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Camping in the West

This last Installment of the

Brew Crew Corner Training Camp Tour ends with our last stop in the West.

 

Note: Players and situations may have changed since the writing of this article.

 

NFC WEST

 

Seattle

Seahawks

– Training camp starts July 28

 

Players being drafted from the Seahawks:

Shaun Alexander

       Sea/8

Deion Branch

            Sea/8

Matt Hasselbeck

       Sea/8

D.J. Hackett

               Sea/8

Josh Brown

                Sea/8

Maurice Morris

          Sea/8

Seattle

Seahawks

     Sea/8

Bobby Engram

          Sea/8

Nate Burleson

            Sea/8

Marcus Pollard

          Sea/8

 

Seattle

Seahawks

by Jose

Romero Columnist for the

Seattle Times.

 

Seahawks biggest issue is the health of QB Matt Hasselbeck, who is coming off surgery to his non-throwing shoulder at end of last season. He will be limited in practice and might not see much if any action in preseason games, though he looked fine throwing the ball in minicamps in May and June.

 

Other issues: WR Deion Branch will be in his first full camp with the Seahawks after being acquired in a trade last September. He is now firmly the No. 1 target for Hasselbeck after the team traded Darrell Jackson to SF in April.

-Defensive backfield is very young now with Marcus Trufant (5th season) and Kelly Jennings (2nd season) as the likely starters at CB. Team also has rookie Josh Wilson, who could be the third corner. Also two new starters at safety, at least heading into camp. They are

UFA pickups Deon Grant and Brian Russell.

 

-Offensive line has several new parts this year, at least as being season opening starters. Chris Spencer will open the year at C unless his shoulders are still sore, and if he doesn’t that could be a big problem. Rob Sims is a second-year guy who opens at LG. And there will be a three-way battle in camp for RG and RT between Sean Locklear, Chris Gray and Ray Willis and perhaps oft–injured Pork Chop Womack.

 

 

 

Francisco

49ers

– Training camp starts July 29

 

Players being drafted from the Seahawks:

Frank Gore

               

            SF/6

Darrell Jackson

        

            SF/6 (New Team)

Vernon

Davis

                        SF/6

Alex Smith

                 

            SF/6

Arnaz Battle

              

            SF/6

Michael Robinson

    

            SF/6

San Francisco

49ers

            SF/6

Ashley Lelie

              

            SF/6 (New Team)

Joe Nedney

              

            SF/6

 

San Francisco

49ers

 

The 49ers continued last year on the road to rebuilding and made strides in Alex Smith’s first full season and challenging in the division. Alex Smith seems to be improving with another off season in the system and Training camp to work on his position. Time will tell if he can improve without Norv Turner. He has new receivers then he had last year.

 

Frank Gore ran like a beast last year and prove that he belong in the NFL. After being limited in his rookie year, he carried the bulk of the load with 312 carried for 1695 YDs and 8 TDs not only that he also was a good receiver out of the back field catching 61 passes for 485 YDs and 1TD. His health will always be a concern but he looks to continue where he left off last year. I think if Alex Smith and the passing game can improve, they will not have to lean on Gore as much they will be more balanced. However, Gore performed very well and they may continue to feature the run. If Gore were to miss time to injuries, SF will count on Michael Robinson and Maurice Hicks.

*UPDATE* Gore broke his hand and will miss a week. It won’t affect his playing time but he will miss the practicing.

 

Last year’s go-to-guy Antonio Bryant is no longer on the team. The Team added Darrell Jackson from Seattle who is practicing but has turf toe issues. For Smith to be successful, he needs

Jackson to be on the field.

Jackson is a good receiver but must over come injuries and cut down on the dropped passes to be an elite receiver. Arnaz Battle started last year and proved he could play when counted on. He will compete with Ashley Lelie for the WR2. Lelie has struggled to stay healthy during the offseason and has been a bust since leaving

Denver. Don’t count out Rookie Jason Hill who has impressed in mini-camp. Vernon Davis hopes to be healthy this year and may put up good numbers and has the talent to dominate in this league.

 

The 49ers Defense is improving and they made some big free agent moves this offseason. This is a sleeper defense that are on the rise. They hope to avoid the injuries that plagued the line backing unit last year.

 

 

 

Arizona

Cardinals

– Training camp starts July 29

 

 

Players being drafted from the Cardinals:

Larry Fitzgerald

         Ari/8

Edgerrin James

        Ari/8

Anquan Boldin

           Ari/8

Matt Leinart

                Ari/8

Neil Rackers

              Ari/8

Bryant Johnson

          Ari/8

Leonard Pope

           Ari/8

 

Arizona

Cardinals

 

Arizona

lucked out last year when Leinart fell to them in the draft. It proved to be a great situation for him as he sat behind Warner and then took over when Warner got injured. With another training camp under his belt he will look to move up to the next level under the watch of new Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt.

