Off Season moves impact on ex-Buckeyes in the NFC West

Off Season moves impact on ex-Buckeyes in the NFC West
Dionte Johnson

Off Season moves impact on ex-Buckeyes in the NFC West

Dionte Johnson, Nate Clements, Larry Grant, Rob Sims and Antonio Pittman

By Bill Smith


            FB Dionte Johnson was signed by the Cards as an undrafted rookie free agent because that position is up for grabs.  The veteran starter in 07 is Terrel Smith the ex-Brown.  He is 30 and has lost some speed over the last couple of years.  According to the coaching staff, the job is officially open going into training camp.  Johnson will have to beat out Smith and second year Tim Castille who is considered to have a slight lead going into camp.  If Smith is not the starter, he will be released because he is too expensive to be a backup FB.

San Francisco

            Nate Clements was one of the few 49ers that had a good season last year.  In 2007, he was the only big money FA signed by the team.  He was the shut down corner for the team.  Despite the fact that opponents preferred to throw at 33 year old Walt Harris, Clements had 4 interceptions, 14 passes defended, 92 tackles, and 3 forced fumbles.  He will start and have another excellent year in 08.

            Larry Grant who was a 7th round pick of the team is still in the mix to win the starting “ted”  inside LB on the TE side.  His main competition is Dontarrious Thomas the former Viking signed as a UFA in 08.  Thomas is bigger but is less aggressive and instinctive than you would like.  Grant has a little less “junk in the trunk” and is faster with better instincts.  The position is open because last years starter, Derek Smith, has moved on to San Diego. 


            Rob Sims claimed a starting guard spot for the Seahawks last season and started 16 regular season games as well as the two post season contests.  The entire O-line struggled last year particularly in run blocking.  However, the problem may have been as much the fault of the now released Shaun Alexander as the line.  In viewing tape, often the hole was there but the back was late or ran to the wrong spot.  Part of the problem was the line has not gelled even after 18 games together.  While Sims goes into training camp as the starter in 08, nothing along the line is written in Jello, let alone cement.  One thing that favors last year's starters is that there is very little quality depth. 

St. Louis

            Antonio Pittman is currently listed as third on the Ram's depth chart at RB.  Even so, he got more attempts toward the end of 07 and that was double the number that Travis Minor, the 2nd RB got.  He is likely to again take the 3rd RB role in 08 but still get some work. 

Next Friday – Buckeyes in the NBA East. 

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams and has scouted talent.  He is a senior writer for  He has also published several novels on and edits
Tags: Buckeyes Football NFL Ohio State

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