NFL Nation: Sean Taylor
What did they get with the first pick of the second round?
A team in dire need of cornerstones might have found one for the defense in Johnathan Cyprien, the strong safety out of Florida International.
Initial reports out of Jacksonville are very solid. It’s obviously early, but Cyprien could be the linchpin of a young secondary that grows up together, helping slow the run and cover the sort of tight ends who are increasingly posing matchup issues around the league.
“The thing we really enjoyed about evaluating him was his football instincts," said DeWayne Walker, the Jaguars' defensive backs coach. “Some guys, they have that halo effect where they kind of feel the game, and he has a real good feel for the game.
"We’re going to have to smooth him out, and we’re going to have to polish him up a little bit. At the same time, he definitely brings a lot of good tools to the table.”
Not too may years ago, the AFC South had a major dearth of quality safeties. Gradually, the position has gotten better. If Cyprien can be an impact guy, he and free safety Dwight Lowery can make the position one of the Jaguars’ most solid.
Cyprien comes across as a polite, confident young man eager to learn and to prove himself. He grew up admiring Sean Taylor, Troy Polamalu and Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas, who went to the same high school and ranks as a friend who has offered a great deal of encouragement.
A late bloomer at North Miami Beach (Fla.) High School, Cyprien dreamed of playing at Texas, but had just two scholarship offers -- from Central Michigan and FIU. He stayed in Florida, and a big senior season in college turned him into a borderline first-round pick.
The Jaguars surely could have gotten good value by trading out of the 33rd position in the draft, but stayed put and jumped on him.
“It’s a big position, a big role in this defense,” Cyprien said. “You’re allowed to do a lot of things. You’re allowed to have a lot of fun. I’m planning on having a lot of fun playing that position.
“I guess you could say it could be hard for a rookie to be a leader. I wouldn’t define it as that, personally. I’m just taking it head on.”
Of eight picks in the draft, the Jaguars spent five on defensive backs: Cyprien in the second round; UConn cornerback Dwayne Gratz in the third; Florida free safety Josh Evans in the sixth; and New Mexico State cornerback Jeremy Harris and Appalachian State cornerback Demetrius McCray both in the seventh.
The Jaguars have a handful of guys with experience for the kids to look to.
Marcus Trufant, a 10-year veteran corner, played on coach Gus Bradley’s defense in Seattle, and could be the nickelback. Another free-agent cornerback, Alan Ball, has played five seasons, but struggled in Houston last year. Safety Chris Prosinski, a fourth-rounder from 2011, should be a backup at best with Cyprien on board. Mike Harris could be a nice nickel candidate in his second season.
Given the uncertainty at the position, I rank the Jaguars’ cornerback group as the most competitive unit in the division.
If Jacksonville is going to be any good on the back end, it’s likely to be because of the draft class’ contribution.
“I think it’s fun for all of us,” Walker said. “These guys were needed. We’re going to be pretty young. It’s fun for all of us to get this group and develop it and prove people wrong …
“Being able to talk with them about the league, these guys are pretty mature. Coach Bradley, [defensive coordinator] Bob Babich, all of our coaches do a good job saying the right things to these guys to get them acclimated. So I think all of our rookies, not only the rookies in the secondary, have come into a situation where we are here to help them, we are here to develop them to be competitive football players.”
Walker, who was the head coach at New Mexico State from 2009 to 2012, where he posted a 10-40 record, left in January to join Bradley's staff. Previously, Walker coached defensive backs for the Washington Redskins, New York Giants, New England Patriots and at Cal. He was also defensive coordinator at UCLA.
The assistant coach is a straight shooter who has been telling the rookies about the identity he wants his players to have, Cyprien said. They need to be sound in the techniques they are taught, and they should all look the same on tape.
“I think it’s a challenge for him, I think it’s good for him,” Cyprien said of the influx of youth in the secondary. “I know we have him excited, because we just want to run around, and we’re hungry to learn and we’re asking a lot of questions.”
It was five years ago today that Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died after a shooting at his home. Taylor's death was one of the most shocking and affecting in recent sports history, and the memory of it still resonates strongly and emotionally with Taylor's fans, friends and former teammates. This video tribute includes insights from former college and professional teammates Antrel Rolle, Clinton Portis, Ed Reed, Chris Cooley and Santana Moss as well as Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who smiles as he remembers Portis badgering him to draft Taylor.
