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Thursday, August 7, 2008
Around the NFC West: Cardinals kick off tonight

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic provides an approximate Cardinals two-deep depth chart  based on observations from training camp. Note that Lyle Sendlein is the starting center, ahead of Pat Ross. A knee injury could keep regular starter Al Johnson out another month. Third-team center Scott Peters landed on injured reserve.

Also from Somers: He singles out Steve Breaston, Lance Long, Tim Hightower, Keilen Dykes and Jason Banks as Cardinals players to watch against the Saints Thursday night.

Also from Somers: Kurt Warner might not play for the Cardinals tonight because the staff doesn't want to risk his health behind the second-team offensive line. This is further confirmation of the Cardinals' depth problems up front. Also, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie probably starts at corner while Rod Hood recovers from a heel injury.

Mark Wahlstrom of the Cardinals Report files nine in-depth observations from Cardinals camp. This is good reading for those looking to get a feel for Arizona. He likes the tight ends more than I might have expected. That's a position to watch for the Cardinals this season.

Mark Heller of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals are looking to cut down on penalties. Arizona finished last season with a league-high 137 penalties. Division-rival Seattle finished with a league-low 59 penalties. Also from Heller: Look for Antrel Rolle to return punts, perhaps against the Saints.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer describes the Seahawks' new facility, which features a 6,700-square-foot locker room. The previous locker room was 1,140 square feet, Farnsworth notes.  The waterfront facility will allow the team to deliver free agents by sea plane, something team president Tim Ruskell is already envisioning.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says the new facility helped Seattle land Julius Jones in free agency.

Thomas James Hurst of the Seattle Times offers up photos of the Seahawks' new facility. The second photo shows cornerback Derrick Johnson catching a pass with Lake Washington in the background. Danny O'Neil and Jose Romero tag-teamed the accompanying story, which features middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu referring to team owner Paul Allen on a first-name basis.

Scott Johnson of the Everett Herald describes Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren as a survivor, which beats the alternative. Johnson: "During his first few months in Seattle, Holmgren lost defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur to cancer. In 2002, his mother Barbara passed away. There was a cancer scare for wife Kathy, and assistant coach and close friend Ray Rhodes suffered a minor stroke."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has round-by-round coverage of the Rams-Titans fights during their joint practices. The only upset: Rams guard Jacob Bell, formerly of the Titans, didn't square off with Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. A scrape did break out one play after Rams coach Scott Linehan warned against fighting.

Also from Thomas: a wide-ranging chat on all things Rams. Thomas was ready when chat participant Curtis T., upset with Steven Jackson for holding out, calls the running back a "piece of trash" and asks if the Rams could trade him. Thomas: "Well, the problem is, the 'piece of trash' just may be the best player on the team." No question.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was there when Rams rookie Chris Long beat Titans guard Jake Scott on consecutive plays during one-on-one pass-rush drills. The Rams are increasingly pleased with Long's progress. Long definitely works at the game.

Also from Coats: a throw-away line about right tackle Alex Barron standing out in team and individual drills. I take that as a good sign for the Rams. Barron commits too many penalties and he isn't a dominant tackle, but getting him back on the right side full time has to help.