NFL Nation: Tom Brandstater
Most significant move: The Rams released No. 2 quarterback Kellen Clemens even though Clemens knew the offense better than any player on the roster. Clemens, who spent time with the New York Jets when Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer held the same job there, lost out to impressive undrafted free-agent quarterback Austin Davis.
Davis, drafted by the Boston Red Sox this year, stood out during preseason for his poise. Some players appear as though they belong. Davis did, at least initially. The preliminary assumption here is that Davis fared well enough to win the No. 2 role, although rosters remain fluid and the Rams will consider veterans at every position as they become available. The Rams also released Tom Brandstater, who was initially thought to be competing with Davis for the third-string role.
Onward and upward: Clemens could catch on with another team. Overall, however, the Rams had more holes than front-line talent to fill those holes. The players they released will not be coveted elsewhere. That was partly because the suspension Austin Pettis faces for the first two games bought the Rams time at wide receiver, where the team has quite a few mid-level prospects. With Pettis on the reserve/suspended list and not counting against the 53-man limit, the Rams kept the six receivers considered most likely to stick, including veteran Steve Smith and second-year pro Greg Salas.
Veteran fullback Ovie Mughelli received his release and could appeal to the dwindling number of teams valuing a traditional blocking fullback. The Rams kept only four running backs on this initial 53-man roster. They parted with Chase Reynolds after coach Jeff Fisher lauded the 24-year-old back as someone with the ability to close out a game.
The Rams also cut Aaron Brown, Cornell Banks, Cory Harkey, Jamaar Jarrett, Jose Valdez, Scott Smith, Mason Brodine, Nick Johnson, Ben Guidugli, Kendric Burney, Deangelo Peterson, Sammy Brown, T. Bob Hebert, Tim Barnes, Bryan Mattison, Vernon Gholston and Joe Long. Gholston could be running out of chances.
What's next: The Rams need help throughout their roster. They have the No. 2 priority in waiver claims. Expect them to put that privilege to use. The Rams should be active in pursuing help at defensive tackle after losing first-round pick Michael Brockers for a month (estimated) with a high-ankle sprain. Trevor Laws is already on injured reserve.
The Rams have only eight offensive linemen, one fewer than teams generally prefer to keep. They could use another one. They kept six linebackers, on the low side. The team is carrying 11 defensive backs at present. I wouldn't be surprised if they shopped former starting corner Bradley Fletcher, who was playing deep into games in preseason.
Assessing the Rams' backup QB situation if Sam Bradford is injured and misses time.
The Rams have bet bigger on their starting quarterback than any team in the NFC West, committing $50 million in guarantees to Bradford as the first overall choice of the 2010 draft. Their 2012 season would lose purpose if a serious injury forced the Rams in another direction at the position.
Backup Kellen Clemens played for new Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer when both were with the New York Jets. Clemens' familiarity with the offense gives him an edge. But with a 4-8 starting record and a 7-12 career ratio of touchdowns to interceptions, the Jets' 2006 second-round choice projects as a backup.
Clemens did leave a generally positive impression while leading the Rams to a near-upset of the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17 last season. He scrambled 18 yards for one touchdown and found Brandon Lloyd for a late 36-yard scoring pass.
The Rams also signed Tom Brandstater and rookie free agent Austin Davis.
Confidence rating (out of 100) if Bradford is out for extended period: 25.
The Rams will be without veteran defensive tackle Fred Robbins, who was questionable on the injury report and did not practice during the week. Robbins' absence means more playing time for Darell Scott and Gary Gibson.
Also inactive for the Rams: quarterback A.J. Feeley, quarterback Tom Brandstater, running back Quinn Porter, fullback Brit Miller, linebacker Justin Cole and guard Kevin Hughes. Kellen Clemens will serve as the backup quarterback to Sam Bradford.
For Seattle, linebacker David Hawthorne is active. The Seahawks' inactive list features quarterback Josh Portis, safety Jeron Johnson, cornerback Kennard Cox, linebacker Adrian Moten, guard Mike Gibson, guard Paul Fanaika and defensive tackle Pep Levingston.
