NFL Nation: Quinton Culberson

Posted by's Mike Sando

After benching Marc Bulger and releasing Fakhir Brown, the Rams charged ahead with more potential changes in practice Wednesday. As Bill Coats of Around the Horns noted:

Adeyanju is the Rams' best defensive lineman against the run. The Rams just allowed 245 yards rushing to Seattle in Week 3. Adeyanju's starting status in practice (at left end) might mean nothing if Leonard Little returns from a hamstring injury.

Culberson had started one NFL game before this season. Draft is a highly experienced veteran. He should also be relatively fresh.

Glover seemed perplexed by the Rams' use of a three-man line at times against Seattle. He has been a very good player for a very long time, but sometimes veterans have a hard time following along blindly when things aren't working. Glover has long been known for his relentless, all-out style. Ryan is also known as a high-effort player.

These moves, justified or not, definitely qualify as hitting the panic button. That's what teams do when they allow 763 more yards than they gain through three weeks.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Nancy Gay of the San Francisco Chronicle explores Ashley Lelie's move from the 49ers to the Raiders. Barry Sims and Kwame Harris have also played for both franchises. "In the right situation and with the right coaching, Lelie could be a decent vertical option for a team," she writes. Lelie has speed, which can't be coached. The Raiders have long coveted speed at the position. Drew Carter's injury left them depleted at receiver.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Quinton Culberson is beating the odds once again. Culberson surprised when he earned a roster spot as an undrafted free agent in 2007. He finished last season strong and won a starting job this summer when injuries limited veteran Chris Draft. The Rams need Culberson to produce after Brandon Chillar left in free agency.

Darren Urban of perked up when former Cardinals linebacker Calvin Pace, now with the Jets, ragged on the talent in Arizona. Pace: "This is a far better situation than Arizona because we have talent here. I'm not saying they don't have talent there, but when I first got out there it was ridiculous. Here you got guys that are Pro Bowlers, guys that have played in the Super Bowl, guys that have been in the league nine, 10 years. You've got some good rookies. It's a good mix of people."

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks' unknown receivers relish being unknown receivers. Courtney Taylor, Jordan Kent and Logan Payne call themselves "The Mystery Group" -- not the most creative nickname, but an accurate one. Romero: "Kent led the team in receptions in exhibition play with 11. Payne overcame a rib injury from the public scrimmage a month ago and made eight catches while showing his worth on special teams. Taylor had just four catches in exhibition play, but has regular-season game experience and will likely start with veteran Nate Burleson."

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seahawks running back Julius Jones, who has found a laid-back atmosphere in Seattle after stints at Dallas and Notre Dame.

Also from Hughes: Olindo Mare's strategy for winning the kicking job in Seattle.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle wasn't impressed by the 49ers' quarterbacks Friday night. Alex Smith, J.T. O'Sullivan and Shaun Hill remain stuck in the starting blocks, it seems. When Smith faced fourth-and-2 from the Oakland 4-yard line, coach Mike Nolan opted for the field goal.

Also from FitzGerald: a notebook with several nuggets, including evidence that Dashon Goldson played well at free safety. Goldson is pushing veteran Mark Roman for the starting job.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider followed up on the fourth-and-2 play call. Nolan said the 49ers were working on special teams, too, and would have gone for it on fourth-and-1. Smith: "It would have been nice (to go for it), but it's not my call. I'm kind of indifferent."

Nancy Gay of the San Francisco Chronicle takes a look at both Bay Area teams, but she knows better than to draw hard conclusions after one exhibition game. In general, 49ers fans have more reason for concern than Raiders fans after this game, but it's early.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee describes 49ers quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan as "disgusted" with his play against the Raiders. Nolan came to O'Sullivan's defense: "Without question, the game is not too big for J.T. O'Sullivan."

Barrows and Bee teammate Jason Jones led their notebook with an item about rookie receiver Josh Morgan living up to expectations set in camp. Morgan is making a case for significant playing time. The longer this continues, and the more time Ashlie Lelie misses, the easier time the 49ers will have keeping only five receivers (Arnaz Battle, Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson, Morgan and Hill). Also: The 49ers opened this game in a 4-3 defense, with Justin Smith at left defensive end.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News couldn't find anything exciting about the 49ers' new offense under coordinator Mike Martz. Brown went a step further than analyzing only the fourth-and-2 decision to kick a field goal. One player earlier, on third-and-3, the 49ers called a handoff to the fullback instead of giving Smith a chance to throw.