 

Edge was brought to

Arizona last year to turn around the Cardinals running game but struggle under a poor offensive line. The line improved towards the end of the year and James finished strong. The Cardinals addressed their line this year and brought in Assistant Head Coach Russ Grimm which will be great for the running game. Edge has a lot of mileage on him and will be 30. Marcel Shipp and J.J. Arrington will be the backups. Shipp as you can see is going undrafted in leagues but could have some value, especially if James gets injured.

 

Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are rising stars in this league and having Leinart in the mix helps their status. Whisenhunt may use Boldin in the same fashion as Hines Ward has been used in the past. Bryant Johnson put up good stats last year and will be a great pick up should Boldin or Fitzgerald miss time due to injury. LeRon McCoy may also see some time.

 

The defense will be imploying a lot more 3-4 schemes and will go through some growing pains adjusting to the new formations. Facing the Rams, the Seahawks and the 49ers twice in a season may set up to be shootouts.

 

 

 

 

St. Louis

Rams

– Training camp starts July 27

 

 

Players being drafted from the Rams:

Steven Jackson

         StL/9

Torry Holt

       

            StL/9

Marc Bulger

  

            StL/9

Isaac Bruce

   

            StL/9

Drew Bennett

             StL/9 (New Team)

Randy McMichael

     StL/9 (New Team)

Jeff Wilkins

   

            StL/9

Brian Leonard

           StL/9 (Rookie)

 

St. Louis

Rams

 

Bulger’s contract negotiation are over and he is locked in for the next 6 years. Bulger has been very productive and has more weapons to work with this year. If he can avoid injuries, he will post very good stats once again.

 

Steven Jackson was one of the best backs in the league last year. Not only rushing but catching 90 passes out of the back field. He looks to dominate again this year and has the job all to himself. Kay-Jay Harris, Travis Minor, John David Washington, and Rookie Brian Leonard will all be competing for the back up role.

 

The Rams feature a great group of receivers with Torry Holt and the ageless Isaac Bruce. Drew Bennett was brought in to play the slot as well as Randy McMichael at TE, giving Bulger a world of options. Bennett has faced the top corners in the league and also plenty of double teams when he was in

Tennessee so he should enjoy seeing defenses pay more attention to Holt and Bruce. Head Coach Scott Linehan knows McMichael from his days in

Miami and will use him in the offense.

 

The defense has improved but the team must be able to stop the run to be successfull. They did a good job creating some turnovers last year and the team drafted Adam Carriker to help. The team also signed Dante Hall who will help the special teams.

 

 

 

 

AFC WEST

 

Denver

Broncos

– Training camp starts July 29

 

Players being drafted from the Broncos:

Travis Henry

               Den/6 (New Team)

Javon Walker

             Den/6

Jay Cutler

      

            Den/6

Mike Bell

       

            Den/6

Brandon Marshall

      Den/6

Denver Broncos

        Den/6

Jason Elam

                Den/6

Tony Scheffler

            Den/6

Daniel Graham

          Den/6 (New Team)

 

Denver

Broncos

Interview with Jim Armstrong

Columnist for the

Denver Post

 

Biggest question heading into camp is WR2 and WR3 and the health of Rod Smith. Brandon Marshall needs to step up and can have a monster year but with little experience it could be asking a lot of him.

Tony

Scheffler needs to get healthy which is a concern right now. Daniel Graham is the best run blocking TE in the league but he was paid big money to do more in the offense. He should get 50-55 catches this year and will be a big threat in the offense.

 

Travis Henry is the type of RB Mike Shanahan likes. A RB that’s between 225-230 and fits the system. There is concern that if he violates the policy again he will be out a year and leave a big hole in the running game. Ever since the Portis-Bailey trade the broncos have not been as good running the ball.

 

Mike Shanahan is very excited about Jay Cutler more so then he lets on. There is still a concern because Cutler has he only played in 5 games but he should have about 22-25 TD’s.

 

The defense should be solid and the Broncos should look to get off to a fast start like they did last year.

 

 

 

 

San Diego

Chargers

– Training camp starts July 28

 

Players being drafted from the Chargers:

LaDainian Tomlinson

           SD/7

Antonio Gates

          

            SD/7

Philip Rivers

 

           

            SD/7

Vincent Jackson

       

            SD/7

Michael Turner

          

            SD/7

San Diego

Chargers

            SD/7

Nate Kaeding

           

            SD/7

Craig Davis

  

           

            SD/7 (Rookie)

 

San Diego Chargers-

 

Phillip

River

’s step in after playing behind Drew Brees and helped the Charges post a 14-2 record. He showed in his 1st year as a starter that he has the intangible to be a quality QB in this league. He needs to perform better during second half of the season and develop chemistry with his receiving corp.

 

LT was the greatest player in football last year. Running, catching and throwing, he could not be denied. Dispite having one of the toughest run schedules, he set the TD mark for a single season. It’s hard to think that LT owners should have any concerns. The fact is that LT has put a lot of wear and tear on his body and it is starting to catch up with him. He has had nagging injuries the past couple of years. The new Couching staff will likely use Turner more to keep LT fresh and or if he misses any time. Michael Turner was one of the names that came up often in the offseason for trades but as the draft came and went, he remained with the Chargers. He will be a free agent next year and teams will pursue him. He will want to get in games and showcase himself for the 2008 season. Behind LT & Turner is Lorenzo Neal who is one of the best FB in the league.

