Around the NFC West: Backing Leinart


Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says coach Ken Whisenhunt expressed confidence in Matt Leinart as the team's starting quarterback. Whisenhunt: "Matt has been here for three years with us, he’s been in this offense, he understands the offense. We’re obviously going to do some things with Matt that fit his skill set, things we didn’t do with Kurt -- moving in the pocket, getting him out in open space, things Matt does well — but we have great confidence that Matt can execute the offense we have been running the last couple of years. He has shown progress in that." The Cardinals have responded when others have doubted them. They'll have plenty of chances for that in 2010 now that Kurt Warner is retired. But if Arizona was in the 9-7 and 10-6 range with Warner, it's realistic to think the Cardinals will be less than that with Leinart.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic thinks the Cardinals are taking a wait-and-see approach with Karlos Dansby. McManaman: "The team appears to be gambling that Dansby won't command as much as a free agent as he would as a franchise player, which could be as much as $16 million guaranteed."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat sizes up the 49ers' wide receivers and says the team has sufficient talent at that position. I would agree, particularly with tight end Vernon Davis' ability to line up in various places and threaten defenses down the field. Maiocco: "It is rarely good strategy for teams to make big investments in more than one receiver. It only makes sense when teams are built around a passing game. The 49ers are not built around the passing game. That's why I think the 49ers have a lot of other needs that should be addressed long before they look at spending more money (or high draft picks) on this position."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee looks at how Rolando McClain, Jared Odrick and C.J. Spiller might fit into the 49ers' draft plans. Barrows: "There's a sense that McClain was the beneficiary of an NFL-caliber defensive line at Alabama that included 370-pound nose tackle Terrence Cody."

Ted Miller of ESPN.com checks in with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at the NCAA hearings for USC, but there wasn't much to say on the first day. Miller: "He will be interviewed by the NCAA. The gist, of course, will be what he knew of former running back Reggie Bush's dealings with would-be agents. And if he should have known. Carroll has long contended that he knew nothing." This situation shouldn't affect Carroll's job with the Seahawks even if the NCAA finds fault with his compliance while at USC.

Gary Klein and David Wharton of the Los Angeles Times say Carroll spent the afternoon fielding questions inside the hearing room. Carroll: "I wanted to be on hand to support the university and the program and do what I could to help." Carroll heads to the combine with the rest of the Seahawks' brain trust next week.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com takes a detailed look at the Rams' new playing surface in the Edward Jones Dome. This story has been on the Rams' site for a week, but I missed it previously and found some of the details interesting. The new surface matches the surface at the Rams' indoor practice facility. It can be removed and stored, whereas the previous surface had to be thrown out each offseason to accommodate other events at the Edward Jones Dome. Surface changes tend to heighten interest in injury-related developments. Keenan Burton's knee injury last season stood out as one that seemed potentially surface-related, although it's tough to know for sure. The previous surface was new every year, but the Rams didn't think that had anything to do with their injury troubles. Executive Kevin Demoff: "There’s no data we have ever seen that says our field is unsafe or that the changing of the field made any difference. It was groomed and handled much the same way you would any other field. I think it was more a rash of bad luck than anything else. We have studied and we couldn’t find any relationship."

Tom Kowalski of mlive.com thinks the Rams will select Sam Bradford with the first pick in the 2010 draft.