmed Marion Barber, Leonard Davis, Roy Williams and Kris Brown from their roster. Marc Colombo's status remained up in the air at day's end, and the next order of business was likely the restructuring of some veteran contracts (Romo, Austin, etc.) to keep freeing up room for outside free-agent pursuits. Reports surfaced that they reached out to Abe Elam to talk about one of their openings at safety, and they are talking with guard Kyle Kosier, who along with Doug Free is an important re-sign for them. Knocking $16.6 million off their 2011 payroll represents a good first day for a team that needs to rebuild its defense within the next week.

New York Giants?

"Confusing." When the Giants decided not to make offensive line a priority in the draft, many people assumed it was because they felt they had enough depth at the position. But Tuesday brought news that veterans Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and Shawn Andrews would be cut. Adam Schefter reported that Kevin Boothe would return on a two-year deal, but even if Will Beatty is ready to be the starting left tackle, the Giants will need reinforcements. They also needed to get under the cap, but such a drastic purge at one position suggests a recalibration of free-agent priorities for a team that has work to do to bring back several of its own free agents. Adam also reports that the Giants have been speaking with Plaxico Burress about a reunion, which is confusing in light of what Burress had to say about Tom Coughlin after his release from prison last month. Giants fans tend to trust their team's front office, but if there's a sound plan here, it has yet to reveal itself. The Giants did make a feel-good move in the morning, signing undrafted rookie and cancer survivor Mark Herzlich, who could be part of the solution at linebacker if he can return to the form that made him one of the best defensive players in college football in 2008. Jay Glazer of FoxSports.com reported on Twitter that potential linebacker target Paul Posluszny would sign with the Jaguars, but I still expect the Giants to find another linebacker in free agency. Herzlich has big upside but is no sure thing.

Philadelphia Eagles?

"Unsatisfying." We woke with the idea that the long-expected Kevin Kolb trade could happen as soon as the clock struck 10 am. It did not happen, and in fact the market for Kolb took a hit with the news that the Broncos were trying to trade Kyle Orton (thereby providing the Cardinals with another option) and that the Seahawks were going to sign Tarvaris Jackson (depriving the Eagles of the most viable other trade partner with which they could leverage Arizona). Kolb to Arizona still seems the most likely outcome here, but the longer it goes without the Eagles getting what they need to get in return, the more likely it is that he ends up staying in Philadelphia. Michael Vick hinted that DeSean Jackson could hold out of training camp due to dissatisfaction with his contract situation, which portends trouble on that front. The Philadelphia Inquirer also reported that the Eagles were planning to let go of all of their own free agents, including linebacker Stewart Bradley and backup running back Jerome Harrison -- news that led some (including me) to speculate that they were clearing the financial decks for a big signing such as Nnamdi Asomugha. One of those free agents, safety Quintin Mikell, agreed to a deal with the Rams, according to Adam. And the team announced the signing of undrafted running back Noel Devine of West Virginia, who could perhaps compete with Dion Lewis for that backup running back spot. Fair amount of business conducted, but none of the big moves we've been expecting from the Eagles... yet.

Washington Redskins

"Encouraging." There were reports of discussions of a trade of Donovan McNabb to Minnesota, which was a mild surprise. If they can get anything -- even a fifth-round pick -- for McNabb, they'll have to call that a win. Adam reported that Santana Moss had agreed to return on a three-year, $15 million deal, which is a move each side wanted to make sure happened and will help the Redskins' inexperienced quarterback and receivers. I don't think that move takes them out of the running for Santonio Holmes, but The Star-Ledger reported that the Jets are moving to try and re-sign Holmes, as was expected. So he remains a long shot, and potential offensive line target Marshal Yanda re-upped with the Ravens, taking him out of Washington's plans. But the re-signing of Moss and the serious McNabb talks have to count as a good first day for a team with a lot to do.

How was my day, you ask? Busy, but lots of fun. Looking forward to another busy/fun one tomorrow. Love that we have actual news to write about, at long last. And I hope you enjoyed your day here on the NFC East blog. Talk to you again in the morning.

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