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  1. #1
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    NFC West Camp Battles

    Summer position battles: NFC West
    By Pete Prisco
    SportsLine.com Senior Writer

    The sixth of eight division-by-division looks at the key battles for each NFL team heading into training camps.


    Arizona Cardinals
    Emmitt Smith vs. Marcel Shipp


    Emmitt Smith will have the chance to start, Dennis Green says. In a surprise twist, Cardinals coach Dennis Green made Smith the starter heading into training camp. Green mentioned something about how well Smith does running to the left, which is a key part of Green's offense. But Green hasn't watched this Smith run that closely if he thinks he's a better player than Shipp. Smith doesn't get to the hole with the same pop he once did, while Shipp does. Shipp might not be in the elite back class, but he has the tools to be a 1,200-yard rusher. Smith doesn't anymore.

    Edge: Smith, in large part because of his name.

    Opening-day starter: Shipp. Give Green the preseason to come to his senses and realize Smith is old and slow, while Shipp has the quicker feet.


    St. Louis Rams
    Sean Moran vs. Bryce Fisher vs. Erik Flowers

    When Grant Wistrom signed a free-agent deal with the Seahawks, the Rams lost a key member of their defense, a try-hard player who played the run well and was a decent pass rusher. He was not, however, worth the money Seattle paid him. The Rams are hoping one of the three listed above can give them a quality edge rusher. Fisher had two sacks last season to lead the trio, and he has the speed to come off the corner. Moran, like Wistrom, is an effort player who had 1½ sacks last season. Flowers is a former first-round bust in Buffalo who is looking to re-start his career. None would be considered an above-average player, but somehow the Rams have to produce a pass-rush from the right side from this group.

    Edge: Moran. He is the steadier of the three and can hold up better against the run.

    Opening-day starter: Moran, but expect to see Fisher getting time in pass-rush situations.


    San Francisco *****
    Rashaun Woods vs. Cedrick Wilson vs. Derrick Hamilton vs. Curtis Conway


    Niners' first-round pick Rashaun Woods adds to the talent pool at wideout.(Getty Images)
    When Terrell Owens was traded and Tai Streets left to sign with the Lions, it left a major void at the receiver spot. The top returning receiver is Brandon Lloyd and he will likely start at one spot. The other position will be manned by one of these four players. Woods was a first-round pick in the April draft and has the size and speed the ***** want. He gradually improved in the team's offseason work. Wilson caught 35 passes for 396 yards and two touchdowns last season, so he is the leader heading into camp. Hamilton is a long, lean rookie who impressed in offseason work, while Conway is a veteran the team hopes still has something left. The hope is Woods emerges as the starter, but don't count out Wilson just yet.

    Edge: Wilson, based on experience. He also showed improvement last year, which is a good thing as he gets more time.

    Opening-day starter: Wilson. But watch out for Woods and Hamilton. That includes those two pushing Lloyd.


    Seattle Seahawks
    Rashad Moore vs. Marcus Tubbs

    Seattle struggled to stop the run last year, which is why Tubbs was taken in the first round of the April draft. At 315 pounds, he is a power player who can occupy blockers to free up the linebackers to make tackles. Moore started six games last season as a rookie and was a pleasant surprise. He had 30 tackles and a sack. Moore played hard and that helped his production, but he isn't as skilled as Tubbs. The run defense has to get better, which is why Tubbs was drafted so high. There is a chance one of these two also could push Cedric Woodard to the bench, although Woodard played well last season.

    Edge: Moore, based on his playing time. But that won't mean much in this case, not with a high pick trying to take his job.

    Opening-day starter: Moore. He'll hold the job for a couple of games, but Tubbs will eventually take it.

    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  2. #2
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    Re: NFC West Camp Battles

    Sean Moran vs. Bryce Fisher vs. Erik Flowers
    Doesn't exactly strike fear in the hearts of LTs around the league, does it?

    I think Fisher has the best shot, but it would be nice to see Flowers show why he was a 1st round pick.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: NFC West Camp Battles

    I'm tired of reading about Wistrom's "big shoes to fill." Grant's a nice player, but he's not world beater. I suspect that Hargrove will ultimately win the job and will probably be a better pass rusher than Grant.

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    Re: NFC West Camp Battles

    Sean Moran vs. Bryce Fisher vs. Erik Flowers

    When Grant Wistrom signed a free-agent deal with the Seahawks, the Rams lost a key member of their defense, a try-hard player who played the run well and was a decent pass rusher. He was not, however, worth the money Seattle paid him.
    As much as I love the guy, Wistrom had been a non-factor since 2001. I think it's funny that the Seahawks gave him that much money to be a "try-hard" player.

    The Rams are hoping one of the three listed above can give them a quality edge rusher. Fisher had two sacks last season to lead the trio, and he has the speed to come off the corner. Moran, like Wistrom, is an effort player who had 1½ sacks last season. Flowers is a former first-round bust in Buffalo who is looking to re-start his career. None would be considered an above-average player, but somehow the Rams have to produce a pass-rush from the right side from this group.
    Right, which is why this is wrong:

    Edge: Moran. He is the steadier of the three and can hold up better against the run.
    I don't even see Moran as a contender for the spot. Bryce Fisher, Anthony Hargrove, and Erik Flowers will be the ones battling for playing time.

  5. #5
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    Re: NFC West Camp Battles

    Prisco is about as superficial a writer as there is.

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    Re: NFC West Camp Battles

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam
    Prisco is about as superficial a writer as there is.
    Yea, I'm not a big Prisco fan. He's the one that's always writing these power rankings for CBSsportsline. These rankings look like he drew names out of a hat.

    Most websites I've seen have Moran starting at RDE, but since no team has gone to camp yet I can only assume these websites are putting him there simply because he is the most experienced. This is probably about the same thought that Prisco put in to it. Bottom line - Moran will be a non-factor if he makes the team at all. Fisher and Flowers will see the lion's share until Hargrove is up to speed which may be just in time to see Little's sentencing. :upset:
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  7. #7
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    Re: NFC West Camp Battles

    I'd put money on the fact that Moran isn't the starting DE for this team. It's going to be either Fisher or Jackson, IMO, with a heavy rotation.
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    Re: NFC West Camp Battles

    Battle in Arizona.....Who'll be benched first Emmitt or Shipp....lol
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