• Don't expect former Seahawks first-round draft pick Lawrence Jackson to have the upper hand for a starting DE role after previously playing under new Seattle head coach Pete Carroll at USC. "No, he's not a sure starter by any means," said a team insider. "But he will be in the mix for the team's 'elephant' pass-rusher role along with Darryl Tapp and (2009 No. 1 pick) Aaron Curry. Interestingly, the insider said Carroll told him that he didn't think Jackson was a first-round-caliber player when he was drafted.
• Niners GM Scot McCloughan has lofty expectations for 2009 No. 1 pick Michael Crabtree, whose rookie season was stymied by a prolonged contract holdout. "I expect him to take a big step forward," McCloughan said at the Combine. "He came in and had production for us at a position where a lot of rookies don't, with him missing the first five weeks and all of training camp. Being around him and seeing the way he's wired and how important it is for him to be a good football player, I expect him to come out and have an excellent year for us."
• When asked about the future of Redskins OLT Chris Samuels, head coach Mike Shanahan gave an uncertain response: "It's all up to the doctors right now. I think we should find out in a short time exactly where he is at. Keep your fingers crossed. But we understand anytime you're dealing with that neck, it's a very touchy area. Whatever the doctors recommend, obviously, we're going to go 100 percent in that direction."
• Giants GM Jerry Reese said DT Jay Alford, who could be a key piece next season, is on the mend. "Jay is an inside pass rusher," Reese said. "He's one of those guys that can penetrate up front. They say he's on schedule to come back, and we expect him to be 100 percent going into training camp. It's unfortunate. He had a great summer last summer, and we were expecting big things from him. And then, he had the injury. We expect him to come back. He's a hard worker, and if anybody can come back from that injury, it's him."
• Will the Vikings ever be able to control Percy Harvin's migraines? Head coach Brad Childress didn't sound convinced they could. "I just think after he spent time at the Mayo Clinic that they gave him a pretty good protocol to try to follow. I think the idea was, where he had had a migraine every week for the last four or five weeks, that we hoped and the doctor hoped and he hoped that he would be able to have one every couple of months, every three months as opposed to having them rapid-fire. I want to say it was six weeks until he had one, and obviously it was the week of that NFC championship game. I don't know it well enough to know if we'll ever be able to resolve it completely."
• It appears former Packers first-round draft pick Justin Harrell, who has been a virtual nonfactor the last two seasons due to back issues, is having no problem passing the eyeball test these days. "It's the best he's looked in Green Bay, physically," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said of Harrell at the NFL Scouting Combine. We also hear no decision has been made yet on the future of LB Jeremy Thompson, who suffered a spinal concussion Dec. 4.
• The Buccaneers placed the highest tender on restricted free agent Donald Penn, which means a team would have to give up first- and third-round picks to sign him. No team is expected to show interest in giving up that bounty for Penn, and sources say GM Mark Dominik isn't willing to offer Penn a long-term deal this offseason. Penn has played well, but he gained weight last season, and there are concerns about his conditioning.
• While at the Combine, Saints head coach Sean Payton responded to reports that the Saints would cut Reggie Bush this offseason if he didn't agree to restructure his contract, which calls for an $8 million salary in 2010. "He'll be with us," Payton said. "He isn't going anywhere." Bush is under contract with the Saints through 2011.
• Sources expect the Saints to consider trading one of their offensive tackles this offseason. The Saints have already placed tenders on restricted free-agent OTs Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief, and a tender for Jammal Brown is coming before the March 4 deadline. New Orleans will keep at least two of those players, but we hear the club wouldn't be too upset if another team gave up a draft pick by signing one of them to an offer sheet.
• After focusing on offense in 2008 and defense in '09, Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said he expects to depart the 2010 draft with a little more balance between the two sides of the ball. "I like the fact that I'm getting back to having a balanced board because, quite honestly, I looked up at our draft board (in past years) and it was really half of a board," Dimitroff said. "It wasn't as fun to be playing on that field."
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