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Around the NFC West: Lauding Leinart

6/2/2010

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt offered praise for quarterback Matt Leinart following practice Tuesday. Whisenhunt: "You see it in (Matt’s) confidence, how he runs the huddle and how he sees the plays. His reads are much more decisive. He is throwing the ball with confidence. And I think he knows what is in front of him. It's obvious to me he's more comfortable with the whole process, not just throwing a pass or knowing where guys line up. He understands the concepts of the plays and he has the ability to get us in and out of certain plays, all those things you see more assuredness from him. I am excited with what he has done in the OTAs so far."

Also from Urban: He never gets tired of watching Fitzgerald make the spectacular appear routine. A one-handed catch in practice Tuesday was the latest highlight.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Tim Hightower has worked with the first-team offense all offseason. Also: "Onrea Jones, who spent last season on the practice squad, is leading the competition for the No. 4 receiver spot behind Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and Early Doucet. Rookie Andre Roberts and Ed Gant are among those competing for the job."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com gives rookie Walter Thurmond a chance to challenge for a starting job at right cornerback, although Josh Wilson is the favorite at that spot. Farnsworth: "Thurmond does have the skills to challenge for the starting job on the right side -- opposite Marcus Trufant. In fact, the Seahawks considered him one of the top three or four cover corners in the draft before he tore the ACL, MCL and PCL in his right knee, and still felt fortunate to get him in the fourth round." I'd be surprised if Thurmond became a starter this season.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times links to Matt Hasselbeck's recent interview with KJR radio in Seattle. Hasselbeck: "John Carlson is one of my all-time favorite teammates. He's had an amazing offseason. Very unselfish player, and this year -- just because of the kind of offense that we're running -- we're going to be a very heavy two tight ends, two wide receivers, one back team. Really moving John around everywhere, making him kind of the focal point of what we're doing."

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com quotes Isaiah Stanback this way after the former University of Washington quarterback landed with Pete Carroll and the Seahawks as a wide receiver: "USC probably recruited me the hardest of any school. I made the decision to go to UW obviously, but we faced each other for five years. I respect him as a coach and he obviously knows I'm a competitor from coaching against me. All I keep hearing from the guys I know out there is that the atmosphere is really good and it's a rejuvenated team. I'm looking forward to getting there."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Oshiomogho Atogwe became a free agent after failing to reach agreement with the Rams on a long-term deal. Coats: "Atogwe, 28, was a third-round draft choice and No. 66 overall in 2005 out of Stanford. The only player in that 11-man draft class still with the team is cornerback Ron Bartell, a second-round pick. First-rounder Alex Barron, a tackle, was traded to Dallas last month for linebacker Bobby Carpenter."

Also from Coats: a chat transcript in which he says the Rams have four linebackers from Ohio State out of coincidence more than by design.

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says the Rams could still re-sign Atogwe. Balzer: "The Rams insist they have not closed the door on Atogwe’s return, and remain interested in signing him. Of course, any hopes of that happening depend on the interest he generates in the open market. Teams mentioned as possible suitors include Dallas, San Francisco, Miami and Minnesota. Philadelphia, which lost safety Marlin Jackson to an Achilles injury Tuesday, is said not to be interested, but that report came when Atogwe’s rights were still exclusively held by the Rams."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com looks at the 49ers' roster and concludes that cornerback William James and receiver Brandon Jones "must impress" to earn spots on the reduction to 53 players. Also: "Adam Snyder and David Baas are the 49ers' best options right now to start on the offensive line, but rookies Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati are earmarked to take over at some point soon. Baas is working at center, which gives him much-needed versatility to lock down a backup spot, and Snyder has a lot of experience at the guard and tackle positions."

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says a naming-rights deal could be critical for the 49ers as they push for a new stadium in Santa Clara. Barber: "Are the 49ers overly optimistic in their expectations of naming revenue?"

Also from Barber: a look at 49ers offensive line coach Mike Solari.

Howard Mintz of the San Jose Mercury News says "San Francisco, Oakland and even Los Angeles area interests are ready and waiting with stadium possibilities for the 49ers if Measure J goes down in Santa Clara, which would be an upset given polls showing a majority of likely voters favor building a $937 million stadium on a parking lot adjacent to Great America theme park."