Getting him back Monday night still improves the St. Louis Rams' chances against Seattle, and probably by a significant margin. Backup A.J. Feeley isn't available. The other backups, Tom Brandstater and Kellen Clemens, have spent little time with the team and lack Bradford's talent.
From a Rams standpoint, I'm most interested in seeing whether the coaching staff tries to protect Bradford by leaning more heavily on Steven Jackson and the running game. The Rams conceded the run during their 24-7 home defeat to Seattle in Week 11.
Conditions for passing the ball could improve with Mark LeVoir returning to take over at left tackle for the Rams. But crowd noise will still be a problem. And even if the line is better with LeVoir on the left side and Adam Goldberg moving back to the right, the Rams are still facing a formidable defensive front on the road with a pair of backup tackles.
Bradford, slowed by an ankle injury, was among the players St. Louis declared inactive 90 minutes before the 4:15 p.m. ET kickoff. Feeley, 1-1 as a starter for the Rams this season, will start against San Francisco. The Rams also declared safety Darian Stewart, running back Cadillac Williams, linebacker Josh Hull, guard Kevin Hughes, tackle Mark LeVoir and defensive end C.J. Ah You inactive.
The 49ers' list featured quarterback Scott Tolzien, receiver Braylon Edwards, cornerback Shawntae Spencer, fullback Moran Norris, guard Daniel Kilgore, guard Mike Person and nose tackle Ian Williams.
Bradford missed practice during the week after aggravating the high-ankle sprain he suffered this season. There was no sense risking his physical well-being behind an offensive line playing without both starting tackles, in my view.
Quarterback Sam Bradford did not miss a snap during his 2010 rookie season with the St. Louis Rams.
Bradford did not make it through the Rams' first game this season, missing the final nine offensive snaps against Philadelphia after injuring a finger. The pounding Bradford has taken caught up with him Saturday when the Rams downgraded him to doubtful for their game against Dallas in Week 7.
A.J. Feeley will start. Signing Tom Brandstater from the practice squad indicates Bradford won't be available.
The down time should be good for Bradford, who hasn't practiced since suffering a high-ankle sprain on the Rams' final offensive play against Green Bay last week. If he wasn't healthy enough to drop back and throw in practice Friday, the ankle wasn't going to let him scramble away from DeMarcus Ware and the Cowboys' defense, either.
Bradford's injury comes just as the offense was showing signs of improvement with a 424-yard game against the Packers. Acquiring receiver Brandon Lloyd and welcoming back receiver Mark Clayton from injury (not this week, but soon) will give Bradford a better chance for success once he does return. High sprains can take weeks to heal, however. The injury could affect Bradford for the remainder of the season, but if he has receivers getting open and holding onto the ball, he'll be in better position to find them before pressure arrives.
The last time Feeley, 34, started in the regular season, he completed 19 of 42 passes for 220 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions for Philadelphia during a 2007 home defeat to Seattle. The last time he won a start was in 2004, for Miami. He has a 7-8 career record as a starter.
Signed quarterback Tom Brandstater, defensive end John Chick, receiver Brandon James, defensive back Mike Newton and receiver Blair White to the practice squad.
Were awarded defensive tackle Landon Cohen off waivers from the Detroit Lions. Released offensive lineman Paul McQuistan.
Signed offensive tackle Daniel Baldridge, tight end Mike Caussin, receiver John Matthews, and defensive tackle Kommonyan Quaye to the practice squad.
Were awarded linebacker Tim Shaw from the Chicago Bears and linebacker Patrick Bailey from the Pittsburgh Steelers off waivers. Released linebackers Stanford Keglar and running back LeGarrette Blount.
Signed defensive lineman Hall Davis, receiver Dominique Edison, cornerback Pete Ittersagen, center Kevin Matthews, safety Myron Rolle and linebacker Patrick Trahan to the practice squad.
- The Colts sat 32 players.
