Around the NFC West: Rams' line issues

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams right tackle Jason Smith might have suffered a concussion during practice Thursday when bumping helmets with defensive end Chris Long. Smith did not finish practice. He missed the final six games last season after suffering a concussion. The Rams lack quality depth on the offensive line. Losing Smith would qualify as a significant blow to the team.

Also from Coats: Steven Jackson vows to play Sunday despite a broken finger.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch previews Isaac Bruce's jersey retirement ceremony, scheduled for Sunday. Thomas: "About two dozen former Rams, many of them from the Greatest Show on Turf teams, are descending on St. Louis for the weekend as well and will be introduced on the field during the jersey retirement ceremony."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Johnson has been pleased with Nate Davis' progress. Johnson: "He's getting better and he's coming along better. He's still on the practice roster. He's not getting a lot of reps, so you won't see the improvement that you would probably need to see for him to be in this discussion because he's not getting the reps. But he's definitely better focused and he's working harder."

Also from Maiocco: The Broncos aren't the only ones trying to get a read on new 49ers starting quarterback Troy Smith. The 49ers also have lots to learn about him. Johnson: "I went back and watched some game tape on him just to get a feel for things he did well and things he didn't so well. I've tried to put together a game plan to not put him in a bad situation. And that's going to be my job as a coordinator -- to make sure I put him in the best possible situation, and that'll put us in the best possible situation to win the game."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers are embracing damp conditions in London. Also: "One of the storylines this week is the disparate travel schedules of the 49ers and Broncos. The 49ers have opted for acclimation, arriving here on Monday morning and allowing themselves to be immersed in their new time zone. The Broncos have chosen routine. They practiced this week in Denver and didn't arrive here until this morning."

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat checks in with former 49ers receiver Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd: "After seven games, Lloyd ranks second in the NFL in receiving yards (709), has a league-best 14 catches of at least 20 yards and is the first player in 10 years to average more than 20 yards per catch in his first seven games (minimum 35 catches). Lloyd has been so ordinary for so long that it's hard for the San Francisco faithful to mutter about one that got away. After the Niners dealt him to Washington for third- and fourth-round picks in 2006, he had 20 catches in 12 starts. The next season, he had two catches and was inactive for a game for missing team meetings." Lloyd made one of the most spectacular catches I've seen in person, stabbing a ball with one hand near the sideline at Candlestick Park -- after the ball had gone past him. It was as though he snatched the back end of the ball with one hand.

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News also writes about Lloyd. Brown: "Counting preseason games, no NFL team has played more games on foreign soil than the 49ers. This marks their 10th game, a total that spans six countries. The 49ers have played in Japan (1989, '95 and '02), the United Kingdom (1998, '92), Germany ('91), Spain ('93), Canada ('98) and Mexico ('05)."

Also from Brown: The 49ers do not plan to have Davis listed as their third quarterback Sunday.

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle quotes the 49ers' offensive coordinator as saying he had little input in the team's decision to sign Troy Smith even though the two were together with Baltimore.

Also from White: Takeo Spikes isn't buying the idea that the 49ers are "saving" him for later in the season.

Rod Mar of seahawks.com offers photos from practice Thursday.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com looks at the team's rookie class. Farnsworth: "Rookie free safety Earl Thomas leads the team, and is tied for second in the league, with four interceptions. Fellow first-round draft choice Russell Okung has been impressive at left tackle, when available. Cornerback Walter Thurmond (fourth round) made his first start last week and was credited for his efforts in holding the Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald to three catches for 30 yards. Strong safety Kam Chancellor (fifth round) got 17 snaps in the Bandit defense against Arizona."

Also from Farnsworth: The Seahawks have had some success with a "big dime" or "Bandit" defense featuring seven defensive backs on third down. Lawyer Milloy: "What makes it successful is we’re stopping the run early, and that’s a big credit to our line. Over the past few weeks that Bandit package has been used a lot more because of that situation."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times profiles Seahawks receiver Mike Williams. Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates: "We're going to keep pressing Mike. We're not going to award him any awards right now. He's got to come in week by week and keep proving himself to the team, to us and to the rest of the NFL."

John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune goes down memory lane with the Raiders as the Seahawks prepare to visit their former AFC West rivals in Oakland.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' have found pass-rush help through 32-year-old former Colts defensive end Raheem Brock. Williams: "Playing about half of the defensive snaps, mostly in passing situations, the 32-year-old, nine-year veteran has three sacks and seven quarterback hurries in six games and is tied for second on the team in sacks with safety Lawyer Milloy."

John Boyle of the Everett Herald says Seattle's defensive backs love their role in the Bandit defense. Boyle: "This unusual defensive package, which is used exclusively in passing situations, employs seven defensive backs, three down linemen, and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu. Having that many defensive backs on the field creates a number of options for the defense. On any given play, some can rush the quarterback, while others drop into coverage, and what makes the scheme so effective is that opposing offensive linemen and quarterbacks aren't sure who is going to do what."

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic profiles Cardinals cornerback Greg Toler, who has taken an unconventional route to the NFL. Bickley: "Toler is showing star potential. Some think he has even outplayed his counterpart, Pro Bowler Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who also hails from a small school. But the two cornerbacks couldn't be more different. Cromartie is a ball-hawk with world-class speed, a finesse player who is known to paint his toenails. Toler is much more physical, and much more eager to put his helmet in someone's ribs."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Russ Grimm faces an unusual situation in Week 8 when his team faces a Tampa Bay team featuring Grimm's son, Cody. Another son, Chad, is an assistant coach with the Cardinals. Cody Grimm: "I remember the first big article ever written about me was like, 'A chip off the old Hog.' I'll tell you they expected me to be a little bit bigger and more like an O-lineman. They'd say, 'That's Cody Grimm, Russ' son.' They'd go, 'Wasn't your dad an O-lineman?' Yeah, I don't know what happened." Cody Grimm goes 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds, or roughly the size of his father's left leg.

Also from Somers: Clark Haggans was the only Cardinals player to miss practice Thursday.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals receiver Steve Breaston is eager to get back on the field following a one-month injury absence.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the team plans to wear its alternate black jerseys Sunday.

Also from Urban: Russ Grimm calls Cody Grimm an overachiever.