Behind Enemy Lines – The war of attrition begins

Some NFC West rivals have experienced the injury bug more than others and there isn't much light at the end of the tunnel.



San Francisco – With starting QB Tim Rattay still suffering from a shoulder injury suffered in week one versus the Atlanta Falcons, head coach Dennis Erickson announced that second-year QB Ken Dorsey get his second straight start when the Niners head to Seattle this Sunday.

"Until he (Rattay) can practice without putting something in his shoulder, we won't practice him," Erickson said. "Ken will be the starter."

Against the New Orleans Saints Dorsey completed 18 of 32 passes for 205 yards and one interception. He struggled early but caught fire in the second quarter leading the 49ers on two long drives.

RB Kevan Barlow has given the Niners a lift with his solid running so far after two weeks. Barlow was big against the Saints running for 115 yards and two touchdowns on the day. There is some concern however, as Barlow left the game with bruised ribs late in the game.

The Niners also got bad news last week when their best offensive lineman, C Jeremy Newberry, and best pass-rusher, DE Andre Carter, were diagnosed with injuries that could cause them to miss much of the season.

Newberry will miss six to 12 weeks with a right kneecap injury and Carter continues to suffer from a back ailment that has not responded well to treatment.

``This is his kneecap and the movement of his kneecap," Erickson stated. "People have that, it's just a matter of how severe it is. It's been very severe with him. He's one of the toughest guys I've ever seen play the game and it bothers him. He's in pain.''

Next Game: @ Seattle, September 26th

Arizona – After two weeks head coach Dennis Green is very frustrated with his offense.

"We continue to be frustrated by our offense," Green said. "We are a long way from where I envisioned this offense. It is hard to believe we are that far from being able to operate this offense."

"We are just not playing well," Green added. "We are not on the same page, plain and simple. That is a shame because this system is probably the best offense in the National Football League right now. It is hard to believe that we developed it, it is hard to believe that we invented it, it is hard to believe that we created it, and we don't know how to run it and that is very frustrating for a football coach."

While the offense continues to confound Green one player has stepped up and taken the mantle of playmaker for the young Cardinals…rookie WR Larry Fitzgerald.

In week one Fitzgerald caught only four passes for 70 yards, hardly jaw-dropping, but three of those receptions were highlight reel material. On the first play of the young season Fitzgerald went up between two defenders to haul in a 37-yard pass from QB Josh McCown. Fitzgerald's body control is second-to-none in the NFL and Green believes he will be a big-play threat sooner rather than later.

Veteran RB Emmitt Smith was bottled up for most of the game against the New England Patriots and Green blamed his lack of production on the front line.

"Emmitt was ready to roll today," an angry Green stated. "I've gone against Emmitt enough times and I've seen him go for buck and a quarter many times and Emmitt had a buck and a quarter in him today, hands down. The other guys didn't have a buck and a quarter in them."

Smith did register his second touchdown of the season on a one-yard plunge over the left side, equaling his total from last season.

Next Game: @ Atlanta, September 26th

St. Louis – The vaunted Ram offense has looked anything but during two lackluster performances so far this season.

Against the Cardinals at home the Rams only scored 17 points against a porous Cardinals defense and didn't take the lead in the game until early in the fourth quarter. Keeping with the seasonal theme, the Rams again scored 17 points against another questionable defense in Atlanta and QB Marc Bulger accounted for both turnovers (an interception and a fumble) including one that ended up with Falcons DE Brady Smith scoring a touchdown.

Bulger said: "I was a half-second away from letting the ball go. ... It could have been a touchdown the other way."

So far on the season Bulger has completed 72.3% of his passes for 557 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but his mistakes are causing drives to stall and he does not look as confident behind a patchwork offensive line.

Two players who continue to be big-play threats are WRs Tory Holt and Isaac Bruce. Holt is an elite wideout and he is a threat at any point on the field going up between two defenders to haul in a 33-yard touchdown this week in Atlanta. Bruce is the surprise. He hasn't slowed down and in fact has gotten even more precise in his route-running. So far on the season he has caught 17 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown.

When DE Grant Wistrom left via free agency some agonized that the pass-rush of the Rams would fall off. Those worries have proven to be true as the Rams have registered only three sacks and Pro Bowl DE Leonard Little has accounted for only one assist in two games.

DE Bryce Fisher has begun to separate himself from the rest of the pack fighting to fill Wistrom's old spot but the Rams need to generate more off the edge otherwise they will be playing catch-up all year long.

Next Game: vs. New Orleans, September 26th



.NET Reporter Scott Eklund writes for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to contact him at sctthawk@yahoo.com.


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