Friday, September 3, 2010
Leinart and other Week 4 preseason topics
By Mike Sando
A few thoughts and observations while watching all four NFC West teams play their final games of the 2010 exhibition season:
- Matt Leinart played long enough to attempt five passes for the Arizona Cardinals. The offense didn't do much. Leinart passed for 14 yards. The fact that he played at all suggests there could still be a spot for him on the roster, but it's an upset if he has a future in Arizona. Third-stringer Max Hall has a much greater chance of sticking around long term. The Cardinals like his intangibles, and the way he has produced during preseason.
- Hall outplayed fellow rookie John Skelton. The Cardinals might be best off keeping Derek Anderson, Leinart and Hall for now, then figuring out what to do with Leinart depending on what other options come available.
- Cardinals running back Beanie Wells suffered a leg injury and was seen with ice on his shin area. That's a tough ending to a nondescript exhibition season for Wells, and another tough break for Arizona. This team has seen Leinart implode, Larry Fitzgerald sprain a knee and Wells limp off the field 10 days before the opener (Wells later said he was fine).
- Sam Bradford has to be the choice as the St. Louis Rams' starting quarterback. The Rams weren't going to force the issue, but if Bradford looked the part and produced, they weren't going to hold him back. Bradford has looked the part and he produced again Thursday night, albeit against the Baltimore Ravens' backups. Bradford completed all six of his passes and appeared in full command while leading a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on his only possession. He even ran the no-huddle offense. Case closed.
- Several young NFC West receivers made big plays. The San Francisco 49ers' Dominique Zeigler didn't get both feet down while making a one-handed grab in the end zone, but the play was sensational. Golden Tate, Ben Obomanu and especially Deon Butler (100-plus yards) stood out for Seattle. Butler broke two arm tackles during a 26-yard touchdown reception. The Cardinals' Stephen Williams made a 20-yard grab and teammate Onrea Jones atoned for a special-teams miscue by showing power and determination in charging toward the goal line following a reception. The Rams' Dominique Curry, who enjoyed a strong camp and could be fighting for a roster spot, stood out for his blocking.
- Ex-49ers receiver Brandon Jones, trying to earn a roster spot in Seattle, dropped a pass on third down.
- Cardinals second-round choice Daryl Washington gets to the football in a hurry. Next to Bradford, he might be the most impressive rookie in the division to this point.
- The Seahawks rested their starting quarterback and starting receivers. Receiver Mike Williams played quite a bit and again showed why he should be part of the rotation. The Seahawks might feel good enough about their young depth at receiver to go young at the position -- it's what they want to do, anyway -- but they would have a hard time getting trade value for veteran T.J. Houshmandzadeh, whose $7 million salary is guaranteed.
- Rams tight end Daniel Fells was shaken up early in the game, then committed a penalty upon his return (he also had an 18-yard reception). Will the Rams go with younger players at the position? Rookie Mike Hoomanawanui had a 27-yard reception. He's a keeper.
- The 49ers' Anthony Dixon ran hard and showed elusiveness during a 46-yard touchdown run, but he also suffered injured ribs. Rib injuries linger, but the 49ers shouldn't need Dixon on offense for some time (if at all).
- Seahawks rookie Dexter Davis might have surpassed the injured Nick Reed as the Seahawks' second-best pass-rusher. We'll see what it means for the regular season. Seattle will need Aaron Curry to make an impact in that area.
- A rough preseason for 49ers third-string quarterback Nate Davis got rougher when the San Diego Chargers picked off two of his first 15 passes (not necessarily Davis' fault entirely as there were dropped passes). Davis has talent and potential. He can look very good. He did move the 49ers into scoring position late, delivering a short touchdown pass. Overall, the comments coach Mike Singletary made questioning Davis' preparation stick in my mind as the 53-man deadline approaches. A public wakeup call, or an omen? Hmmm.
All that said, this was the fourth exhibition game. We'll forget what happened in another week.