Around the NFC West: Protection for Bulger


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Marc Bulger has suffered more sacks since 2003 than any NFL quarterback. The Jets sacked him three times in seven dropbacks during the exhibition opener, thanks largely to problems in blitz pickup. The problems running backs had in protection could be addressed through the type of game planning that takes place during the regular season, in my view.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Kenneth Darby worked mostly with the third team after a rough outing in the Rams' exhibition opener. Coats: "RB Samkon Gado, who had a big game vs. the Jets, took some snaps with the No. 1 offense. Antonio Pittman, who also had a nice outing Friday, and Gado shared second-team reps. Darby, who struggled in the preseason opener, spent most of his time with the third unit."

Brian Stull of 101ESPN in St. Louis provides a Rams-related injury update, with audio. Stull: "Jacob Bell was still a little fuzzy from his concussion and underwent the testing to compare to his initial baseline results. In his absence, Mark Setterstrom moved to left guard. Tim Mattran took Setterstrom's reps at center with the 2s while John Greco handled the snaps with the 3s."

The 49ers' Web site provides a transcript from Mike Singletary's conference call with reporters Sunday. On rookie linebacker Scott McKillop: "I see a young guy that's trying to have the game slow down for him. He continues to work on his technique and all of the little things that he needs to do in order to make this football team and make a contribution in his first year. He's trying to make calls. So, right now, the game is big for him, not too big, but it's big, and for him, he's trying to get it to slow down a bit so that he can get his eyes in the right place and get the correct reads. I think right now that's the biggest thing for him."

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle says the Broncos weren't a very good measuring stick for the 49ers in the exhibition opener.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the Eagles were thought to be among the teams with interest in Thomas Clayton before the running back suffered a season-ending injury Friday night.

Also from Maiocco: Score the 49ers' exhibition opener for Shaun Hill. Maiocco: "Even into the first week of training camp, I had my questions whether Hill could fit Jimmy Raye's offense. It is essential that the quarterback be able to get the ball down the field to keep defenses from stacking the box against the 49ers' power-running game. Hill is showing more and more every day that he can do that."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals running back Beanie Wells was back at practice Sunday, but coaches held him out of team drills. Wells wanted to do more in his first practice back from an ankle injury. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "I think Beanie is going to be begging to get some reps off here in the near future. So be careful what you wish for, right?"

Also from Somers: Receiver Early Doucet could return from a shoulder injury this week.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Steve Breaston's right knee has some swelling. The bone bruise is more problematic than the posterior-cruciate ligament sprain. The Cardinals have not ruled out Breaston for their next exhibition game, however.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com had this to say about the Seahawks' exhibition opener: "I wasn't impressed by young Deon Butler on kick returns as he didn't look comfortable yet and Brandon Coutu's kickoffs weren't as long as he'll need to be to beat out Olindo Mare, though he continues to be very accurate on medium-range field goals."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times looks at the Seahawks' numbers at defensive end, where Nick Reed is making a push for a roster spot.

John Morgan of Field Gulls offers five observations from Seattle's opener. He also noticed fullback Owen Schmitt's cut blocking in the run game.

Also from Morgan: Brandon Mebane's speed set up Cory Redding for a sack on the Seattle defense's first play of the game.