Around the NFC West: Linehan must win

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Scott Linehan knows he has to win this season. Linehan must do a better job handling defeat, the coach acknowledged. He also must not focus on the offense at the expense of the rest of the team.

Also from Thomas: Linehan is doing whatever he can to avoid a repeat of 2007, even changing up things in his personal life. Will it carry over onto the field?

Still more from Thomas: Where were you when the Rams' first-team offense finally scored a preseason touchdown? Thanks for asking, Jim. I was at the Cardinals-Raiders game.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers summaries on the Rams' key new players: Chris Long, Jacob Bell, Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton, Josh Brown, Trent Green and Anthony Becht.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic offers late-night thoughts following the Cardinals' 24-0 victory over the Raiders in the third exhibition game. Somers after coach Ken Whisenhunt defended a struggling Matt Leinart: "Jeff Fisher has done the same for Vince Young in Tennessee. I'll take the coach at his word, but you don't expect a first-round pick in his third year to look as bad as Leinart did."

Also from Somers: an overview of the game, including this observation Leinart: "Only one of his passes, a 14-yarder to receiver Anquan Boldin, seemed to be thrown with much conviction or accuracy. It's hard to see Saturday's video helping Leinart keep the job."

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune assesses Matt Leinart's poor performance against the Raiders before getting into how well the Cardinals' defense played.

Also from Tulumello: a look at the Cardinals' continuing penalty problems.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com balances good with bad following the Cardinals' performance. Speaking of the good, how about that Cardinals defense?

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says there's no way the Cardinals can open the regular season with Leinart at quarterback.

Jim Cawley of Florida Today checks in with Joe Cohen as the recently released 49ers defensive lineman helps family recover from Tropical Storm Fay in Florida. Being released was tough, but as Cohen put it: "I can't let this incident halt my life. There are other people in worse situations than me."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times breaks down the Seahawks' roster heading into the next exhibition game. He places Deion Branch on the bubble, only because the receiver could open the regular season on the physically unable to perform list. He lists Will Herring among the longshots at linebacker.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune offers ideas for improving the exhibition season: "Memo to the league: Monday night football and overtimes have no place in the preseason."

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seahawks punter Ryan Plackemeier, who is competing with Reggie Hodges for a roster spot. The two have become friends.