Around the NFC West: 12-year vet holds firm

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says veteran nose tackle Bryan Robinson is making it tough for Gabe Watson and Alan Branch to take his job. Somers: "A year ago, no one envisioned Robinson starting at nose tackle. The Cardinals signed him to a two-year contract in spring 2008, thinking he would be a rotation player at end or tackle, a veteran who would be willing to mentor the younger players."

Also from Somers: Ken Whisenhunt canceled practice and took his team to the movies, an annual custom this far into training camp.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with Cardinals cornerback Michael Adams, who is trying to earn a roster spot despite concerns about his height.

Taylor Price of 49ers.com says the team liked practicing with the Raiders as a change of pace. Price: "On the very first play of 11-on-11 work, center Eric Heitmann leveled Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly at the line, allowing Frank Gore to burst for a nice gain down the right side of the line."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers running back Frank Gore is learning from running backs coach Tom Rathman. Maiocco: "Gore said he takes great pride in his ability to block. He said Rathman has helped him tremendously in that area, showing him how easy it can be as long as he takes proper angles."

Also from Maiocco: "Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky singled out safety Reggie Smith and defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois for their play in Friday's exhibition opener. Smith, of course, had an interception and also picked off a two-point conversion attempt. Jean-Francois held up well at the point of attack on run plays, Manusky said."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers safety Michael Lewis suffered a concussion in the morning session Tuesday, possibly jeopardizing his status for the second exhibition game.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Mike Singletary's emphasis on avoiding fights paid off while the 49ers practiced with the Raiders. Also: "Shaun Hill was the sharpest 49ers quarterback on Tuesday, especially during the morning practice. During 11-on-11 drills, Hill completed 12 of 14 passes -- and one of those incompletions was a spike to stop the clock. Alex Smith was 7 of 13. It would have looked better had Arnaz Battle hauled in a downfield pass over the middle during the two-minute drill."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times had this to say, among other things, during his most recent chat: "People might disagree, but I thought Julius Jones looked good in Saturday's game. I think he's got a shot to be a very productive starter. I think [Justin] Forsett is promising and ahead of where the team had hoped, but I don't think he's ready to displace Julius Jones."

Also from O'Neil: Seahawks tight end John Carlson appears on the verge of a tremendous season. Carlson has improved his lower-body strength to become a better blocker, and it showed early in the Seahawks' exhibition opener, offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com also sees very good things from Carlson. Also, Steve Mariucci showed up at practice and went after Matt Hasselbeck.

John Morgan of Field Gulls saw good things from Seahawks linebacker Will Herring in the exhibition opener.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks Craig Dahl will be the fourth safety for the Rams. He thinks Alex Barron appears more comfortable at left tackle. He thinks Joe Klopfenstein, Adam Carriker and Quinton Culberson have been disappointments so far. All part of Thomas' weekly Rams chat.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Barron's knee checked out OK. Also, Mark Setterstrom and John Greco took first-team snaps at left guard while Jacob Bell recovered from a concussion.

Turf Show Times' VanRam raises concerns about Marc Bulger's injury while wondering whether Chris Long will step up as a pass-rusher.