John E. Hoover of the Tulsa World checks in with the Rams' Sam Bradford after the University of Oklahoma honored its former quarterback with a statue commemorating his status as a Heisman Trophy winner. Bradford: "I never thought I'd be standing here giving a speech in front of a statue of myself. Pretty cool, though." Hoover: "At the end of the festivities, Bradford pulled a golden rope that dropped a crimson veil from his 10-foot statue. His right leg is planted, his right arm is cocked and his hair is short. Bradford teammate Gerald McCoy, who used to kid Bradford about all the attention he got by calling him 'King Sam', said Bradford's statue was the only one of the five in Heisman Park 'with a crown on it. ... I'm just gonna get me a Gerald McCoy bobblehead doll and glue it onto the bottom. ... Nah, man. Sam definitely deserves it.'"
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at free-agent possibilities for the Rams this offseason. Thomas: "At running back, a crater-size hole remains on the depth chart behind Steven Jackson. There are some interesting names on this list, including Joseph Addai of Indianapolis, Ahmad Bradshaw of the New York Giants and DeAngelo Williams of Carolina. But none of those three would be unrestricted if six-year free agency is in place. However, Cedric Benson of Cincinnati, Ronnie Brown of Miami, Darren Sproles of San Diego and Cadillac Williams of Tampa will be unrestricted whether the required experience level for free agency is four years or six." Adding Sproles in particular would liven up the Rams' offense considerably by diversifying the backfield.
Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis sizes up potential free-agent guards and projects how they might fit with the Rams. He thinks the Cardinals' Deuce Lutui would fit nicely at right guard. Softli: "Interior blocker that lost mindset in 2010, but has the athletic ability and nasty attitude to compete like a Pro Bowler when focused and is what the Rams need leading the way for Steven Jackson."
D'Marco Farr of 101ESPN St. Louis says the Rams need improvement from second-year players to realize their potential in 2011.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who says he felt as though the team did not have him in its plans. The sides spoke only generally about a new contract before the lockout. Mebane: "When you go over that stuff, I guess it’s time to pack up and put the house up for sale. I feel like I wasn’t in their plans. And I feel like I have that right to think that because I got a third-round tender. If they really wanted me, they had plenty of time to do what they had to do. Me personally, from my experience, I don’t think I was in their plans. I would love to come back here, but I don’t know what their plans are. But it’s all good. I’m blessed. I thank God that I haven’t had any surgeries. I’ve had some nagging things here and there. But God put me in a good position." General manager John Schneider used the term "steady pro" to describe Mebane at the scouting combine, an indication the team wasn't planning to break the bank for him. But when Seattle did not address the position in the draft, Schneider indicated that re-signing Mebane could become a higher priority. Mebane also says his job got tougher once the team lost Rocky Bernard.
Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle doesn't see Kyle Orton as a good fit for the Seahawks. Huard: "Darrell Bevell's system that he is going to implement is going to be the quick passing game. It's a system that's built, to some extent, on having a mobile, at least athletic quarterback and that is what Kyle Orton is not. Think Ryan Mallett, not quite as big an arm, more accurate. I just think from a fit standpoint from what they want to do schematically, Kyle Orton is not the guy."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com makes available an audio link to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's conference call with Seattle season-ticket holders.
Also from Farnsworth: He catches up with former Seahawks punter Rick Tuten, who relays a funny story about his first game with the team. Tuten had played with Buffalo previously. Tuten: "When I was in Buffalo [he punted for the Bills in 1990], we got our parking tag and you just parked wherever in the players’ lot. Well, I come out after my first game as a Seahawk -– feeling pretty good about what I’d just done -– and my car was gone because I didn’t park in the right place. It had been towed. So I had to take a taxi to the impound lot to bail my car out. And a rental car, at that."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times offers a few highlights from Goodell's call with Seattle fans.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick underwent "minor" leg surgery after the draft, when Kaepernick finally had time to address an undisclosed injury that bothered him late last season. Barrows: "Agent Scott Smith said NFL teams were aware of Kaepernick's condition prior to the draft. He said Kaepernick could have waited to have the procedure but, given the current labor impasse, decided to get it taken care of now."
Also from Barrows: thoughts on rookie Chris Culliver's conversion from receiver to safety to cornerback.
Doug Farrar of Yahoo! offers thoughts on what first-round choice Aldon Smith might add to the 49ers.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers do not see running back Kendall Hunter as only a change-of-pace back. General manager Trent Baalke: "This is a guy we feel can run the power game, can run between the tackles, can get out on the edges, can pass protect, can come out of the backfield and catch the football, can return kicks (and) can play on coverage teams, if we ask him to."
Also from Maiocco: The 49ers expect the offensive tackles they drafted to play guard and/or center in the NFL.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says former Cardinals linebacker Seth Joyner is establishing a football camp for kids in Arizona. Joyner: "Ultimately, my goal is to create an Arizona combine that really does something with the young football players in Arizona. We want to teach everything from learning how to tackle properly to avoiding concussions, to just the basic fundamentals."
Also from Somers: general thoughts on the Cardinals, including one about Orton. Somers: "I think the Cardinals have some interest in Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton, who might be available via trade. Any team trading for Orton, however, has to examine what happened to him and the Broncos offense in the latter part of the season. If the Cardinals think that Orton was a victim of circumstances (coaching change, coach firing, etc.), they will go after him. I still think their first call is to the Eagles, however."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the team has never adequately replaced former tight end Freddie Mitchell. Rookie third-round choice Rob Housler is the latest prospect. Urban: "Housler will get a chance to show what he has, and there is a chance the Cards also look in free agency. Jim Dray should be back, and Stephen Spach could be too; Ben Patrick may be more iffy depending on who else is signed. The Cards will have at least four tight ends in training camp."
Also from Urban: The Cardinals' strength-and-conditioning coaches could use some company in the weight room.