NFC South & West Minicamp Reports

Catching up with minicamp reports from the NFC South & West, where cornerback Antrel Rolle struggled in man-off coverage in Arizona, the Seahawks are moving around their starting linebackers, the Rams are breaking in a rookie quarterback, and Rashaun Woods' slide down the depth chart is one of the big surprises with the 49ers.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Barring a change of heart, veteran wide receiver Peerless Price will return for his third year with the team.

Price signed a seven-year, $42-million dollar deal after being traded over from Buffalo in 2003 but has been a major disappointment. Releasing Price this season would charge the team the remaining $7.1 million in signing bonus acceleration minus his base salary of $2-million and workout bonuses. The bottom line is they can't afford the cap charge at this time.

Releasing him prior to the start of the 2006 season makes more sense, as the overall cap charge would be less.

Carolina Panthers

The team is still looking for depth at wide receiver so look for them to seriously consider signing one after June 1.

Keep in mind third receiver Ricky Proehl said this will be his last season so the team not only has no one to replace him, they don't have any real viable candidate for the fourth and fifth receiver spots at this point.

New Orleans Saints

When the team selected University of Connecticut middle linebacker Alfred Fincher, some believe he would come in and challenge incumbent starter Courtney Watson. However, while Fincher practiced inside during their post-draft minicamp, he likely will challenge starting weak side linebacker Derrick Rodgers. The team is looking for competition for Rodgers in training camp and are expected to give second-year linebacker Colby Buckwoldt and former Cardinal linebacker Levar Fisher a chance to compete there.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It's unlikely the team will pursue recently released wide receiver Freddie Mitchell after signing free agent wide receiver Ike Hilliard. The team doesn't have a lot of cap room and Mitchell isn't interesting in competing for the fourth spot on the depth chart with any team.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

First-round pick cornerback Antrel Rolle struggled for most of their post-draft minicamp in man-off coverage. Rolle played in plenty of press coverage at the University of Miami and was able to play with a physical nature against faster receivers to slow them down.

Second-year wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald seemed to be over the ankle injury that plagued him almost all of his rookie season and he often beat Rolle in one-on-one drills.

Rolle seemed to be more comfortable in coverage in the waning moments of the first weekend of off-season workouts but it's clear he has a big adjustment ahead of him.

The coaching staff has moved middle linebacker Orlando Huff to the weak side where he'll compete against veteran James Darling for the starting job. Third-year linebacker Gerald Hayes is expected to start at middle linebacker after playing mostly outside the past two seasons. Hayes is a more natural inside player.

San Francisco 49ers

One of the more surprising developments is the continued drop of second-year wide receiver Rashaun Woods on the depth chart. It was thought Woods would be competing for a starting job this season but he's essentially competing for the fourth receiver job at this point.

The former coaching staff was down on him because he took way too long to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last August and he barely contributed all season. He obviously isn't starting with a clean slate and is going to have to earn his playing time.

The receivers at the top of the depth chart now are Brandon Lloyd and Arnaz Battle who has been one of the stars of their off-season program.

Seattle Seahawks

Surprisingly, the team has decided to move veteran linebacker Jamie Sharper to the outside instead of keeping him inside where he's played for most his career. The team is expected to head in to training camp with D.D. Lewis as the weak side starter and Niko Koutouvides as the starter inside.

Second-round selection Lofa Tatupu and seventh-round selection Cornelius Wortham will challenge Koutouvides for playing time. Wortham practiced well during Senior Bowl week and could really push for the starting job if he has a great training camp.

St. Louis Rams

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, one of the team's two seventh-round selections, was the only quarterback working with the team during the team's first post-draft workouts. Fitzpatrick did a good job of picking up the system and if he can progress in training camp, should at least make the practice squad.

While the team seems more committed to second-year signal caller Jeff Smoker to hold one of the three spots on the depth chart this season, Fitzpatrick could challenge for the No.3 job in 2006.

With Pisa Tinoisamoa slated to stay at his starting strong side spot instead of safety, the team still has an opening at safety. Rookie Oshiomogho Atogwe should challenge for a starting job this season. The team has little proven talent next to starting safety Adam Archuleta and Atogwe should provide a stiff challenge to former Cardinal Michael Stone at the other safety position.

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