Scout Scoop: NFC Teams

Here is the latest buzz from around the NFL - contract negotiations, players to watch, and more, including word on talks with first-round players on a number of NFC clubs. And how are former Vikings WRs Nate Burleson doing in Seattle and Hank Baskett in Philadelphia?

With less than two weeks until the start of the first training camp, here's a look at's latest exclusive NFC news and analysis.

Arizona Cardinals

According to a team source, FB James Hodgins, who is coming back from ACL surgery which was performed last September, could be released once he's medically cleared to practice. Fellow veteran FB Obafemi Ayanbadejo, who is the starter, may not be as good a blocker as Hodgins but is much more athletic. Should Hodgins be released, backup TE John Bronson, who spent the off-season working at fullback, could be his replacement.

While many have speculated the team is interested in signing free agent CB Ty Law, the source indicates the interest in joining the team is actually coming from Law's side. For the team to have their interest heightened, Law will have to significantly lower the amount of guaranteed money he's looking for. The team is said to be very high on second-year CB Eric Green who is expected to compete for a starting job against veteran CB David Macklin.

Elsewhere, negotiations are expected to begin this weekend between the team and the representatives for first-round pick QB Matt Leinart.

Detroit Lions

After many of their players struggled to keep up with the pace of their early off-season workouts, practice observers noted that the players started to get in tune with how things will be run under new head coach Rod Marinelli and his staff.

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz's timing-based scheme requires the quarterback to throw the ball as the receiver is running his route and he wants his receivers to be fast and in shape. The coaches told third-year WR Roy Williams that they wanted him to be down to 209 pounds by the time the players report on July 27. Williams weighed in at 215 during their final off-season workouts.

Another player that was catching the eye of many around the team during OTAs (organized team activities) was third-year RB Kevin Jones. Martz strongly believes he can be a cornerstone of the offense and Jones seems to be buying in to that. Jones started catching about 200 balls a day earlier this year to get used to his expanded role in the revamped offense.

Defensively, while his signing didn't exactly make headlines, S Idrees Bashir could be an important part of the team's depth in the secondary. Bashir played two seasons with the Colts in the "cover-2" scheme which is the same defensive scheme the Lions will employ. Bashir never lived up to being a former second-round pick but has very good size.

New Orleans Saints

While he may have been selected in the sixth round, not only does rookie WR Mike Hass have a shot to make the final roster, a league source believes he could win a spot in the top four of their rotation at the position.

Hass, who has very good size (listed at 6'5"), is known as a very good route runner and he has very good hands. The team doesn't really have any proven talent behind starters Joe Horn and Donte' Stallworth and Hass should be able to compete quite well against underachievers Devery Henderson and recently acquired veteran Bethel Johnson.

New York Giants

According to a team source, one of the more interesting training camp battles should be at running back. While many fans might think second-year RB Brandon Jacobs is the front runner for the top backup job, the source indicates the back to keep an eye on is the recently acquired Little John Flowers who the team had their eye on for a while. Flowers spent the past three seasons on and off the New York Jets practice squad. Flowers has good size and runs with good vision and will actually be given a realistic shot to win the backup job despite signing with the team just two weeks ago.

Another relatively unknown player to keep an eye on is DT Jonas Seawright who signed with the team in May 2005 as an undrafted free agent. He didn't make the final roster but was signed to the practice squad and spent the entire season there. Seawright is a big presence inside (listed at 6'6") but his weight ballooned earlier this year to around 340 and he was told to lose weight. If he can keep his weight down to around 330, he'll have a pretty good chance to be in the top-four of the rotation.

Philadelphia Eagles

One of the more interesting training camp battles will be at receiver, where there should be a heated competition for spots on the final roster. One player who obviously the team was intrigued with rookie Hank Baskett, who they acquired in a post-draft trade from Minnesota. Baskett, who was the first to report visited with the Eagles prior to the draft, didn't have any other visits.

Many around the league expected Baskett to be selected early on the second day of the draft but an inconsistent Senior Bowl week performance plus a less-than- stellar NFL Combine workout pushed him out of the draft entirely. Still, despite all that, many NFL scouts believe he could develop into a starter down the road. Baskett actually runs better than his listed time, has good size and athleticism, and is a willing blocker. Other traits that made him attractive to the Eagles are he's known for having great character and comes from a military family.

Another undrafted free agent to keep an eye on in training camp is C Nick Cole. While he's listed at 6'0", those who were at the team's off-season workouts say he's a little shorter than that which is why he wasn't drafted. While the team likely will only carry two centers on the roster (Hank Fraley and Jamaal Jackson), Cole has a pretty good chance to find a home on their practice squad. According to a league source, the team had targeted Cole as one of their priority undrafted free agents to sign.

Elsewhere, second-round pick OT Winston Justice could continue to see a lot of time at left tackle during training camp. Justice spent a majority of his practice reps during off-season workouts filling in for LT William Thomas (blood clot). Justice, according to practice observers, has a long reach, which is a good trait to have playing tackle, but needs to get stronger on his lower body and needs to improve his footwork. 

Seattle Seahawks

One of the more interesting situations during the team's off-season workouts was how new WR Nate Burleson was developing. After lining up mostly in the slot with the Minnesota Vikings, Burleson was out wide during Seattle's off-season program.

What a league source pointed out that was most impressive was Burleson's run after the catch, which was one of his best traits in his second season with Minnesota. The "RAC" is one of the staples for a good receiver to have in the West Coast offense. What Burleson's challenge now will be to get separation from defenders in pads where the defensive backs can jam him. 

Washington Redskins

According to a league source, former Redskins DT Brandon Noble, who was released in March, is expected to retire.

After not missing a game in the first four seasons of his career with the Dallas Cowboys, the 32-year old Noble missed two entire seasons of the last three with Washington due to knee problems. The former Penn State University star is said to be looking to relocate to the Philadelphia Area.

Other Notes

Cleveland Browns
- A league source indicated to earlier this week that negotiations between Cleveland Browns first-round selection Kamerion Wimbley's agent (Joe Linta) and the club are continuing.

One potential sticking point could be a potential sixth year on the contract. First-round picks (1-15) can receive up to six years on their rookie deals. Picks 16-32 up to five years. Rounds 2-7 up to four seasons. The first selection overall in this year's draft, DE Mario Williams, signed a five-year deal with the Houston Texans which includes an option for a sixth season.

Houston Texans

After securing second-round selection LB DeMeco Ryans to a multi-year deal on Friday, a league source indicated the team is making progress on reeling in another of their first day selections.

Dan Ferens, who is the club's Vice President/Football Administration, continues to negotiate with the representative for third-round pick Charles Spencer. The former University of Pittsburgh star offensive lineman is slated to play left tackle this season and is the first of their two third-round selections. The other, University of Miami offensive lineman Eric Winston, was selected one pick past Spencer.

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