Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman catches up with St. Louis Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford. Carlson: "Bradford has become a quick fan favorite in St. Louis. While there is no word of billboards with his face or murals with his name springing up around town just yet — hey, the Cardinals are still kings in St. Louis -- he has clearly given the Rams and their fans reason to hope. That's why he's already been shuttled around town to meet every sponsor, every season-ticket holder and fan possible. Bradford already senses the difference in expectations." Bradford: "Sometimes ... you do pinch yourself and think, 'Wow, this is crazy,' but I know I've been blessed with an extremely great opportunity." Bradford's temperament suggests he'll handle the off-field stuff ably. That's one of the reasons the Rams felt comfortable drafting him with the first overall choice.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the team's situation at quarterback isn't what it might seem. Farnsworth: "The situation at quarterback has been misrepresented since the club made the trade to acquire [Charlie] Whitehurst. Hasselbeck remains the starter, and his performance this spring has only cemented that status. He is healthier than he has been in two years and the improvements on the O-line should help insure that remains the case."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times has this to say about Seahawks rookie Earl Thomas: "Earl has got some range out there. My question will be how he physically holds up as he's smaller, but I think that Seattle has a real playmaking ballhawk back there. Who would you say Seattle's last real playmaker at safety was? Michael Boulware in 2004, his rookie year when he had the pick against Minnesota?" Boulware did his damage playing linebacker in the nickel defense. Off the top of my head, Darryl Williams might be the last true playmaking safety the Seahawks employed. They had a chance to sign John Lynch and Rodney Harrison years ago, but concerns over age and injuries led the Seahawks to head in different directions.
Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star Tribune checks in with Cardinals receiver and Minnesota native Larry Fitzgerald for thoughts on Brett Favre and the Vikings. Fitzgerald expects Favre to return. Fitzgerald: "Honestly, if he didn’t comeback I wouldn’t mind. You look at the NFC right now, you think of the Cowboys, you think of the Green Bay Packers, you think of the Minnesota Vikings. Those are the three juggernauts in our conference and if Brett wasn’t back I don’t know." Surely Fitzgerald hasn't forgotten about the team that ended Arizona's 2009 season.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com looks at Darnell Dockett's ESPN-related schedule for Friday. Dockett squares off against Skip Bayless on ESPN2 before joining the "Scott Van Pelt Show," ESPNEWS, "NFL Live" and "SportsCenter."
Also from Urban: The Cardinals are altering the way they structure some rookie contracts. Urban: "In the past, the first-rounder has always had a longer deal (usually six years), the second-rounder got a four-year deal, and everyone else signed for three seasons (with the team knowing the player would be a restricted free agent at that point and he could be tendered for one year, extended or just let go). Graves said the lower picks will now get four-year deals. It’s the wave of the NFL and few teams are still doing it the way the Cards have been, so the Cardinals are just going to go with the league’s flow."
Sam Whiting of the San Francisco Chronicle checks in with 49ers legend Joe Montana, who has this to say about the inconveniences of fame: "Some people have no respect whether you are with your family or not. That's the hardest part. I was shopping in a grocery store in Seattle looking for stuff for (son) Nicholas. This guy kept following me with his cell phone video on. The lady comes up and says, 'Can I have a picture?' I said, 'I don't do pictures anymore.' If you're out to dinner, one is never enough. The same person will shoot 10 while you're eating. I sign autographs. It's getting a little bit easier because I'm getting older, and a lot of the younger people are like, 'Who's that?' You will be walking through an airport, and you get, 'Aren't you Joe Namath?' " What would you do if you ran into Montana at the market?
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com takes a look at various 49ers camp battles. Maiocco: "I don't believe Ahmad Brooks is ready to be an every-down player at outside linebacker over Manny Lawson. But if Brooks cuts down on the mental errors and shows great improvement in pass coverage during training camp, he'll get his chance." Brooks has earned a shot at more playing time, but there's also a chance he'll be less effective outside his previous role. The 49ers might be best off seeing how he fares in his previous role over the course of a full season.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee thinks undrafted rookie Scott Long has a chance to earn a spot on the 49ers' practice squad. Barrows: "If I had to make a prediction now, I'd say the 49ers will keep five receivers on their active roster and another youngster on the practice squad. (Remember, Dominique Zeigler doesn't have any more practice-squad eligibility). Long was battling the flu during the team's rookie minicamp in May, and he had a hard time getting reps in June. Like any undrafted free agent, he needs to take advantage of those precious opportunities when training camp practices begin August 2."
Also from Barrows: using special-teams lineups to help determine which backups are most likely to earn roster spots.