Around the NFC West: 7-9 realistic for Rams?

May, 6, 2009
5/06/09
8:42
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Jacob Bell as the Rams guard tries to maintain his weight and bounce back from a tough first season in St. Louis.

Also from Coats: He predicts a 7-9 record for the Rams. Coats during a chat: "I, too, think the Rams have more talent than has been shown the last couple of years, and [Steve] Spagnuolo just might be the right guy to exploit that. However ... it's not easy to overcome a losing culture. If things start heading downhill early [injuries, distractions, losses], it could get ugly again."

More from Coats: The Rams have signed veteran receiver Tim Carter.

Doug Farrar of The League came away impressed after watching Aaron Curry's third practice with the Seahawks. Farrar: "Though these were basically non-contact drills with the most basic formations, Curry showed flashes of excellence in several roles. He was precise and exceedingly quick when he took a false step forward at the line and backpedaled in a zone blitz look five yards back. His side-to-side speed and agility is amazing enough on film, but it really hits home when you're watching him outstride the defenders around him at his size -- he's half a head taller and definitely bulkier than [Lofa] Tatupu and [Leroy] Hill."

John Morgan of Field Gulls breaks down one of Max Unger's plays at Oregon. Unger worked at left guard with the backup offensive line in the Seahawks' post-draft camp. Morgan: "Unger uses guile and football skills to turn his good raw power into sometimes startling functional power."

Also from Morgan: Another play involving Unger.

Scott McKillop of the 49ers provides a rookie diary for 49ers.com. McKillop: "One thing that really stood out to me from our workouts was the conditioning circuit we did both days. By far, it was up there with some of the hardest conditioning workouts I've ever done. I had done stuff like that previously, but I'd never had conditioning and then practice. It's definitely something that signals that we've all gone up another level. We're all professionals now, so you have to take yourself to another level and do stuff you've never done before."

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Alex Smith is down to his final chance with the 49ers, and Smith knows it. Cohn: "Before Saturday's practice, I sat in a room with Smith. He is relentlessly polite, thoughtful and intelligent, and he tried to explain where he's been and where he needs to go. His voice was louder than it has been. In the past he had a soft, conciliatory voice and maybe that was no good. Quarterbacks can't be soft or conciliatory in their work. They are demanding. He started with a long opening statement that evolved into an unburdening, a purging."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee checks in with Jimmy Williams, who says he has lost 15 pounds, putting him at 225. The goal is 218 by training camp.

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals face challenges staying atop the division and sustaining the success they enjoyed last season.

Bob Young of the Arizona Republic thinks the Cardinals' relationship with Anquan Boldin will worsen as the offseason continues.

Also from Young: Thoughts on Chuck Cecil as the one-time Cardinals safety heads into the College Football Hall of Fame.

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