NFC West News and Notes - 7/10/05

Shaun Alexander does the math, the 49ers get ready for a Mexican Expedition, the Cardinals remodel their news and broadcast staffs, and the education of St. Louis' Alex Barron continues in this week's NFC West News and Notes.


--Franchise RB Shaun Alexander made some waves with recent comments about his reluctance to play under a one-year contract. Some interpreted his remarks to mean Alexander might skip the regular season, but that seems unlikely.
A closer look at Alexander's situation shows that nothing has changed for the five-year veteran.
Alexander, who turns 28 in August, has said all along that he wants a long-term contract. He has never said definitively that he won't play under the one-year franchise contract. And even if he were to make such a statement, the financial realities suggest otherwise.
Alexander would lose roughly $370,000 for every regular-season game he missed. Former franchise player Walter Jones tried that gambit three years ago. The Seahawks never came close to caving even though Jones, a left tackle, played a position considered more difficult to fill. He showed up for the third game of the 2002 season after losing nearly $500,000 in the process.
Alexander refused to sign the $6.32 million tender upon being named the Seahawks' franchise player in February. NFL rules prevented him from negotiating with the team from mid-March until July 16. The sides engaged in no substantive negotiations before the dead period, and a sudden resolution seems unlikely once talks are allowed to resume.
"The rules of the league say you have to sign the tender before we can negotiate a long-term deal," coach Mike Holmgren said. "He wants a long-term deal but won't sign the tender. It's a catch-22.
"I just want to make sure he knows what his status is on the football team and how he is viewed. And then, realistically what are we really talking about? It is easy right now to say, 'I'm going to miss some games and I'm going to do this and that.' But what really are we talking about?"
The primary issue is whether Alexander would be willing to miss $370,000 game checks.
The Seahawks did not address the RB position in the draft or free agency. Maurice Morris and Kerry Carter would be the top two backs were Alexander to remain away. Neither possesses Alexander's talent.
It's fair to wonder whether the Seahawks would function as well offensively without their leading rusher and scorer at their disposal.
Two factors could help Seattle function reasonably well without him.
One, Seattle is blessed with the presence of Jones and Steve Hutchinson on the left side of its line. Both are Pro Bowl-caliber players. Lots of backs could succeed behind them.
The other factor is schematic. Alexander is in some ways a less-than-ideal fit for what Holmgren does offensively. For example, the Seahawks take him out of the game on obvious passing downs because Alexander doesn't block very well.
The Seahawks are obviously more difficult to defend with Alexander in the lineup. The sense is that Alexander will be there when paychecks are on the line, no matter what kind of posturing takes place in the meantime.
--Seahawks president Tim Ruskell has quietly reshaped the scouting department. Former NFL safety Eric Stokes was promoted from personnel assistant to area scout for the Midwest. He joins a scouting department featuring Charles Fisher (Northeast), Derrick Jensen (Southeast), John Peterson (Southwest) and Mike Phair (West). Scouting directors include Scott Fitterer (Western region) and Mike Yowarsky (Eastern region).
--Some consider TE Jerramy Stevens to be an "X Factor” in the offense. He is an inviting target at 6-feet-7 and 248 pounds, and there are signs this might finally be his year. "Jerramy has had a good off-season," coach Mike Holmgren said. "He has participated at a pretty high level so far this off-season, which is good. ... I have always thought he was a very fine football player. He might be that guy."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have some older coaches so we're nervous about them from time to time. We're trying to get them all on the treadmill in here more often. They are always telling us to work out. Some of them have old football injuries, though, so we're working with some slightly disabled people." -- QB Matt Hasselbeck, speaking after chest discomfort forced coach Mike Holmgren out of action for a short time.
RB Shaun Alexander.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED: DE Jeb Huckeba (5/159); OG Doug Nienhuis (7/254).
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: WR Alex Bannister; DT Rocky Bernard; SS Terreal Bierria; RB Kerry Carter; OG Chris Gray; TE Ryan Hannam; QB Matt Hasselbeck; LT Walter Jones; S Marquand Manuel; TE Itula Mili; CB Kris Richard; DE Ron Smith; C Robbie Tobeck; WR Jerheme Urban; WR Jason Willis; OL Floyd Womack.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: LB Kevin Bentley; DT Chartric Darby; CB Andre Dyson; DE Bryce Fisher; CB Kelly Herndon; S John Howell; WR Joe Jurevicius; WR Jerome Pathon; LB Jamie Sharper.
PLAYERS LOST: LB Chad Brown; FB Heath Evans; MLB Orlando Huff; CB Ken Lucas; DE Brandon Mitchell; DE Chike Okeafor; WR Jerry Rice; S Damien Robinson; WR Koren Robinson; P Tom Rouen; LB Anthony Simmons; CB Bobby Taylor; OT Chris Terry.


