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Friday, February 4, 2011
Around the NFC West: Faulk's uniqueness

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch catches up with former Rams receiver Torry Holt, who is now working for NFL Network. Miklasz also quotes former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan this way regarding retired Rams great Marshall Faulk: "I played the game a long time, and Marshall Faulk did something I never saw anyone else do. I'm not talking about running or catching the football. But he was a coach out there. I'm serious. The 'Greatest Show' would break the huddle, and I'd look across the line at Faulk, and he'd be standing in the backfield, directing traffic. He's making adjustments in their protection, he's getting the players lined up properly, he's telling Kurt (Warner) what to look out for. I've never seen a running back do that -- take over the offense and get everyone in place before the snap. I used to get on him. I'd holler at Marshall and say, 'Hey, No. 28, if you want to be a coach, take that uniform off and go put on some slacks and a golf shirt and go over there and be a coach. Get off the field!' Marshall was an amazing player in every way."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch assesses Faulk from another angle. Thomas: "Marshall Faulk caught 767 passes over the course of his NFL career. Only three players currently in the Hall of Fame have caught more and all are wide receivers -- Jerry Rice, Art Monk and Steve Largent. And Faulk's 6,875 yards receiving is an NFL record for a running back."

Also from Thomas: Faulk prepared meticulously, using pencils of various colors.

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat passes along Super Bowl predictions from 49ers players. Parys Haralson is taking the Packers. Haralson: "I like the way (QB) Aaron Rodgers is playing right now. Their passing attack is off the charts. With (James) Starks running the ball, he’s been running the ball pretty well. I think they’ll be able to move the ball on the Steelers. It’s going to be a good game, but I’m going to take Green Bay."

Also from Branch: Tight ends will play a leading role in the 49ers' new offense. Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti: "They’ll use two and three tight ends at times. Typically when you put in a lot of big people, you get more of a hard-ball running thing, but he would still spread you out and run the same plays with those big people. He’d spread them out wide and they could be the widest receiver or they could be the two inside receivers on slot. They’ll motion, move guys into the backfield. He does a lot with those guys. And the combination of his offense, and his offensive scheme, and the power running, and the multiple formations and personnel groups … he kept you off balance and did a fantastic job."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers might not be likely to use the franchise tag on nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin for a second consecutive season. Maiocco: "Peter Rucco, NFL senior vice president and general counsel, told the Boston Globe teams can use franchise and/or transition tags on players for a 14-day period, starting Feb. 10. There had been some question whether the franchise tag would be available this offseason because of the league's expiring collective bargaining agreement." There still is some question. The NFLPA put out a statement Thursday reading, "The current CBA provides that 'each club shall be permitted to designate one of its players who would otherwise be an Unrestricted Free Agent [or Restricted Free Agent] as a Franchise Player each season during the term of this Agreement.' The 2011 season is not a 'season during the term of this Agreement' so the NFL has no valid basis for claiming the right to franchise players in 2011."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the franchise price for Franklin would shoot up considerably.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, who offers advice on beating the Steelers' defense. Warner: "With this kind of defense, you have to dictate the tempo to them. If you sit back and let Dick LeBeau come with everything he wants to come with, sit in a 3-4, you're not going to be able run the ball and they are going to throw everything at you. If you can spread them out, now you can dictate to them: what are you going to do? Are you going to put (James) Harrison out on the edge and make him blitz from the edge? In the Super Bowl, they took one of their defensive lineman out of the game and put (LaMarr) Woodley and Harrison on the end of the line of scrimmage. It really became a 4-3 defense and now we knew every time, Harrison is coming and Woodley is coming. So if they are coming off the edge, now we can chip them. We don't have to worry about all those other guys coming. And so we limited the packages they had."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks with with the Cardinals' Steve Breaston for thoughts about the receiver's contract situation. Urban: "I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it. But it’s just for a hot second. It doesn’t linger on. Trouble starts … there is stuff you can’t control. That’s when things affect your play or take focus off other things you could be doing to get better as a player. Right now, no one knows until March, and I’m not the only person stuck in this situation. That’s what I have come to understand, that I’m not the only one in this situation. There are a lot of people that are going through the same thing, and not just players. There are a lot of people waiting to see what happens come March. Now, I belong to this organization, I enjoy being here and if things work out, I will be here."

Also from Urban: Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who can leave in free agency after the 2011 season if he chooses, tells XTRA 910 radio he's not dictating to the team how it must improve. Fitzgerald: "I’m not setting criteria. I think there are a couple of positions we need to upgrade, we need to continue to improve and add more pieces to the puzzle, and that’s all I’m going to say on that. I’m not trying to call out anybody, I’m not trying to ruffle any feathers. I’m not the GM or the coach. I’m just a guy out there catching passes occasionally."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune offers thoughts on Cortez Kennedy's case for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Kennedy remains gracious about his experience in Seattle even though the team's poor offenses prevented him from experiencing team success: "I’ll tell you … I wouldn’t change a thing about playing in Seattle. I loved playing in Seattle. I have so much respect for the Seahawk fans and feel so much gratitude to them for the way they’ve treated me. If I had to go back and do it over again, I’d want to be drafted by Seattle again."

Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com says the Bears have hired Seahawks assistant Mike Phair to coach their defensive line. Wright: "Phair spent this past season as a defensive assistant, and held posts as assistant defensive line coach (2009) and assistant linebackers coach (2008). In the three seasons prior, Phair worked as an area scout with the Seahawks."