Greetings, and Happy Cinco de Mayo.
A look back at the most recent NFC West chat shows the concussion issue permeating what are usually football-related discussions. The issue was a significant one for the division last season as several players, notably Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb and St. Louis Rams tackle Jason Smith, missed extended periods after suffering head injuries.
Both men absorbed inadvertent knees to the head (as did the San Francisco 49ers' Delanie Walker, who suffered a broken jaw as a result). There was not much anyone could have done to prevent these injuries, but as ESPN's Merril Hoge said Friday, how teams and players respond can make all the difference.
NFC West teams seemed to respond appropriately in these cases. Walker said he did not suffer a concussion, only the jaw injury. Kolb and Smith missed extended periods following their concussions.
Brian from Arizona asks whether Kolb, who suffered a concussion playing for Philadelphia prior to suffering one last season, would have to consider retirement if he suffered one serious enough to sideline him for multiple games in 2012.
Mike Sando: Reasonably, yes, but we have evidence suggesting players will try to keep playing, and teams will keep giving them chances. I wonder if we're headed for a day when players must go through some sort of neurological or medical board to get a license to play in the NFL. Sort of the way boxing requires boxers to get a license. I mean, Brandon Stokley is playing in the NFL after suffering more than 10 significant concussions, by his count.
David from Maryland asks which wide receivers are most likely to stick on the Rams' initial 53-man roster.
Mike Sando: We need to know whether Steve Smith is going to be healthy. A scout for an NFL team told me he though the Rams would cut a receiver who would catch on with another team. Brian Quick makes it as a second-round choice. Danny Amendola makes it as a slot receiver. I suspect Greg Salas makes it. Chris Givens has a decent shot as a fourth-round pick. We haven't even mentioned Brandon Gibson, Austin Pettis or Danario Alexander. My feel is that injuries will make some of the decisions for the Rams. Smith and Alexander are two players to watch on that front. Can they hold up OK?
Boothe from parts unknown asks which is a more plausible hypothesis: The 49ers approached this draft with an eye on giving Alex Smith more weapons, or that they drafted these players to pair with Colin Kaepernick (in the near future) in a more dynamic, high-speed offense? "Or is neither exclusive of the other?" he asks.
Mike Sando: The 49ers were adding to their offense, period. If Alex Smith makes the most of those weapons, good for him. If not, on to the next guy. I'm sure they're thinking in the backs of their minds about a day when Colin Kaepernick, A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James are on the field together with Vernon Davis, etc. But for now, Alex Smith gets first crack.
Mike Sando: Mike Williams wouldn't offer enough as a blocker. Plus, he is 230 pounds, too light for a tight end, and he has had trouble staying healthy. The team needs to add a real tight end. Visanthe Shiancoe is the most logical candidate by far among veteran free agents. He is 32, but he has not missed games.
Enjoy your Saturday. I'll be ducking out to watch our youngest play baseball.