I remember hearing of Taylor's death, of course. I was a baseball writer at the time, but anyone who followed sports even tangentially heard the story, and no one could get their arms around it in a way that made any sense. Five years later, as I heard today from fans, watched the video and read the columns by those who were covering the story at the time, it's clear that Taylor's death is still affecting a large number of people.
Rolle talks about how he still watches Taylor highlights on YouTube. Cooley remembers how grateful he was that Taylor never practiced his trademark big hits against him in practice. And Moss breaks down in tears remembering the way the news affected him. If you're a Redskins fan, I know the loss of Taylor is a wound on your heart that still hasn't healed. I invite you to share your memories and your feelings about him in the comments section of this post.
"I don't think there's any question about it," Shanahan said. "He's got such a strong will. It all depends on does he come back a hundred percent? Does he want to come back and play? He's got that inner drive that most people don't have. He wants to compete. But obviously, he's got to get well."
Former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs may have been Portis' biggest supporter over the years. He once became emotional while explaining to me how fearless Portis was on game days. But the issue that coaches and fans had with Portis over the years was his unwillingness to commit to the team during the offseason. He often returned to Miami instead of participating in the club's conditioning program. And that may have caught up with him in recent years. Portis stayed in Washington this past offseason to prove his commitment to Shanahan, but he still ended up on the IR for the second time in the past three seasons.
Mike Wise of the Post has a good column Thursday talking about how Portis grew up after losing his close friend and teammate, Sean Taylor. I've taken issue with some of the things Portis has done during his Skins career, such as calling out quarterback Jason Campbell, but the leadership he showed in the aftermath of Taylor's death was pretty remarkable. And that will be a big part of his legacy in Washington.
This was the 11th time in Pioli’s career that he was part of a team that had a top-13 pick. For the eighth time, Pioli's team took a defensive player. For the sixth time, Pioli’s team took a defensive player from the SEC. Last year, in his first year as the Chiefs’ decision-maker, Pioli took LSU defensive end Tyson Jackson at No. 3.
Berry is the fifth safety to be selected in the top five in the past 30 years. The most recent was the late Sean Taylor by Washington in 2004.
Don’t be surprised if Oakland sends middle linebacker Kirk Morrison packing soon as a result of its terrific selection of Alabama’s Rolando McClain at No. 8. Oakland coach Tom Cable said Morrison is now “depth.” However, he is due to make more than $2 million this year. Unless Morrison takes a big paycut, I could see the team parting ways with him.
I know some San Diego fans were upset that linebacker Tim Dobbins was included in the blockbuster trade that brought running back Ryan Mathews to the Chargers at No. 12. However, Dobbins is a situational player. The Chargers will move on without much trouble. They love inside linebacker Brandon Siler.
Mosley provided the AFC North blog great insight on how the Redskins handled their loss and how the Bengals can learn from those experiences.
Matt Mosley: I remember the Redskins being in a state of shock after Sean Taylor's death. It was similar in the fact that Taylor was away from his teammates in Miami because of an injury that he was recovering from. I think the fact that he hadn't been around his teammates as much made it harder for them to accept what had happened. Players such as former University of Miami stars Clinton Portis and Santana Moss took it harder than anyone. I know Moss had already been having a difficult season and he was almost despondent after Taylor's death.
Taylor was a more accomplished player than Henry and he didn't have a particularly troubled past -- as some people portrayed it to be at the time. One of the most important things that former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs did was allow his players time to grieve. He encouraged everyone to talk about Taylor. I recall hearing that safety coach Steve Jackson could barely make it through a meeting. But the grief and all the tears definitely brought those players closer together.
After a gut-wrenching loss to the Bills, the team flew to attend Taylor's funeral. Todd Collins had become the quarterback because of an injury to Jason Campbell. The Redskins went on an improbable winning streak and somehow made the playoffs. I know they used their pain and their love for Taylor to drive them during those weeks. I always think it seems trite when we immediately start talking about how teams are going to rally around a tragic situation. I don't look it at that way. But I do think the Redskins played with more passion the rest of the way in order to honor their fallen teammate.