- The kick and punt return candidates didn’t seem to do a whole lot to differentiate themselves. Devin Moore took two punts 4 yards and Brandon James took one punt 2 yards. Those two and Ray Fisher all had averages between 17.5 and 25 yards on kickoffs.
- James and Tom Brandstater certainly had nice statistical nights, linking up for three touchdowns and a 2-point conversion in the final 20 minutes of the game.
- Indy gave up a 93-yard touchdown run to Cedric Peerman and didn’t get a run longer than Javarris James’ 12-yarder.
- Even playing a large share of guys who will be cut by Saturday, the Colts played pretty clean. They committed just three penalties worth 30 yards, while Cincinnati had 11 for 99.
- The starters on offense put together a smooth and efficient 89-yard touchdown drive on their first chance. Peyton Manning hit on 8 of 10 passes for 91 yards, and got to where people want him in these games -- to the sideline with a ball cap on.
- The front-line defense, minus some key guys who were held out, made plays. Philip Wheeler forced a fumble right out of the gate. Robert Mathis pushed rookie tackle Anthony Davis around. Jerraud Powers pounced on a tipped ball for an interception, and scared Ted Ginn into a drop.
- Rookie linebackers Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner were both very productive. Angerer had a couple sacks, and Conner was in on a lot of tackles. Barring injuries, there should not be room for them on defense. But they should be impact special teams guys.
- Curtis Painter was incredibly ineffective. Even with protection issues, his performance makes it impossible to say he’s improved on his rookie work. He was 9-for-19 for 64 yards with three interceptions. Yeesh. San Francisco third-stringer Nate Davis was more calm and collected than Painter and the Colts’ third quarterback, Tom Brandstater.
- Everyone was looking for a chance to assess new returners, but we’ll have to wait at least until Game 2. Kickoff returns by Brandon James and Sam Giguere looked like the same old deal, and James only had a chance to field one punt.
- Run defense in the second half against San Francisco’s bulky rookie Anthony Dixon was insufficient. He will head back to the Bay Area feeling very good about himself after 21 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown.
- Reserve safety and special teamer Jamie Silva went down with what looks to be a serious knee injury.
It marked the first time first-round pick Tim Tebow hit the field with his veteran teammates. Denver had a rookie minicamp the weekend after the draft and will have a mandatory full-team minicamp next month. OTA’s are boring exercises. Yet, there was a buzz in the Mile High air Monday.
"That's not something I can control much," Tebow told reporters. "I think something my (teammates) will know is how hard I'll work, and my character and what I'm all about. So I don't think that will bother them too much, to be honest."
While Tebow is the big story in Denver, it is clear he still has a long way to go before he actually hits the field. Tebow is starting off as the fourth-string quarterback behind Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn and Tom Brandstater. Denver coach Josh McDaniels said during the draft weekend that Tebow would have to show he is better than each of his competitors before he bypasses any of them.
Still, the Broncos plan to use Tebow in some packages, likely in the red zone, before he takes over as the starter. So, expect him to move up to No.2 sometime this summer. It will be difficult to activate Tebow in games if he is the No. 3 quarterback.
Meanwhile, ESPN.com has a fun look at the Tebow hysteria as No. 15 experiences a dramatic change in Denver.
McDaniels traded three picks to take Tebow at No. 25. Despite mixed feelings on Tebow around the league, McDaniels believes he can make him a star.
Much of McDaniels’ attention will be spent getting Tebow ready to be an NFL starting quarterback. Still, the Broncos have three other quarterbacks on the roster: Kyle Orton, Brady Quinn (acquired in a trade last month) and Tom Brandstater.
Thursday night, McDaniels said Orton is still the starter, but he made it clear Tebow will get a chance to play when he’s ready. McDaniels said the team may design some packages for Tebow to play immediately and he could potentially play in the Wildcat formation as a rookie.
