Rams have 8 of 11 draft picks signed

And then there were three.

The St. Louis Rams got busy over the weekend and in the process they now have eight of their 11 draft picks under contract with a month to go until the start of training camp. That leaves four weeks to hammer out deals for quarterback Sam Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick and Rodger Saffold, the second-round selection expected to compete for the starting job at right tackle. Also remaining unsigned at this point is tight end Fendi Onobun, a sixth-round draft pick from Arizona.

Cornerback Jerome Murphy, a third-round draft pick from South Florida, received a signing bonus of just less than $938,000 in a four-year contract. Wide receiver Mardy Gilyard, a fourth-round pick, got a signing bonus of $552,000. Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, a fifth-round pick, received a signing bonus of $216,000. Eugene Sims, a defensive end drafted in the sixth round, received a signing bonus of just less than $104,000. Defensive end George Selvie, a seventh-round pick, received a signing bonus of $56,000.

Now, the Rams just have to make certain they get Bradford to camp on time.

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Drew Brees believes Brett Favre will return

Count Drew Brees among those who believes that Brett Favre will be on the field –in uniform — in the Superdome when the Saints and Vikings kick off the 2010 NFL season on Sept. 9.

Favre remains undecided on whether to return for a 20th season, but most believe the 40-year-old will be back. He might just wait until the Vikings have gotten the Mankato, Minn., portion of training camp out of the way.

Brees, in an interview with Nancy Gay of Fanhouse, is counting on seeing Favre nine months after they tangled in the NFC Championship Game.

“I don't think there's any doubt that Brett Favre is coming back, and he's going to be as good as he's ever been,” Brees told Gay. “We're going to need our best game to beat him, I know that. They're a good team. A very good team.”

That is a departure from the silly back-and-forth Darren Sharper and Visanthe Shiancoe have had earlier this offseason, including Shiancoe’s reference to Sharper as Osama bin Laden.

“There has been some chatter back and forth between our team and their team, and I just kind of hear about it. I don't really do much of it,” Brees said. “Listen, we know that's going to be a big game.”

A big game? It’s a big season for the Saints, who will try to avoid the pitfalls that can await defending champions. They are going to open the season with a giant target on their back as they try to make a path to Dallas and Super Bowl XLV.

“I think the biggest task for us is, having experienced that level of success, how do you not let it go to your head?” Brees said. “How do you stay humble, stay hungry and continue to almost approach it as if you haven't accomplished anything yet?

“We've still got a lot to prove. There's always another challenge ahead.”

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Vikings will give Marko Mitchell a look

Marko Mitchell is a popular man. Now, he needs to show some staying power.

A month after being claimed off waivers by the Detroit Lions, the Minnesota Vikings are going to take their turn with the wide receiver. The Vikings announced that they have claimed Mitchell off waivers.

Mitchell, who was a seventh-round draft pick out of Nevada by Washington in 2009, was productive enough for the Redskins last summer that some believed he was a developmental talent in the works. But with a slew of veteran wideouts, the Redskins released him shortly after the draft. The Lions scooped him up and now he’ll try another team.

The intriguing thing about Mitchell is he stands 6-4 and is 218 pounds and he can run. We’ll see if the Vikings believe he can play wide receiver. The team also announced that rookie free agent center Tommy Hernandez and defensive end Cedric McKinley have been waived.

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Vick voluntarily contacts, meets with police

Homicide detectives are investigating the shooting of Quanis Phillips outside Michael Vick’s birthday bash Thursday night in Virginia Beach, Va.

According to a report in the Virginian-Pilot, Vick voluntarily phoned police this morning and went in to answer questions. Vick’s attorney Larry Woodward said that his client left the party 30 minutes before Phillips, a co-defendant in the dogfighting case that involved Vick, was shot outside a nightclub.

Phillips reportedly had been tossed out of the party. Woodward said Phillips was an uninvited guest and was removed from Guadalajara. A police spokesman said Vick was cooperative.

One report already surfaced that the shooting of Phillips was prompted after either Vick smashed birthday cake in the face of Phillips or Phillips smashed birthday cake in the face of Vick.

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Byron Westbrook acquitted of DUI charge

Washington Redskins cornerback Byron Westbrook was acquitted of driving under the influence in Charles County, Md., according to the Washington Post.

Westbrook was arrested in Waldorf in February when a sheriff saw him “driving erratically.” He was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, driving while impaired, negligent driving and failing to stay on the right side of the road.

“Several things all added up to there just wasn't enough evidence to stop this guy because he wasn't violating any laws,” Westbrook’s attorney Jim Farmer told the Post.

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NFP Scouting Series: Arizona State

For the rest of the summer, the National Football Post will be breaking down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who could warrant the most interest from NFL teams in the 2011 draft.

Therefore, today we take a look at the Arizona State Sun Devils.