More from Brown: breaking down the quarterbacks while wondering, in jest, if Kyle Wright was the big winner Friday night.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic sifts through the Cardinals' performance against New Orleans in the exhibition opener. The best news for Arizona: no new injuries of significance.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals expect receiver Anquan Boldin back at practice Sunday. Meanwhile, rookie running back Tim Hightower is proving he has the right approach. Hightower scored the Cardinals' only touchdown against the Saints, but he missed a block and wasn't happy about it.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune thinks the Seahawks made a statement to the rest of the NFC during their 34-17 victory over Minnesota. Coach Mike Holmgren isn't going that far: "You like to win the first game, they feel pretty good, and we did that. But they can't feel real great because they made a number of errors that we can coach to. But that's kind of what you want in a first game: win the game but also correct some things in some meetings."

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer isn't quite accustomed to covering impressive Seattle performances during the exhibition season. I know this from being on that beat with Clare for close to a decade. Previous Seattle teams have sometimes looked horrible when the games didn't count. Not this time. Running back Maurice Morris used the opportunity to remind us that Julius Jones has competition for the starting job.

Also from Farnsworth: an in-depth look at Jordan Kent's touchdown reception. Kent is fighting for a roster spot. He dropped two balls in practice Wednesday, so his touchdown grab meant a lot to him. Said Matt Hasselbeck: "Jordan was doing a good job of being physical on his guy. But he kept fighting. The offensive line gave me time. It was a great play."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch finds evidence of progress in the Rams' third season under coach Scott Linehan. Of course, all bets are off if the Rams lose four-fifths of their offensive line again. Thomas: "With new coordinator Al Saunders now calling the plays -- he'll be situated in the press box tonight -- the offense has made impressive strides on the practice field over the last week or so."

More from Thomas: what to watch when the Rams open their exhibition season against the Titans. He singles out Orlando Pace, Leonard Little, Chris Long, Quinton Culberson, the third-team quarterbacks and the running backs (minus Steven Jackson).

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams like the way James Hall has handled a potentially difficult offseason. I got that feeling when visiting Rams camp. The Rams think Hall will be more effective as a rotation player behind Chris Long.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News shows how 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz's background in kinesiology played a role in his development as a stickler for mechanics. Martz: "It really helps you to teach your quarterbacks to understand the physics of it. The balance, the lines of force, the kinetic energy and all that kind of stuff. It really does help you streamline their techniques and make them most efficient."

Nicholas Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press says Lions quarterback Drew Stanton is working hard to unlearn what Martz taught him about mechanics. Stanton: "I have no idea looking back why all that happened, all the changes that he made." Conflicting storylines tend to be common in sports. The Lions think they'll be better after firing Martz. The 49ers think they'll be better after adding Martz. Both could be right.

Doug Drinen of Pro Football Reference shows which running backs have benefited most from playing with Pro Bowl offensive linemen. NFC West alumni Eric Dickerson, Shaun Alexander, Roger Craig and Wendell Tyler rank relatively high on the lists, but no one ranks higher than Jim Brown.

Clark Judge of assesses what it means for Mike Holmgren to enter his final season as Seahawks coach with successor Jim Mora on the staff. It's an arrangement that hasn't always worked, but Judge thinks Seattle can pull it off.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks might consider keeping nine defensive backs, one more than usual, if former Michigan safety Jamar Adams keeps up his impressive play. Injuries have a way of helping to sort out these dilemmas. 

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams plan to keep three quarterbacks heading into the season, up from two in 2007. Bruce Gradkowski or Brock Berlin will get the call behind Marc Bulger and Trent Green. Each NFC West team has four quarterbacks in camp. The Cardinals, Rams and Seahawks carried only two quarterbacks on their opening-day rosters last season. Seattle acquired Charlie Frye from the Browns after the first game.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reveals which Rams players are making the most of injury-induced opportunities. Strong-side linebacker Quinton Culberson heads the list. I got the feeling at Rams camp that Culberson would likely start this season. Veteran Chris Draft can back up all three positions.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers are looking forward to practicing against the Raiders. Cornerback Walt Harris: "You practice against yourself all the time. Practicing against other guys forces you to focus a lot more."

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times checks in with Seahawks offensive line coaches Mike Solari and Mike DeBord. Something I did not know: Solari and DeBord did not know each other before Seattle hired them this offseason. They work together very well from what I've seen at practices. If they can get Seattle's line to work together that well and that quickly, the Seahawks should improve quite a bit in their running game. Also from Romero: Receiver Courtney Taylor is thrilled to be back on the practice field after resting a hamstring injury. The Seahawks think Taylor can become a contributor.

Matt Maiocco of Instant 49ers puts the team's quarterback competition in perspective. The race between Alex Smith, Shaun Hill and J.T. O'Sullivan cannot touch what the Packers are going through. Green Bay visits the 49ers on Aug. 16.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune sizes up the Seahawks' growing injury list. Space constraints presumably prevented him from listing Floyd Womack's injury history. In May 2007, I noted Womack had missed time with injuries to his quadriceps, triceps, calf, heel, toe, knees, ankle, hip, hand, head and hamstring. A knee injury is keeping him out now.



Sunday, 1/25