Around the NFC West: Needing two QBs

The Arizona Cardinals' quarterback competition will take a dramatic step toward its conclusion Thursday night.

John Skelton gets the start and Kevin Kolb will come off the bench in the team's fourth of five exhibition games, this one against Tennessee.

The reality, of course, is that the Cardinals are likely to need both players this season. They haven't head one quarterback start every game since Kurt Warner did it in 2008, the Cardinals' Super Bowl season.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says this opportunity Thursday night is mostly about Skelton. Urban: "The spotlight of the NFL has honed in on the Cardinals, given they are one of only a couple of teams left to name their starting quarterback for the regular season. If last week’s game ended up with a storyline of what Kevin Kolb did or did not do -- with circumstances leaving Skelton with only five snaps, including a kneel-down -- this week will be about Skelton’s performance."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says there's some historical significance to the occasion. Somers: "Aug. 23 is not a huge day in Cardinals history, but it's an intriguing one in the team's efforts to replace (Kurt) Warner. On Aug. 23, 2010, Matt Leinart was Warner's heir apparent and started a preseason game here against the Titans. It was Leinart's last start with the Cardinals. He was benched a few days later and cut before the regular season started. Thursday, exactly two years later, the Cardinals again play the Titans in the preseason. And as was the case two years ago, they are seeking someone to replace Warner."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Sidney Rice's return to live action felt official when the Seahawks' receiver absorbed a hit in practice. O'Neil: "He plays a pivotal role in Seattle's offense. He's the guy the Seahawks paid to be the No. 1 receiver they had been searching for since Carroll's arrival in 2010. That search started with a visit from free-agent Brandon Marshall two years ago, continued with inquires about Vincent Jackson when he was with the Chargers, but Rice was the one they signed to a five-year deal in 2012, guaranteeing him a reported $18 million." Noted: I had expected Rice to sit out the exhibition season as a precaution following two shoulder surgeries and the concussion problems he suffered last season. He's been getting practice reps. The Seahawks need to keep Rice healthy for the season.

Dan O'Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains why the Rams signed defensive end Vernon Gholston. O'Neill: "Defensive end Eugene Sims has been hobbled and did not practice on Wednesday. Defensive tackle Trevor Laws has missed numerous practices. If Sims' injury is substantial, the Rams need depth on the defensive line. ... Gholston slips into a roster spot vacated by Josh Gordy. The veteran cornerback was traded to Indianapolis on Tuesday night, as the Rams received an undisclosed pick in the 2014 draft in return." Noted: The odds of Gholston sticking on the roster heading into the season seem extremely slim. They have so far shown no inclination toward re-signing veteran James Hall, who started last season.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com expects big things from the 49ers' Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati this season. Maiocco: "For the first time, they were able to work on a daily basis with 49ers offensive line coaches Mike Solari and Tim Drevno -- as well as offensive coordinator Greg Roman -- for a two-month period before reporting to training camp four weeks ago. It was a luxury they did not enjoy last year as the NFL offseason was non-existent due to the lockout."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee looks at Jim Harbaugh's motivational tactics. Alex Smith: "I don't want to speak for the other guys, but it's nice to have a coach who isn't going to publicly throw you under the bus. There are a lot of things that happen on the practice field and in games that people don't always see or get credit for. And I love the fact that he let's that be known."

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle passes along Greg Roman's thoughts on Smith and the team's interest in Peyton Manning. Roman uses the term "savant-like" to describe Smith's smarts.