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Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Around the NFC West: Fitzgerald 'gets it'

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt for thoughts on Larry Fitzgerald's new contract. Whisenhunt: "Larry gets it, and that’s one of the reasons it was so important we got the deal done with him. He’s been a tremendous leader, he’s grown a lot in what we want him to do. It wasn’t always easy, because understanding the burden that comes on you as a great player, it’s not something that’s natural, especially someone who shies from the spotlight like Larry. When you recognize what a tremendous player he is and the accomplishments he has had over the last few years, it’s goes a long way that our team and (president) Michael Bidwill recognize that and are willing to do those deals."

Also from Urban: The Cardinals saw good things from O'Brien Schofield against Green Bay. Urban: "Schofield was all but invisible in the preseason opener, but against the Packers in the second game, he had a sack, a forced fumble, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit that forced an incompletion."

More from Urban: Cardinals notes, topped by one on running back Alfonso Smith.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are in no hurry to add a veteran running back following Ryan Williams' season-ending injury. Whisenhunt outlined what the team will be looking for at the position: "One that can do a little bit of everything. Obviously, someone that can help on third down, but be a good first- or second-down back. But it's not something we're just going to do overnight. We're going to do some research and try and get the right fit. There may be a player on another team right now that will become available at some point."

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic passes along Kevin Kolb's thoughts on Fitzgerald's new contract. Kolb: "Both of us are locked up for a long time so hopefully we can build this thing for the future. I told my wife this - I don't want to be anywhere else. I want to retire here. This is the place I want to be for a long time, so I want to make sure I can do all I can to make those hopes and dreams come true and make our own hopes and dreams come true."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains how Jake McQuaide found out he'd won the snapping battle against longtime incumbent Chris Massey. Massey shared the news with McQuaide at his locker. Coats: "Age and finances almost certainly were factors in the decision. Massey was due to make $1,375,000 this year. McQuaide, a 23-year-old rookie from Ohio State, will receive the first-year minimum of $375,000. The net salary cap savings will be $500,000."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with unheralded rookies trying to earn roster spots with the Rams.

Also from Thomas: Rams injury notes, plus an item about Ben Leber and Brady Poppinga getting reps with the first-team defense. Sounds like the Rams' shaky showing against the run in the second preseason game provided an opportunity to implement moves the team was expected to make all along.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com offers thoughts on one of the Rams' receivers fighting for a roster spot. Wagoner: "Receiver Danario Alexander got an MRI on his knee on Monday. Yes, that knee, the one that’s been surgically repaired multiple times. Alexander claimed it 'felt funny' and he and the Rams agreed it was best to get it checked out. Here’s hoping it’s nothing serious. Alexander has all the talent in the world and should be admired for even still playing after all he’s been through. But it’s hard to make a living in this game when you have constant problems. Here’s hoping it all works out."

Also from Wagoner: Expectations for third-year Rams tackle Jason Smith. Wagoner: "When Smith entered the league, he had a reputation for being a nasty run blocker capable of opening big holes. But Smith’s adjustment has taken some time and though he’s proved to be adept as a run blocker at times, he says he’d like to be more consistent. The addition of Harvey Dahl at right guard should help in that area. Dahl is known for his nasty disposition on the field and Smith says he can’t help but feel that attitude is infectious and going to help him be the hard-charging run blocker everyone though he could be."

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says there's no reason to get worked up about the Seahawks' quarterback situation following two preseason games. Brewer: "I'm only willing to declare one absolute about the Seahawks after two exhibition games: They have more depth. They'll have some difficult decisions to make at the 53-man cut. Unlike last year, when they only liked about 45 of their players and did the super roster shuffle after the cut date, they're more likely to keep all of their guys this time, barring some impact player becoming available."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times looks at Red Bryant's impact on the Seahawks' run defense.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says this about Aaron Curry's restructured contract: "Because Curry’s salary is not guaranteed in 2012, the Seahawks could release him in February without any financial obligation. The restructured deal also makes it easier to move Curry in a trade."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com looks at the good and bad from the team's most recent preseason game. Farnsworth: "The Seahawks were flagged 10 times for 84 wrong-way yards – eight times in the first half for 69 yards. That’s unacceptable, even if this was only the second preseason game. There were three false start penalties, a disconcerting continuation of the problem the linemen have been having in practice. But two of them were on wide receiver Mike Williams and Zach Miller. The worst infraction, however, was linebacker Aaron Curry ripping the helmet off Vikings guard Ryan Cook and then throwing it. Unacceptable? Carroll pulled Curry out of the game."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers made it clear, again, that Taylor Mays wasn't in their plans before finally trading the safety to Cincinnati. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio before the trade: "We feel good with (Donte) Whitner, him (Reggie Smith), (Dashon) Goldson, (Madieu) Williams, and (C.J.) Spillman. We feel like we've got five safeties there that can play in the NFL. Some of them have great special teams value over the others, so if we have to keep four, that will be a hard decision. If we keep five, I think they will all be different pieces that we will use during the season."

Also from Barrows: Frank Gore does not appear inclined to ask for a trade.

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers-Raiders exhibition games had to die following recent postgame violence.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News speaks with an NFL security official regarding the league's response to fan violence.

Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle offers 49ers notes, including one about Dominique Zeigler practicing for the first time since suffering a knee injury Nov. 30.

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle has this to say regarding the violence: "The authorities saw the local rivalry as Saturday's main storm cloud, compounded by the 5 p.m. start and the nature of exhibition tickets, which frequently end up in the hands of people who paid little or nothing for admission. Without much of an investment in the product, and minimal meaningful action on the field, these patrons tend to arrive with other forms of entertainment on their itinerary."