Around the NFC West: Hill's turn to step up

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Darren Sabedra of the San Jose Mercury News says Shaun Hill worked the two-minute drill with "midseason precision" after general manager Scot McCloughan singled out Alex Smith for praise. Hill: "I feel like I've proven that I can win and that I can win with this team. Obviously, winning is the most important thing."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers could eventually show interest in former Cowboys outside linebacker Greg Ellis "when/if his asking price drops."

David Fucillo of Niners Nation wonders how high the 49ers' defense might finish in the 2009 rankings. The unit was 13th last season.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic quotes Cardinals players as skeptical about extending the NFL regular season to 18 games. Quarterback Kurt Warner: "The season is so long and it's so physically demanding with the size and speed of the game now. I think you're asking for trouble." I agree.

Also from Somers: The Cardinals' 2008 highlight video is available here.

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind sizes up Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell, who moves into the starting lineup in place of Antonio Smith. The 6-foot-7 Campbell needs to stay low to avoid losing leverage in run support. I recall a Cardinals assistant stressing that to him in training camp last season.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com details Ken Whisenhunt's newest practice game. Good stuff.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' coaches are getting to know the NFC West landscape. Coach Steve Spagnuolo: "First of all, we've always felt that the first goal has got to be to win the division, so you focus on those guys for obvious reasons. You play them twice. We've got some new guys here, and we've got some new coaches here that maybe haven't been exposed to these three teams as much." Also: Justin King worked in practice as the top nickel corner, ahead of Jonathan Wade. King is coming off a serious toe injury.

VanRam of Turf Show Times wonders whether the Rams' receivers will emerge in 2009. He's taking a wait-and-see approach.

John Morgan of Field Gulls continues his look at Seahawks rookie receiver Deon Butler. Three plays from the Rose Bowl show promise even though Butler didn't catch a pass on any of them.

Melanie Lockhart of the Port Townsend Leader says Seahawks team doctor Stan Herring is speaking on the dangers of concussions. Herring has backed a new law in Washington state designed to protect high school athletes following concussions.