Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Around the NFC West: Rams hurting
By Mike Sando
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says injuries are taking a heavy toll on the Rams, leaving coach Steve Spagnuolo to take solace in that fact that the sun came up Monday. Thomas on quarterback Marc Bulger: "Had he suffered a torn rotator cuff, that might have ended his season. Nonetheless, sources said he couldn't lift his throwing arm Monday. And just to make sure there's no tear, he may seek a second opinion from James Andrews, the nationally known orthopedic surgeon who has offices in Birmingham, Ala., and Gulf Breeze, Fla."
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with new Rams quarterback Kyle Boller. Burwell: "So now he gets his chance to show us whether he's still the same Kyle Boller the Ravens deemed unworthy, or if he's the second coming of Jim Plunkett, who resurrected his NFL life in Oakland after a disappointing start in New England. The clock is ticking on this opportunity, which might be Boller's last best shot at altering his NFL profile."
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Craig Dahl has been up to the challenge as a backup safety for the Rams. Spagnuolo: "It was nice to know that you could put a guy in there with limited reps. He made some plays for us."
Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch polls Thomas and others as to what Boller's ascension to the lineup could mean for the Rams. Thomas: "Because of his arm strength, the Rams could take more deep shots and/or try more deep shots with Boller at quarterback. And because of his foot speed, you could see more rollouts or passes with him on the move. But where he goes with the ball may be influenced just as much by who’s out there at wide receiver, particularly if Laurent Robinson misses a couple of weeks with his ankle injury."
Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch appreciates Steven Jackson as one of the NFL's elite players.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Rams receiver Donnie Avery should be able to play against the 49ers despite injured ribs. X-rays were negative.
The 49ers' Web site provides a transcript from Mike Singletary's news conference Monday. On the final play against Minnesota: "The bottom line is no, we were not in a prevent defense. We were in a defense where we were going after the quarterback. We did not get the quarterback down, he threw the ball [and] they made a play. Simple as that."
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers have returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown in three of their last 14 games. The team has yet to win one of those games. Also: "Greg Lewis' touchdown catch came on his first reception as a Viking, and on his fourth play of the game."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says ankle problems keep forcing Frank Gore to miss games. Barrows: "Rookie Glen Coffee will start in Gore's place, and there's a chance that another rookie, Kory Sheets, will be elevated from the practice squad."
Also from Barrows: Coffee's extensive work during the exhibition season could help him, quarterback Shaun Hill theorizes. Barrows: "The 49ers' strategy this year is to attack defenses with their rushing attack early in the hope that it will wear down the opposition in the second half of games. That plan appeared to be working early in the third quarter Sunday when Coffee broke consecutive runs of 12 and 13 yards on a drive that led to a 37-yard Joe Nedney field goal. But Singletary noted that any momentum gained on that series was dashed when Vikings rookie Percy Harvin took the ensuing kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals will practice Wednesday and Thursday during their bye week as coach Ken Whisenhunt tries to figure out the best way to get his team going. Somers: "The Cardinals are 0-2 at home, after losing only four games there in the previous two seasons. Three of the next four games are on the road, and home games against the Vikings and Packers remain."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com wonders whether the Cardinals can overcome serious offensive mistakes. Urban: "We all know how badly the (Tim) Hightower fumble at the Colts’ 5 hurt, but on the drive before -- which ended on a Neil Rackers field goal and a 3-0 Cards’ lead -- the Cardinals were at the Indianapolis 20 with a third-and-1. (Kurt) Warner tried to go down the field to (Larry) Fitzgerald. Anquan Boldin was wide open on the left side of the play (he was demonstrably angry right after the incompletion, and was lucky he didn’t get a penalty when he ripped off his helmet on the field) about two yards past the first-down marker. The two drives combined maybe should have turned into two touchdowns. But when they didn’t, maybe it takes something away from the defense."
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com updates the Seahawks' injury situation. The team doesn't know when Matt Hasselbeck will return.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times revisits the shaky replay reversal that went against the Seahawks in Week 3. The referee overturned a Bears fumble deep in Seahawks territory. Coach Jim Mora: "The ruling on the field was fumble. Every replay that I've seen in my eyes is inconclusive and the rule states that if it's inconclusive, then the ruling on the field stands, but I have not had all the views that the official making the call had. So he saw it differently than I did. He saw it differently. It was a big play in the game."
Also from O'Neil: The Seahawks' decision to have Deion Branch run the ball on third-and-1 surprised everyone but the Bears.
More from O'Neil: Mora says he overreacted when he blasted kicker Olindo Mare, who remains with the team after missing two field goals during a 25-19 defeat to the Bears.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Mora discussed his overreaction during a team meeting. Mora: "His kickoffs were fabulous. Would I have liked for him to make those two kicks? Yeah. But I wouldn’t like him to make them anymore than he’d like to make them."
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says it's unfair to expect Mora to handle postgame news conferences as well as Mike Holmgren handled them. Boling: "I doubt there’ll be any significant damage done to the psyche of Mare (a veteran), or the team’s respect for Mora. Remember San Francisco coach Mike Singletary last year, dropping his pants at halftime to get his team’s attention, and then singling out tight end Vernon Davis? The result in Singletary’s case was that the team responded, and Davis is a more productive player."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the team is bracing for Peyton Manning in Week 4. Mora used to attend Manning's games when Manning was in high school. Mora: "He was just big. He was fast. He was smarter. He had a whip for an arm. Made great decisions. It was a joke watching him play against these guys."
Also from Farnsworth: a point-by-point review of the Seahawks' defeat to the Bears. On Julius Jones: "So this is how the one-step-and-go running style is supposed to work in the new zone-blocking scheme. Jones averaged 5.2 yards on 19 carries to finish with 98 rushing yards. He also scored the Seahawks’ only touchdown, by taking a short pass from (Seneca) Wallace and running through an attempted tackle on his 39-yard score. Jones ran with determination (he was stopped for negative yards only once), and he also made good decisions (he had runs of 20, 15, 16 and 14 yards)."