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NFC West: Injury situations that matter

9/29/2010

Arizona: Losing No. 2 receiver Steve Breaston to a knee injury affects the Cardinals on offense and special teams. The passing game was already producing sporadically. Opponents have contained Larry Fitzgerald relatively well. Take away Breaston and the job becomes less difficult, particularly with third receiver Early Doucet also unavailable. Undrafted rookie Stephen Williams becomes the No. 2 receiver. Max Komar, another undrafted rookie, becomes the third receiver. Rookie third-round choice Andre Roberts becomes the fourth receiver. Running back Beanie Wells was going to become a bigger part of the offense anyway. That transition should only accelerate without Breaston and Doucet, provided the Cardinals are winning or the score is close enough for Arizona to stick with its ground game. Removing Breaston also strains the Cardinals' punt-return team. Arizona doesn't have a proven, reliable punt returner. San Diego's secondary was opportunistic at home against Jacksonville. Turnovers are a concern for Arizona with so many new faces at receiver.

St. Louis: Running back Steven Jackson suffered a strained groin in Week 3 and it's unclear whether he'll play a full game if the Rams do clear him. If he plays, Jackson will be facing one of the NFL's better run defenses to this point when Seattle visits the Edward Jones Dome. Rookie quarterback Sam Bradford proved he could run the offense without Jackson, but that becomes more difficult over the course of a full game if Jackson cannot play. Having Jackson at less than 100 percent would also put additional strain on the Rams' offense. The Rams are also light at tight end while Billy Bajema and Mike Hoomanawanui recover from injuries. On defense, the Rams remain without starting tackle Clifton Ryan, who is battling migraines, and safety Oshiomogho Atogwe missed practice to rest a thigh injury. The Rams are healthier than they've been at cornerback, but it's still not a very good situation depth-wise if Seattle floods the secondary with receivers.

Seattle: Left tackle Russell Okung and left guard Chester Pitts are practicing following extended injury layoffs, but the Seahawks probably will not rush either into the starting lineup just yet. Okung could play a series in a reserve role as the Seahawks work him back into the lineup following a severe high-ankle sprain. Pitts is closer to being ready, but it's doubtful the team would move him into the starting lineup this week. The team expects receiver Mike Williams to play Sunday after suffering a shoulder injury against San Diego. Coach Pete Carroll was vague when discussing injuries to cornerback Marcus Trufant and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. Both are key figures on defense for Seattle. The team missed Trufant in particular when he left the game against San Diego. Trufant (ankle), Mebane (shoulder) and linebacker Aaron Curry (hamstring) will be limited in practice.

San Francisco: Receiver Ted Ginn Jr. and inside linebacker Takeo Spikes missed practice Wednesday. Spikes was able to play Sunday despite his knee injury. The team thought Ginn might return last week. His absence removes a speed element from the offense, although the 49ers weren't using him as much as I had anticipated before Ginn suffered a knee injury in Week 1. That could change with Michael Johnson taking over as offensive coordinator. Veteran cornerback William James remains limited by an ankle injury. Free safety Dashon Goldson is also banged up. Injuries are probably among the least of the 49ers' concerns at this point.