WR Kerry Taylor: No. 5 (6-0, 197)
Possesses slightly above-average size, but just isn’t real impressive in any area of the game. It takes him awhile to get off the line and into his routes quickly in the pass game and although he does pick up speed the further down the field he goes, he still isn’t going to outpace any NFL defenders at the next level. Isn’t real sudden or explosive vs. man coverage and seems to just drift in and out of his breaks as a route runner. Does a nice job using his length and strong hands to pluck the football away from his frame. But, isn’t real physical after the catch and seems to go down easily on contact. Made most of his plays/catches on crossing patterns where he could get a free release, but was still very “blah” in that aspect of the game as well.

Impression: Isn’t real big, powerful, explosive or productive and doesn’t look like an NFL-caliber wideout to me.


DT Saia Falahola: No. 77 (6-1, 300)
A thick, stout-looking athlete who displays some natural power in his upper and lower half when run at. Now, he isn’t real technically sound and lacks the ability to simply sit into his base and take on the double team. However, he loves to fight and scrap inside, and is a good enough athlete to clog up run lanes off his frame. But isn’t real coordinated on the move. Struggles to break down on the football and too often ends up on the ground. Nevertheless, he works hard in pursuit and is surprisingly a pretty good straight-line athlete when asked to close on the football.

Is a linear pass rusher who does a good job keeping his base down and has the ability to fight his way off opposing linemen’s shoulders and make his way up the field once he gains a step. However, he isn’t overly explosive off the snap and struggles to cleanly change directions as a pass rusher. Does a decent job extending his arms into blocks and generates a bit of a “pop” on his punch, which allows him to create some separation for himself in the pass game. But, isn’t real explosive laterally even when he does disengage and fails to consistently work his way toward the quarterback.

Impression: A tough, blue-collar lineman who works hard and loves to scrap and fight in the run game. However, ends up on the ground too much when run at inside and doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher.

CB/WR LeQuan Lewis: No. 5 (5-11, 193)
An elite size/speed athlete who is said to run in the sub-4.3 range and absolutely has speed to burn. However, he is a bit of a misnomer at this stage. Played both cornerback and wideout last season after coming to Arizona State as a talented junior college recruit. The skill set is there for this guy to develop at either spot, but, as of now he’s listed as the team’s starting cornerback. Possesses good overall ball skills for the position, but he’s still a real work in progress. He’s a guy worth keeping an eye on this season and will need a complete evaluation done in 2010.

Impression: He possesses the size and speed to at least intrigue at this stage, but needs to show he has enough polish to warrant becoming a developmental type prospect.

Top underclassman

DT Lawrence Guy: No. 50 (6-5, 300)
A tall, long-armed defensive lineman who displays impressive bend and natural flexibility when asked to coil up into his stance. Possesses an impressive combination of instincts and burst off the snap and is consistently the first defensive lineman firing off the football and attacking up the field. However, isn’t real physical at the point when asked to anchor inside. Can be initially jolted on contact mainly because he doesn’t do a good job extending his arms into blocks. Too often allows offensive linemen to get into his frame and dictate to him. Now, he’s strong enough to work himself free after the initial punch, but needs to do a better job controlling blocks with his long arms and hands off the snap. Plays with a motor that is second to none, chasing down plays on all levels of the field and working until the whistle stops. Does a much better job beating slide down blocks off his frame. Is a coordinated defender with the ability to maintain balance through contact and uses his athleticism to quickly close on the football down the line.

Plays with natural leverage as a pass rusher and exhibits the ability to get under the pad level of opposing linemen and drive his way up the field. Is explosive for his size and definitely can threaten gaps inside. Can be powerful with his hands and slip blocks up the field, but again needs to do a better job playing with better length. Isn’t overly effective anytime he’s asked to take on a double team, consistently bends at the waist, drops his head down and becomes very linear trying to work his way laterally away from the blocks — losing his power and balance in the process — instead of toward the quarterback.

Impression: A long, physically impressive defensive lineman who has a lot of upside to his game. He’s flexible, explosive and plays with a motor that runs nonstop, but needs to continue to improve using his length to stack and shed blocks inside. However, after watching how hard he worked during a game, I am sure him putting in the time to improve his technique won’t be an issue. If he continues to improve, could be one of the best three or five-technique prospects in the upcoming draft.

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Lewand said he hadn't had drink in year-plus, blew .20

Either Tom Lewand held a massive amount of alcohol in his system for, oh, a year-and-a-half or the president of the Detroit Lions wasn’t exactly forthcoming with Roscommon County (Mich.) Sheriff’s deputies when he was pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving Friday.

According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, Lewand told police he had not had a drink in a year-and-a-half. That story doesn’t mesh with blood-alcohol level he tested at – 0.21 and 0.20, more than twice the legal limit.

“The driver (Lewand) stated that he was the designated driver,” a deputy wrote, according to the Free Press. Lewand also said that he went to Limberlost bar in Denton Township “to pick a friend up.” But police witnessed him driving erratically and the report noted that there was a “strong odor of intoxicants coming from the driver compartment of the vehicle.”

