Good morning, NFC West.
I'm traveling back to Seattle on this first Monday morning in August, eager to see the Seahawks at training camp when they resume practicing Tuesday. Perhaps Terrell Owens will be there as well. The Seahawks plan to run the 38-year-old receiver through a workout Monday. If Owens impresses, we could have a genuine NFC West circus on our hands.
Let's take a look around the division.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigates the Rams' plans for protecting quarterback Sam Bradford. Miklasz: "During Fisher's 16 full seasons (1995-2010) coaching the Tennessee Titans, only two teams had more rushing attempts. Fisher's offense averaged 30 a game. Over the 16 seasons, the Titans had the NFL's fourth-lowest sack rate, giving up a sack on 5.5 percent of their passing attempts. ... Quarterback Kerry Collins was 34 when he joined the Titans in 2006. Collins set up in the pocket and stayed there, confusing tourists who visited Nashville in search of the famous Andrew Jackson statue. From 2008 through 2010, Collins played in 33 games, starting 28. The aging QB attempted 909 passes over the three seasons but got sacked only 27 times."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch say Rams receiver Brandon Gibson stood out during the team's scrimmage. Bradford: "This is our third year together. He's someone that I feel extremely comfortable with. Gibby's had a really good camp so far, too. I think he's playing at an extremely high level right now. He's running good routes, he's getting open, and today he made some tough catches. They were contested balls. He used his hands, and he went and got it."
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com offers running thoughts on the Rams from their scrimmage.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic thought Skelton played with poise. On Kevin Kolb: "(Kolb) missed seven games last season with a foot injury and a concussion, and his rib injury adds to the perception that he either is unlucky, brittle or both. Kolb's only completion came on his fourth, and last, attempt. His first pass was poorly thrown and intercepted. On the completion, he didn't have great protection and was running to his right when he was thrown down in the end zone by tackle Sedrick Ellis. Kolb hit the ground on his right side, with the 307-pound Ellis falling on top of him."
Also from Somers: overall thoughts from the Cardinals' performance.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com has some thoughts on Kolb's situation. Urban: "What do you want me to say? I don’t think it’s a character flaw that Kevin Kolb gets hurt. Does it hurt when he’s not on the field? Of course. Dave McGinnis used to say, 'Availability is more important than ability' and in many ways, that’s true. If you can’ stay healthy, the rest doesn’t matter. But you’re never going to convince me Kolb is less of a person because he won’t 'tough out' an injury. Especially in a freaking preseason game. The first one, in fact. I would give tonight to John Skelton, obviously. But this isn’t over, no matter how much everyone wants it to be. We’ll see how Kolb reacts this week. Only a couple days of practice before the Chiefs game."
Also from Urban: The Cardinals visit the Hall of Fame, where Russ Grimm's 1980s look is on display (along with bust).
Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic says Larry Fitzgerald is well on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com has the latest notes from training camp, including one on why the team brought back kicker Carson Wiggs. Farnsworth: "Coach Pete Carroll said the club was planning to bring Wiggs back, and the decision was hastened because incumbent kicker Steve Hauschka is being rested."
Also from Farnsworth: an update on Richard Sherman.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Bruce Irvin's speed stood out during the Seahawks' 80-play mock game. O'Neil: "Running back Marshawn Lynch showed he's ready to pick up right where he left off last season, as he had the longest run in the Seahawks' mock game on Sunday afternoon. But the biggest impression was who tracked Lynch down on a 70-yard run: It was defensive end Bruce Irvin. Lynch broke came through the line untouched, and no one was between him and the end zone. But Irvin tracked down Lynch from behind, touching him down at the 10-yard line."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says Tarell Brown has been the 49ers' best cornerback in camp to this point. Maiocco: "Veteran Carlos Rogers has also performed well. Those two are the starters. And Chris Culliver appears to be solid as the third cornerback. So, now, we're talking about the fourth cornerback. Although Tramaine Brock is ahead of Perrish Cox on the current depth chart at cornerback, Cox is ahead of Brock at the nickel back position. Cox's versatility is his strength. He can play outside, inside and he can also return punts."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee saw good things from rookie guard Joe Looney during a recent 49ers padded practice. Looney is back from a foot injury suffered before the 49ers drafted him. Barrows: "Looney hadn't lined up for a single snap this offseason until Friday. But he played extensively with the second-team offensive line today and looked very good. Looney even made a reception - albeit a short one - off a pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage by outside linebacker Kourtnei Brown."
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle interviews the 49ers fan responsible for putting together an emotional documentary charting Alex Smith's redemption last season. Branch: "Among those who have given his film a click is Smith’s wife, Elizabeth, who said, via Twitter, that it inspired tears."
Also from Branch: A.J. Jenkins' former coach at Illinois has good things to say about the 49ers' rookie receiver. Ron Zook: "He’s got his eyes wide open right now. But catching won't be a problem and learning won't be a problem. He's a smart kid. I coached in the NFL. They’re going to get a lot of stuff thrown at them quickly right now, and he’ll study it and the coaches will bring him along. He’s going to be a good player. I don’t think there’s any question."