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Around the NFC West: Carville vs. Devaney

3/23/2011

ESPN's Adam Schefter says Rams general manager Billy Devaney took offense to James Carville's comments to NFL owners comparing the Republican presidential field to the NFC West. An executive from another NFL team did tell me the Rams weren't all that amused by Carville's wisecrack. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello responded to Schefter's tweet by noting that both laughed and it was all in fun. If you know Devaney, however, it's easy to imagine him not letting such remarks slide. He's pugnacious and unafraid to speak his mind. Remember back in September 2009 when ESPN's Mark Schlereth, a player Devaney scouted years ago, said the Rams were in shambles? Devaney went on the radio and fired back with both barrels. He called Schlereth names and the team was well on its way to turning things around. The Rams went 1-15 that season, but they were indeed in the early stages of turning around the franchise.

Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams running back Steven Jackson commended students for participating in a reading drive. Jackson told students reading helped him overcome a fear of public speaking. Jackson: "Thanks to some good teachers and my mom and dad, I overcame the fear and became an avid reader. My passion for literacy has continued."

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat shows where Alex Smith and Shaun Hill, among others, measured up at the 26-27-60 formula for quarterbacks. The formula favors college quarterbacks with at least a 26 on the Wonderlic, 27 college starts and a 60 percent completion rate. Smith hit in two of three categories. Hill hit in none. Drew Brees and Sam Bradford were among those hitting the mark in all three categories, but so was Max Hall.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the new rules for kickoff returns could help the 49ers. Maiocco: "The 49ers were the worst team in the league last season on kickoffs. Their return teams ranked 29th in field position -- both in returns and coverage. Moreover, the 49ers have sustained some significant injuries the past two seasons on kickoffs. Jeff Ulbrich's career ended in 2009 when he sustained a concussion while trying to break a wedge. Dominique Zeigler (torn knee ligament), Will James (concussion) and Phillip Adams (broken ankle) saw their seasons end with major injuries on kickoffs."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee passes along comments from 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh regarding top quarterbacks in the 2011 NFL draft.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt declined to discuss reports suggesting Arizona could have interest in Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb. Somers: "I would be surprised if the Cardinals were willing to give up the fifth overall pick in the draft. If the Eagles hold out for that, I don't think a deal will be done."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the team supports the new rules for kickoffs, according to club president Michael Bidwill. Bidwill also offered thoughts on receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who is heading into the final year of his contract. Bidwill: "He’s been very clear that he wants to be a Cardinal for life. We’ve been very clear that we want to take the necessary steps to make sure that happens. We’ll get it done. I’m confident of that."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times offers thoughts on whether the Seahawks should bring back quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. O'Neil: "It's not an easy decision by any means, and if you built an argument around not bringing Hasselbeck back and pointed to his performance in early December as the reason, I could say I disagree, but it would be tough for me to say you're flat-out wrong. You would just have a different assessment. I just think it's so hard to find a guy capable of running your offense at a high level that it's much worse to pull the plug too early as opposed to too late. Re-signing a starting quarterback in the NFL isn't cheap. Letting one with tread on the tires walk away can prove way more costly, though."

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle says the Seahawks' return specialist, Leon Washington, has come out against rules changes governing kickoffs. Washington: "It's going to take a lot of strategy for the coaches to come up with a plan for how to take advantage of the opportunities you do have," he said. "I think as a returner you have to really study the game, study the kickers and try to approach the game from that angle. Hopefully it doesn't go through but if it does, special teams coaches have to really, really prepare themselves and really game plan around how to take advantage of when you do have opportunities because early on in the season when kickers' legs are feeling good and strong, they're going to be kicking out of the end zone. But later in the season, there's going to be a few chances where you do have opportunities."

Also from Henderson: NFL Network's Jamie Dukes wonders why the Seahawks haven't showed interest in Matt Leinart. Coach Pete Carroll would know Leinart better than most would know him, so no one can accuse Seattle of making an uninformed decision.