Jackson Over Flynn as Seattle QB?

Could former Viking Tarvaris Jackson really beat out former Packer Matt Flynn in Seattle? Len Pasquarelli lends his take on the Seahawks' quarterback battle and more in this quick-hitting NFL notebook.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll has said that Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Flynn and Wilson will wage a legitimate competition for the No. 1 spot, but it was reported in recent days that the incumbent would go to camp next month atop the depth chart.

The reaction that Jackson will get the No. 1 snaps, at least at the outset of camp, has generated mixed reactions both inside and outside of the Seattle organization. The six-year veteran definitely has supporters in the locker room and on the staff as well, but even some people in his corner privately question if Jackson can elevate his game at age 29.

Jackson was 7-7 as a starter in 2011, is .500 in his 34 career starts, has a sub-60 percent completion rate, a passer rating of only 77.7 and only a few more touchdown passes than interceptions (38-35).

Also notable is that Jackson has been with the same coordinator for all six years of his career, Darrell Bevell - five seasons in Minnesota and one in Seattle - and hasn't demonstrated marked improvement in that time. In general, the kind of continuity Jackson has enjoyed at coordinator leads to improvement, but that hasn't been the case.

To Carroll's credit, it doesn't look like finances will play a big part in the competition, even though Flynn will make twice as much ($8 million in total compensation as part of his three-year, $19.5 million free agent deal, to Jackson's $4 million) for 2012. But even with Carroll's run-first philosophy, the NFL has become a quarterback league, and Jackson might be little more than just a No. 2 guy.

Punts

— Chicago middle linebacker Brian Urlacher doesn't seem all that concerned by the possibility the league could use replacements game officials during the season. Said the 12-year veteran this week: "Were the refs that we had before good? Seriously, it doesn't really matter. Yes, there are officials that have been around for a while, and you know their names and have relationships. But at the same time, it doesn't matter." Urlacher might be reminded of that assessment the first time he argues that a replacement zebra has blown a call.

— It will be a very quiet gathering, but The Sports Xchange has learned that family members and longtime friends and associates will get together in Las Vegas next week for a memorial to late Oakland owner Al Davis, who died Oct. 8.

— A few teams have poked around free agent offensive lineman Vernon Carey in recent weeks. The eight-year veteran, a longtime starter in Miami, remains unsigned. Carey will be 31 in July but started 15 games for the Dolphins in 2011, and clubs view him as a potential guard-tackle swingman at the right price.

— Houston officials haven't commenced substantive discussions yet about an extension for quarterback Matt Schaub, who is entering the final season of his contract at a base salary of $7 million-plus, but likely will do so before the end of the summer. The Texans seem satisfied that Schaub is well recovered from last year's foot injury.

— Buffalo coaches are guardedly optimistic over the progress the offense made in the offseason, but would like to locate a viable No. 2 wide receiver in camp. Finding a complement to Steve Johnson would allow the Bills to play third-year veteran Donald Jones more in the slot, where the staff feels he could be a playmaker. Jones has good size and speed and seems to have recovered pretty well from an ankle injury that limited him to eight games last season.

— Despite his contention this week that there is an 80 or 90 percent chance that he will play in 2012, quarterback Donovan McNabb hasn't gotten any meaningful nibbles in the offseason, personnel people in the league say.

— The position is trending toward near-extinction, and the traditional role of lead blocker has been decreased in recent years, but it's still notable that all but one team has a fullback on its current roster. The only club without one right now is Indianapolis. The Packers have three: John Kuhn, Jon Hoese and Nic Cooper.

— Although Pittsburgh this week released former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Davis, leaving longtime and aging veterans Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch as the presumptive backups to starter Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers don't seem interested in re-signing Dennis Dixon. The four-year veteran, who felt confident he could improve his situation in free agency, hasn't drawn much interest.

— The Dallas coaches are excited by their newfound depth at inside linebacker. Emerging star Sean Lee returns for a second season as a starter, and the Cowboys feel that Bruce Carter, a second-round pick in 2011 who appeared in only 10 games while he recovered from a knee injury sustained in his final year at North Carolina, can be special as well. Plus the Cowboys signed former Carolina Panthers part-time starter Dan Connor in free agency.

The last word: "I think we're starting to tap out in the United States. If you look at the last Super Bowl we were in this past season, we had over 180 million people watching. That's almost two-thirds of America. So for us to grow the game, we have to expand globally. Having seen the kind of support we have received in London, it is the intention of the owners to get two games here, starting next year." - New England owner Bob Kraft, on the possibility of having a London franchise, a move that he said he supports.


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Len Pasquarelli is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange. He has covered the NFL for 33 years and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. His NFL coverage earned recognition as the winner of the McCann Award for distinguished reporting in 2008.


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