NFL Nation: Brandon Coutu

The Seattle Seahawks once carried two kickers on their 53-man roster because their general manager (Tim Ruskell) and head coach (Mike Holmgren) could not agree on which one to keep.

Ruskell, as a personnel evaluator, valued the potential associated with the young prospect. Holmgren, as the man responsible for winning games often decided by narrow margins, valued the veteran's experience and track record.

The Seahawks will not keep two kickers on their roster this season, but they'll be able to choose between youth and experience after signing veteran Jeff Reed, as ESPN's Adam Schefter reported they did Wednesday.

Reed's weight was an issue when the veteran kicker was filling in for an injured Joe Nedney in San Francisco last season. Reed, best know for his years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, showed up in better condition when the Seahawks brought him to their headquarters for a workout this week. The 32-year-old Reed joins a roster that has featured inexperienced kickers Brandon Coutu and Wes Byrum to this point in camp.

Reed made nine of his 10 field goal attempts for the 49ers last season. He ranked 33rd out of 35 kickers in average kickoff distance among players with at least 20 kickoffs during the regular season. David Akers, the 49ers' kicker this season, and Olindo Mare averaged an additional 5 yards per kickoff.

Leg strength on kickoffs will not matter as much now that the NFL has moved kickoffs from the 30- to 35-yard line.
Posted by's Mike Sando

Thoughts and observations on the Seahawks after watching the first half of their exhibition game against the Chiefs:
  • Brandon Mebane disrupts. The Seahawks need the third-year defensive tackle to get upfield quickly. Mebane did that effectively from the beginning in this game. His sack on Matt Cassel sent the Chiefs' quarterback to the locker room with an injury.
  • Tackling still shaky. The Seahawks' Leroy Hill, Lofa Tatupu and Josh Wilson all missed tackles on 31-yard Chiefs run to end first quarter. Individual players made a few nice plays for Seattle, but the defense as a whole wasn't consistent, struggling against the run. Holding the Chiefs to zero third-down conversions in the half would have seemed more impressive if Cassel hadn't left the game.
  • Kicking battle in focus. Olindo Mare badly missed two first-half field-goal attempts. Brandon Coutu, though shorter on his kickoffs, has never missed in preseason. Advantage, Coutu (although he has now missed one from 50-plus yards in second half). Update: Receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh said the grass is slick and the holders were having a tough time placing the ball.
  • Running game picks up. Julius Jones started having success on the ground once Justin Griffith replaced Owen Schmitt as fullback. I thought it wasn't a coincidence. Griffith knows the offense and his presence on the field raises the team's football IQ, a point of emphasis for Seattle this offseason (also enhanced by adding Houshmandzadeh and running back Edgerrin James).
  • Matt Hasselbeck is heating up. The veteran quarterback strengthened his rapport with Houshmandzadeh and tight end John Carlson. He worked the 2-minute offense nicely before the half, finding Houshmandzadeh repeatedly and Deion Branch as well. Hasselbeck looks better than any quarterback in the division this summer. He also took a couple more awkward hits, including one in the back, without flinching. He has completed 19 of 25 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns through the first two-plus quarters. His lone interception came on a tipped pass early in the game.

Those are a few of the things I noticed in the first half and while writing this in the third quarter.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Seahawks seventh-round Nick Reed made another strong case for a roster spot Saturday night. He deflected a punt, had 1.5 sacks and forced a fumble. He nearly blocked another punt in the final 30 seconds of the Seahawks' 27-13 victory at Qwest Field.

Reed also drew a personal-foul penalty for hitting Broncos quarterback Chris Simms in the legs, injuring Simms. This is one penalty that will not count against Reed when the Seahawks evaluate which players to keep on their initial 53-man roster. The fact that Reed was around the quarterback and punishing him is what matters.

Reed's strong showings this summer prove he's better than the backups he has faced against the Chargers and Broncos. That doesn't necessarily mean he'll earn a roster spot, but I do think Reed's status as a draft choice works in his favor. No team wants to watch one of its impressive late-round draft choices catch on with another team.

The Seahawks held a roster spot last season for 2008 seventh-rounder Brandon Coutu even though Coutu never played in a regular-season game. They also kept 2008 seventh-rounder Justin Forsett on the initial reduction to 53 players, releasing him one week into the season only after injuries created a severe need at receiver.

