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Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Around the NFC West: Kevin Kolb's health

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

At some point, the Arizona Cardinals need Kevin Kolb to prove he can hold up well enough physically to stay in the lineup.

It's less clear whether they need him to win their remaining games.

Kolb has not been consistently better than backup John Skelton. The Cardinals' defense is playing well enough to keep the team competitive. An occasional touchdown in the return game from Patrick Peterson serves as an X factor, as do the big plays on offense the Cardinals have made regardless of which quarterback is in the game. The remaining schedule -- home for Cleveland, at Cincinnati, home for Seattle -- appears manageable.

In other words, Kolb might need the Cardinals more than they need him, at least for the moment.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Kolb has met with a neurologist following his recent concussion and is awaiting results of tests to determine how quickly he might return. Urban: "(Kolb) thinks he passed his baseline test but was waiting to hear what his results were from his physical tests. He remembers the play, but not the chaos right after. Kolb said he remembered getting up and 'losing my balance a little bit.' Head athletic trainer Tom Reed told Kolb on the sideline that he didn’t think Kolb looked right."

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson has stepped up his game lately. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "When you have 11 guys on the defensive side doing that, you're going to get better. Obviously, Adrian is a talented player. To see him work like that really shows his leadership. To see him make plays in the game and be a force like he's become here lately, it also really speaks a lot for our defense and our coaches and our players."

Also from McManaman: a conversation with Larry Fitzgerald.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Fitzgerald's superstardom should not be taken for granted.

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says firing coach Steve Spagnuolo would not guarantee positive results for the Rams. Burwell: "The key to the long-term success of some potentially gifted first-time NFL head coaches is having the ability to survive their early mistakes. Whether it's mistakes with handling players, mistakes with handling personnel, mistakes with assembling a staff, mistakes with handling the media or public perceptions, some coaches are lucky enough to overcome their disasters or find someone willing to give them a second chance." Noted: The question isn't always whether a coach deserves to be fired. It's whether the organization has a better alternative.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the Rams' play-calling tendencies in the red zone and near the goal line. Sam Bradford: "It's basically all in what the defense gives us. There's times when we get down there, we get a couple blitzes on one side, and obviously you don't want to run it into those looks. The play we scored, our guys did a great job; Steven did a great job of running hard. It's easy to sit here and say we should get the ball to 'Jack' every time and let him score. But if we would've scored on a couple of passes, I think everything would've been fine."

Mike Rosenberg of the San Jose Mercury News says the San Francisco 49ers are waiting for the NFL to kick in about $150 million in stadium funding, the final step in the team's efforts to break ground on a new stadium planned for Santa Clara. Rosenberg: "The NFL owners are meeting Wednesday and will receive a briefing on the 49ers stadium but no vote is scheduled. Although the NFL is widely expected to help pay for the project, the question is when -- with the answer dictating how soon construction can start. The 49ers are competing for the funds with several teams, including the Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers and the developers of a proposed stadium in Los Angeles. The amount the team needs would tie an NFL record for stadium financing. But the 49ers are confident that they will get the league funds then complete the loan deal by the end of April."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com looks at potential problem areas for the 49ers on offense. Maiocco: "Are offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Harbaugh best using the tools the 49ers have in the passing game. Neither Michael Crabtree nor Vernon Davis was the intended the target of any passes inside the 10-yard line. Edwards has battled injuries, but he’s been a non-factor. Also, Frank Gore attempted just one run within the shadow of the goal line."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee breaks down the sacks San Francisco allowed Sunday.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks are getting good things from receiver Golden Tate.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the Rams gained a single yard on 10 snaps in goal-to-go situations Monday. Noted: Bradford completed 0 of 5 passes in those situations against Seattle. He has completed 1 of 16 passes in goal-to-go situations this season, the lowest percentage in the league.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times shared what he learned from the Seahawks' performance Monday night. O'Neil: "Seattle is a deeper team than it was a year ago. That was evident when Seattle lost cornerbacks Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond to a season-ending injury in back-to-back weeks only to have Sherman step in and excel. Now, it's the offensive line, which lost three starters over its past four games and still has managed to rush for more than 100 yards as a team in six games running. You can't say the line is playing better this week than it was before the injuries, but it hasn't plunged off the deep end, either, which is a real compliment. The Seahawks have 13 players on injured reserve, which was tied for third-most in the league entering last week's games, and still Seattle is getting better as the year progresses."

Dave Wyman of 710ESPN Seattle sees good things from Seahawks rookie corner Richard Sherman.