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Know Your Enemy: Around the NFC West


St. Louis Rams:

Sproles, Slaton on the Rams short list for backup running backs - Turf Show Times: "Darren Sproles continues to be high on the St. Louis Rams' list for potential backup and complementary running backs behind Steven Jackson. Another possibility mentioned recently is Texans RB Steve Slaton.  The Rams had a very brief courtship with Darren Sproles last year, scheduling him for a free agent visit. Sproles never got his free trip to St. Louis; San Diego signed him to a one-year RFA offer, a year after using the franchise tag to keep him. One insider told Pro Football Weekly that Sproles remains the favorite to join Jackson in the backfield."

2010 St. Louis Rams recap: Week 3 v. Washington - Turf Show Times: "Breaking down the Rams' Week 3 victory over the Washington Redskins."

Can the Rams win a bidding war with the Redskins for DT Barry Cofield? - Turf Show Times: "Washinton's annual free agent spending spree is one of the more egregious displays of crass consumption in the NFL. Dan Synder's team invariably follow up their cash orgy with a 16-game reminder of why you can't build a winner on free agency alone. More often than not, for the St. Louis Rams anyway, it's nothing more than a side show, but this year, it might be a direct competition for one free agent who figures to be a key part of the Rams' plans."

Rams free agents: Known commodities on the Rams list - Turf Show Times: "Free agency for the St. Louis Rams has come to embody a relocation program for former Eagles and Giants. And why not? The Rams got big time returns last season after signing free agent and former Giants DT Fred Robbins, who was part of the defensive line Steve Spagnuolo coached to a Super Bowl title in 2007. A report out today cites sources saying the Rams are considering a few more familiar faces in free agency this year, names that have been bandied about before in free agent speculation this summer."

San Francisco 49ers:

49ers Offensive Game-Planning And WR Formation Analysis - Niners Nation: "Florida Danny put together his first post for Football Outsiders today in which he analyzed offensive formations in 2010 and particularly the use of wide receivers. In his post he broke down use of 0-1 wide receivers, two wide receivers, three wide receivers and 4-5 wide receivers. He posted a table with percentage of use for each formation, DVOA for each formation and the rank of each number within the league. The 49ers came out as follows (ranking in parenthesis):"

2011 NFL Free Agency Primer: NFC West Release Candidates - Niners Nation: "DT- Colin Cole: The Seahawks are going to be well under the cap this off-season, however, they do have some important and high priced players hitting the market. Matt Hasselbeck, Brandon Mebane and Sean Locklear come to mind first. You are looking at Seattle probably having to dole out 22 million in combined salaries for those three players; that extremely limits their flexibility.  This is where Cole comes into play. He is set to make about 4 million in 2011 and Seattle needs to think about retaining the younger Brandon Mebane. Although extremely productive, Cole was injured last season and is turning 32 in 2011. There remains a strong possibility that this solid defensive tackle will be allowed to hit the open market. If so, there will be a nice amount of interest from both 3-4 and 4-3 teams. 

LB- Aaron Curry: I know this seams like a little bit of a reach, but it really isn't. Curry has been a major disappointment after going 4th overall in 2009; in just two seasons he has a total of 5.5 sacks. The Seahawks organization is extremely unhappy with his performance thus far. In projecting where certain players are going to lineup, Carroll has indicated that the "project" of using Curry as a pass rusher is no longer on the table. Well, that doesn't bode well for his future in Seattle. Curry is set to make over 10 million dollar this season and his performance doesn't match that level of pay. Just two years removed from being one of the top players selected Aaron Curry could actually find himself being released. Is it a probability? Most likely not. But, you have to attach the word "bust" by his name, and 10 million is an incredibly high amount of money to pay for a "pass rusher" that has accumulated just 5.5 sacks in 28 career games."

