Home to the reigning NFC champion 49ers and incumbent Super Bowl favorite Seattle, the NFC West might be the most interesting division in football. OTAs haven't disappointed, with injuries and a suspension leading to summer workout battles.
The most high-profile acquisition for the 49ers defense this offseason, 31-year-old cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha saw his first action in a Niners uniform Thursday. With Tarell Brown absent from workouts, the Pro Bowler started opposite Carlos Rogers. The media reaction to his workout was positive, with the Chronicle's Kevin Lynch remarking that Nnamdi was able to "latch on to" and "muscle" receivers. The 49ers secondary got thinner when safety Dashon Goldson left for Tampa, but San Francisco has four viable corners with Asomugha on the roster.
Jim Harbaugh went on the radio Friday to discuss what the team is doing to replace injured wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who suffered an Achilles tear Wednesday and could miss the entire season. The coach mentioned A.J. Jenkins, Quinton Patton and Ricardo Lockette as possible replacements. As the 49ers' first-round pick in 2012, Jenkins has the highest profile, but a disappointing rookie campaign saw the Illinois product on the field for just 37 snaps while failing to register a catch.
Achilles injuries are all the rage for NFC West contenders. McCoy, like Crabtree, tore his Achilles and will be out six to nine months. Playing behind starting tight end Zach Miller, McCoy caught three touchdown passes in 2012. Luke Wilson will be the likely replacement, but only if he can get a break from shooting on the set of Anchorman: The Legend Continues.
After a breakout 2012 season that saw him make the Pro Bowl, Arizona linebacker Daryl Washington tested positive for marijuana. During his four-game suspension that starts Week 1, the Cardinals will need to get production from some new faces and some new old faces.
Karlos Dansby has returned after being released by the Dolphins, where he had been since 2010. The productive inside linebacker spent six seasons in red and white after being drafted by the Cardinals in 2004. The Cardinals also drafted a linebacker in the second round, taking Louisiana State's Kevin Minter. A solid training camp could have the rookie getting a look sooner than anyone expected. Arizona also acquired Jasper Brinkley, who played in every game for the Vikings the past three seasons. Brinkley recorded 63 tackles in 2012, his most productive season to date. Washington is also being investigated for a domestic incident, so four games may just be the beginning for the stud linebacker.
After acquiring All-World left tackle Jake Long, the Rams moved Rodger Saffold to right tackle. Commenting on Saffold's first reps at the position, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher shot down what he feels is a common misconception. "Football's football. Responsibilities are the same," said Fisher, who also praised Saffold for his workouts. Left is right and right is left. The lesson here? Look up your own directions when Jeff Fisher invites you to a cookout.