Around the NFC West: Let hitting begin

August, 2, 2010
8/02/10
9:17
AM ET
David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers know training camp is about to get much tougher after a non-contact session Sunday. Linebacker Takeo Spikes: "It gets 200 percent tougher times 200. We know that. No video games tonight. No extra-long conversations with the old lady on Skype." Also, nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin has yet to report for practice. He remains unsigned.

Taylor Price of 49ers.com checks in from practice and makes this observation: "Three of the 49ers main free agent acquisitions all found themselves involved on one play on Monday, as cornerback Karl Paymah made a nice pass breakup on backup quarterback David Carr’s deep ball down the left sideline intended for wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr."

Also from 49ers.com: a transcript from coach Mike Singletary's interview.

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers are not worried about Franklin's conditioning because the veteran nose tackle has set a high standard on that front.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee noticed Taylor Mays working with the second-team defense in 49ers camp, a jump in status for the second-round choice. This is the time to find out how ready Mays might be to step into a more prominent role. Also from Barrows: "A couple of injured players made their returns. Receiver Brandon Jones got a lot of work at receiver as well as punt returner. Cornerback Will James, meanwhile, made his 49ers debut. He played in the third-team defense opposite rookie Phillip Adams. The first four cornerbacks were Nate Clements, Shawntae Spencer, Karl Paymah and Tarell Brown. The 49ers opened camp with zero injuries."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers eased into training camp. That's no surprise given that the team wasn't originally planning to practice until Monday. The session Sunday sounded like a prelude. Brown: "Even the mighty nutcracker drill was rendered toothless. Offensive-line coach Mike Solari explained the drill in epic detail -- it took 14 minutes -- before players walked away without so much as a shoulder bump. Such was the nature of the first day of training camp — a dress rehearsal on grass. The Sunday session was not on the original schedule. Coach Mike Singletary added it recently after deciding the team needed one final chance to review things in slow motion."

Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News expects big things from 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says there's lots of competition among the Cardinals' offensive linemen.

Also from Somers: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie dominated in practice Sunday even though he said he wasn't 100 percent physically. Larry Fitzgerald: "DRC likes to mix it up. Our goal is to motivate each other and to push each other."

More from Somers: Greg Toler will have to earn the starting job at cornerback opposite Rodgers-Cromartie. Somers: "Trumaine McBride continues to run with the first team at right cornerback, ahead of Greg Toler. McBride's edge right now is experience. He's played in 33 NFL games, while Toler played in 13 last season. In athletic ability, coaches compare Toler to DRC. They are similar in other ways, too. Like DRC, Toler needs to learn what it takes to be a successful pro, said coordinator Bill Davis. That means developing consistent study habits and focusing on every single play. Like DRC, Toler's concentration tends to come and go. That's not unusual for a young player, and it doesn't seem as if coaches are down on Toler, a fourth-round pick in 2009. But they do think he has great ability and will be disappointed if he doesn't show it this season."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Arizona is taking things slowly with rookie linebacker Daryl Washington. Urban: "Rookies have to earn their playing time, however, especially with this coaching staff. When (Karlos) Dansby and Darnell Dockett were drafted back in 2004, then-coach Dennis Green immediately dropped them into the starting lineup. Both eventually proved to be very good players, but they never had to prove themselves worthy. Washington does. So he sits as a third-stringer for now, even though the Cardinals are trying to figure out exactly what they are going to do at inside linebacker. On the outside, they are set, with veterans Joey Porter and Clark Haggans entrenched."

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says the Seahawks held out Aaron Curry from practice after the second-year linebacker suffered from headaches following a collision Sunday. Coach Pete Carroll: "He got dinged a little bit yesterday. We just wanted to make sure he's OK. He should be fine. It's nothing serious, but he had some headaches today so we just wanted to rest him."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Leroy Hill isn't working with the Seahawks' starting defense. O'Neil: "Maybe Seattle is preparing itself for the reality that it will face in the season opener as Hill has already been suspended for that game for violating the league's policy on substance abuse. But maybe, it's also a sign Hill is an afterthought for the Seahawks at this point just one year after the team designated him their franchise player and then subsequently signed him to a long-term contract. Is Hill part of Seattle's plan for the future? His absence for most of this offseason and his place on the depth chart make it a legitimate question." There's a good chance 2010 will be Hill's final season in Seattle.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune offers a few thoughts on the Seahawks as they open training camp.

John Morgan of Field Gulls expects Golden Tate to continue returning punts for the Seahawks, a role Tate has handled in practices so far. On offense, the Seahawks put Tate in motion.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Jacob Bell and Chris Long scuffled during a physical Rams practice that also featured a huge hit. Thomas: "Larry Grant, who has opened camp as a starting outside linebacker, leveled fullback Mike Karney during a live tackling drill, with Karney losing his helmet in the process. (It may have been a little payback because Karney had been throwing bodies around up to that point as a blocker.)"

Also from Thomas: Rams general manager Billy Devaney sounds optimistic. Devaney: "The only way I can say it is the players are (ticked) off still from last year. You want to say forget last year, and last year's over. But let me tell you, this isn't any fun. I know it isn't any fun for our players or anybody in this building to hear all the time: worst team in the NFL, 1-15, lowly St. Louis Rams. If that doesn't (tick) you off, or get you motivated in the offseason, then we have the wrong kind of guy. There's a lot of motivated people here to get this thing going and start winning football games."

Also from Thomas: Sam Bradford's next challenge is living up to a contract that could pay him $86 million.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Danny Amendola and Mardy Gilyard are competing to return punts for the Rams. Amendola was very good in that role last season. Coats: "The 5-foot-11, 186-pound Amendola was signed off Philadelphia's practice squad in Week 3 last season. He wound up leading the NFL in kickoff returns (66), kickoff-return yardage (1,618 yards) and total return yards (1,978). All three of those marks were franchise records, as was his combined kick and punt returns (97). Overall, Amendola averaged 24.5 yards per kickoff return and 11.6 yards per punt return."

Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times says former Rams and 49ers receiver Isaac Bruce has worked closely with the Bears' Devin Hester.

Also from Jensen: Bruce is working with the Bears as a minority coaching intern under Mike Martz, his former coach in St. Louis and San Francisco.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News Democrat says Rams defensive end James Hall remains diligent at age 33, showing up 2 hours early for practice Sunday.

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