Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC West [Print without images]

Friday, October 8, 2010
Around the NFC West: Warner's new role

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic checks in with Kurt Warner as the former Cardinals quarterback prepares to work his old team's game for Fox. The Cardinals are starting a rookie quarterback because Warner decided to walk away from the final year of his contract. Warner: "You can't help but feel a little responsible. You don't know if you should feel that way, but I'm still connected to the team. I did what I felt was right for my situation, yet there's also the part that wishes I could help." Network broadcasters meet with players and coaches from both teams as part of production meetings where inside information sometimes flows in an effort to provide on-air talent with a better feel for the team. Those meetings can be awkward when they feature someone close to one of the teams. There's nothing awkward about Warner, but he'll have an unusually strong feel for the Cardinals in this game.

Bob Young of the Arizona Republic says it's been a long time since an undrafted rookie started an NFL game this early in a season. Young: "After an exhaustive search through the data bases at Pro-football-reference.com, it appears that Hall has moved into a starting role faster than any undrafted rookie quarterback since 1987, when a couple of Arizona State products named Jeff Van Raaphorst and Todd Hons were among several undrafted signal callers who started as replacement players during a strike-shortened season. We're not counting 'rookies' who came to the NFL from Canada. Between then and now, it appears that the earliest an undrafted rookie has moved into the starting job behind center was in Week 8 when Chad Hutchinson replaced Quincy Carter as the starter in Dallas during the 2002 season." I was looking through similar information Thursday and saw that Brad Goebel started for the Eagles as an undrafted rookie on Oct. 6 and Oct. 13 of the 1991 season. Those were the Eagles' sixth and seventh games of the season.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic looks at the nine sacks Arizona allowed against San Diego.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Hall will become the fourth Cardinals rookie to start at quarterback for the team since the franchise moved to Arizona.

Also from Urban: The Cardinals' line found some redemption during practice.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks and Patriots have discussed a trade that would send Deion Branch back to New England. O'Neil: "The possibility of Branch returning to New England has been discussed as far back as February, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has been consistent in his assessment that Branch is a big part of Seattle's offensive plans."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune has this to say regarding Branch: "We might view Branch as redundant once they got Brandon Stokley, but an improved running game could open things up for more of the kinds of routes Branch and Stokley run. And Pete Carroll went out of his way recently to project Branch into a role as a slot receiver on the side opposite Stokley. Of course, that is the same coach who said Julius Jones was going to be back in running back rotation the day before he was released."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Danny Amendola grew up tough in part because he hung around an older brother. Said Amendola's former high school coach: "Younger brothers get to be tougher, because they have the hell beat out of them every day as they're growing up."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams need to keep winning for validation. Steven Jackson on facing the Lions: "If any other football team in the National Football League understands where Detroit is, I think we (do). They're an 0-4 team that's very good. They've been in every contest that they've been a part of. I know they're going to be feisty and upset with us about stealing one last year in their stadium, so we have to stay focused. We have not arrived yet, and although we're getting good, we're not in position to overlook anyone."

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says cornerback Bradley Fletcher is giving the Rams a lift.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says Jackson worked more extensively in practice Thursday than he has since suffering a groin injury.

Also from Wagoner: a more extensive look at Jackson's progress.

More from Wagoner: Fred Robbins appears rejuvenated with the Rams.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers will win the NFC West if they win their five remaining division games. Maiocco on whether the game against the Eagles qualifies as a must-win: "No, I don't call it a must-win. But it's one of those games the 49ers really, truly should win. The Rams have already won their game against the NFC East opponent, so it's important in that sense. The 49ers still play five games against NFC West competition. If they run the table in those games, they will win the division."

Also from Maiocco: 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has no problem with Nate Clements' decision to go for a touchdown when sliding to the ground probably would have won the game for the 49ers in Atlanta. Manusky: "Got an opportunity, go score. Why not? I would. ... Did he want to fumble the ball? No. He tried to make a play. The more players on your team that try to make plays, the better off you're going to be."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee quotes Steve Young as saying Alex Smith is playing too cautiously. Barrows: "He struck a similar note about the offensive coaching. He said the 49ers must lift the defensive-minded yoke and allow (offensive coordinator Mike) Johnson to have the license to do what he thinks is best."

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat checks in with 49ers rookie Taylor Mays.

Also from Branch: Ted Ginn Jr.'s return could help the 49ers' offense. Ginn could share reps with Dominique Zeigler as the 49ers' third wide receiver while Ginn gets back to speed following a knee injury.