Around the NFC West: Cards monitor receivers

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals have yet to identify a clear favorite to replace Bryant Johnson as the third receiver. Coach Ken Whisenhunt called it a "free-for-all" and said exhibition games will prove decisive. Steve Breaston might have the best shot.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat marks J.T. O'Sullivan's debut as a relevant training-camp quarterback for the 49ers. Would the 49ers consider naming him their starter? Alex Smith and Shaun Hill have been battling so far, but the 49ers haven't said much about either. The longer Smith and Hill compete without distinction, the better chance O'Sullivan has to become a factor.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes at the bottom of his story that rookie Lance Ball is getting more carries than expected while running back Steven Jackson holds out. Coach Scott Linehan: "He's a really good runner, very productive in college. We felt we needed to get an extra guy that was productive at that position and when he came in, he was immediately the right kind of guy. So, we're happy to have him."

Coats also says safety Todd Johnson has been impressive subbing for the injured O.J. Atogwe, while Marc Bulger is coming off his sharpest performance of camp. But hotter temperatures made life tougher for the Rams overall. Also: Jackson has incurred $90,000 in fines for missing practices while under contract.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down salary figures for the Rams' draft class. He sees about $29 million in guaranteed money for first-round choice Chris Long, slightly more than the $26,000 in guarantees for seventh-round linebacker David Vobora. Thomas also catches up with pass rusher Leonard Little, whose injury problems have not become a factor in camp so far.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says he can't recall seeing a 49ers offense as bad as the current one in 21 seasons of covering the team. Installing a new offense every year makes life difficult, particularly during the installation process.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers' quarterback play has been "ragged" during camp, but this is the time when coordinator Mike Martz expects improvement. The team appeared to be in need of an energy infusion Wednesday.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle gauges Joe Staley's mood as the offensive lineman moves from right tackle to left tackle. Staley downplays the change, but left tackles generally face tougher matchups.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post Intelligencer checks in with second-year Seahawks guard Steve Vallos, who is getting unexpected work at center. Farnsworth also puts together a 400-meter relay team comprised of Seattle's fastest players.

Bob LeGere of suburban Chicago's Daily Herald provides an update on former 49ers receiver Brandon Lloyd, now trying to polish his image with the Bears. Sounds as though Lloyd is enjoying a strong camp so far.

Jose Romero of the Seattle Times describes Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck as a vocal leader in a quieter camp. I haven't seen vocal leadership from less-established quarterbacks in Arizona or San Francisco.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times measures Brandon Mebane's impact on the Seahawks' defense. Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu: "I don't think we make the playoffs without him."

Scott Johnson of the Everett Herald says D.D. Lewis followed the Seahawks closely after leaving Seattle for the Houston Texans. He's back in the Northwest after fellow linebackers Niko Koutouvides and Kevin Bentley left in free agency. Johnson also checks in with a Seattle secondary that seems to be picking up where it left off last season.