NFC West: Lorenzo Neal

Around the NFC West: Bridges could start

December, 11, 2009
12/11/09
9:46
AM ET
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Jeremy Bridges could start at left tackle for the Cardinals even though longtime starter Mike Gandy was back at practice Thursday. Gandy is in the final year of his contract.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says Russ Grimm has made a big difference as the Cardinals' offensive line coach. Bickley: "He inherited a mess left by former coach Dennis Green, who cut Pete Kendall on his way to training camp; drafted Alex Stepanovich and Nick Leckey; hired a former player as offensive-line coach (Everett Lindsay), even though he had no coaching experience; and insisted on playing Leonard Davis out of position. Grimm immediately simplified the scheme and instilled a sense of loyalty and toughness. Prior to the win against the Vikings, the starting unit had played in 27 consecutive regular-season games, and that doesn't happen by accident. After rushing for 100 or more yards just once in the first seven games, the Cardinals have surpassed that benchmark four times -- all of them victories -- in the past five games."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals-49ers matchup highlights the importance of a franchise quarterback.

Also from Urban: The Cardinals' decisions to rest Anquan Boldin, Kurt Warner and Gandy have paid off.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says quarterback Matt Hasselbeck ran pass routes and caught the ball from receiver Deion Branch after practice. Hasselbeck: "It gives the receivers a different [perspective], you know, realize what helps them and doesn’t help them. Definitely for quarterbacks it gives you a [perspective] when you’re running full speed where you really appreciate the ball and where you really wouldn’t appreciate the ball."

Jose Miguel Romero of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks are bracing for Texans receiver Andre Johnson.

Also from Romero: Hasselbeck says he's feeling much better physically.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Deon Butler's clutch reception from Hasselbeck against the 49ers reflected a developing rapport between receiver and quarterback. Hasselbeck: "Deon and I tried earlier this year and missed each other a little bit," Hasselbeck said. "I go back to the first third down we had against Arizona at home, we had an opportunity to score. There were other times we had opportunities and we just were off a little bit, so it felt good to hit that one. Obviously it was a critical one and hopefully we can keep going that way."

Matt Pitman of 710ESPN Seattle offers audio links to interviews with Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and cornerback Marcus Trufant.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers highs and lows for the Rams over the last decade. Torry Holt emerges as the team's top player during that time. A game against the Broncos in 2000 qualified as the best season opener. Thomas: "The Gateway City hadn’t played host to Monday Night Football for 14 seasons, or since Bill Bidwill and the Big Red called St. Louis home. But with Commissioner Paul Tagliabue on hand, the defending Super Bowl-champion Rams won a 41-36 track meet over Denver. The Rams scored three TDs of 72 yards or longer. One of them, an 80-yard catch and run by Az-Zahir Hakim, became a signature play of the Greatest Show on Turf. Hakim received an escort down the sidelines by Torry Holt, with the two laughing and joking with each other along the way. It looked like so much fun."

Also from Thomas: Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, Clemson running back C.J. Spiller and Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant stand out as players the Rams might need to consider drafting.

More from Thomas: Rams fullback Mike Karney is eager to get back on the field after recovering from a neck injury. Of his injury: "I've put my neck and head in way tougher hits. But it goes to show that it can happen to anybody. The specialist told me it was like lightning striking. My head and neck were at the wrong angle hitting the defender ... and it just caught me." Karney sought advice from former NFL fullback Lorenzo Neal.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Rams punter Donnie Jones is enjoying another strong season.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the Cardinals are expecting plenty of Frank Gore on Monday night even though the 49ers have all but phased out the running back in recent weeks. Barrows: "It's almost as if teams, especially division teams, aren't quite believing what they're seeing with the 49ers' new, pass-first attack. For the last three seasons, Gore has been the only offensive player who demanded respect from defenses. It doesn't appear that Alex Smith, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Josh Morgan and Delanie Walker have earned it yet."

Also from Barrows: The Cardinals could have a more balanced offense than the 49ers have shown recently. Mike Singletary: "They're really trying to focus more on a balanced attack. They're not there yet, but they're trying to focus more on a balanced attack. Both of those running backs are running hard. They're running downhill and they're doing a good job being physical, finishing their runs. I think that's where they are right now as an offense."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat says the 49ers have attempted passes on 73.6 percent of their plays over the last two weeks. Maiocco: "(Coordinator Jimmy) Raye said during the exhibition season that he wanted the 49ers to run the ball 60 percent of the time. But against Jacksonville and Seattle -- games in which the 49ers never trailed by more than a touchdown -- the 49ers turned into a shotgun, passing attack."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with ESPN's Ron Jaworski for an update on Smith's progress. Jaworski: "Some of those throws have a knee-lock, and it's kind of driving that shoulder up in the air. So you lose a little bit of your velocity. But he has gotten better. It's not as consistent and as noticeable as it was a couple of years ago."

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers guard Adam Snyder uses about 27,000 feet of athletic tape over the course of a year. Snyder: "That's crazy. That's an interesting way of looking at it. It makes me feel bad using all that tape, but I need it. It keeps my joints intact for the most part. I haven't had many injuries in my hands. ... I have to do it for safety, to keep my wrists and fingers safe. Once you lose those as a lineman, you're in trouble. That's how I make my money, using my hands."

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