Lessons from past NFC West training camps

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

One thing I like to do periodically is re-read past coverage to spot pitfalls that might be avoided in the future. The beginning of training camp offers an opportunity to revisit 2008 storylines to see which ones could have been handled more intelligently.

I'll link to our 2008 NFC West "Camp Confidential" items and offer initial thoughts on what we should have seen coming. What storylines deserve our skepticism this summer?

  • Arizona Cardinals. Matt Leinart was still the starting quarterback in mid-August, with little indication the team would turn to Kurt Warner. I think we analyzed this one the right way, although I did think the staff would give Leinart several regular-season games to prove himself.

  • San Francisco 49ers. Perhaps we should have sensed Mike Martz would strongly consider J.T. O'Sullivan as the starting quarterback. On defense, I had no idea coach Mike Nolan would leave Manny Lawson on the bench for such long stretches. One lesson might be to take nothing for granted with an unsettled quarterback situation.

  • Seattle Seahawks. Matt Hasselbeck's sore back seemed like no big deal at first. I didn't even mention him in the Camp Confidential. Even the Seahawks misread this injury. The lesson might be to treat even minor-sounding back injuries more seriously.

  • St. Louis Rams. I knew the offensive line could be a problem again, but I completely underestimated how bad the Rams would be on defense. This team unraveled far more dramatically than anticipated.

Having one full season of experience covering the division leaves me feeling far more comfortable analyzing these teams. Watching every game for every NFC West team proved tedious given how poorly most of the division was playing, but the payoff was profound. The feel for these teams has improved exponentially over the last year.

Your feedback, insight and overall knowledge of the teams also proved valuable. With that in mind, I'd like to ask you to help make our 2009 analysis smarter. Which hidden storylines do you see emerging? Which current storylines appear overblown? Thanks in advance.