The St. Louis Rams' Sam Bradford and Arizona Cardinals' Kevin Kolb were supposed to give their teams an edge in the NFC West this season.
They were the only quarterbacks in the division earning legitimate starter money.
Both have struggled. Both have taken too many sacks. Both are dealing with injuries.
But with the Rams set to visit the Cardinals in Week 9, Bradford is getting healthier. He has a chance to return from the high-ankle sprain that has sidelined him for the past two games. Kolb's status is suddenly in question after he suffered a turf-toe injury against Baltimore in Week 8. Bradford is shedding a walking boot just as Kolb getting accustomed to one.
Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Bradford has been doing strengthening exercises, but the team is not yet sure whether he'll practice Wednesday or play against the Cardinals. Coach Steve Spagnuolo said the team planned to "slowly work him in there" as Bradford's ankle allows. Noted: Spagnuolo projects the right view. It's tough to predict how high-ankle sprains will respond once the player begins practicing. Bradford is not a wide receiver or running back, however. The team doesn't need him to be 100 percent.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Spagnuolo is warning against reading too much into the schedule, but there's no denying it gets easier for the Rams. Thomas: "The Rams open and close November with 1-6 Arizona. In between is a Nov. 12 game at Cleveland (3-4), followed by a Nov. 29 contest at home against Seattle (2-5). Those three teams have a combined record of 6-15; the combined record of the Rams' first seven opponents is 31-19."
D'Marco Farr of 101ESPN St. Louis sheds light on how the Rams beat the Saints. Farr: "The Rams made some excellent coverage adjustments toward the middle of the field and between the hash marks. The Rams took away Brees' favorite target in skyscraper tight end Jimmy Graham and theoretically broke the tip off of the spear in the Saints passing attack. Graham was targeted eight times but could only bring in four catches for just 39 yards and he had to work very hard just to get those. No Graham equaled limited production in Sean Payton's pass first game plan. In fact the plan became a little obvious from when I was sitting. When Sproles was in the game the Saints were throwing the football. With RBs Chris Ivory or Pierre Thomas in the game the Saints tried to establish a running game. Even their must vaunted screen game was rendered useless due the excellent recognition and pursuit by linebackers Chris Chamberlain and James Laurinaitis."
Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis says a few of the Rams' younger players, notably Robert Quinn and Greg Salas, made key contributions Sunday. Noted: The team needs a youth infusion on defense overall.
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are considering changes to their offensive line as they look for ways to help protect Kolb. Noted: The Cardinals' veteran line gave them an edge early in the season, particularly coming out of a lockout. But as a season slips away, teams like to evaluate younger players. The Cardinals lack many young line prospects to develop because they haven't drafted enough of them. Kolb could help out the line by doing a better job anticipating throws. He takes too many sacks and doesn't appear comfortable hanging in the pocket.
Also from McManaman: Kolb says his turf-toe injury affected his ability to plant more than it affected his scrambling. As a result, some of his throws might have lacked velocity.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the 1-6 records for Arizona and St. Louis could threaten the team's sellout streak at University of Phoenix Stadium. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "It’s obviously something that’s important to our team. We’re working hard to try to make sure we’re taking care of business, and we haven’t done that. It’s been a tough stretch for our fans, I understand that, and we’re working hard to try to get that fixed. Hopefully, they'll continue to support us. We've had a number of exciting games [at UoP] and they’ve been a big part of that. All I can tell you is that we’re going to have more [exciting games] there, and we sure would appreciate the support."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com looks at the long list of personnel groupings the 49ers used on offense against the Browns. Maiocco: "The team ran 64 offensive plays on Sunday, and they used 33 different combination of players at the five eligible positions. In the first half alone, the 49ers used 26 different combinations for the 36 plays they ran. For the first time this season, the 49ers used formations that did not involve a running back." Noted: That volume puts pressure on defenses when they prepare for the 49ers.
Also from Maiocco: a look at 49ers superlatives from their 6-1 start.
More from Maiocco: Michael Crabtree switched from 'X' to 'Z' receiver to accommodate Braylon Edwards.
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers' defense has the makings to challenge some of the top units of the past two decades, particularly through the front seven. Kawakami: "If an opponent doesn’t have a dynamic offense, with a QB who can laser it through tight windows under pressure, it probably doesn’t have a great chance to beat the 49ers. Bad offenses have no shot vs. this team, unless the 49ers blow it themselves. That’s the way I always felt about the old Eagles, and it wasn’t 100 percent, but that rule mostly held true."
Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News notes that the 49ers lead the NFL in fewest points allowed.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Seahawks rookie cornerback Richard Sherman wasn't impressed with Bengals receiver A.J. Green. O'Neil: "I would say he's probably one of the most overrated receivers out there. He wasn't anything special. [Andy] Dalton was a good quarterback. He makes good decisions, but A.J. Green is just a lot of noise talking and bad routes." Noted: Sherman had a very good game Sunday. He wasn't in coverage when Green scored a touchdown. Green has produced this season. He must be doing something right.
Also from O'Neil: Penalties are a problem for Seattle.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the team's defense is doing enough to keep Seattle in games. A little help from the offense would make it matter.