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Thursday, August 20, 2009
Around the NFC West: Rams' backfield options

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jason LaCanfora of NFL.com says the Rams brought in veteran running back Ahman Green for a tryout this week. The team has gone young for the most part this offseason, but the signing of veteran defensive tackle Hollis Thomas showed a willingness to bolster depth with established, if declining players.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams fullback Mike Karney, who hopes to upgrade the position for St. Louis this season. Karney: "When you're running the ball -- and that's the first and foremost thing we're trying to establish here with our offense -- you can't have the fullback going one way and the running back going the other way, unless the play's designed that way. When I'm leading to the hole, I want (Steven Jackson) to know what I'm seeing. And I want to know what he's seeing. Because if a defense is playing a certain front, a guy's playing a certain way, or a certain technique, and I tell him: 'Look out for this; watch for this,' and he sees that, then he'll be able to hit the hole or make the cut he needs to make."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams plan to use James Hall's versatility on the defensive line.

Also from Coats: The Rams are reaching out to kids on the first day of school.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers might be able to trust rookie running back Glen Coffee more than expected. Coffee's pass protection makes him more viable as a candidate for playing time.

Also from Brown: Former Raiders kicker Joe Nedney is still kicking with the 49ers.

Taylor Price of 49ers.com breaks down the 49ers' defensive domination against the Raiders in practice Wednesday. Coordinator Greg Manusky: "The guys performed in a winning fashion today and they made some plays. I think they were just playing their techniques and they started having fun with it."

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider also describes the Raider carnage. Cornerback Dre Bly: "I told Shaun (Hill), 'Why don't you feed us like that in practice?' That buffet was good."

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says Mike Singletary's passion for walking led him to "hoof it" for a 2-mile walk between hotels Wednesday.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat suggests the 49ers could re-sign injured fullback Zak Keasey after reaching agreement with him on an injury settlement.

Also from Maiocco: Hill appears to be in good position to win the starting job at quarterback.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee puts cornerback Eric Green's signing in context this way: "Remember that they lost one of last year's corners, Donald Strickland, to free agency, another, Walt Harris, to injury and converted Reggie Smith to safety. They added Dre Bly to replace Harris but could still stand to bulk up that unit."

Also from Barrows: an interview transcript featuring 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals receiver Onrea Jones is trying to make a strong impression in a training camp filled with talented receivers. Also, Beanie Wells was somewhat limited in practice after aggravating his ankle injury.

Also from Somers: He profiles second-year cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who wears a Toy Story backpack and drives a miniature car. Seriously. Says DRC: "I'm still a kid. I don't care how many years I've played or what profession I'm in. I'm going to be me and that's part of me, just being a kid." 

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin plans to play through the bitterness he feels toward the organization. Boldin: "I think the fans want me around. Since I've gotten back out here in Arizona, everywhere I go, from the mall to the grocery to the baseball game, the fans have been real supportive. I feel like the fans know that Anquan is going to play and give us everything he has, the same Anquan he's always been." The Cardinals will pay $5.4 million to Boldin this season, or $317,647 per week during the 17-week regular season.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Matt Leinart feels good about his future as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Leinart's record as a starter is 7-9 -- not great, but also close to the winning percentage Bears savior Jay Cutler (17-20) has posted in the NFL.

Also from Urban: Cardinals offensive lineman Brandon Keith is better prepared to play if called upon.

Gregg Bell of the Associated Press says Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill is awaiting word from the NFL on his punishment for an offseason arrest. Hill is contesting the charge.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says rookie receiver Deon Butler shined during practice Thursday.

Also from O'Neil: an "exhaustive" injury update.

More from O'Neil: The Seahawks could be without Walter Jones and Marcus Trufan
t when the regular season opens. Coach Jim Mora on Jones' knee surgery, scheduled for Thursday: "We don't think it's anything significant, but we just want to make sure."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck isn't worried about Jones' health. Hasselbeck: "Maybe if it was somebody else, but he's just done it so many times -- no OTAs, no minicamp, no training camp, Pro Bowl. It's what he does. It's almost better (because) you know he's not going to get hurt out there. That's just how it's been out there."

John Morgan of Field Gulls says Trufant might be the "single most indispensable" defensive player for the Seahawks. Morgan: "A use of zone coverage will somewhat hide his absence, but by pushing Josh Wilson into the starting lineup, Seattle weakens its starting cornerback tandem and especially its nickel defense. Kelly Jennings could sub for Wilson at right cornerback on nickel downs, allowing Wilson to slot into nickelback. At right cornerback, Jennings would cover or team to cover its opponent's number one receiver. Kelly Jennings could play in half of Seattle's downs and most of its highest leverage downs against its opponent's best recceiver. Receivers like Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald, Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson."