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Around the NFC West: 49ers' Willis welcomes role

8/18/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis welcomes the opportunity to wear the radio headset in his helmet after resisting the technology last season. Willis: "It verifies that this is my show to run."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Willis suffered his ankle injury during a nutcracker drill Aug. 3. Offensive lineman David Baas also suffered an injury during the drill. On another front, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky sounded more optimistic than coach Mike Singletary on the 49ers' pass rush against Denver in the exhibition opener.

Taylor Price of 49ers.com says Brit Miller and Reggie Smith appear to be making successful position changes.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News previews the 49ers' upcoming practices with the Raiders in Napa. Raiders coaches are presumably looking forward to fighting with assistants wearing different uniforms.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt doesn't want to hear whispers about his team running a soft camp. Whisenhunt: "This system has worked pretty good for the last seven, eight years I've been around. We've been to two Super Bowls -- won one, lost one -- been to three or four [conference] championship games." 

Also from Somers: Whisenhunt expects Michael Ray Garvin to miss only a week or two even though the receiver might need surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

More from Somers: Jerheme Urban might be the MVP of training camp for the Cardinals.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with the Cardinals' offensive line. Guard Reggie Wells: "There aren't many offensive lines called upon to do what we do week in and week out, not just from the scheme aspect but also protecting as many times as we do and not have guys mentioned for Pro Bowl and things like that. It underestimates the abilities of guys on that line."

Also from Urban: Antrel Rolle points to an abundance of Cherry Blossom Lotion on his arms as the reason for a fumble. Seriously.

Gregg Bell of the Associated Press describes Walter Jones' latest apparent back trouble this way: "The 35-year-old linchpin to Seattle's offensive line for the past decade was practicing for the third time since training camp began July 31. He took part in one series with the starting offense, then left the field in pain. He stood and kneeled next to a trainer while wincing and holding his back for a few moments. He eventually summoned the trainer to escort him into team headquarters."

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Seahawks cornerback Kevin Hobbs wasn't to blame for a deep pass he appeared to allow in the exhibition opener. Overall, though, coach Jim Mora wasn't very happy with the secondary.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Seahawks rookie Deon Butler wasn't returning punts in practice Monday, likely a reflection of his struggles in that area Saturday.

Also from O'Neil: Mora downplays Jones' exit from practice.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune sizes up Aaron Curry's debut performance for Seattle. Mora might have put it best when he said Curry "didn't stand out negatively."

Also from Williams: None of the Seahawks' young receivers stood out from the others Saturday night.

John Morgan of Field Gulls wonders whether Deion Branch fits in the Seahawks' new offense. Morgan on a play from the Seahawks-Chargers game: "Eric Weddle discarded a blocking Deion Branch on Julius Jones two yard rush. If Branch is traded, it might not be his injuries but his fit within this offense that instigates the move."

Also from Morgan: Brandon Mebane is the key to Seattle's defense. So far, so good.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Kyle Boller, the Rams' starting quarterback while Marc Bulger recovers from a finger injury. Boller: "It's not my first rodeo. I've been a starter. I've been out there. So I'm just going to go out there and be myself. Be a leader, and lead this team to hopefully a lot of scoring drives."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Steve Spagnuolo appears to have the "it" factor as the Rams' head coach. Burwell: "On Monday afternoon, as he met with reporters to discuss the news that starting quarterback Marc Bulger would miss at least the next two weeks with a broken finger on his throwing hand, Spags was totally unfazed by the sort of development that might freak out most neophyte NFL coaches."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' Adam Goldberg is helping his eventual replacement on the offensive line, Jason Smith. Goldberg: "I take that as part of my role. But I'll tell you what, [Smith] doesn't need too many tips. He's going to be a really good football player."

Turf Show Times' VanRam wonders what happened to Kenneth Darby.