- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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A link to the latest NFC West chat transcript, plus one newly addressed subject per division team, not appearing in the transcript:
Chris from Fresno, Calif., thought the San Francisco 49ers' offense looked "pathetic" in the preseason opener. "Should 49ers fans be concerned?" he asks.
Mike Sando: Preseason final scores are pretty much meaningless. How players perform while learning a new offense matters more, but it's too early for panic. You can bet the 49ers will be determined to improve upon their showing against New Orleans. If they look the same or worse, they'll be disappointed and they'll hear about it, but they'll still have time to figure out things before the regular season. If I were the 49ers, I'd be more concerned about losing a key player to injury, particularly a quarterback, than incurring criticisms from those who complain about paying full price for meaningless games, only to analyze those games as if they were worth every penny.
William from Oklahoma City has heard the term "gunslinger" attached to Kevin Kolb, triggering visions of careless play and turnovers. "I don't think the Cards have the defense to cover more turnovers and win games," he writes.
Mike Sando: The gunslinger talk stems at least in part from Kolb's swashbuckling ways off the field. Tales of Kolb disarming a rattlesnake with a boot and killing it with a firearm contribute to the image. There is also this: 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions over the past two seasons, and more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (11) overall for his career. Kolb thinks the Cardinals' offensive system will allow him to exploit coverages more precisely than he could running a West Coast system in Philadelphia. A few numbers to consider: Kolb has thrown interceptions on 3.5 percent of pass attempts over the past two seasons. That compares to 4.9 percent for Alex Smith over the same span and 2.7 percent for Kurt Warner in 2009, his final season with Arizona.
William from St. Louis thinks the Rams could wind up keeping seven wide receivers on their initial 53-man roster, or possibly spread across the active roster and practice squad. He sees Danario Alexander, Mike Sims-Walker, Danny Amendola, Donnie Avery, Austin Pettis and Greg Salas making it, with Mardy Gilyard beating out Brandon Gibson thanks to superior special-teams value.
Mike Sando: Gibson has worked with the starters all through camp. Teammates have raved about his approach to the game. Gibson will almost certainly be part of the 53-man group. Teams keeping seven receivers generally do so when injuries force their hand. Perhaps a starting wideout is injured, so the team carries another one as insurance while the starter heals. The Rams do have some flexibility at the position because they'll be primarily a one-back team. They do not need to carry a pure fullback on the roster. They could have one of their tight ends, Lance Kendricks or Michael Hoomanawanui, shift into the fullback spot on an as-needed basis.
Back to which receivers will earn roster spots. Amendola makes it for sure. I think both draft picks, Pettis and Salas, will stick on that initial 53. Sims-Walker will make it and could start. Then it comes down to health. Injuries have a way of solving these dilemmas. If Alexander and Avery are healthy and playing at a high level, the team has a choice to make. Avery has practiced well the last couple days, but can he stay on the field? Gilyard has had his moments in camp. I'm just not sure whether the Rams will find a spot for him.
Trenchbroom from Spokane, Wash., wonders what position besides offensive line figures to be most improved for the Seattle Seahawks in 2011.
Mike Sando: Wide receiver is a good place to start after the team added Sidney Rice in free agency. The Seahawks have caught the ball exceptionally well this summer. They now have two big targets at receiver. They have a pass-catching tight end (Zach Miller) to give opposing secondaries more to think about. And if they get any consistency from Golden Tate this season, that would further elevate the group. Seattle was better than expected at receiver last season after trading Deion Branch and releasing T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Expectations are higher heading into the upcoming season, and for good reason. The talent is better.
All for now.