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Saturday, August 9, 2008
Around the NFC West: Rams allow 340 rush yards

By Mike Sando

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Rams allowed 340 yards rushing to the Titans during both teams' exhibition opener tonight. I won't see this one until Sunday, when it's available on NFL Network, but this level of violence might not be appropriate for the kids. Rams quarterback Marc Bulger completed 3 of 9 passes with an interception, good for a 3.7 passer rating.

Exhibition games can be meaningless depending on how teams approach them. The Titans are a hard-nosed, physical team. They pound away in the ground game. Their offensive line is extremely well coached. The Rams lack depth at linebacker. I wouldn't read too much into any exhibition game, but watching the replay should help figure out what happened.

The Titans won, 34-13, but the score was closer (20-13) at halftime. The Titans did rush for 157 yards in the first half. Justin King and Brandon Gorin suffered injuries for the Rams, according to the Associated Press. The Rams' starting offense has now gone nine consecutive exhibition games without scoring a touchdown, Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes.

Now, on to the rest of the division tonight.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee shares observations on the 49ers' exhibition opener after watching a replay of the game. Among the topics: Alex Smith's touch (or lack thereof), the soft middle of the 49ers' defensive line, Dontarrious Thomas' move to "Mike" linebacker, Larry Grant's progress at "Ted" linebacker, Vernon Davis' non-effort on a fumble recovery and unexpected problems on special teams.

Daniel Brown of 49ers Hot Read says the 49ers' Justin Smith might have helped teammate Ray McDonald sack the quarterback Friday night, among other notes.

Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers says it's not unusual for quarterbacks to struggle during the exhibition season while learning Mike Martz's offense. He points to Jon Kitna's subpar stats in the fake games when Martz was the Lions' new coordinator. Also: Jay Moore, on the bubble for a linebacker spot, made plays but was inconsistent against the Raiders. Quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan delivered the ball on time. Damane Duckett's knee injury could be serious. Duckett has practice-squad eligibility. He was also probably fighting for the last spot on the offensive line.

Maiocco is also presumably OK with the 80-man roster limit. Otherwise he might still be writing about how every player on the team fared against the Raiders. Matt could save time in the future by looking over the shoulders of pro scouts in attendance. Check that. Pro scouts could save time by looking over Matt's shoulder. Great work here.

David Fucillo of Niners Nation breaks down each of 49ers receiver Josh Morgan's receptions against the Raiders. Maiocco called Morgan the most impressive rookie receiver in a 49ers camp since Terrell Owens in 1996.

Frank Hughes of Seahawks Insider singles out five Seattle players who "hurt themselves" with their performances in the exhibition opener at Minnesota: running back T.J. Duckett, cornerback Josh Wilson, cornerback Marcus Trufant, running back Julius Jones and defensive end Darryl Tapp.

Hughes' list of players who helped themselves: linebacker David Hawthorne, running back Justin Forsett, defensive tackle Howard Green, running back Maurice Morris, center Steve Vallos, receiver Michael Bumpus, safety Jamar Adams, kicker Brandon Coutu and punter Reggie Hodges. I can add a couple: fullbacks Leonard Weaver and Owen Schmitt. Weaver has been a new player all camp. Schmitt emerged in the game.

Hughes also asks readers what they thought about Kevin Calabro's performance as play-by-play man on the Seahawks broadcast. Calabro was longtime voice of the NBA's Sonics. I watched his Seahawks debut and thought he was very well prepared. Calabro set a high standard for NBA broadcasts and it was clear he wanted to maintain that standard here.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic explains why rookie running back Tim Hightower might be ready to help the offense right away. Edgerrin James is the starter, but Hightower has shown well enough for the Cardinals to release veteran Marcel Shipp. Coach Ken Whisenhunt, formerly of the Steelers, had this to say about Hightower: "He doesn't have quite the speed of a Willie Parker but he reminds me a little bit of Jerome (Bettis) in the way he can see the holes and the way he picks his feet up in the holes. He's a different player. He's got a different skill set, but it was good to see him do some things in live game action at this level."