The following are my thoughts on where the four quarterbacks fit in Denver:
Orton: If Tebow develops as planned, this will likely be Orton’s last season in Denver. Orton is a free agent next year. If Tebow is starting in 2011, Orton will likely take a hike. If Tebow struggles with his mechanics and doesn’t develop, perhaps Orton could stay. Clearly, though, McDaniels envisions Orton as a bridge player and not the long-term answer.
Tebow: He is the star pupil at Camp McDaniels. Tebow will get every chance to succeed and McDaniels will give him masterful tutoring. Tebow is famous for his work ethic. If he stays the course, Tebow will have the chance to play some as a rookie and take over in 2011.The future is Tebow’s in Denver. He has to seize it.
Quinn: He has to be chagrined today. He was brought to Denver from Cleveland for Peyton Hillis and two low drafts picks last month. Quinn looked at the trade as a chance to salvage his career which began a first-round pick in 2007. Now, Quinn is yesterday’s news in Denver. Already. It’s all about Tebow. Quinn could possibly be Orton’s backup in 2010 and Tebow’s backup in 2011, but his realistic chances of being the quarterback of the future in Denver took a major hit Thursday night.
Brandstater: Like Quinn, Brandstater can’t be thrilled. He was a sixth-round pick last year and was considered a project. Brandstater did play decently in the preseason last year. Assuming Quinn is kept, Brandstater will be a candidate for the practice squad after being the No. 3 quarterback last year. If Quinn is ousted, Brandstater will likely stay as the No. 3.
That’s not a whole lot for a former first-round pick who is just 25 years old. Quinn may be heading toward bust status, but he has not been officially written off as a wasted prospect.
Denver coach Josh McDaniels has a great reputation for working with quarterbacks. Quinn fits McDaniels’ system. McDaniels made Matt Cassel a strong player in New England in 2008 and Kyle Orton performed well much of last season under McDaniels.
Maybe McDaniels can help Quinn reach his potential. Quinn will likely be very comfortable with McDaniels coaching him. Quinn played for Charlie Weis at Notre Dame. McDaniels is a Weis protégée.
Denver considered making a run at Quinn last year. The price tag would have been much higher. Denver got Quinn at a bargain basement price Sunday because Cleveland washed its hands of him. Quinn was 2-7 as Cleveland’s starter last year. He was mistake prone.
It does say something that new Cleveland head honcho Mike Holmgren had no interest in keeping Quinn. Holmgren knows his way around a quarterback room.
Still, McDaniels sees something in Quinn and he didn’t overspend to get him. It is worth it. If Quinn is the same bumbling player in practice in Denver as he was in games in Cleveland, it will go down as a low-cost mistake.
Orton will likely go into the 2010 season as the starter, but Quinn will be given the chance to compete with him and make his case to be the long-term quarterback. At the very least, Quinn appears to be an upgrade at backup quarterback over Chris Simms, who was atrocious last year when he had to play for an injured Orton.
Orton will surely feel more heat from Quinn this summer than he did from Simms last year. Denver brought in Quinn to see if he can become a solid starter at some point. Orton has to know it. Simms was never a threat.
It will be interesting to see if Orton shows up for Denver’s offseason conditioning program that starts Monday. Orton is a restricted free agent (he was given the first-round tender) and most restricted free agents aren’t expected to report to the offseason programs because they won’t sign their tenders until the summer. Perhaps Orton will feel the need to show up.
Or perhaps he will stay away as a form of protest.
I don’t expect Quinn to be ready to beat out Orton right away. It may take McDaniels some time to help Quinn erase his past on-field demons. But if Quinn has a good training camp and a better preseason than Orton, Denver might want to give him a chance to become the long-term answer at quarterback.
Quinn’s arrival in Denver may mean the Broncos won’t draft a quarterback early and go with a trio of Orton, Quinn and 2009 sixth-round pick Tom Brandstater in 2010.
In short, this move gives Denver options and it gives it a chance to resurrect the career of a player who was considered a top-flight prospect just three years ago.
At the price, it was a worthy trade.
Asked Saturday at the NFL combine if Marshall could be in a Denver uniform in 2010, McDaniels said “certainly.”