 

The WR position is one that remains a work in progress as the team let go Kennen McCardell, who is now in

Texas. Vincent Jackson steps up and will be the teams #1.

Jackson played well at the end of the season and could have a break out year. We will see how he deals with playing against the leagues best corners. The WR2 and WR3 will be a battle between Eric Parker and Rookie Craig Davis. Parker is a reliable receiver but is suited for the #3 role.

Davis has good hands and can stretch the field. Malcom Floyd will also be competing for a staring role. Antonia Gates remains the teams #1 Receiver.

 

The team has a strong defense and should play well again. Wade Phillips is gone and Ted Cottrell will take over as Coordinator but will keep the same defense in place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kansas City

Chiefs

– Training camp starts July 27

 

 

Players being drafted from the Chiefs:

Larry Johnson

           

            KC/8

Tony Gonzalez

          

            KC/8

Eddie Kennison

       

            KC/8

Dwayne Bowe

          

            KC/8 (Rookie)

Michael Bennett

       

            KC/8

Damon Huard

           

            KC/8

Brodie Croyle

           

            KC/8

 

Kansas City

Chiefs-

 

The Chief will start a new QB this year after 5 years with Trent Green under center. Green was traded to

Miami and the team will look to Damon Huard or Brodie Croyle to take over. Croyle will be given the opportunity to win the job in his second year. He has a small frame for a QB and their is some concerns if he will hold up to the punishment of the NFL. Huard played well last year in the absence of Green but is only a few years younger. The loss of key players on the offensive line as well as the LJ situation can make the QB situation harder on the Chiefs in 2007.

 

LJ broke the record for carries in a season and posted over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 19 total TD. As of writing, he is in a hold out. The loss on the offensive line and the workload he had last year remains a concern. There has been a Priest Holmes sighting. While there has been speculation that this is a tactic to get LJ in camp, Priest may be serious in trying to return. He will start camp on the PUP and will not take any hits for at least a month. If LJ does hold out, Michael Bennett and Derrick Ross will split carries. Bennett is an injury risk so Ross could be a sleeper if LJ doesn’t play and Holmes is not activated.

 

The Chiefs drafted WR Dwayne Bowe and they hope that his talent will translate in the NFL. Veteran Eddie Kennison remains a starter and Samie Parker will compete for a starting position. The teams 1st receiver has been Tony Gonzalez. He has been productive but now that Green is in

Miami, we’ll have to see how the new QB situation affects his production as he has been asked to stay in and block more when the line had injuries in the past.

 

The defense has improved since Herm Edwards took over for the team but will be counted on more this year if the offense struggles. That could wear the defense down and cause problems down the stretch.

 

 

 

 

Oakland

Raiders

– Training camp starts July 27

 

 

Players being drafted from the Raiders:

Lamont

Jordan

          Oak/5

Dominic Rhodes

       Oak/5 (New Team)

Jerry Porter

   

            Oak/5

Ronald Curry

 

            Oak/5

Michael Bush

             Oak/5 (Rookie)

JaMarcus Russell

      Oak/5 (Rookie)

Oakland

Raiders

       Oak/5

 

Oakland

Raiders

 

What more can you say about the Raiders 2006 season other then scrap everything and start over. Lane Kiffin takes over for an outdated Art Shell who lacked the support of his team. After the failure of Aaron Brooks, the poor play of the line and the ineffective back-ups, the Raiders traded for Josh McCown and then used the #1 pick on JaMarcus Russell. The Raiders hope they have the QB of the future. The line needs to play better if they hope to improve the offense. Russell is not yet signed in camp which could delay his chances of starting. The team added Daunte Culpepper who will compete to start and prove his critics wrong.

 

LaMont

Jordan was part of the disappointment playing poorly behind the suspect O-line. The team signed Dominic Rhodes to pair with

Jordan but he will serve a 4 game suspension for his DUI arrest. The team drafted Michael Bush and has Justin Fargas and Justin Griffith making the RB situation very crowded.

 

The teams disgruntled WR Randy Moss has left to

New England. Jerry Porter will step out of the Art Shell dog house that netted him one reception all year so he should be well rested heading into the season. Porter still has a lot of talent and will have to show he is focused. Ronald Curry was the Raider best receiver towards the end of the season but has big injury concerns. Travis Taylor, Doug Gabriel, and Alvis Whitted will all be competing for a starting job. Mike Williams who has been a big bust so far has had injuries during the offseason but hopes reuniting with his old coach will resurrect his career.

 

The defense was somewhat of a bright spot last year finishing 3rd overall in the league. They were the best pass defense in the league but couldn’t stop the run. The Raiders have a good Defensive Coordinator in Rob Ryan who will have his team ready. They make a good sleeper defense.

 

 

Thanks all for reading and good luck to everyone who are drafting.

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