--Not only have the Cardinals tweaked and weeded out their playing roster for 2005, they've similarly addressed their in-house radio, television and Web site personnel. The Cardinals ended their relationship with long-time radio color analyst John Mistler and replaced him with a former Cardinals workhorse, Ron Wolfley.
Wolfley has been active in the Phoenix market sports talk radio scene for years and has had roles with the Cardinals pregame radio broadcast team. During his decade on the field for the Big Red, Wolfley was a Pro Bowler four times.
Wolfley joins returning play-by-play radio voice Dave Pasch.
The team also changed its sideline reporting position, adding Paul Calvisi, a longtime figure in sports television and radio in the Valley. Calvisi replaces Mike Jurecki, who not only no longer will be involved with the broadcast team, but no longer will write for the team's Web site, either. Jurecki remains a talk-show co-host on a Phoenix sports talk radio program.
The Cardinals hired Brian Davis, who has a long sports broadcast history in the Seattle area, to call the action and Doug Plank to give color and analysis on all four preseason telecasts.
Plank was 2005 Arena Football League Coach of the Year with the Georgia Force after leading that team to the Arena Bowl in his first season on the sideline.
Phoenix sportscaster Craig Fouhy will work the sidelines on preseason TV games.

--The Cardinals will conduct a NFL Flag Football skills camp July 14-15 at the South Phoenix Salvation Army. The camp is open to kids between 8 and 18 for $40.
In exchange, the kids receive an opportunity to enhance their skills with instruction from current and former players. It also focuses on helping kids become better student athletes.
--The Cardinals' cheerleaders "Show Team" has ended their 14-day trip to 11 military bases in Kuwait, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates. The nine-member team put on two-hour variety shows at each base as part of the USO Tour.
The cheerleaders visited five Army bases, three Marine bases, two Air Force Bases and one Navy base and performed in front of approximately 8,000 U.S. service personnel.
The ladies traveled on Black Hawk helicopters and on a military C-130 aircraft.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I have five kids and we are expecting twins in December. My house is crazy. It's just busy." - QB Kurt Warner, on off-field life following his move to Arizona.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED: LB Lance Mitchell (5/168); WR LeRon McCoy (7/226).
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: RB Damien Anderson; OT Jeremy Bridges; RB Troy Hambrick; S Quentin Harris; DT Ross Kolodziej; QB Josh McCown; CB Robert Tate; DE Peppi Zellner.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: OT Ian Allen; S Robert Griffith; OT Adam Haayer; LB Orlando Huff; WR Charles Lee; FB Harold Morrow; DE Chike Okeafor; OT Oliver Ross; CB Ray Walls; QB Kurt Warner.
PLAYERS LOST: OT Anthony Clement; TE Lorenzo Diamond; CB Renaldo Hill; TE Freddie Jones; QB Shaun King; WR Nate Poole; OT L.J. Shelton; RB Emmitt Smith; OG Cameron Spikes; CB Duane Starks; CB Michael Stone; LB Ray Thompson; DE Kyle Vanden Bosch; WR Karl Williams; LB LeVar Woods.