I thought it was one of Gibbs' finest moments in a Hall of Fame career. He let players see him grieving -- and that was important. It let them know that it was OK to open up to each other and put a voice to what they were feeling. With the death of Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's wife and now this awful tragedy, the Bengals are a team that has seen a ridiculous amount of adversity. I think this is a team that performs at a high level no matter what the circumstances. But I do think that the Bengals will face a lot of things this week and next that are nearly impossible to prepare for. I think coach Marvin Lewis would be wise to give Gibbs a call. He's one of the few coaches out there who could relate to how Lewis is feeling right now.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
"They did what's best for the team, and I'm happy for them," Springs said in a telephone conversation. "I'm going to miss my friends there, but as long as it makes the team better, I understand. I'm a true fan of the sport."
Now you don't hear that every day. Springs has been a consistent performer and he helped jump-start last season's 6-2 record. His position was sacrificed to make room under the salary cap for Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall, but you can't replace the guy's character. Watching him continue to play while his father, Ron, lay in a coma in a Dallas hospital was pretty remarkable. He did it as a tribute to his father. And now there's an outside chance he could finish his career with his dad's team, the Cowboys.
Financially, the move makes sense for the Redskins. But the Redskins will certainly miss Springs' physical style on the field and his leadership in the locker room. The bond that was formed in the aftermath of Sean Taylor's death is something these players will always have.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
As far as NFL executives go, the Redskins' Vinny Cerrato is normally about the closest thing to an open book as you'll find. When his position as owner Daniel Snyder's right-hand man was eliminated by coach Marty Schottenheimer in 2001, Cerrato took his gift of the gab to ESPN, where he served as a college football analyst.
But before Snyder could even deliver the news that Schottenheimer was fired after one season, Cerrato was back on the payroll. The two have been inseparable ever since, which is something that annoys a lot of Redskins fans. Coaches come and go, but Cerrato is the one constant.
|Andy Lyons/Getty Images|
|Second-round picks Fred Davis and Devin Thomas have yet to contribute much on the field.|
He's now the executive vice president of football operations and he's led a delegation of coaches and scouts to the NFL combine this week in Indianapolis. I visited with him for about 20 minutes Thursday, although I did most of the visiting. Unlike our conversations in the past, Cerrato seemed determined not to shed any light on which direction the Redskins might go in free agency and the draft.
Cerrato asked whether Giants general manager Jerry Reese had pulled back the curtain on his plans for Plaxico Burress. I quickly informed him that Reese had e-mailed the plan over that very morning.
Cerrato's sick of hearing the same questions, but they're not going away anytime soon. When you draft two wide receivers and a tight end in the second round of the 2008 draft and they combine to do virtually nothing, the questions come from every direction. Devin Thomas has game-breaking speed, but his work ethic came into question last year. Malcolm Kelly had a knee injury and tight end Fred Davis out of USC seems like somewhat of a flake. Cerrato defended the draft picks, but he's also challenged each of them.
"You can't panic," he said. "The two receivers missed all of training camp. Malcolm had the knee injury. Devin and Fred will improve a lot. But I've told them them that our improvement as a team depends a lot on how they do this offseason. I'm putting the pressure on those guys."
Most people were relieved to see the Redskins bypass all the wild-spending in free agency to build through the draft last April. But out of nine picks, seventh-rounder Chris Horton was the only player to make a significant impact. On the surface, it looks like the Redskins grossly overestimated the core group of players that helped them make an emotional playoff run following Sean Taylor's tragic death in 2007.
Over the last eight years, the Redskins haven't made drafting offensive and defensive linemen a major priority. It's hard to believe they have drafted only four interior linemen in the first four rounds of the draft since 2000. And that's a large reason they now have the oldest offensive line in the NFL.
You can talk about the quarterback and the lack of a pass rush all you want, but this team's collapse in the second half of last season coincided with the breakdown of the offensive line. Pro Bowl left tackle Chris Samuels, a former first-round pick, suffered a season-ending injury and veteran players such as Jon Jansen, Randy Thomas and Pete Kendall appeared to wear down. Kendall is an unrestricted free agent and coach Jim Zorn revealed Thursday that Thomas recently underwent surgery for a neck injury.
