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Thursday, September 15, 2011
Around the NFC West: Bradford's recovery

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

The replay showed St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford making his usual follow-through, except for one thing. His right index finger snagged on Juqua Parker's hand as the Philadelphia Eagles' defensive lineman contested the pass.

It's somewhat amazing to me that Bradford didn't suffer a broken finger on the play. Bradford somehow completed a 31-yard pass down the left sideline to a diving Brandon Gibson one play later before leaving the game.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says there's no doubt about Bradford's availability in Week 2. The quarterback practiced without restriction Wednesday. Bradford: "I really was worried about it. I wouldn't have come out of the game if it wasn't serious. I couldn't feel (the finger). I couldn't move it that night, and so I really was concerned. But our training staff's done a great job. It's starting to come around." Noted: Bradford took pride in taking every offensive snap during his 2010 rookie season. His exit from the game seemed to signal something serious. I'll be interested to see whether Bradford takes more snaps from the shotgun formation while the finger heals. The velocity generated during a snap is greater than one might imagine, complicating center exchanges for quarterbacks with hand injuries.

Also from Thomas: a chat transcript with thoughts on the Rams. Thomas: "The game plan going in was to try to run the ball on Philly's undersized front seven and mix in play action. Last time I checked the Eagles had arguably the best trio of corners in the league. Not many people get open against them. That doesn't mean you don't try. But I think the game underscored the fact that the Rams don't have anyone that can stretch defenses other than Danario Alexander, who was inactive. It also takes more time for most downfield throws, and the pass-blocking Sunday was far from superb, particularly after it became a 2-score game." Noted: I'd say pass protection and dropped passes hurt the Rams' passing game as much as anything.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says the Rams are making adjustments to their secondary.

John Boyle of the Everett Herald says Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is building up the Seahawks even though oddsmakers have made Seattle at least a two-touchdown underdog in Pittsburgh. Boyle: "Tomlin seemingly couldn't say enough good things about the Seahawks. And while it's nothing new for a coach to say nice things about an opponent, Tomlin takes it to a Lou Holtz level."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com runs through highlights and notes from Wednesday.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic draws up the perfect analogy for Tim Hightower's first game against his former Arizona Cardinals teammates: "Like anyone about to see the ex for the first time since the breakup, Tim Hightower wants to prove that he's doing fine, and in the process, maybe make his former partners realize how good they had it." Noted: Hightower carried 25 times for 72 yards and one touchdown for the Redskins in Week 1. His 2.9-yard average was down from 4.8 over the 2010 season with Arizona.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the NFL will not fine Richard Marshall for the cornerback's hit on Panthers cornerback Cam Newton, an indication officials erred in calling Marshall for a personal foul. Also, the Cardinals gave a tryout to former Rams receiver Donnie Avery. Noted: The call against Marshall wiped out what would have been a second interception for Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com asks 49ers center Jonathan Goodwin for thoughts on the team's struggles running the ball against Seattle in the opener. Goodwin: "They have a pretty decent group up front. And for whatever reasons, they probably played a little better in the run game. I know we didn't have that many yards rushing. So that's something we won't be happy with."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers knew they were going to have problems running the ball against Seattle, largely because of Earl Thomas' presence in the Seahawks' secondary. Barrows: "During the lead-up to the Seattle game, both Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman were asked separately about the Seahawks defense. The first name out of both of their mouths was Thomas', and he lived up to their compliments. ... One sequence in the second quarter typifies what happened with the 49ers run game on Sunday. ... Alex Smith pitches wide to his left to Gore. Tight ends Delanie Walker and Vernon Davis block down on Seahawk defenders and left tackle Joe Staley, who is very good at hitting moving targets, goes wide and absolutely crushes Kam Chancellor. Gore seemingly has plenty of room to pick up the first down and much more, but Thomas, who was initially 15 yards from the play, comes streaking in, steers Gore back to the inside and then cuts him down after only a yard pickup."

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers value Smith's mobility.

Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat explores Davis' affinity for fine artwork. Davis, a studio art major at Maryland, likes Leonardo da Vinci and Claude Clark.