Initial thoughts as NFC West camps open

July, 31, 2009
7/31/09
11:54
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Thought I'd pass along a few thoughts after scanning the division following the first day of full-squad practices for the Rams, Seahawks and Cardinals:

  • Reporters in St. Louis were razzing coach Steve Spagnuolo for running an easier first day than anticipated. Players were in shorts and shells. Spagnuolo promised a tough camp, but that doesn't mean he'll stage a slugfest every day.
  • The atmosphere at Cardinals camp in Flagstaff is far more lively than in past seasons. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he remembered maybe 80 fans showing up for his first camp practice two years ago. There were at least a couple thousand this time. I had trouble hearing defensive coordinator Bill Davis following the afternoon practice because fans were chanting Larry Fitzgerald's name as the all-world receiver approached. Great atmosphere.
  • Seahawks left tackle Walter Jones appeared lean and moved well in his first practice back from knee surgery, according to reporters I spoke with following practice. Patrick Kerney and Deion Branch also looked good. One day doesn't mean a whole lot, but those are encouraging signs. On the flip side, Marcus Trufant's back trouble might be minor, but missing the first day of practice following an extended layoff caught my attention.
  • The 49ers won't practice until Saturday. Players are expecting lots of fully padded practices. We'll see if coach Mike Singletary follows through. Injuries will happen either way, but if Singletary runs an overly physical camp and the team loses key players, the coach will shoulder blame, fairly or not.
That is probably all for me for Friday. Probably. Back at it Saturday.

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