San Francisco: San
Francisco defied everyone’s expectations and brought in some veteran help
to their WR corps. 11-year veteran Curtis Conway, who was released at the start
of free agency by the New York Jets, was brought in to add much needed experience
to a unit that was expecting to start second-year man Brandon Lloyd at one spot
and fourth-year wideout Cedrick Wilson at the other.
Conway still has good speed,
but he is best working the middle of the field and using his athleticism to
make plays. 2004 first-round choice Rashaun Woods did not look ready to see
significant time at the team’s recent mini-camp and is most likely going
to fill the fourth receiver spot.
The anticipated move of
LB Jamie Winborn to safety was deemed over before it began. Winborn looked so
good at LB at the recent mini-camp that head coach Dennis Erickson called the
"We talked about it
(the move to safety),” Erickson said. “He's such an impact player
where he plays. We thought about it as an organization, because of the (neck)
injury more than anything. Those linebackers get in there, but those safeties
have to come up and tackle guys, too.”
Third-round DT Darnell Dockett has impressed his coaches so much, that many
insiders consider him a possibility to start at the “under” tackle
ahead of DT Kenny King and former first-rounder Wendell Bryant. Dockett, who
played the position in college, showed strength at the point of attack and amazing
quickness at the team’s mini-camps and, at the very least, he should be
able to push for playing time.
First-round WR Larry Fitzgerald,
who is expected to come in and immediately start, has impressed as well. With
his fluid route-running, he already looks like a veteran. If he can pick up
the offense as quickly as anticipated, he should be able to contribute mightily
to what was once a moribund Cardinals offense.
The Cardinals’ second-round
selection, LB Karlos Dansby, has been hampered by a groin pull and thus has
been able to show little of the ability he showcased in 2003 at the collegiate
level. If healthy he will definitely upgrade the special teams units and could
also see time as the nickel linebacker when teams go to three and four-receiver
sets. Look for Dansby to be starting by week 10, barring injury.
St. Louis: Outwardly,
Rams personnel people are still hopeful that DE Leonard Little will not face
a suspension from the NFL for an alcohol related driving incident that occurred
on April 24th. However, most observers close to the team think that a suspension
While a suspension is considered
a virtual certainty, the general feeling is that there is a very good chance
that Little would be able to play all or most of the 2004 season while waiting
for his court case to go to trial. Stay tuned…
One very nice surprise for
the Rams has been the offseason work of 2003 first-round DT Jimmy Kennedy. He
has been hampered by tendonitis in his knee, but he has increased his strength
and his footwork and quickness have improved as well. The team hopes it will
have a solid rotation of number one DT’s in Kennedy, Ryan Pickett, and
Damione Lewis. If the Rams can shore up the middle of their defensive front,
they will be able to blitz LB’s to offset the loss of DE Grant Wistrom
to free agency and the possible loss of Little to a suspension.
The third WR spot will be
a big-time battle in fall camp. Dane Looker was the primary third receiver in
2003, but watch out for Kevin Curtis. Curtis, a third-round selection in 2003,
has the deep speed and athletic ability to be another threat in the passing
game. The Rams run a lot of single-back sets with a third WR and another playmaker
with the abilities of Curtis would be a huge asset.
.NET Reporter Scott
Eklund writes for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.