NFC West: Training Camp Battles & Awards
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: With starting center Eric Heitmann out for at least six weeks with a broken leg, David Baas and Tony Wragge are competing to take over the position. Wragge has more experience but the 49ers wonder if Baas, the 33rd overall pick in 2005, has more upside. Baas took all of the first-team snaps last week in an effort to get him acclimated to the position. It appears he needs the repetitions -- a number of his shotgun snaps were off the mark.
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: The competition to be the No. 3 tight end is a close one. Sixth-round draft pick Nate Byham has been consistent, and the 49ers are looking for the No. 3 tight end to be a fierce blocker, which is Byham's forte. But the other two tight ends, Tony Curtis and J.J. Finley, have been strong as well. Curtis is the best pass-catcher of the trio, and he turned in amazing, finger-tip grab in Friday's practice.
ROOKIE REPORT: With pulls and strains mounting for the team's receivers, Williams, a sixth-round pick, has seen plenty of action at slot receiver. He's perhaps the quickest player on the 49ers roster, and that skill translates nicely to the slot position. Williams looked very good in practice, and he caught a nice deep ball for a touchdown on a pass from Alex Smith.
INJURY REPORT: Heitmann broke his left fibula and will miss six to eight weeks. ... WR Michael Crabtree suffered a neck strain while leaping for a pass. The injury is not considered serious. ... WR Brandon Jones appears ready to return from a hamstring pull that has kept him out the last week. ... Rookie CB Phillip Adams has been trying to play through his own hamstring strain.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Julius Jones vs. Justin Forsett for starting RB-Jones continues to struggle to hold off Forsett for the starting job, as he finished with only 13 yards on the ground while Forsett had 43 total yards in limited action.
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Right tackle Sean Locklear struggled against Tennessee, giving up two sacks. His poor play may have opened the door for Ray Willis to challenge for that starting spot. Lawyer Milloy and Jordan Babineaux continue to split snaps at strong safety.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: SS Kam Chancellor -- The rookie out of Virginia Tech had several big hits in exhibition play against Tennessee and sealed the game with an interception in the final seconds. A fifth-round pick in this year's draft, Chancellor could work his way into the conversation at strong safety.
ROOKIE REPORT: Second-round pick Golden Tate struggled in his first NFL action, finishing with just two catches for five yards and dropping a ball during a two-minute situation at the end of the half that would have extended a drive. Rookie Earl Thomas finished with three tackles in two quarters of work.
INJURY REPORT: Offensive lineman Chester Pitts (knee) and cornerback Josh Pinkard (knee) remain on the active PUP list, which means they still count against the 80-man roster and can be activated at any time. Linebacker Leroy Hill suffered a sprained knee and will miss at least a few weeks.
ST. LOUIS RAMS
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Danny Amendola vs. Mardy Gilyard for slot WR and kick returner -- This battle has fizzled as Gilyard missed a week with an arm injury. Amendola returned a punt 93 yards for a touchdown against Minnesota.
OTHER BATTLEFRONTS: No one has jumped out in the fight for the backup job behind RB Steven Jackson. Chris Ogbonnaya did fine receiving against Minnesota (4-31), but only had nine yards on three rushes. Rookie Keith Toston had 16 yards on four attempts playing with the backups.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: LB Larry Grant -- He was all over the field against the Vikings, and was credited with four tackles, a tackle for loss and two passes defensed. He also had a huge hit on special teams. Named a starter when camp started, Grant is winning the job on the weak side.
ROOKIE REPORT: TE Fendi Onobun continues to show progress and could give the coaches a tough decision to make ... TE Michael Hoomanawanui is also showing his ability as a blocker and pass-catcher. ... LB Josh Hull played well against the Vikings, although it was late in the game with and against the deep backups ... WR Mardy Gilyard, out with a forearm injury, is losing ground to Danny Amendola.
INJURY REPORT: Listed as returning to practice this week are DL C.J. Ah You, G Jacob Bell, WRs Brandon Gibson and Mardy Gilyard and CBs Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher. Still out are K Josh Brown, S James Butler, G John Greco, CB Justin King and DE Eugene Sims.
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