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Around the NFC West: Rams' line blunders

Bernie Miklasz, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist, called it back in September, predicting injury for Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.

"It's just a matter of time before he officially becomes a victim of what could be the most overpaid, underachieving NFL offensive line that I've seen in more than 30 years of covering the league," Miklasz wrote.

And that was after the team had sought and secured a pay reduction from left guard Jacob Bell, whose free-agent signing in 2008 stood as the first huge step in an effort to upgrade the line. The Rams waited until November before making another move signaling their dissatisfaction.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says center Jason Brown, a big-money signing in free agency during the 2009 offseason, has lost his starting job to journeyman Tony Wragge. Noted: This is a significant move for the Rams and one that illustrates the team's struggles in identifying talent for the line. I had noticed and written about Brown's struggles a couple weeks ago. The team also used the second choice of the 2009 draft for Jason Smith. Smith was supposed to provide toughness and leadership as a mainstay left tackle. He has instead been an inconsistent presence at right tackle, currently sidelined by injury. The Rams fared better in using a 2010 second-round choice for Rodger Saffold, their current starting left tackle. But they returned to the free-agent market this past offseason, signing right guard Harvey Dahl in part because 2008 third-round pick John Greco never met expectations and was eventually traded. It's now looking as though the team could have new starters at left guard, center and right tackle next season. When the Rams signed Brown in 2009, general manager Billy Devaney explained the move by saying, "We stressed even during the season about getting bigger on the offensive line, more physical, and he fits everything. [Jason's] smart, big, young, and of strong character. The arrow's still going up on him -- an ascending player."

Also from Thomas: The Rams activated receiver Mark Clayton.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic revisits the Kevin Kolb trade and has a hard time picking a winner after only eight games. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie hasn't exactly lit it up in Philly. Somers: "Unlike Kolb, Rodgers-Cromartie proved he can be successful in the NFL. As a rookie in 2008, he intercepted six passes in the last nine games, including the playoffs. In 2009, he was chosen to the Pro Bowl. Since then, however, his production has declined. The Cardinals weren't eager to trade him, but with Greg Toler, A.J. Jefferson and Patrick Peterson, they thought they could afford to part with Rodgers-Cromartie." Noted: There is no winner at this early stage, but the trade favors the Eagles at present because Kolb wasn't playing for them. The 2012 second-round pick they added becomes more valuable with every Cardinals defeat. Arizona can still come out ahead if Kolb develops into a good starting quarterback.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers are having fun with a new play named for a Third Relief Commander at Arlington National Cemetery.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Giants quarterback Eli Manning thought he had sold Frank Gore on attending Mississippi, only to find out Gore was headed for Miami. Manning had fun with the recollection: "He committed. He committed. He had a good visit. I took care of him and he was calling me a few weeks later and making sure we were going to run the counter play. And I told him we'd run the counter play and he needed to come here. And all of a sudden it was signing day and we couldn't sign him. Miami had him hidden or something. They had a plan to keep him down there in Miami." Patrick Willis was also part of that Mississippi team.

The San Francisco Chronicle says Gore expects to play against the Giants despite an ankle injury. Gore: "I'll be all right."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune looks at the Seahawks' efforts to get bigger -- much bigger -- at cornerback under coach Pete Carroll. Richard Sherman is 6-foot-3. Brandon Browner is an inch taller. Boling: "The initial appeal of the jumbo corners was that they could create a better matchup against some of the big receivers the Seahawks face, such as Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald. The question becomes whether the tradeoff is a vulnerability to the smaller, quicker type receivers. The key against those, Sherman and Browner agreed, is to jam them at the line of scrimmage."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Zach Miller's role in pass protection has limited his contributions as a receiver. Noted: Doug Baldwin's emergence has also given the Seahawks a very good target somewhat unexpectedly.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with newly activated receiver Deon Butler. Carroll: "Well, we’re going to work him in. We know he’s a tremendous speed player and a guy that has come through and made a lot of things happen for us last season, so we’re anxious to fit him back in. Right now, it’s still part of the process to get him situated. I’m not sure how much we can play him yet, but it’s good to get him back on the roster."