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Thursday, September 18, 2008
Around the NFC West: Advice for Rams


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch calls Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck a "treat" on media conference calls. Thomas follows an item on Seattle's receivers with Hasselbeck's observations on the Rams' defensive problems. Hasselbeck thinks the Rams get in trouble trying to disguise coverages. Of course, Hasselbeck would probably prefer opposing defenses to telegraph their intentions.

Also from Thomas: Dane Looker, suddenly a starting receiver, keeps defying the odds.

More from Thomas: Things have gotten ugly in a hurry at Rams Park, where ownership has already made cryptic statements about jobs being on the line.

Dan Brown of 49ers Hot Read compares Manny Lawson to other first-round picks, with special attention to the fact Lawson was limited to special teams in Week 2.

Also from Brown: Packers coach Mike McCarthy, a former offensive coordinator in San Francisco, never would have played Alex Smith as early as the 49ers played him, but that wasn't his call.

Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers says coach Mike Nolan is being "secretive" about the extent of Jonas Jennings' injury. Barry Sims gets the start at right tackle this week. Jennings has more talent, but Sims has been a more consistent player.

Also from Maiocco: The Lions heap praise on J.T. O'Sullivan.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News Democrat says the Rams are on pace to allow 80 sacks this season. The team record is 59.

Also from Korte: Rams players know the stakes are high, particularly for coach Scott Linehan. Looker says players must step up. 

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle relays Jon Kitna's high praise for O'Sullivan. Kitna: "I've never been around a person who can throw the ball as firmly and as accurately as he can with as quick of a release. He looks like he's in a situation where he'd be lucky to get a 5-yard throw off, and he can uncork a 20-yard throw with some velocity on it."

Also from FitzGerald: An injury update. Also, Nate Clements concedes to making a "mental error" in drawing a 15-yard penalty for celebrating Patrick Willis' touchdown at Seattle.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Kitna absorbed 114 sacks in two seasons under Mike Martz. O'Sullivan is on pace for 96 this season.

Also from Barrows: Jennings has missed 27 starts to injury since signing a lucrative free-agent deal with the 49ers in 2005. Barrows: "Coach Mike Nolan acknowledged Wednesday that it was prudent of general manager Scot McCloughan to acquire Sims. Considering Jennings' injury history, however, it was a no-brainer."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Jim Zorn, who is facing high expectations in his first season with the Redskins.

Also from Somers: Kurt Warner likes to go long on the field, but he isn't looking forward to staying on the East Coast between games.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Antrel Rolle heads to Washington, D.C., this week with late Redskins safety Sean Taylor on his mind. Rolle and Taylor played together at the University of Miami.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times digests Mike Holmgren's thoughts on keeping two kickers. He tries to explain the rationale without necessarily buying into it.

Also from O'Neil: The Seahawks expect to push Koren Robinson onto the field quickly because they essentially have no feasible alternative.

Greg Johns of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Koren Robinson's legs were feeling the strain as the receiver practiced with Seattle for the first time since 2005.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer checks in with former Seahawks kicker Josh Brown, who has become the Rams' top weapon on offense.

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times also has the latest from Brown.

Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian checks in with former Oregon State running back Yvenson Bernard. As a member of the Seahawks' practice squad, Bernard is impersonating another former Oregon State back: Steven Jackson.

John Morgan of Field Gulls takes issue with our analysis on the 49ers' use of their nickel defense. Former 49ers quarterback Trent Dilfer told me he thought it was a great move, and the first-half numbers I analyzed showed Seattle enjoying most of its success from three-receiver personnel groupings. The key, I thought, was that the 49ers were able to force turnovers in the passing game and keep Hasselbeck's completion percentage low.