   --As training camp gets closer (Rams practices begin July 28), the education of tackle Alex Barron will resume. Rams rookies will be on the field for some refresher time before the start of camp, and Barron will be watched closely.

Selected with the 19th overall pick in the first round, the Rams quickly said Barron would be the starting right tackle, a position where there was a revolving door in 2004. At the same time, coach Mike Martz emphasized that Barron needed significant work on his technique. In addition, while spending some time on the right side at Florida State, he was mostly a left tackle and now he would be only a right tackle.
The coaches decided not to try and bring Barron along slowly. They threw a large part of the offense at him, and the result was an overwhelmed player. That's why a step back was taken at the team's minicamp, and Barron worked mostly with the second team.
"If you try to nurse him along, then of course players normally don't have the same sense of urgency, and that's why we did what we did," Martz said. "So we'll let him regroup and catch his breath somewhat, then we'll put him back in the fire and see where he is.
"He got a little shock. That's kind of a quarterback type of position on the offensive line. You have got to back off a little bit and let him absorb things a little bit where he gets to the point where he is confident enough to compete over there. Otherwise he will destroy all of his confidence. That's what we are trying to avoid."
Said Barron, "It's been a big learning experience, trying to stay focused and learning a whole bunch of new stuff. I'm learning a new position basically. I've got to get accustomed to different techniques and things and just get comfortable with the footwork from playing on that side.
"I think I'll be able to make the switch, but it's going to take a lot of time. It's not easy at all."
Said Rams left tackle Orlando Pace, who has played right tackle in the Pro Bowl, "It's a whole other world. Once you think of right tackle/left tackle, you think it is pretty much the same position, but there are so many different variables of playing that position as far as your hands and your feet."
Concerning Barron's technique, Martz reiterated in stronger terms what he said on draft day.
"From the technique standpoint, he is just so far away," Martz said. "He has to trust what we are teaching him to do with his pass sets and his punch and his arms. Until he can get consistent with that, it's going to be pretty hard. He was a great athlete who got by on athleticism. His technique was horrible in college."
The Rams hope it gets better pretty quickly.
--Who would play right tackle for the Rams if rookie Barron proves he's unable to play with consistency this summer?
Last year, Grant Williams began the season as the right tackle, but a succession of injuries affected his strength and he wasn't able to handle the position. Williams is now healthy, as is Scott Tercero, who underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason. The Rams prefer Tercero at guard, but he would be in the mix at tackle if necessary.
Blaine Saipaia, another player the Rams would like to see at guard, started the final five regular-season games in 2004 at right tackle and also the team's two playoff games. He has gotten stronger in the offseason, and was the No. 1 right tackle at the team's minicamp as Williams and Tercero sat out most team drills.
Said coach Mike Martz, "We can be patient (with Barron) because we've got two or three other guys that can go out and play at right tackle. Whenever he's ready, he's ready."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Being placed in a critical position is overwhelming anyway, coming from one level to the next. I've just got to take it one day at a time, one practice at a time. It's two different positions and I've just got to fight through this." - Rams rookie tackle Alex Barron.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED: S Jerome Carter (4/117).
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: OG Darnell Alford; CB Dwight Anderson; LB Trev Faulk; WR Mike Furrey; FB Joey Goodspeed; RB Arlen Harris; WR Dane Looker; LB Jeremy Loyd; QB Jamie Martin; LS Chris Massey; OT Orlando Pace; OT Blaine Saipaia; P Kevin Stemke; OG Scott Tercero; LB Drew Wahlroos.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: LB Chris Claiborne; LB Dexter Coakley; CB Terry Fair; DE Brandon Green; S Michael Hawthorne; CB Corey Ivy; S Michael Stone; OG Rex Tucker; TE Roland Williams.
PLAYERS LOST: QB Chris Chandler; S Rich Coady; S Antuan Edwards; DE Bryce Fisher; OG Matt Lehr; LB Tommy Polley; P Kevin Stemke; OT Kyle Turley.


