Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Around the NFC West: Career in doubt?
By Mike Sando
The first instinct regarding NFL injuries is to assess how they'll affect a team on game days.
How injuries affect the players should count for something, too -- especially with an injury as potentially serious as the one St. Louis Rams cornerback Ron Bartell suffered during Week 1.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says there's no question Bartell's 2011 season ended Sunday. The question now is whether the broken bone in Bartell's lower neck will heal well enough for Bartell to resume his career. Thomas: "Bartell, 29, expects to go on the injured-reserve list today. He said the C7 bone in his lower neck has two fractures, the result of being hit by an Eagles player in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 31-13 loss to Philadelphia. He won't need surgery but will spend the next two to three months wearing a brace that extends from his rib cage to his neck." Bartell says he has a chance to heal fully because there was no displacement. With Bartell out and fellow corner Bradley Fletcher hurting, the Rams brought in Fred Bennett, Rod Hood, Nathan Jones and Robert McClain for workouts.
Also from Thomas: Rams first-round pick Robert Quinn was surprised to be named inactive for the opener. He'll be active in Week 2 after defensive lineman C.J. Ah You suffered a wrist injury requiring surgery.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks are signing fullback Eddie Williams off the Browns' practice squad because they needed depth and special-teams help after losing Michael Robinson to injury. Backup tight end Dominique Byrd will be the odd man out for now.
Also from O'Neil: The Seahawks' offensive line remains a work in progress. O'Neil: "Seattle has spent its past two first-round selections on offensive lineman, choosing Russell Okung in 2010 and James Carpenter this season. Max Unger -- a second-round choice -- is at center, while this year's third-round selection, John Moffitt, is playing right guard. ... Draft pedigree is no guarantee that those players will live up to the potential the team sees in them. The litany of busts who never develop into effective starters speaks to that. But it's also true that one regular-season game after a lockout-shortened offseason is hardly an accurate forecast for what kind of players Carpenter and Moffitt will turn into." Noted: A trip to Pittsburgh in Week 2 puts this young line in a brutally difficult position.
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic focuses on Kevin Kolb's ability to find tight ends during the Cardinals' regular-season opener. Kolb: "I've always relied on my tight ends a lot, and when I came here and got with these guys, man, there's a lot of talent there. We're going to continue to use them. They obviously have the playmaking ability, so we'll look forward to putting the ball in their hands a lot more." Noted: The Cardinals did not invest all that money in Larry Fitzgerald so he could serve as a decoy to free up Jeff King and Todd Heap. Expect the Cardinals to find ways for Fitzgerald to get more involved.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says linebacker Stewart Bradley needs time to reprogram himself as he transitions from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 scheme. Somers: "Even the basic techniques are drastically different. In the Eagles defense, Bradley often would cover receivers man to man in certain situations and schemes. That sometimes meant turning his body and running with receivers. Now coaches are telling him to stay squarely facing the offense." Noted: There's no question the lockout set back Bradley's efforts to get comfortable in a new system. It's also surprising, at least to me, that he hasn't made the transition more quickly. Bradley said during training camp he had long wanted to play in a 3-4 defense that would let him become more of a playmaker.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com tells the story of a Cardinals fan's recovery from a random shooting. Urban: "The Taylors were about to leave when Jason, overhearing a couple of men talking about the military, told them he had always wanted to join the military, probably with the Marines. One of the men, Jeremiah Pulaski, a 24-year-old Army veteran who had just returned from duty in the Middle East, suddenly pulled a gun and shot Taylor. Pulaski fled, but was shot and killed later that night by police."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com offers his postgame look at every 49ers defensive player from Week 1, noting that defensive ends Justin Smith and Ray McDonald dominated. Maiocco on Smith: "Started at right defensive end, and was equally as dominant as McDonald. Smith finished with four tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries . . . . Used a spin move against left tackle Russell Okung to throw Jackson for a 9-yard sack in the first quarter. . . . While working against rookie left guard James Carpenter, Smith got a got his left arm around Jackson for the sack late in the fourth quarter to force the punt that Ted Ginn returned for a touchdown and the final points of the game."
Also from Maiocco: a player-by-player look at the 49ers' offense, with special emphasis on what went wrong on the six plays when Frank Gore went nowhere or lost yardage.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers finally found a third tight end, adding Justin Peelle.