Michael Brockers, left, enjoys being in pads.
Today’s look around the news in the NFC West includes celebrity visits in Earth City and Flagstaff; some minor scuffles in St. Louis on the first real padded practice; Danny Amendola has put his elbow injury in the rearview; Michael Brockers enjoyed some padded contact; the Arizona Cardinals are ready for their preseason opener; Ryan Lindley is impressing; Bobby Wagner could start in Seattle; Robert Turbin waits for his opportunity; the Niners work on their red-zone offense; LaMichael James adjusts to being in a huddle; and plenty of interceptions in 49ers camp.
The St. Louis Rams held their first full-squad padded practice on Thursday and linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar made it an evening to remember. Dunbar, a free-agent signing from New Orleans, got into pushing skirmishes with offensive tackle Barry Richardson and right guard Harvey Dahl.
One player who did enjoy Thursday night’s full-contact practice, which rap star Nelly watched, was rookie defensive tackle Michael Brockers. Injuries are always a concern once the pads go on, but wide receiver Danny Amendola has put last year’s season-ending elbow injury behind him.
The Rams are alternating days with their safeties, trying to figure out whether Darian Stewart or Craig Dahl will start alongside Quintin Mikell.
ESPN.com’s Mike Sando spent a week in St. Louis and came away with this lengthy take of Rams camp.
The San Francisco 49ers were not without faults last year on their way to a 13-3 record, division title and berth in the NFC Championship game. The Niners had the NFL’s third-worst red-zone scoring offense last season and that was a point of emphasis on Thursday. Unfortunately for quarterback Alex Smith and the rest of the offense, those red-zone drills were dominated by the defense with a plethora of picks.
Behind Smith, the 49ers added a veteran running back in former New York Giant Brandon Jacobs, who has no apologies for the Giants beating the Niners on the way to the Super Bowl. They also drafted LaMichael James, who played in a spread at Oregon and is adjusting to life in a pro-style system.
Another Niners rookie is tight end Konrad Reuland, who might have a career as a German rapper.
The Seattle Seahawks also drafted a running back in April, selecting Utah State’s Robert Turbin in the fourth round. Turbin is ready to fill in if starter Marshawn Lynch misses any time. Another Utah State rookie is linebacker Bobby Wagner, who has a real chance to win the job as the team’s starting middle linebacker.
The biggest competition is at quarterback, where Warren Moon told NFL.com that he believes Matt Flynn should be the guy. With all the question marks surrounding the Seahawks, Athlon predicts the Hawks to finish third in the division.
One question mark in Renton is cornerback Byron Maxwell, who missed half the season last year with an ankle injury. His road to recovery is going well, according to Tony Drovetto of Seahawks.com
In this Internet age, Seahawks safety Chris Maragos took an interesting journey on the way to discovery—via Facebook.
The Arizona Cardinals will head east this weekend to face the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in Canton, Ohio for the Hall of Fame Game.
One player who hopes to impress is cornerback A.J. Jefferson, who was a starter last season. Another member of the secondary, safety Kerry Rhodes, created a stir when one of his long-time friends took in practice.
The Cardinals will be without their top two running backs on Sunday with Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams shelved as a precaution. The team signed Thomas Clayton this week and Clayton hopes to make the most of his opportunity.
The biggest story in Arizona, as in Seattle, is the quarterback competition. John Skelton isn’t letting his battle with Kevin Kolb affect his play. A new wrinkle is the impressive performance shown thus far by rookie Ryan Lindley.