Reed is competing with Michael Bennett and possibly Baraka Atkins for a roster spot. Bennett leveled Broncos quarterback Tom Brandstater for a sack. Atkins shared a sack with Reed.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Among the things I'll be watching when the Seahawks face the Broncos in their second exhibition game Saturday night:

  • Sean Locklear at left tackle. The Seahawks hope Walter Jones can return from knee surgery in time to play a full season at left tackle. Locklear will work there in the meantime. The team's usual right tackle can earn an additional $600,000 in 2010 compensation if he plays half the snaps at left tackle in half the Seahawks' regular-season games this season. That price would be a bargain if Locklear plays well.
  • Depth at receiver. Jordan Kent, Ben Obomanu, Courtney Taylor, Logan Payne, Mike Hass and Michael Bumpus are battling for one or two roster spots behind receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch, Nate Burleson and Deon Butler. Kent, Obomanu and Taylor do not have practice-squad eligibility. They need to produce now.
  • Nick Reed, Michael Bennett and Baraka Atkins. At least one of these players could be affected if the Seahawks keep fewer than 10 defensive linemen. Another impressive showing from Reed, who had two sacks and an interception in his exhibition debut, could make it tougher for Seattle to sneak him onto the practice squad.
  • Matt Hasselbeck. The quarterback has yet to take a hit since last season. The Broncos pressured the 49ers' quarterbacks last week by exploiting fullback Zak Keasey in blitz pickup. Seattle fullback Owen Schmitt needs to prove he can play consistently well in that area. One lapse could expose Hasselbeck to punishment.
  • The kickers. Brandon Coutu needs to get more depth on his kickoffs. He and Olindo Mare are competing for one roster spot. The team will not keep two kickers this season.
  • Cameron Morrah. Seattle will likely choose between Morrah, a seventh-round rookie, and Joe Newton as the third tight end. It's the sort of competition you'll probably appreciate if you've lasted this deep into a blog entry about things to watch during a game few will remember one month from now.
NFL Network is carrying this game live at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Posted by's Mike Sando

NFL rookies rarely change the course of a season for their new teams.

The Dolphins' Jake Long and the Titans' Chris Johnson were the only 2008 draft choices named to the Pro Bowl last season.

With teams scrambling to sign their 2009 selections, I'll revisit the NFC West's 2008 class heading into its second season.


Best choice

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Cardinals. Arizona found an impact player at a premium position. Rodgers-Cromartie, chosen 16th overall, started 11 games in the regular season and four more in the playoffs. Picked off six passes during a nine-game stretch beginning in Week 16.

Best immediate contributor

John Carlson, TE, Seahawks. Carlson was the Seahawks' top tight end from the beginning, setting a franchise record for receptions by a tight end (55). The position he plays isn't a premium one, explaining why Rodgers-Cromartie emerged as the best selection, albeit narrowly. Carlson also has star potential.


Best value

Josh Morgan, WR, 49ers. Cardinals fifth-rounder Tim Hightower had better production as a rookie, scoring 10 touchdowns, but Morgan's career might be on a higher trajectory after Arizona benched Hightower and used a 2009 first-round choice on running back Beanie Wells. Morgan looks like a potential long-term starter for the 49ers. On that basis, I'll tentatively give him the edge over Hightower. The Cardinals and 49ers both hope to better establish their ground games. That could ultimately favor Hightower, although it's tough to envision him starting for long with Wells on the roster.

Most to prove

Kentwan Balmer, DE, 49ers. Using a first-round choice on a 3-4 defensive end was hardly a flashy move. The position doesn't lend itself to obvious production. Balmer didn't seriously threaten for a starting job as a rookie. He has expressed determination to make the jump this season. The Seahawks' Lawrence Jackson was the other top candidate for this designation. While Jackson also has much to prove, he did start 14 games as a rookie.

(Read full post)

Posted by's Mike Sando

Richard Obert of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are hoping to prove the new president wrong. Barack Obama is taking the Steelers.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic dusts off a reference to Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in describing the comedic charms of Cardinals offensive linemen Lyle Sendlein and Deuce Lutui.

Max Jarman of the Arizona Republic looks at Cardinals memorabilia sales.

David Mackall of the Arizona Republic checks in with Cardinals guard Reggie Wells, whose parents have gone to great lengths in watching their son play.

