NFL Nation: Russ Hochstein

Arizona Cardinals cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
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Most significant move: Clark Haggans failed to make the cut after five-plus seasons with the Cardinals. He could always re-sign at some point if the Cardinals need depth at outside linebacker. He'll be cheaper at that time, given that veteran contracts become guaranteed once a player is on the roster for Week 1.

For now, though, the Cardinals are moving forward with Quentin Groves as a primary backup behind starters Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield at outside linebacker. Brandon Williams was thought to be part of that mix as well, but the Cardinals waived him with an injury designation, citing a shoulder problem. Williams will revert to injured reserve unless the Cardinals reach an injury settlement with him. A settlement would allow Williams to sign with Arizona or another team once he's healthy.

It's a good sign, ultimately, that Arizona feels good enough about its outside linebackers to proceed without the 35-year-old Haggans. After a certain point, every team should develop enough young depth to threaten older, declining players. In this case, however, I'm not sure Arizona has a viable replacement for him. Groves showed promise, but he has zero sacks over the past three seasons.

Onward and upward: None of the players released by Arizona jumps out to me as someone sure to catch on elsewhere. That is because the Cardinals found a way to keep 11 defensive backs, including all their best corners. Had A.J. Jefferson or Michael Adams hit the market, both would have attracted interest. The same would have been true for Greg Toler, most likely.

Crezdon Butler, Antonio Coleman, Blake Gideon, Russ Hochstein, Ricky Lumpkin, Colin Parker, Larry Parker, DeMarco Sampson, Alfonso Smith, Quan Sturdivant, Ronald Talley, Everrette Thompson, Martell Webb, Scott Wedige, Isaiah Williams and D.J. Young were released. No big surprises there. Haggans could catch on somewhere.

Quarterback Rich Bartel landed on injured reserve, as did running back Javarris James. Stephen Williams was waived/injured with an Achilles' injury.

What's next: The Cardinals could use help at offensive tackle and outside linebacker. They decided against designating Levi Brown as a player eligible to return from injured reserve later in the season. That means Brown will not return from his torn triceps until next season. D'Anthony Batiste heads toward the season as the projected starter at left tackle. Another candidate, Young, struggled during preseason and received his release Friday.

The Cardinals are paying for missing on 2009 second-round choice Cody Brown, an outside linebacker. They're counting on Acho and Schofield to carry the full load, but there's little depth behind them. Schofield must prove he's durable in a full-time role after recovering from a career-threatening knee injury.
Denver long snapper Lonie Paxson missed his second straight day of practice because of what Denver coach John Fox described as a family matter.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family,” Fox told reporters in Denver. “He’ll be day to day just like all of our injuries.”

Guard Russ Hochstein would likely be the long snapper for Saturday night’s divisional playoff game at New England if Paxson can’t play, especially if the weather is bad.

Meanwhile, as expected, safety Brian Dawkins (neck) and receiver Eric Decker (knee) did not practice Thursday. It would be a surprise if either player plays Saturday night. Denver pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil was limited for the second straight day with an ankle injury.

In other AFC West news:

Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel said on Sirius radio with Rich Gannon that he will not relinquish his defensive play-calling duties. That has been expected.

Chris Sprow thinks the 49ers’ Justin Smith would be a good fit in San Diego. In an Insider piece, Scouts Inc. thinks Oklahoma pass-rusher Ronnel Lewis could fit with the Chargers. San Diego is sure to try to add a pass-rusher this offseason.

AFC West union reps

March, 3, 2011
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Some players in the AFC West are working hard. They aren’t on the field, but their current work is designed to get everybody back on the field. Let’s take a look at the AFC West union representatives:

Denver Broncos

Rep: Safety Brian Dawkins

Co-alternates: Guard Russ Hochstein and quarterback Kyle Orton

My thoughts: Dawkins has long been involved in the union. He is one of the most connected players in the NFL with the union. The Broncos will be well informed during this time of uncertainty.

Kansas City Chiefs

Rep: Center Rudy Niswanger

Co-alternates: Safety Jon McGraw and linebacker Andy Studebaker.

My thoughts: There isn’t much star power in this group. But all three representatives are well respected in the locker room.

Oakland Raiders

Rep: Tight end Zach Miller

Co-alternates: Linebacker Ricky Brown and quarterback Bruce Gradkowski

My thoughts: Miller is personally invested in this fight. He needs to know whether he’ll be an unrestricted or a restricted free agent when this dispute is settled.

San Diego Chargers

Rep: Center Nick Hardwick

Co-alternates: Defensive lineman Jacques Cesaire and tackle Jeromey Clary.

My thoughts: Hardwick has long been in involved in players’ rights. He’ll keep his teammates well informed.

Denver keeps two of its own

March, 5, 2010
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Expect Denver to be busy in the first couple of days of free agency as it was last year.

The team is expected to pursue several interior linemen on both sides of the ball. Yet, the Broncos’ first free agency moves were to keep two of their own free agents.

Denver announced it has re-signed guard Russ Hochstein and receiver Brandon Lloyd.

Hochstein took over for Ben Hamilton last year but he suffered a knee injury late last season. He is expected to be ready around training camp in late July.

Lloyd is a bottom-of-the-roster role player. He played in two games last year with Denver. He could have trouble making the 53-man roster if, as expected, Denver adds to the receiver position.

