Around the NFC West: Cardinals believe on 'D'

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals defenders are believing in new coordinator Bill Davis' system. Bickley: "By now, it is clear Davis has a leadership gene that his predecessor didn't. He has galvanized a defense known for its athleticism, swagger, talent and the occasional brain lapse. Davis saw it for himself late Sunday night, on the Giants' final drive of the game, a moment of maturity that might be a milestone around here."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals benefited from practicing a trick play even though its execution broke down during the game Sunday night.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says coach Ken Whisenhunt wants to keep an aggressive tack. Whisenhunt admits he might have been too aggressive in his play calling against the Giants. Urban: "There has long been an assumption by many that the Cardinals will transform the offense when (Kurt) Warner finally retires. The theory is that Whisenhunt grew up as a player and coach in run-first situations like Gibbs in Washington, Parcells in New York and Cowher in Pittsburgh. Besides, the thinking goes, with Wells on board and Matt Leinart the heir apparent at quarterback, running more makes more sense. But maybe not. Whisenhunt was quick to point out Leinart threw for 360 yards in just two quarters in the preseason comeback against Green Bay. Leinart also had a 405-yard passing performance in Minnesota as a rookie."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the schedule is working against the Rams. The Lions are coming off a bye to play the Rams in Week 8. The Colts were coming off a bye to play the Rams in Week 7. The Rams also played four of their first six games on the road.

Also from Thomas: a chat transcript on all things Rams. Thomas: "I think we all knew this was going to take time, and I don't think we were expecting much. But I think we expected better than 0-7. Let's say [Donnie] Avery doesn't fumble at Washington, the Rams finish off that drive and score and beat the Redskins. Let's say the Rams win the coin toss to start overtime, they drive down for a game-winning field goal and win in Jacksonville. They're 2-5 at this point, and although we all have gripes, it's not all that bad, relatively speaking. But it didn't happen."

More from Thomas: The Rams signed snapper Ryan Neill to replace the injured Chris Massey.

More yet from Thomas: Linebacker David Vobora is back.

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says the Rams have kept their composure during their 0-7 start.

Turf Show Times' VanRam explores whether the Rams' offensive line has improved.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers tight end Vernon Davis promised a young leukemia patient he would do something big for him Sunday. Three touchdown receptions later, Davis had more than fulfilled his promise. Brown: "Davis' big game came while wearing a bracelet inscribed with (patient) Joseph's name. The boy lives in Austin, Texas, and drove to Houston to meet his favorite player. Davis met him Saturday at the hotel and then chatted with him again on the field before the game."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee runs through the 49ers' recent roster moves. Barrows: "The team signed Chris Patrick from the Chiefs' practice squad to replace him. That means that either Adam Snyder or Barry Sims or Patrick, a former Nebraska Cornhusker, could step in as the new RT. I'm guessing it will be Snyder."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat also expects Snyder to play right tackle. Sims played there quite a bit Sunday.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle checks in with 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith, who leads the team in quarterback hits.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider breaks out the stopwatch when analyzing 49ers quarterbacks Shaun Hill and Alex Smith. Lynch: "The big difference there was Smith's ability to throw right when he hit the back foot, also Smith is more adept at throwing the ball away, sometimes too adept. When he played every snap in 2006, he threw more balls away than any other quarterback that season. But against Houston, his ability to move around and then possess the arm strength to hurl the ball to the line of scrimmage to avoid intentional grounding, bailed him out twice."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says tight ends John Carlson and Jason Witten played major roles the last time Seattle and Dallas played one another.

Also from Farnsworth: Seattle is seeking more "explosive" plays on offense. Farnsworth: "There are, of course, reasons for the Seahawks’ offensive inconsistency. At No. 1 is another capital 'I' -- as in Injuries. Six starters already have missed a combined 19 games, including Hasselbeck and four-fifths of what is supposed to be the starting line. The development of the zone-blocking scheme in the running game has been slowed by the on-going shuffling of the line. The Seahawks likely will use their fifth starting combination -- and fifth option at left tackle -- this week against the Dallas Cowboys."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks have lost nine of their last 10 games outside the Pacific time zone. The team plays four of its next five games under those conditions.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Matt Hasselbeck brought his injured daughter, Mallory, to team headquarters Monday. She recently underwent surgery after a dirt bike struck her during a family vacation. Johns: "Mallory Hasselbeck, 6, suffered injuries to her left arm and mouth and was treated at Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee as well as Children's Hospital upon her return home."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Walter Jones will miss another game to injury. How long can the Seahawks reasonably hold open a roster spot for him?

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant. Boling: "(Jim) Mora was cautious in his evaluation, saying the Seahawks were going to wait until Saturday or Sunday to decide how much Trufant will play. But Trufant sure looked up to speed in practice."