Richard Obert of the Arizona Republic looks at the Cardinals' penchant for trick plays. Coordinator Todd Haley concedes that the "Philly Special" might not work a second time.

Also from the Republic: a notebook leading with an item on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic provides an injury update from Cardinals practice Friday. Travis LaBoy is practicing on a limited basis. J.J. Arrington remains on the sideline.

Darren Urban of says Cardinals running back Tim Hightower has benefited from an unlikely background in ballet.

Also from Urban: Cardinals defensive end Bertrand Berry finally enjoys success with Arizona.

More from Urban: Adrian Wilson's jack-in-the-box celebration is one of several the Cardinals have planned, just in case.

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune traces the Cardinals' improvement to Michael Bidwill's arrival as team president in 2002.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune looks at Rod Graves' role in building the Cardinals.

Niners general manager Scot McCloughan says the team hopes Alex Smith can compete with Shaun Hill to become the 49ers' starting quarterback. McCloughan: "I still believe Alex Smith is going to be a good quarterback in the NFL and if we can have him back competing with Shaun, we'd love to do it."

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle isn't sure what to make of the 49ers' interest in Dan Reeves and Hue Jackson as potential offensive coordinators. Crumpacker: "With his sixth and seventh candidates interviewed, Singletary is either exercising due diligence in his search for a coordinator or is struggling to find someone compatible with his vision for the 49ers' offense."

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says hiring Jackson, now with the Ravens and formerly with the Falcons and Bencals, would "open the door to troubled but talented players such as Ocho Cinco, [Michael] Vick and to lesser extent [T.J.] Houshmandzadeh."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat traces Reeves' candidacy to former 49ers coach Mike Nolan. Maiocco: "When Mike Nolan was named 49ers head coach in 2005, there were rumblings he might bring along his mentor, Dan Reeves, to assist him. Nolan is gone, but Reeves accepted a surprise invitation Friday to visit the 49ers team headquarters and discuss the offensive-coordinator position with new coach Mike Singletary."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Singletary couldn't find a more old-school coordinator than Reeves.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer questions whether the Seahawks will keep two kickers for the long term. General manager Tim Ruskell says Olindo Mare will be back. The plan -- "right now," Ruskell said -- is for Brandon Coutu to return as well.

John Morgan of Field Gulls explains why he likes the Seahawks' hiring of Tim Lewis to coach the secondary. The fact that Lewis brought Charles Godfrey to Carolina helps.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says special-teams coach Al Roberts is one of the assistant coaches not coming back to the Rams. Strength coach Dana LeDuc and quarterbacks coach Terry Shea also will not return. Thomas: "Some holdover assistants who are still being considered for jobs are scheduled to meet with new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and new defensive coordinator Ken Flajole over the next few days."

Also from Thomas: a chat transcript that says the Rams do not have anyone negotiating contracts at the moment.

Posted by's Mike Sando


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Cardinals listed Anquan Boldin among their inactive players in Week 17, giving the Pro Bowl receiver another week to recover from a shoulder injury.

Boldin finishes the regular season with 89 receptions for 1,038 yards and 11 touchdowns in 12 games. The Cardinals expect him to play in their wild card playoff game.

Also inactive for the Cardinals: Safety Matt Ware, defensive end Travis LaBoy, offensive lineman Elliot Vallejo, offensive lineman Brandon Keith, defensive lineman Kenny Iwebema and defensive lineman Gabe Watson. Brian St. Pierre is the third quarterback.

Inactive for Seattle: Quarterback Jeff Rowe, kicker Brandon Coutu, safety Jamar Adams, linebacker Leroy Hill, linebacker D.D. Lewis, defensive lineman Red Bryant and defensive lineman Brandon Miller. Matt Hasselbeck is the third quarterback.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Darren Urban of writes about Tim Hightower's path to the NFL. Strong parental support helped Hightower get to this point.

Also from Urban: The Cardinals' quarterbacks and receivers hold meetings to help stay on the same page.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic spoke with one of Hightower's former college coaches as part of a profile on the rookie running back. Former Richmond coach Dave Clawson, now at Tennessee: "Most I-AA guys are one-dimensional, but he's a really a complete back."

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says Hightower gets emotional discussing Edgerrin James, his displaced mentor.