--World traveler Tony Parrish, the 49ers' starting strong safety, is eager about representing the organization July 14 and 15 in Mexico City during a promotional tour for the Oct. 2 regular-season game against the Cardinals.
The 49ers and Cardinals will play in 100,000-seat Azteca Stadium, the first time an NFL regular-season game has ever been played outside the United States. "It's exciting to be a part of the history of this event," Parrish said. "As a player, you have all the excitement that will go along with that. Plus, we also have to deal with the altitude."
Parrish volunteered to take part in the promotional event because he loves to travel during his offseason. He has spent a lot of time the last two summers in Brazil, where he has taken up samba dancing. Parrish said he can speak "a little bit of Spanish."
Parrish studied the samba at a renowned dance school in Rio de Janeiro and danced in the city's main Carnival parade. He was dressed as a court jester. He said people in Brazil thought he was a fighter, as he kept a low profile.
Everybody will know Parrish's identity in Mexico. He is there to sell the game of football, where futbol is king.
"It's just a great game to promote," Parrish said. "And it's an international game. Football is American football, but with the emergence of NFL Europe and with international players getting more looks on NFL practice squads, there's a chance to see the game's appeal grow. This is a great chance to be an ambassador for the sport."
Team owner John York will also attend the media functions in Mexico City. Coach Mike Nolan said he expects to travel to Mexico City at some point in the next month to get a feel for the team's accommodations so he knows what to expect for the team's trip in October.

--Although the 49ers have sold out every game since a 1981 regular-season game against the Cowboys, they are starting to see that their support is dwindling. Last week, the 49ers announced a $2 million marketing campaign that emphasizes the team's tradition while also encouraging fans to show faith for the future.
"We are proud of our faithful and loyal fans and this campaign will help us celebrate their long-standing support of the 49ers," said David Pearl, the team's vice president of sales and marketing. "Brand campaigns are at the center of every successful business: sports and entertainment companies are no different. We are going to be aggressive in promoting who we are."
The 49ers plan to unleash a barrage of radio commercials and newspaper advertisements as the team gets set to open training camp later this month. The club is also looking to build support for a new stadium, which will likely require season-ticket holders to pay some sort of seat license as well as increased ticket prices.
--The 49ers are set to report to training camp later this month, so Nolan gave his coaching staff some time off before the grind begins. Most of the players have also been staying away from the team's practice facility in Santa Clara, Calif.
--The 49ers remain confident that they will have No. 1 overall selection Alex Smith signed for the opening of training camp on July 28. Of course, the 49ers would love for Smith to assert himself as the team's top quarterback during the exhibition season, and that is only going to happen if Smith reports to camp on time. The 49ers have already signed three of their 11 draft picks, but Smith is the biggie. Most of the team's nearly $6.2 rookie salary pool will be devoted to Smith's contract. He will receive the largest amount of guaranteed money - expected to be more than $20 million - the organization has ever awarded.
"Guys are excited. They definitely acknowledge and like the effort Dr. York has put into trying to restructure and reestablish the organization" - Safety Tony Parrish on the optimism surrounding the offseason moves enacted by the club's owner.
LB Julian Peterson (signed tender of $7.288M).
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED: WR Rasheed Marshall (5/174); TE Patrick Estes (7-248); TE Billy Bajema (7/249).
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: DT Tony Brown; TE Steve Bush; S Dwaine Carpenter; DT Chris Cooper; OG Eric Heitmann; RB Terry Jackson; LB Brandon Moore; LB Julian Peterson; LB Saleem Rasheed; CB Rayshun Reed; LB Ray Wells.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: DE Marques Douglas; OT Jonas Jennings; WR Jason McAddley; WR Johnnie Morton; PK Joe Nedney.
PLAYERS LOST: OT Scott Gragg; C Brock Gutierrez; FS Ronnie Heard; FB Jasen Isom; OT Kyle Kosier; OG Rob Murphy; PK Todd Peterson; DT Daleroy Stewart; DE Brandon Whiting; CB Jimmy Williams; WR Cedrick Wilson. Top Stories