NFC West Notes: Cardinals, 49ers, Rams

     

Cardinals

Cardinals’ veteran CB Robert Alford (broken leg) said he has fully recovered from last year’s season-ending injury and has a firm understanding of DC Vance Joseph‘s playbook. 

“I didn’t want the injury to make me feel like I wasn’t part of the team,” Alford said, via Darren Urban of the team’s official site

Alford added that he is using his lost 2019 season as added motivation after sustaining his injury during camp and subsequently losing some status as a premier defender. 

“I always use stuff like that. I hear a lot of chatter, but at the end of the day I’m self-motivated,” Alford said. “All I do is take advantage of each and every day … I’m very confident in what I’m bringing to the team. I always play with a chip on my shoulder and that will never leave me.”

49ers

49ers FB Kyle Juszczyk said their virtual meetings have been “super impressive” and feels like he is learning more of their offense this offseason. 

It’s been super impressive, to be honest with you, just how much work we’ve been getting done in these Zoom meetings and how much I’ve been able to learn going into my eighth year and playing in this offense quite a while,” said Juszczyk. “We’ve really been able to dive into the nitty-gritty and the details of this offense.”

Rams

The Rams will move into a post-Todd Gurley world with at least three potential successors at running back. Los Angeles drafted Cam Akers in the second round to go with 2019 third-round pick Darrell Henderson and veteran backup Malcolm Brown. After more than a year of being cagey about Gurley’s knee, Rams HC Sean McVay wasn’t ready to dish about how they planned to split the workload. 

“We feel we’ve got three really good backs,” said McVay via ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry. “What does that mean in terms of the distribution of carries? I think that’s to be determined based on how things play themselves out and when we get a chance to actually compete in practice and in those live opportunities.”

Akers is the newest addition to the group and he has the type of three-down skill set that comes the closest of any back on the roster of a 1:1 replacement for Gurley. How fast the rookie gets up to speed could determine how much of a workload the Rams give him. 

“Going back to high school, he runs like a warrior, he runs angry, he runs like he wants to punish a defense,” Rams GM Les Snead said. “One of the things you really appreciate about him is they struggled a little bit at Florida State these last few years, wasn’t as stout up front on the [offensive line]. He was one of their better players.”

The Rams are also hoping Henderson is much better in his second season. After trading up in the third-round to take the big-play back out of Memphis, McVay talked a big game about having a versatile role in mind for Henderson. Instead, he played just 93 snaps as a rookie and ended the year on injured reserve. 

“Henderson had some instances where you see the flashes of why we liked him so much coming out of Memphis last year,” McVay said. “Really excited about the opportunity he’s going to have to earn some more carries and touches.”

And Brown is a player the Rams coaching staff loves as a reliable veteran who’s able to consistently grind out yards. If either of the younger backs can’t step up into a larger role, Los Angeles has no problem turning to Brown. 

“We’ve seen what Malcolm can do, pretty consistently,” Rams QB Jared Goff said. “He’s always been a guy that’s stepped in there when he’s needed to and contributed at a consistent level.”

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