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Saturday, August 23, 2008
Around the NFC West: Focus on Leinart


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune takes a comprehensive look at Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart, on and off the field. The party-boy pictures that emerged in the spring had a "devastating" impact on Leinart, coach Ken Whisenhunt said. Leinart: "I've learned a lot in the last couple of years. You grow up. You become a father."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com recalls Leinart's previous visit to Oakland, where a 7-year-old showered him with vulgarities.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle quotes 49ers coach Mike Nolan as describing the decision to start J.T. O'Sullivan as a "unanimous" choice involving Nolan, general manager Scot McCloughan, offensive coordinator Mike Martz and quarterbacks coach Ted Tollner.

Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle compares Alex Smith to Barry Zito and says the 49ers should trade him right now. Jenkins: "Both men are smart, well-spoken and endearing. Each arrived in San Francisco with a handsome track record and a ton of promise. Unfortunately, each has reached the point where even their most ardent fans can hardly bear to watch. Anything but to witness a good man take another hit to his reputation."

Cam Inman of the Contra Costa Times applies the "bust" label to the 49ers' Smith. "Oh, that could change," Inman allows, "if he turns up down the road as the next Jim Plunkett instead of the next Jim Druckenmiller."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says rookie first-round choice Lawrence Jackson has impressed Seattle veterans with a mind open to learning. Patrick Kerney: "Rushing the passer, it's a chess game. There's so much that goes into it. And Lawrence has that, I think. That philosophy, if you will."

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu is slowly warming to the idea of wearing the radio headset during games. Linebackers coach Zerick Rollins: "The big thing for Lofa, he really doesn't like to have anybody in his ear on game day. So, for the first couple of times, I've just tried to give him the call and let him get used to it." Tatupu is a smart, instinctive player. I'm not sure how much better he'll be stopping to process what a coach might be saying.

Eric D. Johnson of the Tacoma News Tribune says Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck probably won't even travel to San Diego for the final exhibition game Monday night. Hasselbeck is resting a sore back. The Seahawks want him ready for the regular season.

Scott Johnson of the Everett Herald checks in with Seattle players likely to receive their release in the not-too-distant future. The players say they appreciate the opportunity no matter what -- not that they're in position to say anything else.

Also from Johnson: Seattle's starting offensive line hasn't been on the field together for a single practice during training camp.

Jm Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are looking for quarterback Marc Bulger to improve upon shaky play this exhibition season. Thomas lists extenuating circumstances behind Bulger's problems, but the bottom line is this: "Through two preseason games, Bulger has a passer rating of only 14.1, completing 10 of 23 passes for 85 yards with three interceptions and no touchdowns."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams defensive lineman Victor Adeyanju, and before I continue, let me recommend clicking on the link to check out the ridiculous cast/wrap Adeyanju is wearing on his right hand. As Adeyanju, the Rams' best run-defending lineman, put it: "It feels like you're carrying a baby."