2011 49ers Predictions: Michael Crabtree's Third Year - Niners Nation: "Yesterday, Football Outsiders put together a list for ESPN running down the Top 10 NFL Draft steals that ended up being "failures." The list included JJ Stokes at the number four position. I'm not sure I'd qualify him as a draft day steal but I also wasn't following the NFL quite so closely back then so maybe him going at ten was a surprise. In response to the inclusion of Stokes, Mike Sando put together a short piece on Michael Crabtree who was categorized as a draft day steal. Through 27 games, Crabtree's numbers are actually quite similar to Stokes' numbers. Crabtree has 103 receptions for 1,366 receptions and 8 touchdowns. Stokes had 101 receptions for 1,330 yards  and 8 touchdowns. The difference between the two is that Crabtree's 27 games were through two full seasons (minus the holdout) while Stokes' 27th game came near the end of his third season."

49ers 2011 Free Agents: Ray McDonald And A Starting Spot - Niners Nation: "As the 49ers sort through their free agents when the lockout ends, Ray McDonald has gone from being a bit of an afterthought in free agency to potentially ending up fairly high on the team's wish list. The 49ers will be looking to secure several key free agents and it sounds like McDonald is interested in making that happen. Naturally it will come down to some sign from the 49ers that they are prepared to give him a shot at a starting role. We've previously discussed the possibility of McDonald taking over the left defensive end position if Isaac Sopoaga moves into the nose tackle role (assuming Aubrayo Franklin departs as just about everybody now expects). The question will be if he can be a complete package at defensive end. The 49ers have a fantastic right defensive end in Justin Smith and it would be a nice little perk to have a left defensive end that is solid top to bottom. I don't think Sopoaga has been a bad defensive end, but the upside has not been all that high."

Questions Facing The 2011 49ers: Continued Progression From Mike Iupati And Anthony Davis? - Niners Nation: "As the lockout nears its final stages we can expect to have a flurry of roster moves and activities leading up to the 49ers first pre-season game. So, over the course of the next few days I am going to focus on questions that face our San Francisco 49ers heading into training camp.  Today I am going to concentrate on the 49ers two 1st round picks from the 2010 draft, Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati. I am going to look into whether or not we can see continued progression from each offensive linemen and what to expect in their second seasons."

Arizona Cardinals:

Kurt Warner Refutes Rumor He Retired Because Of Money - Revenge of the Birds: "It was just Saturday when former Cardinals scout Dave Razzano made some noise by claiming that former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner retired after the 2009 season because of being lowballed by management with his contract offer the previous offseason. While the thought of such a thing by the Cardinals is not too crazy sounding, Warner doing that would be different.  Regardless, he came out on Twitter to put to rest that rumor."

Arizona Cardinals Player Rated Top 5 3-4 DE - Revenge of the Birds: "As we normally would be talking about free agents, trades and getting ready for training camp, the NFL lockout continues. However, we carry on with what we can. One of the latest articles by Pro Football Focus rates 3-4 defensive linemen, and there is an Arizona Cardinals player that makes the grade, although it is not the player you think. It is not Darnell Dockett, but rather Calais Campbell, who lines up on the other side of the defensive line."

Arizona Cardinals Have 3 Of Top 5 Draft Steal Failures - Revenge of the Birds: "The NFL Draft was months ago, but with the NFL lockout continuing, we can find all sorts of lists and rankings. In an Insider article, ESPN ranked players that were seen as draft steals the day of the draft that turned out to be disappointments. In some cases, they are also some of the biggest busts overall.  In the case of the Arizona Cardinals, they have been bitten a few times by the seemingly great value of a pick that fell further than they should have. In fact, of the 10 that are mentioned, the Cardinals have three, and they all fall within the top five."

A Few Reason The Cardinals Should Seriously Consider Carson Palmer As "The Answer" - Revenge of the Birds: "I will be the first to admit that Carson Palmer is no longer, nor is he likely ever to return to, the form the he showed when leading the Bengals to a divisional title in 2005, his two serious injuries since that time have taken a toll on his performances, and while the knee injury may have seemed the worst, it is more the Tommy John surgery that has had the biggest negative impact on Carson's on field performances. Despite these issues Palmer has still performed well in the context of the entire NFL, he has managed to keep his completion percentage above 60 percent and throw more TD's than INT's in both of the past two seasons despite the perennial turmoil in Cincinnati. Palmer is still a viable and possibly very good option for the Cardinals to look at as their Quarterback entering the 2011 season.  Here are a few reasons why the Cardinals should look hard at Carson Palmer."