But since this league's all about the quarterback, it's important to note that Jason Campbell is entering the final year of his contract. He would like the security of an extension this offseason, but the Redskins aren't showing any interest in making that happen. I reminded Cerrato (not that he needed it) how Jerry Jones ended up paying Tony Romo an extra $10 million or so because the quarterback played so well early in a contract year. And the Cardinals are now dealing with a similar issue with Kurt Warner. Still, Cerrato told me the Redskins don't feel any pressure to extend Campbell at this point.
"He made some strides last year," Cerrato said of Campbell. "He cut down his turnovers. I thought he made great strides with that."
But I've spent enough time with Campbell to know that he functions best when he believes the organization is completely behind him. The fact the Redskins aren't even considering an extension will be weighing on his mind as he enters t
he 2009 season. I know it was something that bothered Romo in 2007, but he used it as motivation and ended up sticking it to Jones, who didn't mind that much since the Cowboys were winning games.
Cerrato said he's talked to the agents for all of the team's unrestricted free agents. He didn't come out and say it, but it's pretty obvious that re-signing free-agent cornerback DeAngelo Hall is a major priority. Cerrato confirmed that he will meet with Hall's agent at the combine to discuss a long-term deal. But with corners such as the Colts' Kelvin Hayden receiving lucrative deals already, there's really no hope of Hall giving the Redskins a hometown discount.
"We're going to meet with his people," Cerrato said. "He played really well for us last year."
On the surface, it doesn't look like the Redskins have the salary cap space to do anything dramatic in free agency, but Cerrato said the team is in position to be relatively aggressive.
"We'll have room to do things," he said. "We've moved some things around to put us in position."
|AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez|
|Many mock drafts have the Redskins selecting Texas DE Brian Orakpo with the No. 13 pick.|
Of all the things that go into the combine, Cerrato said he values the interview sessions the most. The Redskins normally have six or seven people sitting in the room, and they used to bring in a psychologist. Cerrato said that quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Brady Quinn were two of the best interviews he's observed.
"I like the interviews because it's sort of an unknown," Cerrato said. "But the most important thing in the whole process is the film. That's where you gather a lot of the information."
Cerrato said the best combine workout he's ever seen involved former Notre Dame safety Tom Carter, who had 18 interceptions for the Redskins from 1993-96. He said Carter had a 42-inch vertical and ran a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash.
Cerrato's hoping he can find someone with similar ability in the No. 13 spot. The Redskins could end up taking an offensive lineman or a pass-rusher. He said this draft has a lot of "tweeners" at defensive end and outside linebacker. Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo keeps showing up on mock drafts at 13, but Cerrato wasn't about to tip his hand.
With only four picks in April's draft, though, the Redskins don't have much margin for error.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Seahawks' victory over the Rams leaves St. Louis in the lead for the No. 2 overall choice in the 2009 draft.
The next two weeks will probably affect the eventual order at the top of the draft, but here's how the top 10 would shake out at present, according to the league:
1. Detroit (0-14)
2. St. Louis (2-12): The last five players drafted second overall were Chris Long (Rams), Calvin Johnson (Lions), Reggie Bush (Saints), Ronnie Brown (Dolphins) and Robert Gallery (Raiders).
3. Kansas City (2-12)
4. Cincinnati (2-11-1)
5. Seattle (3-11). The last five players drafted fifth overall were Glenn Dorsey (Chiefs), Levi Brown (Cardinals), A.J. Hawk (Packers), Cadillac Williams (Bucs) and Sean Taylor (Redskins).
6. Oakland (3-11)
7. Cleveland (4-9)
8. San Francisco (5-9): The last five players drafted eighth overall were Derrick Harvey (Jaguars), Jamaal Anderson (Falcons), Donte Whitner (Bills), Antrel Rolle (Cardinals) and DeAngelo Hall (Falcons).
9. Jacksonville (5-9)
10. Green Bay (5-9)
The Rams would be picking second overall for the second year in a row. They've addressed the defensive line early in recent drafts. This might be time to help the offensive line. Orlando Pace certainly worked out well for them as an early pick.
The 49ers last picked among the top eight when they selected tight end Vernon Davis sixth overall in 2006.
Huge game for the Redskins after watching the Cowboys improve to 8-4 Thursday. The Giants are the best team in football, though, and coach Tom Coughlin doesn't allow for letdowns. The Giants got that loss out of the way against Cleveland and haven't looked back.
