NFC West: Training Camp Battles & Awards
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: One of the best battles is at fullback where veteran Moran Norris is trying to hold off challengers Brit Miller and Jehuu Caulcrick. All three looked good in Mike Singletary's famous "nutcracker" drill, mostly winning their matchups with the team's inside linebackers. All three have shown a physicality that Singletary wants on offense. Miller is perhaps the best pass catcher of the threesome and was a good special teams performer a year ago. The team's coaches, however, are comfortable with Norris, the biggest of the bunch.
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: the expected battle between veteran David Baas and No. 17 overall pick Mike Iupati tilted in Iupati's favor when Baas suffered a concussion in the second practice of camp. That made Iupati the first-string left guard. His play has been inconsistent. The 331 pounder fires off the line of scrimmage quickly, but veteran defensive linemen Justin Smith and Demetric Evans have had their way with the rookie in pass-rush drills.
ROOKIE REPORT: The 49ers have high hopes for running back Anthony Dixon, a sixth-round pick from Mississippi State. First, however, Dixon must master the art of pass blocking, something with which he struggled this week. Dixon was particularly bad against fellow rookie NaVorro Bowman, getting run over by the linebacker on one blitz-pickup drill and whiffing as he tried to block Bowman in the rematch
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Josh Wilson vs. Kelly Jennings for starting CB-The two competitors are close friends and splitting time with the first unit opposite Marcus Trufant. Whoever does not earn the job will likely be the nickel back in passing situations.
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Linebacker Leroy Hill continues to see more time with the first unit, as he tries to regain his starting job at outside backer. David Hawthorne still is the starter right now. Lawyer Milloy and Jordan Babineaux continue to split time at strong safety.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: TE Cameron Morrah -- The second-year product out of Cal was supposed to be on the outside looking in after the Seahawks selected USC tight end Anthony McCoy in this year's draft. However, Morrah has competed hard and looked like the better player so far in camp, as they both compete for the No. 3 tight end spot.
ROOKIE REPORT: Second round pick Golden Tate continues to make big plays in the passing game on a daily basis, and appears to be the team's No. 3 receiver at this point. Seventh round pick Dexter Davis has shown an ability to get consistent pressure on the passer. The team is working him at outside linebacker and weak-side edge rusher.
ST. LOUIS RAMS
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Daniel Fells, Billy Bajema, Michael Hoomanawanui and Fendi Onobun for TE jobs -- This position will be hotly contested throughout the summer. Onobun appears more advanced than some thought, considering he played one season of college football. Fells is the incumbent, but has to show he can be consistent. Hoomanawanui seems like a natural. Bajema is a solid blocker.
OTHER BATTLEFRONTS: Rookie Jerome Murphy and Kevin Dockery could be fighting for the nickel-back job. Dockery has made an impact with his aggressiveness ... Unless someone is added to the roster, Chris Ogbonnaya is getting the opportunity to be the backup to running back Steven Jackson.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: WR Danny Amendola. After the selection of Mardy Gilyard in the fourth round of the draft, the belief was that Amendola would have a hard time making the team. Both are slot receivers and kick returners. While Gilyard is learning, Amendola has caught everything in sight, and has been one of the team's consistent receivers day in and day out. It wouldn't be a surprise if both Gilyard and Amendola made the final roster.
ROOKIE REPORT: OT Rodger Saffold remains entrenched at left tackle, and judging by what happens in preseason games, will likely stay there, with Jason Smith playing right tackle ... LB Josh Hull will be looking to make an impact on special teams in preseason games.
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