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Thursday, December 11, 2008
Around the NFC West: Rams candidates


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams will have a hard time retaining Jim Haslett as coach given the team's struggles. Potential candidates: Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Cardinals assistant head coach and offensive line coach Russ Grimm, Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, Titans offensive line coach Mike Munchak, Bucs defensive backs coach Raheem Morris and Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe has at least one takeaway in seven of his last 10 games. Atogwe is responsible for 10 of the Rams' 17 takeaways this season.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains why the Rams are benching Corey Chavous in favor of Todd Johnson. Age is one factor. Johnson also played relatively well against the Cardinals in Week 14, according to Haslett.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Rams receiver Dane Looker is the emergency kicker while Josh Brown rests a groin injury.

Also from Korte: Chavous declined comment following his job loss.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin points to improved conditioning and more creative play calling as reasons for his success this season.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says 49ers tight end Vernon Davis could play a role in blocking Dolphins pass-rusher Joey Porter.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat checks in with Franklin and linebacker Patrick Willis, key players in the 49ers' defense. Willis thinks he has improved since last season even though his stats aren't as prolific.

Also from Maiocco: NFL rules prevent teams from signing interim coaches to long-term deals until after the season. They 49ers cannot hire Mike Singletary before Dec. 29.

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat explains why 49ers coach Singletary carries around a black book with gold leafing on the pages. Singletary has been a prolific note taker since his retirement from the NFL in 1993.

Also from Cohn: A transcript of his conversation with Singletary.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee doesn't understand why the Dolphins and other teams have had success with the Wildcat offense.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the Dolphins' Ronnie Brown has 47 carries for 249 yards from the Wildcat this season. Singletary credits the Dolphins' coaches. Also, the 49ers' confirmed that offensive coordinator Mike Martz is no longer a candidate for the San Diego State coaching job.

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic explains how Cardinals pass-rusher Bert Berry became an advocate for children. His wife overcame leukemia when both were in middle school. 

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Vikings' Adrian Peterson expected the Cardinals to draft him.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com explains why the Cardinals drafted Levi Brown instead of Peterson. Coach Ken Whisenhunt wanted to build a strong offensive line. Meanwhile, Brown isn't interested in rehashing the draft.

Also from Urban: Kurt Warner is taking a low-key approach to the Cardinals' success. The quarterback is projecting a business-as-usual demeanor.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer expects Seneca Wallace to start at quarterback against the Rams in Week 15. Wallace is getting the meaningful coaching in practice.

Also from Farnsworth: Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones also might miss the St. Louis game.

John Morgan of Field Gulls explains why selecting a quarterback in the first round can make sense. That's where teams tend to find the great ones.

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times thinks Jones might not prevail in Pro Bowl voting for the first time in years.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks are reluctant to let Hasselbeck play while the quarterback still feels a "tingle" stemming from his back injury.

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Julian Peterson and other Seahawks are eager to get another shot at Rams guard Richie Incognito, whom they accused of dirty play.