The Redskins are a completely different team than the one that opened the season in the Meadowlands. The Giants feasted on Jim Zorn's West Coast offense and did a nice job of taking running back Clinton Portis out of the game. Jason Campbell has been up and down since that game, but he's certainly capable of burning you if given enough time in the pocket.
Expect Zorn to commit to the running game from the start. Everything in this offense feeds off Portis' success on the ground. The Giants are the sixth-best rushing defense in the league heading into Sunday. They'll have to survive what should be a huge emotional wave from the Redskins early. The late Sean Taylor will be inducted into the Ring of Fame before the game. Zorn wants his players to absorb the special moment and then re-focus on playing.
Both teams have some key injuries. For the Giants, Plaxico Burress and Brandon Jacobs are still banged up. And you should keep an eye on Fred Robbins' shoulder injury. He's a big part of that elite defensive line. The Redskins might have to go without middle linebacker London Fletcher and defensive end Andre Carter, who both have foot injuries. Linebacker Marcus Washington has already been ruled out.
Carter actually went through some drills in Thursday's practice, but Fletcher didn't do anything. It would be a big surprise, though, if Fletcher sits out. He's one of the most durable players in the league and he's played through pain before. Plus, he's the emotional leader for this defense.
I think this is the type of game that could hinge on a big play on special teams. Rock Cartwright does a really nice job in all phases of special teams for the Redskins. But Domenik Hixon is the Giants player who can absolutely take over a game.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
- Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News loved what he saw from Tony Romo on Sunday.
- Calvin Watkins of the DMN discusses the Cowboys' injury issues.
- Jean-Jacques Taylor is sticking to his guns after saying that T.O. needed to play a lesser role in the offense.
- Randy Galloway of the Star-Telegram and 103.3 ESPN FM writes that Jason Garrett's system seemed to work just fine for T.O. on Sunday.
- The Cowboys' mascot Rowdy was banished from the sideline Sunday.
- Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News and ESPN's "Around the Horn" focuses on the Cowboys' defense.
- Steve Patton has more on the McNabb benching in the Reading Eagle.
- Since we've already linked to most of the McNabb columns, let's take a look a look at what 700 Level is saying.
- So how did Kevin Kolb look?
- Mike Ditka doesn't think Donovan McNabb is to blame for Philadelphia's problems this season.
- Ralph Vacchiano talks about how the Giants found yet another way to win.
- Tim Smith of the Daily News said the Giants didn't flinch when they lost Brandon Jacobs.
- Mike Vaccaro of the Post doesn't think anyone can stop the Giants.
- Richard Obert talks about how Domenik Hixon wasn't given much notice that he'd be returning kickoffs. Certainly didn't seem to matter.
- Bob Glauber of Newsday fame took the Eli Manning angle.
- Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post talks about how Clinton Portis took it to the Seahawks.
- Les Carpenter talks about Shawn Springs making the game-clinching interception against his former team.
- Ryan O'Halloran of the Washington Times has more on Springs' interception and how it bailed out Ladell Betts.
- Mike Wise of the Post talks about the Holmgren-Zorn relationship.
- Dan Daly of the Washington Times talks about the spark in the Redskins' offense.
- Sean Taylor's vehicles are being auctioned off, according to Dan Steinberg.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Here's the latest from around the NFC Beast:
- Rookie running back Felix Jones injured his toe during rehab for a hamstring injury. At this point, it's unlikely that he'll play Sunday against the 49ers.
- Here's another injury update from Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- In case you missed it earlier today, Randy Galloway didn't hold anything back in his "Welcome back, Pacman" column.
- Donovan McNabb tries to put the overtime rule behind him.
- Sam Donnellon says the Eagles are the worst franchise in town.
- John Smallwood of the Daily News says McNabb could've made life a lot easier on himself by just acknowledging his mistake and moving on.
- Frank Fitzpatrick of the Inquirer compares the McNabb situation to Hamlet.
- Brian Westbrook came out Wednesday and admitted that his ankle is not right.
- Gary Myers wonders why Plaxico Burress has played such a small role in his team's success lately.
- Always great to hear from Daily News writer Ohm Youngmisuk. He's talking about Kurt Warner's respect for young Eli Manning.
