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Friday, October 30, 2009
Around the NFC West: Unconventional Cardinals

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt prefers being aggressive to playing it safe, one reason he called pass plays while leading the Giants in Week 7. Whisenhunt: "When we're aggressive, when we go after things, it gives us a better chance to be successful. I think our players seem to rise to the challenge a lot better."

Also from Somers: The Cardinals have received 24-hour blackout extensions three times in four home games this season despite improved local TV ratings.

More from Somers: The Cardinals apparently do not plan to wear white uniforms Sunday despite posting a strong record when wearing them recently.

More yet from Somers: Tackles Mike Gandy and Levi Brown played relatively well against the Giants. I thought center Lyle Sendlein threw some good blocks as well, particularly in the run game.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com thinks the Vikings-Cardinals game Dec. 6 could be flexed into prime time on NBC. That move cannot be made until Nov. 22.

Also from Urban: The Cardinals' third-down defense has been good enough for linebacker Karlos Dansby to yell "See you in three" between series. Urban: "The Cardinals have put together nine three-and-outs for the opposition the past two games, and their third-down defense has been outstanding. The Cards have allowed just 24-of-84 third downs to be converted this season, with a 28.6 percent mark that is third in the NFL."

Pete McElroy of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals are guarding against a letdown as they head into a softer part of their schedule. Their next five opponents have a combined record of 7-24.

Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 takes a position-by-position look at the Cardinals and Panthers. He gives Carolina the edge at running back, tight end and along the offensive line.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's injured ribs feel "tight" and "sticky" as they heal.

Also from Farnsworth: a look at what Marcus Trufant went through in rehabilitating a back injury. Trufant: "I had some long days -- some long, hard, rough days. Not really being around the guys as much and not being on the field, it’s rough. It’s kind of a mental game that you’ve got to play with yourself. You’ve just got to be strong and you’ve just got to know there is some light at the end of the tunnel."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Lofa Tatupu's season-ending surgery will hurt the Seahawks' defense, but the unit cannot blame injuries for its inconsistencies. Coordinator Gus Bradley: "Offensively, there are some injuries that have taken place that maybe hurt their consistency. I can't sit here and talk to you and say those same things."

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Hasselbeck practiced fully Thursday after taking a slower approach earlier in the week.

John Morgan of Field Gulls thinks Tatupu became less effective after trying to bulk up. The Seahawks listed Tatupu at 238 pounds as a rookie. They list him at 242 pounds now.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams will probably be looking for a new quarterback during the offseason. Coats: "The franchise hasn't used its first-round draft pick on a quarterback since 1964, when it selected Utah State's Bill Munson seventh overall. It hasn't taken a QB on the first day of the draft since 1996, when it chose Michigan State's Tony Banks in the second round."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams receiver Ruvell Martin, who is hoping to rebound from a hamstring injury. Also, Quincy Butler will probably replace Bradley Fletcher in the lineup at cornerback. Coordinator Ken Flajole: ""Quincy's done a nice job for us. Now, he hasn't gotten all the reps that the other guys have because we had some people in front of him. We've had some injuries there, so he's getting a chance to step up. He's done a nice job this week and hopefully he'll continue and play like a seasoned vet on Sunday."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree will finally get to run in Indianapolis -- not at the combine, but against the Colts. Also, Takeo Spikes might not play much even if he's healthy enough to start. Barrows: "How much the 'Ted' linebacker plays against the Colts, however, depends on how often Indianapolis goes with three wide receivers. Spikes usually is the first linebacker to come off the field on passing downs and when teams go three-wide, the 49ers bring in an extra defensive back."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat checks in with Crabtree and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye for a look at the 49ers' offense. Raye says quarterback Alex Smith is more comfortable than predecessor Shaun Hill when throwing to all areas of the field. Smith has a stronger arm, in other words.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News provides a transcript to Raye's interview session.

Also from Brown: Twelve players have started at quarterback for the 49ers since the Colts drafted Peyton Manning. Who could forget Chris Weinke?

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle looks at the personnel adjustments the 49ers will make against the Colts' offense.