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Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Around the NFC West: Reading the Cards

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic explores whether the Cardinals complied with NFL rules when they did not immediately disclose that running back Beanie Wells had undergone knee surgery. Whether or not the Cardinals complied with rules, the episode gives reporters extra incentive to dig deeper for injury information. That happened this week when Mike Jurecki of XTRA910 radio in Phoenix cited unnamed sources in reporting that Cardinals receiver Steve Breaston underwent knee surgery and would miss at least the next two games. The situation with Wells shows the risks associated with taking at face value what an NFL head coach says about injuries. It's important to ask whether a player has or will undergo surgery. Not mentioning Wells' surgery publicly made it tougher for opponents, gamblers and others to make an informed decision about whether Wells would play.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic checks in with veteran Cardinals nose tackle Bryan Robinson.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com describes Andre Roberts' transition to the NFL as a rookie receiver and return specialist. Roberts' debut Sunday was shaky enough that Breaston would have handled the next punt return if Oakland had punted one more time.

Also from Urban: The Cardinals have no immediate plans to add another wide receiver.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Justin Forsett will be the team's primary running back for now. Such decisions are never permanent, of course. Carroll: "That’s the way we lean. We wanted to see what would happen when Justin really got the ball more than seven or eight times in a game. So we fed it to him a little bit more. We’re still growing, trying to figure it out."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times looks at the Seahawks' personnel changes on their offensive line in considering whether the team might be going away from zone-blocking principles. Those zone principles have become less of a religion with Alex Gibbs' departure. It's clear this is offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates' offense.

Also from O'Neil: a look at the degree to which Seattle needs strong play from Matt Hasselbeck. O'Neil: "Since the 2008 season began, Seattle needed Hasselbeck to play well -- maybe even excellent -- to have a chance to win. The Seahawks were 6-3 in games in which he had a passer rating higher than 80. Less than 80? Seattle was 1-13 before Sunday, when the Seahawks won with Hasselbeck getting a rating of 77.6." Two kickoff returns for touchdowns skew the results Sunday, but Hasselbeck probably should have had a higher rating. Deion Branch's fumble out of the end zone as he approached the goal line following a 41-yard gain deprived Hasselbeck of one touchdown. The manner in which Seattle handled the end of the first half might have deprived him of another scoring chance.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Tyler Polumbus' play at left tackle for Seattle makes it less critical whether Russell Okung returns in Week 4. Okung is scheduled to resume practicing Wednesday.

John Morgan of Field Gulls says Stacy Andrews' size can be a good thing in the Seahawks' running game.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have had a bend-but-don't-break defense to this point. Thomas: "In a season in which most of the focus has been on the offense, be it Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson, the pass-blocking, the wide receiver corps, and so on ... the defense has quietly held down the scoring. The Rams have yielded only 49 points in three games, their fourth-lowest total after three games since the franchise moved to St. Louis in 1995. They rank ninth in the league in scoring defense, yielding 16.3 points a game." Arizona scored 17 points against the Rams and an average of 15.5 against its other two opponents. Oakland scored 16 points against the Rams and an average of 18.0 points against its other opponents. Washington scored 16 points against the Rams and an average of 20.0 against its other opponents.

Also from Thomas: The Rams signed Chauncey Washington off the New York Jets' practice squad amid injury concerns for Steven Jackson and Keith Toston.

More from Thomas: a chat transcript in which he says Brandon Gibson improved as the Rams' game against Washington progressed.

Jeff Gordon of stlouistoday.com says the Rams have shown greater perseverance this season. Having hope at quarterback helps.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at some of the Rams' options at running back, including options the team did not pursue (Leon Washington, Thomas Jones).

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com takes a player-by-player look at the 49ers in Week 3. On Patrick Willis: "Started at weak inside linebacker, and was credited with eight tackles. But Willis did not have one of his better games. A large portion of his tackles came on the end of big plays by the Chiefs. In fact, of the six longest plays the Chiefs had that involved a tackle, Willis made five of them. Overran play and left his lane, allowing Jamaal Charles to gain 7 yards in first quarter. Overran play and then got blocked by fullback Tim Castille to allow Charles to get to sideline for 20-yard gain in fourth quarter. He used his speed Did make tackle on Moeaki for 5-yard gain on third-and-14 while fending off block."

Also from Maiocco: He ranks the 49ers last in his NFL power rankings.

More from Maiocco: a conversation with Jimmy Raye, who thinks the 49ers fired him prematurely. Raye: "I was carrying out the head coach's wishes. I was doing what I was brought here to do under his philosophy he wanted installed. I tried as best I could to carry that out with the quarterbacking and the personnel that we had. I didn't come in and say, 'This is my offense, and I'm running this, and if you don't like it, you can get somebody else.' I was doing what was given me to do."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Alex Smith tends to miss high when he misses receivers.

Also from Barrows: Mike Singletary says he considered line coach Mike Solari for the coordinator's job.

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat blames 49ers president Jed York for the team's current predicament. Cohn: "The Prince set in motion every single problem the Niners currently have. He became enamored of Singletary in the way young men come to admire older men with deep voices. The Prince was sure Singletary was the answer to every question he ever pondered, and even some he hadn't. He set a land-speed record in hiring Singletary, a man with no relevant experience, a man who never had been a coordinator -- forget about actually being a head coach. The Prince needed to hire an offensive-oriented head coach to nurture quarterback Alex Smith, the team's primary asset, but the Prince didn't do that." No doubt, the 49ers overvalued intensity.