Around the NFC West: Rams OK with pounding

August, 5, 2009
8/05/09
8:45
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams players aren't complaining about physical morning practices in pads. Also, rookie first-round choice Jason Smith worked at left tackle for the first time since camp opened, albeit with the second and third teams.

Also from Thomas: a chat transcript in which he defends Chris Draft as a "good, solid performer" among Rams linebackers. Also, former 49ers linebacker Larry Grant is enjoying a strong camp in St. Louis. If rookie James Laurinaitis supplants Draft at middle linebacker, Grant could challenge Draft for the starting job on the strong side, Thomas suggests.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams 2006 first-round choice Tye Hill is healthy and making a run at realizing his potential as a cornerback. Hill was the first of four cornerbacks drafted in 2006. Seattle's Kelly Jennings was fourth.

Lindsey Willhite of the Daily Herald says former Rams linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa is learning the Bears' defense. Defensive coordinator Bob Babich: "He's a playmaker. He's just a playmaker. It's great to have him around. He has a great personality and he's brought a lot to the [linebackers] room."

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers cornerback Dre Bly hardly enjoyed his final season with the Broncos. Bly: "It was miserable. It wasn't good at all. Defensively, we were awful. The d-coordinator [Bob Slowik], not to blame anything on him, but we didn't really have the personnel for what he was trying to run. We were too soft in coverage. And when you have two corners like me and Champ [Bailey], you can't be soft in coverage."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers tight end Bear Pascoe welcomes feedback, even the harsh variety, from tight ends coach Pete Hoener. Unfortunately, Hoener was not allowed to provide feedback about Pascoe for this story, per club policy.

Also from Maiocco: Linebacker Ahmad Brooks is getting a chance to make an impact. Coach Mike Singletary: "We feel he is a guy who is going to continue to grow and make plays. He is out there all over the place making plays. So it is very exciting."

More from Maiocco: Veteran receiver Isaac Bruce pays close attention to position coach Jerry Sullivan.

Taylor Price of 49ers.com says 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky isn't worried about the offense's ability to complete passes in practice.

Also from Price: checking in with 49ers cornerback Terrail Lambert.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle sizes up the 49ers' receivers minus Michael Crabtree. Crumpacker: "Unrestricted free agent Brandon Jones has excelled in the early days of camp, Josh Morgan is looking more and more like a No. 1 receiver, old man Isaac Bruce still has gas left in the tank, Dominique Zeigler and Jason Hill have both had their moments and Arnaz Battle has a talent for sticking around. That's six capable receivers right there. Crabtree makes seven. When the roster of 53 is set Sept. 5, one or two good receivers will be out of work." The most likely scenario, in my view: Keep six receivers, with Zeigler as the odd man out.

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle thinks the 49ers should pay Crabtree the same money seventh overall choice Darrius Heyward-Bey received, just to get Crabtree into camp. Would that work within the rookie pool? I haven't seen the contract to know.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Seahawks backup safety C.J. Wallace keeps popping people in practice. Meanwhile, defensive tackle Craig Terrill confirms that he wasn't stuck in a block of ice.

Also from O'Neil: Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane is happy to have slimmed down, though he misses the Triple Stack burger from Wendy's. I once ate three Big Macs in about five minutes. Would not recommend it.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' defense appears to be grasping coordinator Gus Bradley's scheme against the run. Also, left guard Rob Sims continued his strong play, while defensive lineman Cory Redding stepped up.

John Boyle of the Everett Herald praises Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu for holding an extended autograph session after practice.

Doug Farrar of Scout.com checks in with Tom Marino for a scouting report on new Seahawks cornerback Travis Fisher. The review is generally favorable. 

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals tight end Ben Patrick appreciates his teammates' support after incurring a four-game NFL suspension. Patrick: "It was huge, because that was one of my main concerns, that my teammates would look at me differently. It took a long time for me to even come back around the guys. During a team meeting I had a talk with all the guys, and they told me they had my back."

Also from Somers: Calais Campbell's development is critical as the Cardinals replace former defensive end Antonio Smith. Somers:
"Successful NFL franchises, such as the Steelers, have allowed good players to leave via free agency, counting upon younger, cheaper players to replace them. Campbell's performance this year is a small test of the Cardinals' acumen in personnel decisions."

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind sizes up the Cardinals' candidates in the return game. Becoming more prominent as a receiver seemed to negatively affect Steve Breaston in the return game last season. 

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