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Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Around the NFC West: The QB tea leaves

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Dan Brown of 49ers Hot Read hits multiple nails on their heads in a comprehensive look at the team's quarterback situation. I think he has a very good read on the situation. No matter what you think of the 49ers' handling of this situation, Alex Smith could help himself by showing some fire and truly fighting for the job.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, searching for clues in the 49ers' great QB mystery, compares the comments coach Mike Nolan made on KNBR to those he made after practice. Barrows' first sentence pretty much sums it up: "So, is the quarterback competition even? Or does J.T. O'Sullivan have the edge? The answer depends on what time of day you listened to Mike Nolan."

Also from Barrows: The 49ers can't seem to find a suitable quarterback, and now they are running out of receivers.

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle refers to the 49ers' quarterback race as a "whack-a-mole" competition. He notes: "In addition, we can pretty well expect that Nolan will put off the quarterback decision at least another week, because nothing else he has said on the subject has stood the test of time."

Bryan Chu of the San Francisco Chronicle quotes 49ers quarterback Shaun Hill as wishing Nolan were more forthcoming. Hill: "It's been a while since [Nolan] said anything to us about it. I wish we were in the light a little bit. I guess that's how it is." 

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes about the Seahawks' best linebacker. That would be Leroy Hill, not Julian Peterson or Lofa Tatupu. I recently filed a story along similar lines for an upcoming season preview package.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times singles out receiver Michael Bumpus as the player of the day. The Seahawks' young receivers do seem to be stepping up. Seattle has a former major college head coach overseeing the position. Keith Gilbertson knows how to teach the game even if his head coaching stints at Cal and Washington didn't work out.

Also from O'Neil: Six of Seattle's 10 first-round choices this decade are no longer with the team, a high number. By my count, Seattle has five of its own first-round draft choices on its roster, including 1997 choice Walter Jones, who predates O'Neil's sample. The league average is 6.2 first-round picks still with their original teams. The Seahawks were at the average, in other words, until they released injured defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs. Seattle could be the only team in the league without any of its own draft choices starting at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. We'll see if that holds after I update my starting lineups to reflect camp races.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with the Cardinals' red-zone offense. He also explains where Brandon Moore fits in the defense. Somers mentions Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's ankle injury in passing. Update: Still no word on a diagnosis.

Also from Somers: Cardinals veterans are helping the young guys.

The Associated Press notes that Rodgers-Cromartie, the team's first-round draft choice, left Cardinals practice on a cart.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the cart was necessary, at least in part, because Rodgers-Cromartie was practicing on a distant field. The cornerback wasn't going to limp all the way back to the training facility. That said, the severity of the ankle injury was not yet known.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune leads with the Rodgers-Cromartie news. Later, he passes along a funny quote from Deuce Lutui. The Cardinals' right guard explained why communication issues on the line have improved: "I used to speak Tongan to (tackle) Levi Brown. All this time I didn't know he didn't speak Tongan. I've learned English in the offseason. [Now], I'm able to catch up with him." Lutui was kidding.

Scott Johnson of the Everett Herald says a frustrating back injury is forcing Seahawks center Chris Spencer to miss valuable time. Spencer always seems to be dealing with some sort of injury. He has had surgeries on both shoulders.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch calls Steven Jackson's holdout the longest in the 14-year history of the St. Louis Rams. Thomas also correctly defines a holdout as what happens when a player skips mandatory practices while under contract. People routinely refer to contract disputes as holdouts, particularly when an unsigned rookie draft choice misses camp. But those characterizations are wrong. An unsigned rookie draft choice isn't holding out any more than the team is holding out.