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Around the NFC West: Shades of Boldin

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Greg Toler is working with the starters at cornerback, a change from the post-draft camp.

Also from Urban: Larry Fitzgerald says Early Doucet reminds him of Anquan Boldin. Urban: "In many ways, this was the spot Doucet had been groomed for, even though it’s not what was envisioned when he was first drafted. While many have long seen Doucet as Boldin’s eventual replacement, it was Bryant Johnson who was leaving when Doucet was picked out of LSU in the third round of the 2007 draft. (Steve) Breaston was still seen as only a return man."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals nose tackle Gabe Watson has lost 30 pounds in an effort to salvage his career. Watson: "There were no excuses. Toward the end of the season, I just didn't take [care] of business the way I was supposed to." Somers: "Coaches were unhappy with Watson's poor conditioning late last season, and one reason they were attracted to Williams is that he has a reputation for being a self-starter. Watson does not."

Also from Somers: Beanie Wells shaved his head after making a mistake while trying to cut his own hair.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com quotes general manager John Schneider as saying J.P. Losman was "unbelievable in his workout" before Seattle signed the former Bills starter. Also, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire attended practice, which was closed to independent media.

Ben Malcolmson of seahawks.com says Mike Williams turned in another impressive performance Wednesday.

Rod Mar of seahawks.com provides photos from practice.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks have signed homegrown tight end Michael Allan, once a seventh-round draft choice of the Chiefs.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with receiver Brooks Foster, who is hoping to earn a spot in the Rams' rotation after an injury sidelined him last season. Foster: "That was my first time in maybe 12, 13 years not playing a season of football. It was tough. I wanted to be out there, especially my rookie season. I felt I had a lot to prove and didn't get the chance."

Also from Coats: a chat transcript in which he says the Rams "would love to sign (Oshiomogho) Atogwe to a long-term deal. But if that doesn't happen and it comes down to a choice of paying him $6.9 million for this year or letting him walk, I have to believe they'd let him go." Coats also wonders why the Rams haven't made a bigger push to land a backup running back, particularly with Steven Jackson coming off back surgery. Coats: "It's a mystery to me why the Rams haven't made a backup RB more of a priority. And now Jackson is coming off back surgery, so reducing his workload a bit would seem to be a logical move. The Rams like rookie FA Keith Toston, out of Oklahoma State. And Chris Ogbonnaya did some good things when he got into games late last season. I think we've seen enough of Kenneth Darby to know he's not the answer there. I don't think there's anything interesting available on the free-agent front."

Also from the Post-Dispatch: differing opinions on which receiver will emerge to lead the Rams at that position.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says 49ers quarterback Alex Smith has impressed in practice. Maiocco: "Quarterback Alex Smith had his best day of practice. He threw an absolute beauty of a pass -- a 30-yarder lofted beautifully to Dominique Zeigler down the field just beyond trailing cornerback Tarell Brown."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers' punt returners have struggled in windy conditions, with coach Mike Singletary pulling aside Ted Ginn Jr. for a chat at one point. Also: Which fullback will emerge atop the depth chart?

Also from Barrows: what 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky wants from his safeties. Also: "The 49ers are giving David Baas and Tony Wragge work at center during practice. With rookie Mike Iupati expected to start at left guard, being versatile is the best way for Baas and Wragge -- who have primarily been guards -- to hold on to roster spots."

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat checks in with 49ers rookie receiver Kyle Williams, who got more reps than usual Wednesday.

Also from Barber: Ricky Jean-Francois benefits from Aubrayo Franklin's absence at 49ers camp. Barber: "Jean-Francois played only in the final three games last season, and didn't record a tackle. There's no guarantee he'll see much action in 2010, either. Isaac Sopoaga is flopping back and forth between first-team end and second-team nose, and could wind up being Franklin's primary backup in the middle."

More from Barber: Patrick Willis watches practices intently while recovering from knee surgery.

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' punt returners must adjust to conditions.

Lisa Fernandez of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with a California family divided by the 49ers' efforts to build a new stadium.