NFC West: Stephen Cooper
They'll have one fewer option at fullback after naming starter Quinton Ganther inactive Sunday. Ganther has a knee injury. Michael Robinson played fullback some against the Denver Broncos in Week 2.
Also inactive for Seattle against San Diego: Nate Ness, Leroy Hill, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Chester Pitts, Russell Okung, Anthony McCoy and E.J. Wilson. Pitts could become available on the offensive line in Week 4. He has not played since undergoing microfracture knee surgery last season.
Inactive for San Diego: Ryan Mathews, Larry English, Stephen Cooper, Cam Thomas, Adam Terry, Vaughn Martin and Jyles Tucker. J.T. O'Sullivan is the third quarterback. Matthews had not been expected to play after suffering an ankle injury against Jacksonville in Week 2.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
St. Louis' first-team offense continues to mystify, but watching the Rams' 7-6 victory over San Diego last night provided a few clues. A few observations:
- First and foremost, quarterback Marc Bulger was not in sync with his receivers. He is a much better quarterback than what we saw in this game. His protection was good enough. Bulger appeared to throw early and behind his intended targets.
Bulger and Drew Bennett appeared to be reading from different playbooks at times. This can happen when the quarterback and receiver are interpreting blitzes and coverages differently. The Sporting News examined this in a 2000 story about the Rams' offense (current offensive coordinator Al Saunders was the receivers coach at the time).
- The Redskins' quarterbacks also put up shaky numbers when starting out in Saunders' offense. I pulled up the stats from an Aug. 13, 2006 exhibition game between the Redskins and Bengals.
Saunders, the Rams' new offensive coordinator, was in his first year with the Redskins at the time. Jason Campbell, Todd Collins and Mark Brunell combined to complete barely half of their passes with no touchdowns and three interceptions in that game. The Redskins also lost Clinton Portis to injury when the running back made a tackle on an interception return (perhaps Steven Jackson's holdout spared the Rams last night).
- Rams left tackle Orlando Pace needs the preseason work. Chargers backup Jyles Tucker threw Pace aside before drilling Bulger as the quarterback threw right before halftime. Bulger was shaken up. He's not accustomed to getting blasted in the back when Pace is in the lineup.
- Leonard Little's return to health gives the Rams an active defensive front. Little gave starting Chargers tackle Jeromey Clary problems. Adam Carriker also brought pressure up the middle after pushing aside Chargers left guard Kris Dielman. I spoke with Little a few days ago. "I'm going to be productive," he said. "That is my whole thing this year."
- The Chargers rested defensive starters Jamal Williams, Luis Castillo, Shawne Merriman, Stephen Cooper, Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie. That's why I would have expected more from the Rams' passing offense, even without Torry Holt. The communication between quarterback and receiver must improve.
- This was not a case of the Rams failing to hold up physically. Their starting units held up reasonably well while working against lots of San Diego backups.
- Darren Sproles, the Chargers' 181-pound running back, took out Rams defensive end Chris Long with a block at the knees. Sproles appeared to be the only blocker assigned to Long on the play.
- Long makes hustle plays. He accelerated out of the backfield to take down a runner after an 8-yard gain. We are not seeing Long making big plays yet. Without regard for draft status or paycheck values, it's tough to say the Rams are better right now with Long on the field. Backup James Hall appears somewhat rejuvenated this summer. I expect Long to improve as he plays more.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike SandoMatt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee sorts through the quarterback situation with the 49ers. He struggles to see the logic in how the repetitions are distributed. Barrows: "Nolan said today that O'Sullivan has been in the quarterback competition all along. But because there aren't enough repetitions to go around in training camp, Smith and Hill have been getting all the snaps. Which is a little bit like saying there's a third-party candidate in this election, but there was no room to put him on the ballot."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat also tackles the 49ers' quarterback situation. Maiocco: "In all honesty, the offense could be further along with O'Sullivan at quarterback RIGHT NOW because he spent last season in the system. But the goal is to get the quarterback on the field who is going to be more productive during the regular season -- and not the first week of training camp."
Radio talker Rush Limbaugh confirms his interest in purchasing the Rams while acknowledging the team is not technically for sale. Limbaugh: "Look, of course I am serious. I have told people for many years I'd love to own or be a part of an ownership group of a National Football League team, and over the years I've gotten to know a whole lot of owners in the NFL. I've made no secret about it. So, sure. I can't believe the question."
Bob Baum of the Associated Press says Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart is trying to shake his party-boy image. The Leinart story angle -- specifically whether the photos of Leinart partying on his own time suggest he's not serious about his job -- strikes me as beyond overblown. Yes, image is important for a starting NFL quarterback. But it's not like someone snapped those photos the night before a game in Week 8. These were offseason pictures of Leinart enjoying himself. Big deal.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Seahawks center Chris Spencer is suffering from a sore back. Spencer did appear to wrench the back during the first practice. Spencer is also dealing with shoulder injuries.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer shares a hilarious quote from Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, via fullback Leonard Weaver. Weaver was singing gospel songs during practice when Holmgren asked him to stop. Weaver: "I was back there singing a gospel song and he was like, 'Leonard, stop it. I don't want to feel good right now, I'm trying to be mean.'" Weaver is having a strong camp. Holmgren, who was with the 49ers for the Tom Rathman era, said Weaver is as talented as any fullback he has coached.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports on mounting injury concerns on the Cardinals' offensive line. That is one area Arizona cannot afford to take many hits. Third-team center Scott Peters left practice on a cart after injuring a knee. Starting center Al Johnson is already out with a knee injury, though the team thinks he'll be OK for the regular season. Somers also reports on contract offers to the team's assistant coaches.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com links to a YouTube video showing Anquan Boldin's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, hoping for a reconciliation between the team and his disgruntled client. Boldin has already said he plans to sign elsewhere once the final three years of his deal expire.
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News reports on the 49ers' use of former White House press secretary Ari Fleisher to advise players on media relations. I applaud Brown's reference to Gore -- Frank, not Al -- early in the story. That was a must.
The Associated Press says former 49ers linebacker Derek Smith could start while Stephen Cooper serves a four-game suspension to open the season. The 49ers reaped salary-cap savings after parting with Smith this offseason. Smith, 33, had played the "Ted" linebacker position for the 49ers (the "Ted" does the dirty work, freeing up the "Mike" to tackle people and generally create mayhem). Jeff Ulbrich is the new "Ted" for San Francisco.