Lewand did not do well with his field-sobriety tests either. He couldn’t balance on one leg and when asked to touch his finger to his nose, he placed his finger on his upper lip.

Lewand has issued a statement apologizing for the incident and the Lions have come out strongly backing him. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he expects to speak with Lewand soon. Like all league employees – players included – Lewand is subject to the personal conduct policy.

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The rookies go to school

Today, 254 rookies will travel to beautiful San Diego for a week at La Costa Resort and Spa. However, there will be no massages, golf or swimming. Instead, there will be classroom lectures on finances, sex education, conduct, and life skills backed by advice backed from former and existing NFL players.

This annual symposium was created in 1997 by the NFL, in coordination with the NFLPA, to help rookies get a handle on the responsibilities and personal challenges that come along with being an NFL player.

I commend the NFL for doing this, and I would even recommend they lengthen and expand the program to more live workshops and a follow-up seminar after the season. I believe players want education and want to be empowered to make good decisions. However, I’m not sure how effective a three-day crash course is for an energetic group of 22- and 23-year-old young men who now have some money and a few weeks of summer left to burn before camp. Regardless, it’s better than nothing, and I have witnessed its positive impact on players.

A few years ago, one of my high-round picks was so scared by the financial horror stories he heard at the symposium that it took him two years to make his first modest mutual fund investment. To this da,y he doesn’t make a move with his cash until he has talked with me, his financial advisor, his accountant and has done his own research.

In one sex education course, players were instructed on how to use a condom with a banana as the stand-in. One of my clients told me he was surprised to hear how many players had never used one and had some problems with the exercise.

Overall, the symposium does a good job of using both scare tactics and education as tools to get through to the players. High profile retired players share their personal experiences with the rookies, which can have a powerful impact. Experts from all fields give practical advice on how to make good decisions, along with explaing the consequences that come with bad ones.

I will have four rookies in attendance, all of whom are excited about the chance to learn from both the vets and the experts. After the conclusion of the symposium, I will get a debriefing from my rookies and let them know I am always available to help them with any decisions. Continuing education for all NFL players is a never-ending process. Each NFL team employs a player development executive who is responsible for guiding vets and rookies alike through the challenges of everyday life as an NFL player.

Pro athletes have to grow up fast if they want to manage their business, social and family affairs successfully. Unfortunately, the job of a pro athlete can also extend adolescence if a player decides to let everyone handle everything for them. By Thursday of this week, 254 pro athletes will be better prepared to face the world.

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Doctors advise Conrad Dobler to amputate leg to end pain

His autobiography was entitled “They Call Me Dirty” and that is because Sports Illustrated once labeled him the dirtiest player in the National Football League.

Now, Conrad Dobler, not quite 60, faces the realization that to relieve the nonstop pain he has in his right leg, he’ll need to have it amputated. That is what the three-time former Pro Bowl guard told Jerry Crowe in a column in the Los Angeles Times that is worth reading. Dobler wants to push off an amputation as long as he can, though, because he is the primary caregiver for his wife Joy, who has been a quadriplegic since falling out of a hammock and breaking her neck on July 4, 2001.

His wife’s injury began a series of setbacks for Dobler that have mounted over the course of a decade. He’s had to sell his home and most of his assets. Golfer Phil Mickelson helped put the couple’s two youngest children through college.

Doctors warn Dobler they believe he is depressed and approaching suicidal, per the report.

“My kids say I'm mentally unstable,” Dobler told Crowe. “(Doctors) said I seemed to be very depressed and suicidal. I said, 'If you had to go through what I've had to go through in the last eight or nine years — with my health problems, my wife's health problems, our business and the economy — if you weren't suicidal, if you weren't depressed, you're not human.’”

Dobler is coming out with a new autobiography, “Pride and Perseverance.” Certainly he’s had to endure. By his count, he’s needed more than 30 operations on his legs and 10 knee replacements. He struggles walking with a cane because his shoulder needs to be replace. He doesn’t have insurance. He just gets by.

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Washington on the prowl for quarterbacks

Barring a disastrous injury, Washington will enjoy continued excellent quarterback play in 2010 with potential No. 1 NFL Draft selection Jake Locker under center.

But where will the Huskies turn in 2011?

As of now, head coach Steve Sarkisian has only Nick Montana and Keith Price on the roster, so there’s no question that Sark will be looking to add depth in the form of one or two quarterbacks in the 2011 recruiting class.

Will one particular signal-caller fall into the Huskies’ lap?

With Oregon signing Johnny Manziel over the weekend to go along with blue-chipper Jerrard Randall, could Ducks verbal Marcus Mariota now be headed to Seattle?

According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, it’s a distinct possibility that the Saint Louis School in Honolulu quarterback could re-open his recruitment after reports surfaced that he is now a “soft verbal” to Eugene.

The Huskies also are still in play for Brett Hundley, one of the country’s best unsigned prospects. However, Rick Neuheisel and UCLA appear to be the frontrunners for his services.

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