Around the NFC West: WR's health key

Danario Alexander has proved he can be a big-play receiver for the St. Louis Rams when healthy enough to get on the field.

Alexander played 41 percent of the offensive snaps last season, up from 19 percent as a rookie in 2010. He owns a healthy 16-yard average on his 46 receptions over the past two seasons. But he missed a five-game stretch in the middle of the season and is having some issues this offseason.

With bigger numbers at the position this offseason, Alexander could have a harder time earning a roster spot.

Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis offers thoughts on Alexander as the Rams conduct organized team activities. Softli: "His multiple knee surgeries are well documented, but now soft-tissue injuries are creeping back into the picture -- and the Rams just started the offseason program. In order to impress the new regime of head coach Jeff Fisher, general manager Les Snead and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, the former Missouri Tiger must stay healthy, compete and put his full set of talents on display." Noted: This is a tough situation for Alexander. He has fought through serious injuries, enduring pain and disappointment. He is only 23 years old, but chronic injuries can worsen over time.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Aldon Smith denied any intent to injure Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at Candlestick Park last season. Smith: "Our goal was to win the game. We don't go out and talk about hurting other players, their ankles or injuries or any of that. We were going out to win the game. The quarterback, he controls the game. So if he got hit, it happens."

Also from Barrows: 49ers rookie Trenton Robinson comes to the team with something to prove. Robinson lacks ideal height for a safety, but he's relatively rangy.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers have lots of fallback options behind starting fullback Bruce Miller. Maiocco: "Technically, there's only one player listed behind Miller on the depth chart: undrafted rookie Cameron Bell, a fullback from Northern Illinois. But, unofficially, there are a lot of players on both sides of the ball who can lend assistance."

Also from Maiocco: Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham skipped the Giants' Super Bowl ring ceremony to practice with the 49ers. Jacobs: "I think winning a championship is important, not many people have one and not many people have had a chance to play in a Super Bowl. I respect that, but right now, I'm working towards the same goal with a new team. I think my goal here is pretty clear on what I'm trying to achieve as an individual player and as a team."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Doug Baldwin was the sixth player to lead the team in receptions during his first year with the team. Steve Largent, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, John Carlson, Mike Williams and Derrick Mayes were the others.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Baldwin is one of eight wide receivers on the roster who caught at least one pass for the team last season. O'Neil: "The exact pecking order of those receivers, though, is going to be something that will be sorted out in one of the most wide open competitions over the course of this offseason and into training camp. Can Sidney Rice stay healthy? Can Mike Williams rebound to the form he showed in 2011? Can Golden Tate continue the progress he showed in the second half of last season."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Seahawks safety Earl Thomas downplays the individual honors he's won to this point in his career. Thomas: "I don’t know what everybody else thinks, but in my eyes, if you’re a great player, the personal accolades are going to come, but you just let them fall and play ball. I’ve been playing ball since I was little, and I love doing it. If people like the way I play, that’s fine. If they don’t, that’s fine, too. I just like to play ball."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic notes that Nate Potter is the fifth of seven Cardinals draft choices to sign with the team.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the team will open training camp July 24, an early start reflecting the Cardinals' participation in the Hall of Fame game against New Orleans on Aug. 5. Urban: "The Cardinals could have gone to camp 15 days prior to that -- three days before they will end up going -- but coach Ken Whisenhunt had said the Cards wouldn’t go that early."