Tom Marino of offers midseason grades for the Cardinals, including a B-minus for the offense. He thinks the team's inability to win on the road will spell a one-and-done scenario come playoff time. If the Cardinals reach postseason, however, they figure to do so as a division winner, which means at least one playoff game at home.

(Read full post)

Posted by's Mike Sando

Darren Urban of was in the Arizona locker room when Olympic wrestler Henry Cejudo, a gold-medal winner, showed off his hardware to players. Guard Deuce Lutui asked to wear it, then claimed to have won it in a pie-eating contest.

Also from Urban: Right tackle Levi Brown gets ready to face Redskins defensive end Jason Taylor, a key matchup for Arizona in Week 3.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic asks Cardinals players about the passer-rating formula after quarterback Kurt Warner posted a perfect rating in Week 2. The man who invented the rating lives in Arizona. I spoke with him several years ago and will revisit that conversation in an item here later today.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are mindful of the role conference games can play in earning a playoff berth.

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat spent enough time with 49ers receiver Isaac Bruce to conduct an informal Bible-study session. Proverbs 18:21 is a personal favorite for Bruce. Cohn has a full transcript of an interesting conversation.

Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with former Home Depot employee Tony Wragge, now the 49ers' starting right guard. Said Wragge's wife: "He is the most dedicated person I've ever met. When he wasn't with a team, he would never be just sitting on the couch waiting for a phone call. He's always doing something. Nothing gets him down."

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz isn't making a big deal about facing his former team. But the players know his history with the Lions. Running back Frank Gore: "It would be great if we could go out and beat them real bad."

Also from FitzGerald: Jonas Jennings apologizes for missing so many of the 49ers' games because of injury. A bad right shoulder is the culprit.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Jennings thought he had overcome the shoulder problems after making it through last season without any dislocations. But the shoulder popped out during the 49ers' game against Seattle, and another surgery is a possibility.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has completed only 17 passes to wide receivers this season. Also, Michael Bumpus remains the team's best option as a slot receiver.

Also from Farnsworth: Deon Grant picked off two passes and broke up three others during the Seahawks' practice Thursday.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune quotes Seahawks safety Brian Russell as saying the defense hasn't paid close enough attention to detail, leading to big plays for opposing offenses.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times quotes Seahawks defensive coordinator John Marshall as saying the Seattle defensive backs weren't necessarily blowing coverages against the 49ers, but they certainly weren't making plays.

Also from O'Neil: Seattle has company as one of 10 teams with an 0-2 record. Jacksonville, San Diego and Minnesota can relate.

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times checks in with Brandon Coutu, one of two kickers on the Seahawks' roster.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Steven Jackson wants the ball, sure, but the Rams' running back isn't making public demands.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch follows up with Rams kicker Josh Brown, who returns to Qwest Field as the enemy.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat also checks in with the Rams' kicker. Brown's prekick routine is straight out of Major League.

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Seahawks listed rookie running back Justin Forsett among their inactive players today, ruling him out as a potential return specialist against the Bills. The move was expected because Seattle is carrying six running backs, a high number.

The other inactive players for Seattle today: rookie kicker Brandon Coutu, offensive lineman Mansfield Wrotto, offensive lineman Sean Locklear, receiver Deion Branch, receiver Bobby Engram and defensive end Baraka Atkins.

None of these was a surprise. Jason Babin stays active as one of the defensive linemen, an indication Atkins might be the odd man out when the team welcomes back Rocky Bernard from suspension. Babin, a former first-round choice in Houston, got some work on special teams during the preseason. He also showed good pass-rush ability.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat describes 49ers quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan as a competitor. Officials once ejected him from a college game after two penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct. And when a friend beat him in tennis, O'Sullivan secretly took lessons to make sure he prevailed in the rematch.

Clark Judge of picks the Seahawks to hold off Arizona in the division, followed by the Rams and 49ers. Judge on the 49ers: "There's something wrong here, and Mike Nolan has one year to fix it. Frankly, I can't see it happening, partly because Seattle is better and mostly because Nolan hasn't done anything in three years. In fact, the 49ers last season looked worse than in 2006, and that's not a good sign. It's now or never."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks expect Matt Hasselbeck to start the opener after the quarterback returned to practice without further back spasms. Also, veteran kicker Olindo Mare gets the call in Week 1, but Brandon Coutu remains on the roster for now.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Hasselbeck consulted a chiropractor in dealing with his back issues. Also, the team hasn't settled on a punt returner for Week 1.

