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Thursday, October 13, 2011
Around the NFC West: Sharing secrets

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Imagine going to work and only later realizing someone had slipped a microphone into your clothing so they could hear everything you said throughout the day.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says that's what essentially happened to Cardinals center Lyle Sendlein. Somers: "League officials issued a memo earlier this month directing teams to have their starting center or starting guards wear microphones during games. The team has the option of which players wear the microphone, and only one mike is open at a time. The league and television networks want to enhance the sound during games, giving fans a better sense of the action on the field. ... Sendlein said he wasn't aware the microphone was in his pads the first time he wore it, against the Giants on Oct. 2. His brother told him later that Sendlein could be heard. The issue was approved by the players in the collective bargaining agreement." Noted: San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh recently said he likes watching game broadcasts for the sounds that wouldn't be available watching coaches' video, which is shot from high above the field.

Also from Somers: Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb doesn't plan to get away much during the bye week. Also, the Cardinals are putting special emphasis on issues with their two-minute offense: "To correct the problem, coach Ken Whisenhunt changed the structure of practice. On Thursdays of game week, the two-minute session was usually done at less than full speed, so players could concentrate on assignments. Starting last week, that session became full speed. And it was carried out that way this week, with the first units working against each other."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times notes that Aaron Curry's departure from the Seahawks leaves the team with zero first-round draft choices from the Tim Ruskell era. O'Neil: "First, Seattle made no real effort to re-sign center Chris Spencer, who left for Chicago as a free agent. Then, the Seahawks traded cornerback Kelly Jennings to Cincinnati before the regular season began. Now, it is expected that Aaron Curry will be traded to the Oakland Raiders, a deal that hasn't quite been finalized, but is largely expected."

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times marvels at Curry's demise in relation to the obvious physical talent Curry possesses.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune offers thoughts on Curry's shortcomings: "The criticisms of Curry included his lack of instinctual play. In his first season, he was expected to be an edge pass rusher, but rarely came up with big plays. When he was asked to drop back into coverage, he appeared to lose track of receivers or drop potential interceptions. After Curry struggled in the second game this season against Pittsburgh, the staff gave Wright a chance to start in his place. Afterward, Curry said he was at peace with the demotion because of his strong faith, and that he would stay focused on improving as a player."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams quarterback Sam Bradford returned from his bye week refreshed and with renewed confidence in the team. Bradford: "The more I thought about things the more I realized that we've got the right people here. The right players; the right coaches. We've all just got to continue to work hard no matter what happens. Buy in and we'll get this thing figured out."

Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams rookie tight end Lance Kendricks, who will be returning home to Wisconsin when the team visits Lambeau Field.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says veteran Rams cornerback Rod Hood spent his bye week huddling with secondary coach Clayton Lopez in an effort to learn the team's defense in time for the Green Bay game. Hood: "It’s unfortunate what happened to Fletch but it’s time for some guys to step up. I think that’s what they brought me in for. It’s time to get in the game plan as much as I can and be ready to go on Sunday. Once I got on the team I am definitely devoted to being here. To me, I have been off for two or three weeks not playing so I am ready now to play."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner is ranking the 49ers' Alex Smith among his top five at the position to this point in the season. Warner: "My big surprise: Alex Smith comes in at No. 4. A guy I probably didn't expect to make this list all year long, but he's got his team at 4-1 right now. He's playing as consistent as anybody. And what I've seen the last couple weeks is him making the big play, something that he hadn't done up to that point in the season."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers ordered and received new speakers, the better to simulate opposing teams' crowd noise. The team played songs from AC/DC, Guns 'n' Roses, Ram Jam and Eminem in preparation for Ford Field in Detroit.

Also from Barrows: The team wants to re-sign receiver Josh Morgan, who recently landed on injured reserve.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News passes along Harbaugh's thoughts on linebacker Patrick Willis: "I compare it to baseball in some ways. I mean, the five facets of being a great baseball player. Hitting for power, hitting for average, catch, run, throw, being able to do those five things at an elite level. Patrick as a linebacker, play downhill as a linebacker, No. 1, to be able to drop in coverage, be active and good in coverage, be able to tackle in open space, be able to blitz, strong, with tempo and timing, and also be able to run from sideline to sideline with the agility and the speed to do that and make plays. Those five things, he’s doing it at an elite level, where some ‘backers are great downhill linebackers, but they’re not as good in coverage. Some other ‘backers are really good in coverage but not so good when it comes to downhill and playing between the tackles. I think just like Willie Mays -- to me, five facets of baseball, Willie Mays is the greatest of all-time. And Patrick Willis has a chance to be one of the all-time great linebackers, if he’s able to play at this elite level in all five facets over a long period of time."