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Know Your Enemy: NFC West Preseason Update on 49ers, Cardinals, Rams

Posted Aug 19, 2014

A team-by-team look at the happenings around the NFC West at the preseason's halfway point.

On Monday, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was asked if he believes the NFC West is going to be as tough this year as it was a season ago, when the division produced a Super Bowl champion (Seahawks), the NFC runner-up (San Francisco 49ers), and a 10-win team that narrowly missed the playoffs (Arizona Cardinals).

"I can't imagine it not being [as tough]," Carroll said. "I think Arizona is better. The Rams are loaded with talent, they've got all kinds of guys. We know the Niners have been great. I think it's just as hard as it can get. It'll be good. It'll be good for us. It's the kind of challenges that we need. If you're going to have a good team you're going to have to deal with these guys, these good teams, and that's what we're faced with.

"Whoever comes out on top of the division is really going to be ready to play anybody."

With Carroll's observation in mind, we thought it would be a good time to take a look at how Seattle's NFC West counterparts have fared at the preseason's halfway point:

Arizona Cardinals (1-1 Preseason)

What's Happened:

A convincing win and a last-minute loss. The Cardinals have posted a 1-1 record in preseason games against the Houston Texans (W, 32-0) and Minnesota Vikings (L, 30-28). ... Starting quarterback Carson Palmer has gone 9-of-13 for 165 yards and a touchdown in two outings. ... Larry Fitzgerald has shown no signs of regression in his 11th season, as the 30-year-old wideout continues to develop his rapport with Palmer, hauling in four catches for 35 yards and a score in limited exhibition snaps. ... Former Washington State Cougars strong safety Deone Bucannon, who Arizona head coach Bruce Arians said would be given ample opportunities to "knock the crap out of people" in the division, has posted a team-high eight tackles through two preseason games. ... And cornerback Patrick Peterson signed a lucrative contract extension last month, but the Seahawks no longer have to worry about Peterson playing offense or returning punts.

Who's Hurt:

Veteran defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, who left Monday's practice with an injury to his right knee, is out for the season after an MRI revealed a torn ACL. ... Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu (knee) came off the team's preseason physically unable to perform (PUP) list today. ... Last year's leading receiver Michael Floyd (groin) missed the team's first two preseason games, but has been participating in practice. ... And linebacker John Abraham missed the first three weeks of training camp for personal reasons, but the 15-year pro with 133.5 sacks returned to Cardinals camp last week.

What's Next:

The Cincinnati Bengals (0-2 preseason). A nationally-televised contest with the defending AFC North champion is set for Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, where coach Arians has said his starters won't play more than the first half. ... The Cardinals then close out the preseason with a game at the home of the San Diego Chargers before turning around 11 days later and hosting the Bolts at home to open the regular season on ESPN's Monday Night Football.

Worth a Look:

San Francisco 49ers (0-2 Preseason)

What's Happened:

A pair of humbling defeats. The 49ers were bested by the Baltimore Ravens, 23-3, to open preseason play and then topped by the Denver Broncos, 34-0, a week later in the first NFL game at Levi's Stadium - the team's impressive new digs in Santa Clara, Calif. ... Starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick has gone 6-of-10 for 56 yards in limited snaps over two games, with Blaine Gabbert splitting the majority of the reps with fellow backups Josh Johnson and McLeod Bethel-Thompson. ... The 49ers' starters have played sparingly thus far, so the team isn't sweating the early lopsided losses. But head coach Jim Harbaugh would like to see his team get things together soon: "This is going to be an important week for us," coach Harbaugh said. "We need improvement. And we need to make decisions on who we’re playing with. We’re not going to keep experimenting. We got to tighten this down fast."

Who's Hurt:

Running back Kendall Hunter is out for the season with a torn ACL and running back LaMichael James has been slowed this month with a dislocated elbow. ... The setbacks have paved the way for Niners 2014 second-round draft pick Carlos Hyde to see more touches behind incumbent starter Frank Gore. ... Wide receiver Michael Crabtree returned to practice last Friday after missing two weeks with a hamstring injury. ... Starting safety Antoine Bethea, signed this past offseason from the Indianapolis Colts, left the Niners' game against the Broncos with a concussion and did not return. ... And All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman is on the team's PUP list as he continues to rehab from the ACL injury he suffered in January's NFC Championship against the Seahawks.

What's Next:

The Chargers (1-1 preseason). The second game in a row for the Niners at their new stadium. ... San Francisco then wraps up preseason play with a game against the Texans in Houston and will head back to the Lone Star State to open the regular season with a game against the Cowboys in Dallas.

Worth A Look:

St. Louis Rams (0-2 Preseason)

What's Happened:

A 26-24 loss to the New Orleans Saints and a 21-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers. ... Quarterback Sam Bradford saw his first live football action in 300 days against the Packers. The former first-round pick Bradford, who tore his ACL in October of last year and was held out of the team's first preseason game as a precaution, finished 9-of-12 for 101 yards and a touchdown in two series against Green Bay.

Who's Hurt:

Running back Isaiah Pead will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL while running back a kickoff against the Packers this past weekend. ... Second-year offensive lineman Barrett Jones is out for the rest of the preseason and possibly longer after undergoing back surgery. ... Rookie center Demetrius Rhaney is expected to miss time with a severe bone bruise in his knee. ... And the Rams are expected to return several key pieces in the coming weeks, with offensive tackle Jake Long, offensive guard Rodger Saffold, defensive tackle Michael Brockers, and linebacker James Laurinaitis on the mend.

What's Next:

The Browns (0-2 preseason). A showdown with rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel is set for Saturday night in Cleveland. ... The Rams then finish exhibition play against the Dolphins in Miami before opening the regular season at home against the Minnesota Vikings.

Worth A Look: