Head West: A Glance Around the Day's News in the NFC West (7/31)

Ron ClementsCorrespondent IJuly 31, 2012

Is Kevin Kolb's thigh bruise the small opening John Skelton needs to win the starting job?
Is Kevin Kolb's thigh bruise the small opening John Skelton needs to win the starting job?Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Today’s glance around the NFC West includes visible construction on San Francisco’s new stadium, an update on Jim Harbaugh’s rant on A.J. Jenkins, a possible new contract for St. Louis linebacker James Laurinaitis, Jeff Fisher’s influence on Rams Park, Chris Clemons taking Bruce Irvin under his wing in Seattle, Brandon Browner's long journey to the NFL and injuries in Arizona—including one to quarterback Kevin Kolb.

Kolb, one of two quarterbacks vying to be the starter for the Arizona Cardinals, left Monday’s practice with a thigh bruise. That means more reps for John Skelton and, as the old NFL phrase goes, “You can’t make the club in the tub.” Kolb’s injury doesn’t appear to be serious, but does warrant monitoring as the Cardinals prepare to play in Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game against New Orleans in Canton, Ohio.

The Cardinals are also dealing with injuries at running back, with starter Beanie Wells on the physically unable to perform list, Ryan Williams being held out as a precaution and Javorris James dealing with a strained abductor muscle. The Cardinals say on their camp blog that Wells will play this preseason.

After Monday’s practice, coach Ken Whisenhunt said Saturday’s scrimmage was too sloppy. During practice, offensive tackle Jeremy Bridges was seen mentoring the kid who’s going to take his job. At the other tackle spot, Darren Urban of azcardinals.com writes about Levi Brown’s desire to remain in Arizona.

Off the field, defensive end Ronald Talley is facing assault charges and the team is hoping to give linebacker Daryl Washington a contract extension.

The St. Louis Rams held their second full practice on Monday in an off-and-on drizzle. But a little rain couldn't dampen the optimism that coach Jeff Fisher has brought to St. Louis. Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out Fisher’s drive for basic improvement as he and new general manager Les Snead have overhauled the roster.

My good friend Andrew Astleford of FoxSportsMidwest.com wrote that Fisher has a subtle approach.

The Post-Dispatch had three writers out at Monday’s practice. Dan O’Neill spoke with first-round draft pick Michael Brockers; beat writer Jim Thomas expects a new contract for linebacker James Laurinaitis to come soon; columnist Bryan Burwell says Sam Bradford is hungry to prove that he is a franchise quarterback.

The Rams have several positions up for grabs and Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com writes about who was where during Monday’s practice.

San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh ruffled some feathers over the weekend when he blasted media criticism of first-round pick A.J. Jenkins. The former Illinois receiver said he loves the criticism because it drives him to succeed. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee tried to explain Harbaugh’s rant.

On the field on Monday, linebacker Patrick Willis is already in midseason form, according to Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News.

Frank Gore is clearly San Francisco’s starter and has a capable backup in Kendall Hunter behind him. That didn’t stop the Niners from signing 30-year-old Brandon Jacobs from the Giants or drafting former Oregon star LaMichael James. The added depth, and competition, doesn’t bother Gore.

The Niners have started raising the skeletal beams for their new stadium in Santa Clara. Some of the money used for the new arena will come from the state, according to the Bee. The Niners won’t move into their fancy new digs until 2014.

In Seattle Seahawks camp, a new contract for defensive end Chris Clemons also comes with a new title: mentor. Clemons has taken first-round pick Bruce Irvin under his wing, according to Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune. That’s what you would expect from your defensive leader. The two could be starting opposite each other when the season begins in September.

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times said rookie quarterback Russell Wilson got his first reps with the ones as coach Pete Carroll sticks with his plan of a three-quarterback competition for the starting job. The other two candidates are incumbent Tarvaris Jackson and free-agent acquisition Matt Flynn. The Seahawks' team blog says Flynn has been the most polished so far.

O’Neil also took a look at the journey of cornerback Brandon Browner, who capped his debut season in Seattle with a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Second-year wideout Ricardo Lockette has been making plays early in camp. He’s in competition with Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Ben Obomanu and six other receivers for a roster spot. Lockette had just two catches last season, but they went for 105 yards and a touchdown. One of his long catches in practice on Monday was against Browner 

Tate, who started five games last season and finished with 35 receptions for 382 yards and three scores, has entered training camp with a new attitude, according to John Boyle of The Herald.