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Around the NFC West: Reassessing Limbaugh

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch backtracks only slightly in his criticisms of potential Rams limited partner Rush Limbaugh after acknowledging that a quote attributed to the talk-show host might have been passed along inaccurately. Burwell: "There is still a huge pile of polarizing, bigoted debris stacked up on the deck of the good ship Limbaugh that he can't deny or even remotely distance himself from."

Reid Laymance of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the newspaper is researching the validity of the quote attributed to Limbaugh as relayed by Burwell.

Also from Laymance: He relays part of what Limbaugh said during an NBC interview. Limbaugh on critics: "They’re gonna go nuts. This is the kind of stuff they’ve been trying to make sure doesn’t happen with me. All this stuff is the mainstreaming of Rush Limbaugh from off this far-right fringe they’ve tried to put me [in]. I just keep tiptoeing into the mainstream. And it just irritates them." Limbaugh is clearly relishing the situation. The publicity generated by this controversy makes him a winner no matter how the situation plays out. If the NFL rejects him as a potential owner, he emerges as the man deemed too dangerous for the NFL, playing into the idea Limbaugh promoted during the NBC interview. If the NFL accepts Limbaugh as a limited partner, his profile rises accordingly.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams receiver Donnie Avery has apologized for his elaborate celebration during a blowout defeat.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says it's tough to see progress when a team loses by 28 points. Also during this chat, Thomas addresses Rams defensive end Chris Long: "When you draft a defensive end No. 2 overall, there is some expectation that he will sack the quarterback. Long is playing the run pretty well, but the sacks aren't there. Long realizes this. I do think when he came out the overall expectation was that he would be a very good player, but not a superstar. It's way too early to declare him a bust."

Lisa Goodwin of 49ers.com says 49ers defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga is raising awareness for tsunami relief in American Samoa.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle looks into the 49ers' problems on offense. The team hasn't scored more than two offensive touchdowns in a game this season. None of the seven wide receivers on the roster ranks among the NFL's top 90 in receptions.

Also from Crumpacker: Commissioner Roger Goodell has warned Deion Sanders about potential conflicts of interest in light of recent dealings with Michael Crabtree.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat offers notes for every 49ers player following the team's defeat to the Falcons in Week 5. On Glen Coffee: "Made a mental mistake when he assumed Josh Morgan scored a touchdown. He went to the sideline and was late getting on the field when the 49ers got into the huddle to run a play from the 2-yard line. The 49ers spent a timeout, and the 49ers needed it later in the half. Instead, they were unable to challenge a fumble ruling that probably would've been overturned."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers have plans for Crabtree and Frank Gore during the bye week.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says Ben Patrick became emotional during his return from a four-game suspension. Patrick: "It sounds funny, but I'm glad it happened. It was a good learning experience in my life and it gave me a chance to appreciate my situation that much more after it was taken away from me. Do I have any regrets? If I have one, it would be not being here to help my teammates."

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are struggling with an identity crisis. Quarterback Kurt Warner: "A lot of it comes down to what personnel group is best for what we're trying to do. That's the big question mark for us. What do we want to do? Four wide receivers? Three wide receivers? What personnel group are we going to thrive in? What will allow us to build our passing game and our running game at the same time?"

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt is trying to keep the team loose. Whisenhunt thinks the team can become too tight while trying to avoid mistakes.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with Gabe Watson, a big part of the Cardinals' defense.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com revisits Owen Schmitt's head-splitting antics from Week 5. Seahawks coach Jim Mora joked that the team would have to introduce its defense in Week 6 just to make sure Schmitt didn't injure himself.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks are having success with a hurry-up offense. T.J. Houshmandzadeh: "Matt (Hasselbeck) feels comfortable operating in a hurry-up type of pace. Because for the most part, from the preseason until today, every time we were in a hurry-up type of mode, we went and scored."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune suggests newly signed tackle Damion McIntosh could start for Seattle in Week 6. Conditioning could be an issue, I would think.

John Morgan of Field Gulls thinks Schmitt has good potential as a fullback and the Seahawks should let him play.