Thursday, November 5, 2009
Around the NFC West: Same Seattle line?
By Mike Sando
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the team could start the same five offensive linemen in back-to-back games for the first time since Week 2. So much for continuity. Sean Locklear, Brandon Frye, Kyle Williams, Damion McIntosh, Rob Sims, Mansfield Wrotto, Steve Vallos, Chris Spencer, Max Unger and Ray Willis have started on the line for Seattle this season. It wasn't always this way. Chris Gray started all but one game on the Seahawks' line from 2000 through 2007. Robbie Tobeck started every game from 2001 through 2005. Steve Hutchinson started every game from 2003 through 2005. Walter Jones started just about every game from 1998 through 2007.
Also from Farnsworth: The Seahawks want to take a longer look at running back Louis Rankin, whose speed intrigues the coaching staff. Farnsworth: "Pressed a bit, Rankin said he ran the 40 in 4.4 seconds -- in the rain -- during his workout with the Seahawks."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Locklear probably will not start on the Seahawks' offensive line in Week 9. Also, Deion Branch had this to say about his post-touchdown comments telling the world where he could be found: "I've been accepting my role. If I wanted to start something, I would have done it in minicamp. That's not me. I wouldn't say those type of things. Me and management, we talked about it. We both understood what was what. They told me what was going on in preseason. I understood that going into this season."
Also from O'Neil: At least the Seahawks aren't the Lions. Has it come to this?
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com checks in with Rankin, who opened the University of Washington's 2007 game against Washington State with an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp: "He has very good speed and hits the hole very fast. He does have some background in the zone run game that shows us some chances to hit that hole fast and get a big run for us."
Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune says Sims worked some at left tackle in case Locklear isn't ready to play even as a backup.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic quotes Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett this way: "You usually don't win a game on Sunday. You usually win the games Wednesday, Thursday, Friday in practice. I'm just trying to get my guys to understand that you can't just turn it on on Sunday."
Also from Somers: a look at issues facing the Cardinals in the passing game. Larry Fitzgerald: "I've seen my fair share of coverages, but we're not using any excuses; we've got to find solutions. I haven't played great, by any stretch of the imagination. The teams that we play against ... they watch tape like everybody else does. They want to make us go on long drives, and when you make long drives you have to make tough third-down catches. We understand that and we have to deal with it."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com found one guy who doesn't have a problem with Tim Hightower leading NFL running backs in receptions. "You can control the ball, it’s a high-percentage pass, and as long as it keeps the offense going, I don’t think anyone should complain," Larry Centers said.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo plans to hang out locally over the weekend as the team observes its bye week. Spagnuolo: "My wife and I would like to stay here and enjoy St. Louis. You don’t get to do that during the season. So we’ll be in town. I’m sure we’ll find some places to eat and just relax a little bit."
Also from Coats: The Rams' tight ends are carrying more of the receiving load than expected.
More from Coats: "I like the Rams’ future, because I think they’re going about things the right way. That is, they’re not pulling off desperate moves now to try to win a relatively meaningless game or two but hamstringing themselves down the road. They’re being patient and prudent, and I believe that approach will pay off in the long run."
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says Spagnuolo's consistency is a strength.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams quarterback Marc Bulger has come under fire for sliding short of a first down on a third-and-6 play against the Lions. Bulger is an undersized quarterback with durability concerns.
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says the Rams' progress isn't obvious from afar. Spagnuolo on the first half of his first season as an NFL head coach: "There were some struggles, there were some good things, but we have built something. We talked this morning on the foundation we wanted to build. There is some trust, there is mutual respect, there is unity in the team. I think more than anything, we take that away."
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Steven Jackson has become a leader on the Rams. I agree. Jackson has set a standard for teammates. He has bought into what Spagnuolo is teaching. Without Jackson onboard, Spagnuolo's job would be much tougher.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the newly added Chris Patrick will back up both tackle spots for the 49ers. Barrows: "Patrick said he played on both the left and right sides at Nebraska and also has played both positions in preseason. He has not played in a regular-season game."
Also from Barrows: Titans coach Jeff Fisher thinks the 49ers are on the right track philosophically.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers expect Parys Haralson's production to pick up as the 49ers face fewer teams that favor max-protection schemes. Coach Mike Singletary: "Max protection is one of the main things that's happened for all of our guys. But we'll still find a way to get there."
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers' run defense faces a tough challenge against the Titans' Chris Johnson. Fisher: "To have played teams like Atlanta and St. Louis and Minnesota and be where they are against the run is impressive. "That's not a misleading statistic. They're very sound, and they play well." What, no mention of the Seattle or Arizona ground games?