Monday, August 29, 2011
Around the NFC West: Curry transformed
By Mike Sando
Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says the intersection of faith and football has helped the Seahawks' Aaron Curry show improvement on the field. Brewer: "Because Curry's problems aren't physical, he still has a chance to be a rare, late-blooming linebacker if he can relax, study harder and develop a better feel for the game. Many don't see it and breathlessly declare him a bust. But Curry, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2009 draft, is only 25. There's still time. There's little question about his athletic ability. And there's no doubt his newfound faith is changing his mental approach."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says coach Pete Carroll is concerned about the team's issues in pass protection. Carroll: "It’s a race against time, and we’re not staying with the race right now."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times offers thoughts on the Seahawks' third preseason game. O'Neil: "Starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson can cut up a second-string defense just as efficiently as Charlie Whitehurst the first two exhibition games. The question is whether this offensive line can give anyone enough time in the pocket to have a reasonable chance of success this season. Seattle has allowed eight sacks in three games, and while that's tied for eighth-most of all NFL teams in August, it doesn't give a true indication of the pass pressure that has been constant and unrelenting."
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune confirms a Pro Football Talk report noting that Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant has accepted a pay reduction from $5.9 million to $3 million for the 2011 season. I had thought the Seahawks would take this step earlier in the process; Lofa Tatupu's situation seemed to foreshadow something for Trufant as well. Both had signed Pro Bowl-caliber deals when they were Pro Bowl-caliber players.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals cornerback Greg Toler has suffered a sprained knee of unknown severity. Somers: "There was no immediate word on the seriousness of Toler's injury. The Cardinals could receive a boost soon if cornerback Mike Adams returns from knee surgery as expected. Adams underwent arthroscopic surgery early in training camp and was expected back in a few weeks. While Adams won't compete for a starting job, he has plenty of experience in nickel and dime schemes. And he's one of the club's better special-teams players."
Also from Somers: Kevin Kolb prefers sustained drives to big plays. Somers: "They strung more good plays together in the loss to the Chargers than they did in either of their previous two games. But mistakes, especially penalties, continue to hurt. Right tackle Brandon Keith was called for three penalties. Andre Roberts and Levi Brown each had a false start. There were big-play opportunities that were missed. Kolb overthrew Larry Fitzgerald early. And Beanie Wells was a stumble or two from breaking long runs."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Kolb clearly understands the importance of getting the ball to Fitzgerald.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams rookie Robert Quinn was pleased, but not overly so, to collect his first sack of the preseason. Quinn: "It definitely felt good. It's been a while since I had one of those. I feel like I'm getting my legs back up under me. And with the good group of core veterans on the D-line -- and really on the defense -- they just support me, trying to help me, I guess, mature faster as a young player. I really try to take their advice, learn from them, and help make a play."
Also from Thomas: The Rams feel like they are making progress on offense. Quarterback Sam Bradford: "I think everyone looked and felt more comfortable out there this week than they had in the past two weeks, including myself. I just felt much better with our operation. I felt we were quicker in and out of the huddle. I felt like our communication was better at the line of scrimmage. I just felt like everything [Friday] was almost normal in the sense that everyone's kinda starting to jell."
More from Thomas: Steven Jackson's preseason playing time has spiked this summer. Coach Steve Spagnuolo: "We talked extensively during the week about the two issues we thought we had in the Tennessee game, which was we didn't run the ball effectively and we didn't stop the run very well. So we wanted to have a mindset of being able to do that. Steven was all for it."
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says cornerback Dionte Dinkins' high-ankle sprain was the Rams' most serious injury of the third preseason game.
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams appear on the rise. Burwell: "Don't start organizing a parade, but this is actually starting to look promising. In three preseason games, we have noticed enough of the right stuff happening; draft picks that honestly look like they can contribute to something more substantial than a CFL roster; veteran free agents who don't look like horrid flops; coaches whose X's and O's come alive on game days; a growing radio and preseason television network that suggests the organization's venture into turning the Rams into a regional marketing phenomenon just might work, too."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com looks at 49ers players whose stock is rising -- and falling. Maiocco on safety Madieu Williams: "The veteran has been a sure tackler on defense and a willing special-teams performer. ... He provided one of the 49ers' best defensive plays with a forced fumble that led to a takeaway."
Also from Maiocco: 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh says it is "possible" Michael Crabtree could return from a foot injury this week. I heard Harbaugh's comments and thought he sounded noncommittal. Crabtree is, by definition, closer than ever to returning. That will always be true until he returns.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee outlines problems the 49ers faced against Houston. Barrows: "The Texans mostly rushed the same four linemen on every play and those linemen simply beat the 49ers on one-on-one matchups. The 49ers made Antonio Smith, a guy who has never had more than 5.5 sacks in seven seasons, look like the second coming of Michael Strahan."
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers are heading in the wrong direction.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says Frank Gore wants a new contract to help get his mind "right" for the season.