Around the NFC West: Rams RB option?

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks former Tampa Bay running back Derrick Ward could make sense as a backup with the Rams. Ward and Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo were with the Giants years ago. Thomas: "To me, this one makes a lot of sense, particularly since Spags has a history with the guy. Keep in mind, during the free agency period following the '08 season -- Spags' first offseason with the team -- he called Ward during free agency to see if he'd be interested in coming here. Now maybe Ward still won't want to come here to back up Jackson, but it's better than not having a job."

Also from Thomas: Troy Aikman speaks from experience when he says the Rams need to upgrade Sam Bradford's supporting cast. Aikman: "You know, Sam, he's going to get hit. That's a (Rams) team that hasn't been very good. They've got to get better players around him. You want to protect him. You don't want to see him get banged up. But yet if he goes through this experience with a team that isn't very good, then he can take at least some consolation in knowing that, 'OK, I'm learning. I'm figuring this thing out. And I'm not holding back a team that has high expectations.' I think that's a positive. But I think you've got to kind of monitor that thing as a coach and make sure that you're not losing this kid because it can happen if he's not having some successes along the way."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com expects Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree to be ready for the regular-season opener after both participated in practice at full speed Tuesday following injury rehabs.

Also from Maiocco: 49ers quarterback Alex Smith feels empowered by the fact that he has earned his place in the starting lineup. Maiocco: "His body language has been different this offseason. He is much more assertive."

More from Maiocco: He would be surprised if the 49ers released Nate Davis. I would put Davis on the bubble given how strongly coach Mike Singletary criticized Davis' work ethic, particularly if the 49ers can find another player more likely to contribute in 2010.

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Singletary is more comfortable with Smith than with his backups. Singletary: "I feel good about Alex Smith. I feel very good about where he's at. I think we have to do a great job of protecting our starting quarterback. When it comes to David Carr, I think David Carr is a guy that I could grow to feel comfortable with. I think he's a guy that has a good command of the offense. I think he understands, I just think that he's still thinking a lot and he's still having to get the rhythm and all the other things, but I think David Carr, I could grow to feel comfortable with him."

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Smith showed anger during a recent practice, another indication the quarterback is more comfortable. Smith: "When I was young and kind of thrown out there, I felt like I still had to earn it," Smith said. "Even though I was the starting quarterback, I still felt like I had to earn my place. There's no hesitation for me now. I've gone through a lot. This is the opportunity I've been waiting for and I'm going to take advantage of it."

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says the 49ers' coaches have high praise for rookie linebacker NaVorro Bowman. Lynch: "Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said the Penn State grad can correct a mistake almost instantly, and Bowman, with his resonate voice and strong demeanor, seems to possess a wisdom well beyond his years."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says former Seahawks cornerback Josh Wilson is happy to be heading home to Maryland as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. Wilson: "I was shocked. It’s a business decision. But for me, it’s the best business decision I could have gotten."

Also from Farnsworth: notes from Seahawks practice, including one about veteran safety Lawyer Milloy singing "Kumbaya" on the sideline after an on-field fight.

Rod Mar of seahawks.com offers photos from the team's recent trip to Minnesota, including one of Matt Hasselbeck and Brett Favre catching up before the game.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Leroy Hill's paycut with Seattle represented a best-case scenario for the linebacker because the team would have released him pending additional league sanction for off-field troubles.

Also from O'Neil: Roy Lewis could be the big winner for Seattle after the team traded Wilson.

Percy Allen of the Seattle Times passes along comments from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider regarding the team's recent moves. They said the Wilson trade came down to the Ravens' need for a cornerback and the Seahawks' belief in some of their young corners, notably Walter Thurmond. Schneider also pointed to the fact that Wilson has the potential to leave as a free agent after the 2010 season. Left unsaid: why the Seahawks weren't interested in paying Wilson beyond 2010, and why they were willing to part with a starter for nothing in return this season. Looks like Leon Washington could be returning kicks.

John Morgan of Field Gulls sees no upside to the Wilson trade. Morgan: "Seattle just turned what every team hopes a second-round pick can become into a fifth-round pick. The Seahawks secondary is young and deep. The recovery of Walter Thurmond and emergence of Roy Lewis means Seattle is dealing from a position of strength. That, Wilson's looming contract, and a narrow commitment to 'building through the draft' is the justification for this move. A realistic evaluation of Wilson's talent and the true value of a fifth-round pick is the damning reality. Seattle is worse today than it was yesterday. Much worse. And for what? Another Owen Schmitt, Will Herring, David Kirtman or Jeb Huckeba?" I also have trouble seeing how the Seahawks improved by subtracting one of their better corners.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says 2009 second-round draft choice Cody Brown has much to prove heading into the Cardinals' final exhibition game of 2010. Somers: "One high draft pick who need to show something is outside linebacker Cody Brown, a second-round pick in 2009. Brown missed his rookie year with a dislocated wrist and hasn't made an impact this preseason."

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says undrafted free agent Stephen Williams is looking like a potential steal for the Cardinals. McManaman: "The Cardinals had him rated as a potential third-round pick, but they didn't draft him, either. Instead, they were the one team that reached out and offered him a free-agent contract with a chance to make the team. And it appears he has done that."

Also from McManaman: Derek Anderson will start at quarterback for the Cardinals on Thursday night, leaving Matt Leinart as the backup again. Also: "Tight end Ben Patrick practiced for a second consecutive day and did well in his return from a dislocated kneecap suffered early in training camp. (Coach Ken) Whisenhunt said Patrick will get limited playing time Thursday but he's encouraged by what he's seen from Patrick."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals are making Greg Toler work for the starting job at right cornerback. Toler: "They just don’t want you to be complacent. They don’t want you just thinking you’re going to come in and slide into the position because then you might just slide back on what you do."

Also from Urban: Whisenhunt has long wanted an indoor practice facility, but for now he'll have to settle for holding occasional practices at Arizona State University.