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Around the NFC West: Rams' Smith closer?

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders if Jason Smith has moved closer to the Rams' starting lineup. With right guard Richie Incognito resting a sprained knee, coaches moved right tackle Adam Goldberg into Incognito's spot, clearing the way for Smith to play right tackle with the first-team unit in practice. Coats also provides injury updates.

Also from Coats: Rams receiver Laurent Robinson keeps making strides. Also, cornerback Jonathan Wade is getting some first-team reps at Tye Hill's expense.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams guard Jacob Bell is trying to make up lost ground following a concussion. Bell never saw what hit him against the Jets two weeks ago. He stayed in the game one more play, but teammates had to tell him which player to block. Bell: "And I'm practically blocking him with my eyes closed. They probably should've left me in there and seen what happened."

Jim Corbett of USA Today revisits Larry Fitzgerald's ambitions offseason. Corbett: "The only thing more impressive than Fitzgerald's remarkable postseason ascent was his ambitious offseason agenda. There's little concern about a post-Super Bowl letdown for the sixth-year wideout, who reinvented himself as a respected league-wide leader."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals can clear two roster spots by placing Cody Brown and Pago Togafau on injured reserve. The team would then need to clear three roster spots to comply with the 75-man limit.

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle sees little value in exhibition results, counter to 49ers coach Mike Singletary's stated position.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle breaks out positive aspects of the 49ers' performances while posting a 3-0 record during the exhibition season. The team has succeeded in forcing turnovers.

Also from Crumpacker: 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan says he expects first-round choice Michael Crabtree to sign at some point.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Josh Morgan's hold on a starting job at receiver could be tenuous. Singletary: "He's still learning how to be a pro. At some point, the light's going to go on and he's going to take off." The 49ers' passing game hasn't made anyone but Arnaz Battle look good recently. Remember Jason Hill?

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Andre Smith's signing in Cincinnati doesn't necessarily mean the 49ers are closer to signing Crabtree, the last unsigned draft choice. Maiocco: "The sides are no closer in principle, but ... it is another day closer to the beginning of the regular season. That's significant because a player without a contract starts to feel the pinch on his wallet once the regular season begins. Players get 1/17th of their base salaries every week during the regular season. So, Crabtree will only begin losing money when he's not collecting game checks."

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News lists players who helped and hurt their standing in the 49ers' game against the Cowboys.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times takes a closer look at the Seahawks following their exhibition game at Kansas City. He notes: "Fullback Justin Griffith plays like the bushwhacking trailblazer the running game needs. Through one quarter Saturday, Julius Jones had carried five times for 15 yards behind starting fullback Owen Schmitt. Griffith entered in the second quarter, and Jones popped consecutive 8-yard runs, which isn't mind-blowing but certainly constituted improvement."

John Morgan of Field Gulls examines the interception Matt Hasselbeck threw early in the game against the Chiefs. Morgan: "Hasselbeck either didn't see (Mike) Vrabel or underestimated him."

Brian McIntyre of NorthwestFootball.net provides updated snap counts and information on personnel groupings for the Seahawks during the exhibition season.

Mike Salk of 710ESPN Seattle wants to see more from the Seahawks' Lofa Tatupu and Patrick Kerney. It's tough to know how to analyze these exhibition games. Some veteran players seem to pick their spots. I've noticed it when watching other teams in the NFC West as well. Singletary said he thought Nate Clements lost focus at times.