Also from Farnsworth: Mike Holmgren built his reputation as a pass-oriented coach, but the running game was the focus this offseason. Perhaps that is a good thing given all the injuries at receiver.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks think they'll be "fine" without suspended defensive tackle Rocky Bernard, even though it's unsettling to lose a starter.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Ricky Manning has lots to learn before helping the Rams' secondary.  What went wrong for the cornerback in Chicago? "I just had a bad season. It was a combination of me messing up. It was a combination of being put in uncomfortable situations, or playing uncomfortable techniques."

Cam Inman of the Contra Costa Times says the 49ers must improve their pass rush this season. That means the team must fully utilize free-agent addition Justin Smith.

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News asked the 49ers about Ahmad Brooks' off-field issues. Brooks has failed drug tests. In April, a woman accused Brooks of punching her in the face. Coach Mike Nolan: "We have the structure and the manpower and the people in place that can allow us, I guess you can say if that's the right choice of words, to take on someone that we feel with some assistance that we can do the right thing with."

Also from Brown: Since 2004, the 49ers have won 28.1 percent of their games, better than only the Raiders. And no team has scored fewer points than San Francisco during that time. This being September, there's reason for optimism.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle made follow-up calls after the 49ers signed Brooks: "His agent, Greg Williams, couldn't be reached for comment, and the attorney for the woman did not return a phone call."

Darren Urban of wonders if the Cardinals will name disgruntled receiver Anquan Boldin as a team captain again. Coach Ken Whisenhunt says he sees no dropoff in leadership from Boldin. Also, Kurt Warner disputes the notion that he's injury prone.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals open their season on the road for the 19th time in the last 21 seasons. Hot weather at Sun Devil Stadium used to be an issue early in the season, but the Cardinals have an indoor stadium now.

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune says Matt Leinart is running out of chances in Arizona, and the quarterback must be ready when called upon. Leinart is right when he describes himself as a very young quarterback. I wouldn't give up on a first-round pick after 16 starts and a couple of poor exhibition games.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers answers questions about Alex Smith's present and future with the organization. Smith says he wouldn't mind playing in the same offense for a while.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Smith could learn from J.T. O'Sullivan's approach.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle sees receiver Ashley Lelie and fullback Moran Norris as "on the bubble" heading toward the 53-man roster reduction date. I would be surprised if either veteran made the cut.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says he, too, expects the Cardinals to name Kurt Warner as their starting quarterback. But no team sources are saying the decision has been made. As Somers notes, it's only a matter of when, not if, Warner gets the call.

Scott Bodrow of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals have no choice but to name  Warner their starting quarterback. 

Mike Kahn of quotes secondary coach Jim Mora on second-year cornerback Josh Wilson: "He's much more consistent as a football player in every phase of the game. This year Josh is much better out on the edge as a corner, his footwork is better and his technique out of his break is better. When we move him inside to the nickel position, he's very solid in there. He understands all the coverage now, the route concepts, and he knows where to fit on the run. This is how to become a complete player."

Brian McIntyre of previews the Seahawks-Chargers game tonight, singling out a few position battles to watch. He wonders how Seattle's young receivers will fare against a Chargers secondary stocked with high draft choices.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer looks at the Seahawks' young receivers through the eyes of Nate Burleson. Years ago, Burleson emerged somewhat unexpectedly in Minnesota.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will watch the team's game in San Diego tonight from Seattle. Charlie Frye gets another chance to get comfortable in the offense.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are pleased with Chris Long and fellow defensive lineman Adam Carriker. Carriker does a "great job" eating up blockers, freeing up linebackers to run sideline to sideline, coach Scott Linehan said.

Also from Coats: Rookie receivers Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton looked good Saturday night. Leonard Little remains on pace for a bounce-back season. The linebackers seem to be coming together. On the down side, cornerback Tye Hill suffered through a rough game.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams are pleased with their offensive line. Adam Goldberg started the most recent exhibition game at left tackle, allowing Orlando Pace to rest an apparently minor injury.