McDaniels said there is no timetable to hash out Marshall’s situation. He will likely become a restricted free agent Friday and there is expected to be interest on the trade market. An NFL head coach said Friday he thinks Denver will get a first-round pick in return for Marshall.
"I’m fond of Brandon,” McDaniels said. “He’s a good person and he’s been huge to our team.”
Still, if Denver gets a decent offer expect it to deal Marshall.
Here are other highlights from McDaniels’ session:
• Tight Tony Scheffler could also return. Scheffler is a likely restricted free agent and was suspended for the final game of the season along with Marshall for accountability issues.
• Third-year running back Peyton Hillis will remain on the team and McDaniels is looking forward to getting Hillis more involved. He expects to see third-year receiver Eddie Royal bounce back as well. Both Hillis and Royal were much less productive in McDaniels’ first season than they were as rookies in 2008.
• McDaniels is following the Darrent Williams murder trial and is up to speed on Elvis Dumervil and Marshall’s testimony.
• No. 2 quarterback Chris Simms could remain with the team and McDaniels is happy with Tom Brandstater' progress. McDaniels said the team has “high hopes” for Brandstater in the long run.
• McDaniels is confident new defensive coordinator Don Martindale will “do a phenomenal job.” Martindale, who coached Denver’s linebackers last season, replaced Mike Nolan. McDaniels said Martindale had the support of several of Denver’s players.
• Second-year player Seth Olsen is a candidate to start at left guard and center. McDaniels wants the team to get bigger on the offensive line and that’s one of the reasons why starting center Casey Wiegmann was cut this week.
The rest of the Eagles' inactives: CB Geoffrey Pope, S Quintin Demps, G/T Stacy Andrews, G Mike McGlynn, WR Kevin Curtis, TE Martin Rucker, DE Trevor Laws
Broncos inactives: Emergency QB Tom Brandstater, WR Eddie Royal, CB Ty Law, RB LaMont Jordan, S Vernon Fox, ILB/FB Spencer Larsen, G Seth Olsen, DL Chris Baker
Former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins will be introduced last for the Broncos. I'm sure there will be a huge roar from the crowd, but the Eagles haven't planned any formal ceremony to honor their former star.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Seahawks seventh-round Nick Reed made another strong case for a roster spot Saturday night. He deflected a punt, had 1.5 sacks and forced a fumble. He nearly blocked another punt in the final 30 seconds of the Seahawks' 27-13 victory at Qwest Field.
Reed also drew a personal-foul penalty for hitting Broncos quarterback Chris Simms in the legs, injuring Simms. This is one penalty that will not count against Reed when the Seahawks evaluate which players to keep on their initial 53-man roster. The fact that Reed was around the quarterback and punishing him is what matters.
Reed's strong showings this summer prove he's better than the backups he has faced against the Chargers and Broncos. That doesn't necessarily mean he'll earn a roster spot, but I do think Reed's status as a draft choice works in his favor. No team wants to watch one of its impressive late-round draft choices catch on with another team.
The Seahawks held a roster spot last season for 2008 seventh-rounder Brandon Coutu even though Coutu never played in a regular-season game. They also kept 2008 seventh-rounder Justin Forsett on the initial reduction to 53 players, releasing him one week into the season only after injuries created a severe need at receiver.
12:19 4th Qtr Philadelphia 30 Dallas 10 8:30 PM ET Seattle San Francisco Final Chicago 17 Detroit 34
1:00 PM ET Washington Indianapolis 1:00 PM ET Tennessee Houston 1:00 PM ET Cleveland Buffalo 1:00 PM ET San Diego Baltimore 1:00 PM ET New York Jacksonville 1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Tampa Bay 1:00 PM ET Oakland St. Louis 1:00 PM ET New Orleans Pittsburgh 1:00 PM ET Carolina Minnesota 4:05 PM ET Arizona Atlanta 4:25 PM ET New England Green Bay 8:30 PM ET Denver Kansas City