NFL players won on the lifestyle front in their most recent labor negotiations.
They succeeded in pushing back an offseason that had encroached on their recovery time as teams sought competitive advantages through year-round preparation.
Those victories have come at a price in some situations, however. This would be a perfect time for St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and other young quarterbacks to spend time with their coaching staffs, but rules prevent that from happening until deep into April. Even Bradford's rehab from an ankle injury became a solo endeavor at times.
Is that what is best for Bradford's career? Is that the path he would choose if given a choice in the matter? It's still only March 29, so perhaps Bradford and other young quarterbacks still have plenty of time. It just seems counter-productive for an outright ban to prevent players from getting in the work some of them would surely welcome.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Bradford recovered from his ankle injury about a month ago, according to coach Jeff Fisher. Fisher: "Now had it been during the season, they probably would've taken a different approach to the rehab. But they felt the best thing for him was to just shut it down. My understanding is that as part of his rehab, he has been doing his drops and sets, and throwing some balls. But we're not permitted to be a part of that."
Also from Thomas: The timing of the NFL's announcement regarding the bounty-related punishments put the Rams and Saints in a difficult spot, perhaps by design. Thomas: "Factor in also the date -- March 2 -- when the NFL released the findings of its investigation. League bylaws prohibit teams from seeking permission to interview a coach under contract with another team after March 1. ... As a result, if Fisher wants to hire a Williams replacement this season, it has to be someone currently out of the league, severely limiting the pool of potential candidates."
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers thoughts on Rams owner Stan Kroenke's failed bid to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers. Miklasz: "Kroenke can still try to move the Rams. Unless he can make a deal to extend the lease at the Edward Jones Dome, Stan the Businessman almost certainly will have an escape clause to leave St. Louis after the 2014 season. ... I'm still among the seven or eight people in St. Louis who believe Kroenke will stay. As one NFL owner told me recently, Kroenke still has one of the best lease arrangements in the NFL. So what's the problem? Kroenke is a cold guy, but he isn't a bad guy. Stan just can't help himself; tough negotiations, and the art of the deal, excite him. So he'll push hard to get the necessary stadium improvements here." Noted: Kroenke is most likely going to want a new stadium, not a refurbished Edward Jones Dome. That is the likely end game. The dome's design is outdated.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle looks into Brandon Jacobs' reputation as a soft runner. Jerry Rice: "I like Brandon Jacobs, but I feel like Brandon Jacobs is a little bit soft. He can’t get away from a defender. This guy is 265 and it upsets me when I see him get tackled by a guy that’s like 190 or 200 pounds."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Pro Football Weekly draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki thinks the 49ers can find a receiver after the first round. Nawrocki: "You can find them anywhere throughout this draft, so I don't know if they should reach for one that early."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with former center Blair Bush, now 55 and a financial analyst. Farnsworth: "Bush anchored the Seahawks’ line from 1983-88, starting 78 games on teams that averaged 9.5 victories, played in the AFC Championship game (1983), won the team’s first division title (1988) and advanced to the playoffs four times (1983, 1984, 1987 and 1988)."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times links to a photo gallery from the movie set where Marshawn Lynch is working this week. O'Neil: "Lee Majors is in it. So is Edward Furlong, aka the young John Conner from 'T2' who is not so young anymore. And then there's Lynch, whose role is detailed as 'Massive Goon.' He's a security guard for the bad guy, and while he does have a line, the script also calls for him to get aced during a bank robbery before he even gets in the building."
Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle sees the Seahawks addressing linebacker and pass-rusher early in the draft. Huard: "Todd McShay's latest mock draft would be a dream scenario with a prototypical pass-rusher with the length and strength Carroll desires in UNC's Quinton Coples, and the rare burst and acceleration at linebacker with Cal's Mychal Kendricks. However, the mock draft script could be flipped with the draft's most dynamic and instinctive linebacker at No. 12 with Luke Kuechly going first, and at No. 43 a pass-rusher such as USC's Nick Perry or Marshall's Vinny Curry."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic quotes Ken Whisenhunt and analyst Daryl Johnston on the Cardinals' quarterback situation. Johnston on whether Kevin Kolb or John Skelton is the best choice: "Kevin Kolb. You have the financial commitment to him. The big thing that happened to Kevin last year is the fact that he didn’t have the offseason to work in, and it was a big change from his style of offense from Philadelphia to Arizona. So he struggled at times. You look at John Skelton did and you look at the record and you say, 'How can you pick Kevin Kolb? [Skelton] has a better win-loss record and football is all about winning.' They won with fewer points per game with a higher turnover ratio, so there are some other things that go there."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with Larry Fitzgerald, who is working with Anquan Boldin to fight the effects of drought and famine in Ethiopia. Fitzgerald: "There are so many needs here, basic ones to us back home. Just having clean drinking water or having water at all, (which is) something we never even think about at home. You turn the faucet on and you get clean drinkable water. (Here there is) no water for the livestock who plow the fields for vegetables and food. It’s an ugly cycle."