Around the NFC West: Kolb's extra reps

August, 10, 2011
8/10/11
9:13
AM ET
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Kevin Kolb will probably play a little longer than a starting quarterback usually would when the Arizona Cardinals open their exhibition season. Kolb wants to play, of course, but also realizes mistakes will be made after only six days of on-field preparation. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "It’s not like he’ll be wide-eyed. He’s been through this before." Protecting Kolb stands out as the biggest concern. Offensive lines have had little time to jell. The Cardinals have new starters in both guard spots.

Also from Urban: Whisenhunt details what held back the Cardinals' running backs in 2010, and what he wants from them this season. Whisenhunt: "On runs, it was not being able to make a single defender miss. In the NFL, that’s what you have to do. Make guys miss, because you can’t block everybody. There were a couple times we were in the open field and we had an opportunity to make a big play and we got brought down and that was unacceptable."

More from Urban: Rookie receiver DeMarco Sampson has impressed.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic updates Rashad Johnson's efforts to gain an expanded role within the Cardinals' defense. Adrian Wilson's injury cleared the way. Somers: "A third-round pick from Alabama in 2009, Johnson's inconsistency has kept him from more playing time, although he showed improvement from the first year to the next. Johnson set about to change his career course this offseason by first changing his body. He worked out for three months with Wilson and several other Cardinals defensive backs. He still weighs about the same, 204 pounds, but Johnson's body fat percentage decreased from 17 percent to 7.8 percent."

Also from Somers: Cardinals safety Hamza Abdullah is headed to the White House for a dinner celebrating the end of Ramadan. Somers: "Getting through the first preseason game in Oakland on Thursday will be a big relief for coaches, who are working with 51 new players on a 90-man roster. Of that 90, 24 just started practicing last week."

More from Somers: Larry Fitzgerald hurdles a spectator at camp, and former Vikings coach Brad Childress visits the Circle K where he worked after getting fired from a job at Northern Arizona University.

More yet from Somers: a look at Cardinals position battles. On nose tackle: "Dan Williams is listed as the starter, but coaches believe he's out of shape. Rookie David Carter has had a nice camp, and veteran Nick Eason can swing from end to tackle, too." Is reporting to work in good physical condition too much to ask from a young professional athlete?

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says a chest injury is limiting Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have signed rookie cornerback Jared McGee.

Also from Thomas: a chat transcript featuring his thoughts on whether the Rams' moves in free agency reflect short-term goals. Thomas: "Remember, 8 of the 11 free agents signed so far are one-year deals. So there's no guarantee how many of them will be back in 2012. Of the 11 outside veteran free agents, Zac Diles is 26, Mike Sims-Walker is 26, Quinn Ojinnaka is 27, Jerious Norwood just turned 28, Dan Muir is 28, Cadillac Williams is 29, Craig Dahl just turned 30, Quintin Mikell is 30, Brady Poppinga is 31, Justin Bannan is 32, and Al Harris is 36. So they're spread out kind of all over the spectrum. But I think your overall point is valid. But the sheer number of free agents signed shows the Rams are trying to get over the hump in terms of at least making the playoffs."

Also from Thomas: the Rams' situation at receiver remains muddled.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com offers 49ers practice notes, including one about rookie tight end Konrad Reuland making a push for a roster spot. Reuland appears to have strong hands. He made plays on the ball Tuesday. On one play, Reuland impressed even when unable to finish the catch. He dove for the ball and got both hands on it despite hard contact from a defender.

Also from Maiocco: a look at the 49ers' depth chart. Ted Ginn Jr. dropped a couple passes Tuesday, but otherwise has been one of the more impressive receivers in camp, Maiocco notes. Maiocco: "Ginn has put together the most-impressive camp of the widouts. Josh Morgan has been inconsistent, though he did have a nice leaping catch of 30 yards in a two-minute drill Monday. Braylon Edwards is not listed as a starter because he just arrived in town after signing a one-year, $1 million contract. Based on his practice Monday, Edwards looks ready to leap into a starting role. Michael Crabtree and Dominique Zeigler are not listed on the depth chart because they are ineligible to practice or play until being removed from the physically-unable-to-perform list."

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News says Patrick Willis is embracing a chance to rush the passer more frequently.

Also from Inman: Frank Gore offers thoughts on the 49ers' offense. Gore on Alex Smith: "You can tell the (offense's) energy is different. You can see it in Alex. He looks really confident. He's able to go. ... Alex is going to be really good in this offense."

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers rookie Aldon Smith, despite showing flashes of athletic prowess, remains a work in progress while learning the team's system.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says rookie Byron Maxwell continues to impress. Coach Pete Carroll: "He’s been really special the last two or three days. He looks very competitive. He’s tough. He’s tackled well. He’s got a nose for the football. He’s really bright. He’s really picked things up. He’s right in the mix of this with the young cornerbacks."

Also from Farnsworth: a look at quarterback Josh Portis' winding path to the NFL.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times updates the Seahawks' cornerback situation. O'Neil: "Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond project as the team's starting cornerbacks currently. Thurmond has been out the past week, which has left Kelly Jennings playing with the first-unit defense. Then there are the rookies Maxwell and Richard Sherman, a fifth-round draft choice out of Stanford. At 6 feet 4, Brandon Browner is the tallest defensive back Seattle has in camp and someone Carroll has praised for the length he brings to his press coverage."

Also from O'Neil: a look at the positions where Seattle has had the most players start since 2006. Yes, Steve Hutchinson's name comes up.

More from O'Neil: Can Golden Tate bounce back from a disappointing rookie season? Carroll: "He's caught more balls than anyone on the practice field since camp started. He's highly competitive, and we're going to find a way to really have him help us. I think it's a different setting for him entirely."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seahawks rookie cornerback Richard Sherman, who has so far fared well using the bump-and-run tactics Seattle prefers.

Also from Williams: Tarvaris Jackson will start the exhibition opener Thursday night, but a toe injury will prevent receiver Mike Williams from playing.

More from Williams: The Seahawks plan to keep Portis around in some capacity.

Liz Mathews of 710ESPN Seattle says Red Bryant and Kris Durham will miss the Seahawks' exhibition opener. The team expects Bryant to return next week.

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