- Paul Schwartz writes about the Cardinals' dynamic duo of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
- Tom Rock has more on the Fitzgerald-Boldin angle.
- Dear Big Blue Screen, feel free to use my personal e-mail. I don't always find things in the mailbag. Here's Vacchiano with an update on Brandon Jacobs.
- Jim Zorn talks to his team about Sean Taylor's legacy.
- Malcolm Kelly may finally get a shot to play.
- Jason La Canfora catches up with the Redskins' head-coaching candidates.
- Zorn could've been a museum curator. Seriously.
- Ryan O'Halloran, one of our favorites from the Washington Times, talks about Zorn's return to Seattle.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch calls Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck a "treat" on media conference calls. Thomas follows an item on Seattle's receivers with Hasselbeck's observations on the Rams' defensive problems. Hasselbeck thinks the Rams get in trouble trying to disguise coverages. Of course, Hasselbeck would probably prefer opposing defenses to telegraph their intentions.
Also from Thomas: Dane Looker, suddenly a starting receiver, keeps defying the odds.
More from Thomas: Things have gotten ugly in a hurry at Rams Park, where ownership has already made cryptic statements about jobs being on the line.
Dan Brown of 49ers Hot Read compares Manny Lawson to other first-round picks, with special attention to the fact Lawson was limited to special teams in Week 2.
Also from Brown: Packers coach Mike McCarthy, a former offensive coordinator in San Francisco, never would have played Alex Smith as early as the 49ers played him, but that wasn't his call.
Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers says coach Mike Nolan is being "secretive" about the extent of Jonas Jennings' injury. Barry Sims gets the start at right tackle this week. Jennings has more talent, but Sims has been a more consistent player.
Also from Maiocco: The Lions heap praise on J.T. O'Sullivan.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News Democrat says the Rams are on pace to allow 80 sacks this season. The team record is 59.
Also from Korte: Rams players know the stakes are high, particularly for coach Scott Linehan. Looker says players must step up.
Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle relays Jon Kitna's high praise for O'Sullivan. Kitna: "I've never been around a person who can throw the ball as firmly and as accurately as he can with as quick of a release. He looks like he's in a situation where he'd be lucky to get a 5-yard throw off, and he can uncork a 20-yard throw with some velocity on it."
Also from FitzGerald: An injury update. Also, Nate Clements concedes to making a "mental error" in drawing a 15-yard penalty for celebrating Patrick Willis' touchdown at Seattle.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Kitna absorbed 114 sacks in two seasons under Mike Martz. O'Sullivan is on pace for 96 this season.
Also from Barrows: Jennings has missed 27 starts to injury since signing a lucrative free-agent deal with the 49ers in 2005. Barrows: "Coach Mike Nolan acknowledged Wednesday that it was prudent of general manager Scot McCloughan to acquire Sims. Considering Jennings' injury history, however, it was a no-brainer."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Jim Zorn, who is facing high expectations in his first season with the Redskins.
Also from Somers: Kurt Warner likes to go long on the field, but he isn't looking forward to staying on the East Coast between games.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Antrel Rolle heads to Washington, D.C., this week with late Redskins safety Sean Taylor on his mind. Rolle and Taylor played together at the University of Miami.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times digests Mike Holmgren's thoughts on keeping two kickers. He tries to explain the rationale without necessarily buying into it.
Also from O'Neil: The Seahawks expect to push Koren Robinson onto the field quickly because they essentially have no feasible alternative.
Greg Johns of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Koren Robinson's legs were feeling the strain as the receiver practiced with Seattle for the first time since 2005.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer checks in with former Seahawks kicker Josh Brown, who has become the Rams' top weapon on offense.
Jose Romero of the Seattle Times also has the latest from Brown.
Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian checks in with former Oregon State running back Yvenson Bernard. As a member of the Seahawks' practice squad, Bernard is impersonating another former Oregon State back: Steven Jackson.
John Morgan of Field Gulls takes issue with our analysis on the 49ers' use of their nickel defense. Former 49ers quarterback Trent Dilfer told me he thought it was a great move, and the first-half numbers I analyzed showed Seattle enjoying most of its success from three-receiver personnel groupings. The key, I thought, was that the 49ers were able to force turnovers in the passing game and keep Hasselbeck's completion percentage low.