Also from Korte: a progress report on the Rams' Long, who has yet to turn effort into production.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders if Avery and Burton might become a formidable receiving tanden for the Rams. Both showed promise Saturday night.

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times sees the Seahawks carrying both kickers past the 75-man roster cutdown Tuesday. Neither Brandon Coutu nor Olindo Mare has won the job convincingly.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers a few notes gleaned from watching a replay of the Packers-49ers game. At the end, he puts Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt's record-shattering 100-meter dash time into football terms. Bolt finished in 9.69 seconds even though he seemed to be coasting near the end. That works out to 3.54 seconds for every 40 yards. It doesn't mean Bolt could run a 40-yard dash that quickly, but I like the breakdown anyway.

Dan Brown of 49ers Hot Read digs up some telling quotes from Alex Smith's former college coach at Utah, Urban Meyer. The comments Meyer made in 2006 suggest Smith would benefit much more from getting all the first-team reps in practice. Meyer's comments are toward the bottom of the item. I found them interesting.

Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers takes a player-by-player look at how each member of the roster fared against the Packers on Saturday night. Josh Morgan, Ray McDonald and Jonas Jennings were among those faring well.

Maiocco follows up with an item summarizing Mike Nolan's day-after-game news briefing. Did we say news? Sorry. Still not an announcement on the starting quarterback.

Bob Young of the Arizona Republic plays point-counterpoint in the debate over whether Matt Leinart or Kurt Warner should start for the Cardinals.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic breaks down the Cardinals on offense, defense and special teams. Arizona has a long list of pass rushers, but not enough depth at offensive tackle. And if the Cardinals need a clutch field goal, Neil Rackers might make it.

Darren Urban of offers a few postgame notes on the Cardinals. In his view, Steve Breaston has only tightened his grip on the No. 3 receiving spot. Early Doucet's hamstring injury has taken him out of the running for now.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune provides a scouting report from the Seahawks' latest exhibition game. Seattle must keep running back Justin Forsett, he says. Boling also thinks Jordan Kent has evolved into an NFL receiver, not just a prospect. He charts Josh Wilson's recent improvement at cornerback. He likes what he sees from fill-in center Steve Vallos. And he excluded fill-in snapper Tim Lindsey from blame for two blocked punts.

Frank Hughes of Seahawks Insider lists less-established players who performed well against the Bears: Forsett, Wilson, Kevin Hobbs, Owen Schmitt, Kent, Brandon Coutu and Lawrence Jackson. Wilson, in particular, seems to be faring better as camp progresses. 

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer compares Forsett to the late soul singer James Brown. Forsett had 261 all-purpose yards in Seattle's exhibition victory over the Bears on Saturday night.

Farnsworth also sizes up Charlie Frye's up-and-down performance at quarterback for Seattle. Frye tossed three interceptions, but his night wasn't a total loss. The reps are sure to benefit the Seahawks' third-string quarterback.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has the bad news for Rams fans: Mark Setterstrom and Brandon Gorin are out for the season.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers says the team will start quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan for a second consecutive week to open the exhibition season. The 49ers appeared headed in this direction even before learning that Alex Smith would miss practice to attend the funeral of his best friend. This job appears to be O'Sullivan's to lose.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee wonders whether Josh Morgan might start opposite Isaac Bruce when the regular season opens. The 49ers added Bryant Johnson in free agency, but a hamstring injury has sidelined Johnson. Other receivers also continue to battle injuries. Morgan has been the most impressive receiver in camp.

Darren Urban of says Kurt Warner could start the second exhibition game for the Cardinals. In fact, Warner will probably start. He did not play in the opener. The team wants him to get quality work with the starters even though Matt Leinart is the No. 1 guy.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says Patrick Kerney was back at practice. Kerney participated in part of practice Wednesday. He left early, leading to concerns about a potentially aggravated calf injury, but the plan was for Kerney to get limited work Wednesday before participating fully today. Also: Rookie kicker Brandon Coutu struggled in practice Thursday, sending a kickoff out of bounds. Coach Mike Holmgren has zero tolerance for out-of-bounds kickoffs. If you see one in a game, watch to see if the kicker has the guts to run within 15 yards of Holmgren on the way back to the sideline.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks are getting healthier, finally. Matt Hasselbeck was back at practice after resting a sore back. Sean Locklear and Leonard Weaver were also back today.