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Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Around the NFC West: Cards' WR plans

By Mike Sando

The Arizona Cardinals drafted receiver Michael Floyd in the first round with visions of Andre Roberts moving to the slot and flourishing there.

The plan called for Floyd to start opposite Larry Fitzgerald, allowing Roberts to join Early Doucet among the inside receivers.

Four days before the regular-season opener, Roberts remains listed as a starter on the outside. The Cardinals list Floyd as a backup. Undrafted rookie LaRon Byrd has arguably outperformed Floyd to this point. It's early -- far too early to worry about Floyd -- but the Cardinals' plans for Floyd and Roberts might not take full effect in Week 1.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Byrd is both grateful for his opportunity and confident in his ability to succeed. Urban: "After watching Byrd in the preseason, with his Fitz-like dreads and big (6-foot-4) body, it’s hard to believe someone like him at a big school like the University of Miami wouldn’t be picked. But such are circumstances like Byrd’s, after he fell off the radar of new coach Al Golden’s staff last season in Coral Gables."

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says center Lyle Sendlein is among those hoping the Cardinals reemphasize the ground game this season. Sendlein: "We haven't really done it since the Super Bowl season (2008) and maybe even before that. It should be fun; that's why we play the game. In saying that, we've had a lot of success around here through the air. But us being big nasties, we like to take over the game in the third and fourth quarter and slow down teams by running the ball."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with new Rams tackle Wayne Hunter, acquired from the New York Jets in the Jason Smith trade. Thomas: "Hunter earned the respect of some observers at the end of last season, when the Jets' hopes of making the playoffs and participating in a third straight AFC title game crumbled with three straight losses. It was Hunter who took on wide receiver Santonio Holmes in a huddle scuffle that broke out because Hunter — and undoubtedly some of his Jets' teammates — thought Holmes was dogging it in the team's season-ending loss to Miami."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tempers expectations for the Rams. Burwell: "I think they're better than Arizona, Miami, Minnesota and maybe Tampa Bay. I wouldn't be surprised if they steal one or two games at home from either Washington or the Jets (maybe both). That means five or six victories. But because the NFC West is not exactly the most daunting division in football, a larger bottle of optimism might not be out of the question."

Howard Balzer offers Rams notes, including one about recently released tight end Mike Hoomanawanui declining a chance to sign with the team's practice squad. Balzer: "Even though Hoomanawanui had played eight games in each of the 2010 and 2011 seasons, he was still practice-squad eligible. However, he elected to join the Washington Redskins' practice squad, the team the Rams play in their home opener in Week 2."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says Michael Crabtree offers more about Randy Moss' impact than on the 49ers' approach to offense this season. Crabtree on Moss: "Man, I learn so much from him. That's my dude. (He makes) me feel like I can be myself. Seeing an old guy like that, and he's been himself for so long that you ... I'm going to be myself and go out and play. You can learn from a guy like that. You don't have to change for nobody. All you have to do is be yourself and go play your game."

Also from Maiocco: Clark Haggans' adjustment to the 49ers.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers thoughts on the 49ers' depth chart, noting that the only backup tackle is starting at right guard.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times tells 710ESPN Seattle he's not yet convinced back spasms are a serious threat to Marshawn Lynch's availability against Arizona in Week 1.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com previews the Seahawks' opener at Arizona, noting that Seattle contained Fitzgerald in Week 17 -- until it mattered. Farnsworth: "After catching one pass for 1 yard in the first half, he had three catches for 44 yards in an 80-yard drive to a go-ahead TD in the third quarter; a 41-yard reception in a field-goal drive that gave the Cardinals a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter; and three catches for 46 yards in the 71-yard drive to the game-winning field goal in overtime. Fitzgerald finished the game with nine catches for 149 yards, and the season with 80 receptions for 1,411 yards, a 17.6-yard average and eight touchdowns."