AFC West: Free-agency primer

March, 3, 2010
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Denver

Potential unrestricted free agents: P Mitch Berger, S Vernon Fox, T Brandon Gorin, Nick Greisen, G Ben Hamilton, G Russ Hochstein, DE Vonnie Holliday, CB Ty Law, WR Brandon Lloyd

Potential restricted free agents: LB Elvis Dumervil, OL Chris Kuper, WR Brandon Marshall, QB Kyle Orton, TE Tony Scheffler, DT Le Kevin Smith

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Broncos’ restricted class is talented. That will be the focus. It has been reported that Marshall, Orton, Dumervil, Scheffler and Kuper will all get one-year tenders. Marshall very well could be traded. It wouldn’t be a shock if Dumervil gets some action on the restricted market. Miami could be interested.

Kansas City

Potential unrestricted free agents: OL Andy Alleman, S Mike Brown, WR Chris Chambers, WR Terrance Copper, TE Sean Ryan, C Wade Smith, LB Mike Vrabel, WR Bobby Wade

Potential restricted free agents: RB Jackie Battle, QB Brodie Croyle, LB Derrick Johnson, LB Corey Mays, OL Ikechuku Ndukwe, OL Rudy Niswanger, OL Ryan O'Callaghan, S Jarrad Page

Franchise player: None.

What to expect: The Chiefs are interested in keeping some of their unrestricted free agents. General manager Scott Pioli said at the combine the team has been in contact with several of their free agents. Chambers is the focus. The team is trying to keep him. Brown and Vrabel could also return with new deals.

Oakland

Potential unrestricted free agents: S Hiram Eugene, G Cornell Green, T Langston Walker, LB Sam Williams

Potential restricted free agents: LB Jon Alston, OL Khalif Barnes, LB Ricky Brown, LB Jon Condo, QB Charlie Frye, QB Bruce Gradkowski, LB Thomas Howard, RB Luke Lawton, OL Chris Morris, LB Kirk Morrison, CB Stanford Routt, RB Gary Russell

Franchise player: DE Richard Seymour.

What to expect: The Raiders franchised Seymour and signed kicker Sebastian Janikowski to a record deal, so they’ve already been busy. It will be interesting to see how they tender Howard and Morrison. The Raiders could use some new life at linebacker and this could be the start of it.

San Diego

Potential unrestricted free agents: DT Alfonso Boone, TE Brandon Manumaleuna, C Dennis Norman, WR Kassim Osgood. T Jon Runyan, DT Ian Scott, TE Kris Wilson

Potential restricted free agents: OL Jeromey Clary, LB Tim Dobbins, WR Malcom Floyd, DT Antonio Garay, OL Eric Ghiaciuc, LB Marques Harris, WR Vincent Jackson, DT Travis Johnson, OL Marcus McNeill, LB Shawne Merriman, RB Darren Sproles, QB Charlie Whitehurst

Franchise player: None

What to expect: The Chargers have their hands full. It’s been reported they will give high tenders to Jackson, Merriman, McNeill and Floyd. Jackson and McNeill could still attract some interest on the restricted market. Sproles is not expected to be tendered, making him a free agent. The Chargers want him back. But if Sproles hits the open market, the multifaceted weapon could be scooped up quickly.

Free agency: AFC West

February, 15, 2010
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AFC Free Agency: East | West | North | South NFC: East | West | North | South

An early look at the free-agent situation in the AFC West.

Note: These projected lists reflect notable unrestricted free agents for each team. The NFL will not issue an official list of free agents until the signing period begins March 5.

[+] EnlargeChris Chambers
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelKansas City wide receiver Chris Chambers had 608 yards on 36 receptions after being acquired off waivers in November.
Denver Broncos

Unrestricted free agents: P Mitch Berger, S Vernon Fox, T Brandon Gorin, Nick Greisen, G Ben Hamilton, G Russ Hochstein, DE Vonnie Holliday, CB Ty Law, WR Brandon Lloyd.

Key figures: There isn’t much here. The team could bring back Hochstein, Holliday and Law, but they are all complementary pieces. It’s all about the restricted free-agent class in Denver. The Broncos have to figure out what they are going to do with receiver Brandon Marshall, defensive end Elvis Dumervil, quarterback Kyle Orton and tight end Tony Scheffler.

Kansas City Chiefs

Unrestricted free agents: S Mike Brown, WR Chris Chambers, WR Terrance Copper, TE Sean Ryan, C Wade Smith, LB Mike Vrabel, WR Bobby Wade,

Key figures: Chambers will be Kansas City's priority. He gave the Chiefs’ offense a big spark after he was claimed off waivers in November. The team’s brass really likes what Brown and Vrabel bring to the team and both could be back in Kansas City at the right price. Wade also could be brought back.

Oakland Raiders

Unrestricted free agents: Hiram Eugene, G Cornell Green, K Sebastian Janikowski, DE Richard Seymour, T Langston Walker, LB Sam Williams

Key figures: It’s all about Seymour and Janikowski. The Raiders are trying to get long-term deals with both players done. If new deals aren’t struck, watch for Oakland to put the franchise and transition tags on them. Oakland will do anything it can not to lose either player.

San Diego Chargers

Unrestricted free agents: DT Alfonso Boone, TE Brandon Manumaleuna, C Dennis Norman, WR Kassim Osgood. T Jon Runyan, DT Ian Scott, TE Kris Wilson

Key figures: The team would like to bring back Osgood, one of the best special-teams players in the NFL. But Osgood wants a chance to be a receiver and the opportunity might not be in San Diego. The Chargers will spend most of their energy on their restricted class. The priorities are receiver Vincent Jackson, tackle Marcus McNeill, linebacker Shawne Merriman, running back Darren Sproles and receiver Malcom Floyd.

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