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Friday, August 14, 2009
Around the NFC West: Rams, 49ers kick off

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are treating their exhibition opener as an exhibition opener. The outcome doesn't matter much, but the team would like to set a positive tone in Steve Spagnuolo's first game. Spagnuolo: "But I will say this: It doesn't matter whether you're playing pickup basketball in the backyard, or playing your brother in cards, it's competition and everybody wants to win. We'll approach this thing as if it's a competition. We want to compete, compete at the highest level, and then let it play itself out."

Also from Thomas: five things to watch during the Rams' opener. The Rams should tackle better than most teams would in an opener because they've been tackling in practice.

More from Thomas: Former Rams quarterback Trent Green misses the game while making a transition to broadcasting.

Turf Show Times' VanRam wants to see how the Rams' run defense holds up Friday night.

Tim Klutsarits of examiner.com reveals five things he'll watch for during the Rams' exhibition opener. Receivers made the list.

The 49ers' Web site provides a transcript from Mike Singletary's session with reporters. Alex Smith will get a chance to work with the first-team offense, same as Shaun Hill.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat answers questions regarding the Michael Crabtree situation. Signing sometime before the regular-season opener would make the most sense for Crabtree. Otherwise he'll be forfeiting first-year salary for every game he misses.

Also from Maiocco: Singletary sounds "mighty comfortable" with Adam Snyder at right tackle.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers have not cleared Marvel Smith to participate fully in practice. Barrows: "There's a sense, and Smith agrees, that he may have tried to come back too fast in the past."

Also from Barrows: Isaac Bruce participates in a program to educate Brits on the NFL.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with 49ers rookie Kory Sheets, who is looking forward to his preseason debut.  Sheets has gone from college star to "nobody" status as an NFL rookie, part of the deal.

Also from Brown: Snyder has a "sizeable lead" over Marvel Smith at right tackle.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Matt Leinart was happy with his 2009 preseason debut. Coach Ken Whisenhunt liked how his defense stopped the Steelers early.

Also from Somers: The Cardinals ran the ball only 16 times against the Steelers.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Brian St. Pierre will be the first quarterback off the bench for the Cardinals in their next exhibition game. Whisenhunt also said St. Pierre didn't get much help from teammates Thursday night. ESPN analyst Jon Gruden blamed St. Pierre's interception on receiver Jerheme Urban for failing to sell a deep route.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Seahawks rookie Aaron Curry will get extended playing time in the exhibition opener Saturday night.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Patrick Kerney returned to Seahawks practice after resting an unspecified injury for two days. The Seahawks have been cautious with Kerney to this point. I'd be a little surprised if he played Saturday night.

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says Kerney views his recent shoulder injuries as fluke situations that are unlikely to recur. Kerney: "I got injured the exact same way both times. I was coming around the left edge, going across my body to get to the quarterback's arm. It's just a weak position for the shoulder and the odds of getting caught the same way twice in 10 games is slim. But it happened. It's the heat of the moment. The heat of the play. You're working hard, you beat your guy. You're excited. Now you're going to do whatever you've got to do to get the quarterback on the ground or get the ball out. It didn't work so well, those couple of times. But I went eight out of my 10 years without getting my arm caught that way. I look to go a few more years without it happening."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Brandon Roy was a guest at Seahawks practice. Also, Curry will play about three quarters and get some work at right defensive end.

John Morgan of Field Gulls liked what he saw from Curry in pass-rush drills Monday. Owen Schmitt's issues in protection apparently showed themselves again.