Observers have been impressed with Russell Wilson's work in Seattle and Matt Flynn is the big-buck free agent, but Tarvaris Jackson is expected to start camp as Seattle's No. 1 quarterback. History shows why Wilson isn't being counted on to begin his rookie season as the opening-day starter. Plus, there hasn't been much action for a former Viking in free agency and Len Pasquarelli has other notes.
In the past few weeks, Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson
- his height (or lack thereof), initial contract (still the best in the third round), and potential as a starter in his NFL maiden voyage - has been a popular subject here.
There's no direct allusion to the former Wisconsin
/North Carolina State
star this week, but it might be worth noting how difficult it is for a player chosen after the second round to start on Opening Day in his rookie season. The last time a rookie selected after the second round started a season opener was way back in 2005, when Kyle Orton
, a fourth-rounder with the Bears and the 106th prospect off the board that year, opened the campaign.
"Believe me, it's really on-the-job training," Orton, now the backup to Tony Romo
in Dallas, told The Sports Xchange.
The former Purdue
quarterback was 10-5 as a starter his rookie season, including an eight-game winning streak.
There were 46 quarterbacks picked after the first two rounds in the six-year stretch 2006-11, and none started the season opener as a rookie for his respective team.
The undersized Wilson, plucked by the Seahawks in the third round, with the No. 75 overall choice, has overcome long odds most of his career. And the past isn't necessarily a prelude to the future or a predictor of how he'll eventually fare in the league. But the strong endorsement of coach Pete Carroll aside, Wilson will have a rough time overcoming the recent history of passers taken in the third round or later.
So it's no surprise that Carroll has tabbed six-year pro Tarvaris Jackson to take the first-team snaps at the outset of camp. A much bigger surprise will be if it's Wilson at the top of the depth chart for the Seahawks' opener at Arizona on Sept. 9.
One of the more puzzling aspects at this late juncture of free agency is the lack of action on unemployed veteran kicker Ryan Longwell, released by Minnesota after the Vikings chose Blair Walsh of Georgia in the sixth round. Longwell is a 15-year veteran and will turn 38 next month, but he's got a lifetime conversion rate of 83.2 percent, kicks off and should at least be on the "short list" of a few teams.
There is a glut of veteran free agent punters - Jason Baker, Brad Maynard, Mat McBriar, Daniel Sepulveda and Matt Turk - whose names are on the speed dials of a few personnel directors should their teams struggle in camp or preseason.
With only about three weeks until The Opening of camp, there has been no progress, and, in fact, very little negotiation, toward a resolution of wide receiver Mike Wallace's contract situation in Pittsburgh.
Despite concerns at cornerback, there has been little talk so far among the Bucs' staff about moving Ronde Barber back outside. The 15-year veteran is slated to move to free safety in 2012 and worked very little at corner in "base" situations in the spring. Moving him back to cornerback probably remains a possibility, but not until the team's off-field issues at the position are resolved, and not until coaches have a chance in camp to evaluate some other players.
The arrest of Bucs cornerback Eric Wright calls to mind a note from much earlier in the spring, suggesting that the Bucs' three high-profile free agency additions could be problematical in some ways. Jackson, of course, had a contentious history in San Diego over the past few years. Guard Carl Nicks experienced some issues in college. And Wright wasn't always known as a leader in Cleveland or Detroit.
The Houston defensive staff isn't apt to suggest again that free agent addition Bradie James will give the team the same level of play as DeMeco Ryans, who was traded to Philadelphia in the offseason. But the Texans are heartened by the play of James, a nine-year veteran who groused at times in Dallas about his playing time. James has pretty much established himself as the starter next to Brian Cushing in Houston's 3-4 scheme.
So Miami wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, 34, wants to play until he's 40, huh? Funny, but the New England Patriots, for whom Ochocinco caught only 15 passes in 15 games in 2011, thought he'd retired in 2011.
It appears that more defensive coordinators are working this offseason on nickel coverage designs that include three safeties. The emphasis, of course, remains on No. 3 cornerbacks, since so many clubs now play with three corners for 50 percent or more of the snaps. But the success of multiple-tight end looks, and the continued trend toward bigger wide receivers, has prompted a look at three-safety packages as well. The emphasis in general on locating safeties with some corner-type coverage abilities is increasing.
THE LAST WORD
"I really do not believe it's a big deal. I just think that they don't, in general, give (short quarterbacks) the opportunities, or stick with them. A guy that's undersized has to prove himself right away. And if you don't have success right away, you're out the door. (It's) similar to a (Tim) Tebow situation. If Tim Tebow had taken over the Broncos last year and lost his first two or three games, he'd never have seen the field again. Instead, he won whatever it was - five, six in a row - and they kept doubting him until next week, until next week, until next week. (But) if he were the 6-4 guy who was a true pocket passer, drafted in the first round and the franchise decided, 'This is our guy,' then he goes out and loses his first three or four starts . . . well, there is a learning curve involved. And they have patience with him. And that's my frustration with it." - former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie, per NFL.com, on the league's perceived bias against short quarterbacks