Around the NFC West: Cardinals recover

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Cardinals are enjoying more success than several recent Super Bowl losers. Coats: "Only one of the last eight teams to lose in the Super Bowl returned to the playoffs the following season -- Seattle in 2006, by winning the NFC West with a 9-7 record. New England is the only other Super Bowl loser during that span to post a winning mark the following season — 11-5 last year. The Patriots didn't qualify for the postseason, however."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals have put emphasis on receiver screens this season. Kurt Warner: "It's a substitute for the run game, with all these spread offenses. You see all these spread offenses and there's not a back in the backfield to hand it to. But you're still doing these low-risk, possibly big plays. Even if you are getting only three or four yards, it's a positive for you." Seems like most or all NFL teams have incorporated these plays into their offense.

Also from Somers: an extensive matchup preview looking at the Cardinals-Rams game. Somers: "Coach Ken Whisenhunt and his players have done a stellar job of praising the Rams this week: They are better than their 1-8 record. Turn on the tape and you see a good team that's close to winning. Right. The Rams are 1-8 for a reason. They aren't very good. They are lacking talent at receiver, on the defensive line and at linebacker. The Cardinals have a tendency to make games more difficult than they have to be, and this probably won't be an exception. If they win by less than two scores, people will be wondering what's wrong."

Also from Somers: Cardinals coaches are pleased with the offensive line's development as the group prepares to start its 30th consecutive game together, counting playoffs. Deuce Lutui has definitely become more consistent. He has also cut down on penalties significantly.

More from Somers: Chike Okeafor was the only player held out of practice Thursday.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals are focused on tackling securely heading into their matchup with the Rams' Steven Jackson.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams will place C.J. Ah You on injured reserve after the defensive end suffered a torn anterior-cruciate ligament in his left knee. Thomas: "Ah You becomes the ninth Rams player to go on the injured reserve list this season. Victor Adeyanju will pick up most of Ah You’s playing time Sunday against Arizona. Spagnuolo indicated the team may wait until next week to fill Ah You's spot on the active roster."

Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains Warner's appeal in St. Louis this way: "One, he is an amazing story. Two, he actually led this star-crossed franchise to two Super Bowls. Warner was the ultimate underdog-made-good story and he never let his storybook success go to his head. He remained committed to helping people and sharing his faith. So not only did he succeed at a very high level, he remained a genuine hero to his fans. Such stories seem rare in our sports world."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers are rested following what amounts to a second bye week. The extra time also helped the 49ers' prepare for the Packers' elaborate schemes.

Also from Barrows: The 2005 draft produced lots of starting quarterbacks, but few stars among them.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' Michael Crabtree is looking to get more yards after the catch.

Also from Maiocco: Frank Gore says he can see defenses better when the 49ers are in the shotgun formation. Maiocco also sees the 49ers using the franchise tag to keep nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin. That would make sense. Franklin hasn't played well enough for long enough for an organization to hand him a long-term deal worthy of a perennial Pro Bowl player. At the same time, Franklin has certainly earned a substantial raise through his play this season. Paying a franchise salary to him would seem fair.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune explains why John Carlson isn't catching as many passes for the Seahawks this season. Coach Jim Mora: "It's kind of a combination of a lot of things. (We’ve been) keeping him in some protection more than maybe we had earlier in the year. Our wideouts are playing pretty effectively. Our screen game’s coming along. Those things take touches away from him."

D.J. Gallo of espn.com replaces Mora's 17 officiating complaints with invented ones, including, "This was our second game on the road in three weeks. What gives?"

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says patience is more than a virtue for Seahawks running back Justin Forsett. It's a way of life.

John Boyle of the Everett Herald passes along this quote from Matt Hasselbeck regarding the quarterback's early days in Green Bay: "They were paying me and I felt like I should be paying them. It was an awesome experience. It was kind of like Harvard business school for a young quarterback. Mike Holmgren was the head coach, Andy Reid was the quarterbacks coach and Brett was the starter, so it was a great opportunity."

Matt Pitman of 710ESPN Seattle says Marcus Trufant returned to practice for Seattle, but Josh Wilson continued to sit out.

Dave Wyman of 710ESPN Seattle revisits Steve Hutchinson's departure from the Seahawks. Wyman: "In the Seahawks' defense, they thought they would get to enter the last bid at the eBay auction. And so did everyone else until the NFL allowed this ridiculous "poison pill" clause agent Tom Condon wrote into the contract. The spirit of the transition tag was that the original team would get the opportunity to match the contract no matter what."