NFC West: Injury situations that matter

Arizona: Swelling in Beanie Wells' surgically repaired right knee limited him in practice Wednesday. There's no indication Wells will miss the Minnesota game, but this situation bears close monitoring. Tim Hightower's role was probably going to expand anyway after the Cardinals used him scarcely in the Tampa Bay game. Coach Ken Whisenhunt told reporters he expects Wells to play. On defense, a groin injury continues to sideline veteran outside linebacker Clark Haggans. The Cardinals are otherwise relatively healthy. Receivers Steve Breaston (knee) and Early Doucet (groin) remain limited. Playing on artificial turf might not help.

St. Louis: The Rams reported good news on the injury front during their bye week. Safety James Butler's ankle injury isn't as bad as previously feared. Tackle Jason Smith passed a critical test during his recovery from a concussion. Tight ends Daniel Fells and Mike Hoomanawanui are expected to play in Week 10 after suffering back injuries. The down time gives running back Steven Jackson a chance to rest his surgically repaired finger. The team said Jackson could have pins removed following a Nov. 21 game against the Atlanta Falcons.

San Francisco: The bye week and Troy Smith's successful debut give quarterback Alex Smith extra time to recover from a sprained left shoulder. Alex Smith could be ready after the bye, but why rush him? The team expects tight end Vernon Davis to return from the ankle injury that sidelined him against Denver. The bye week should help cornerback Tarell Brown recover from a back injury. The move to place veteran center Eric Heitmann on injured reserve with a neck injury doesn't change much for the 49ers in the short term because David Baas had become entrenched in the starting lineup while Heitmann recovered from a broken fibula.

Seattle: The Seahawks' starting offense and their starting defensive line bore no resemblance in practice Wednesday to the units Seattle envisioned taking into Week 9. The Seahawks' injury situation should improve before kickoff Sunday, but there's no getting around the massive personnel drain. Half the starting defensive line will not play. One of the other starters, Brandon Mebane, could play for the first time since suffering a calf injury Oct. 3. Kentwan Balmer takes over at defensive end for Red Bryant, who landed on injured reserve. Junior Siavii takes over for Colin Cole at nose tackle. The team expects starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (concussion) to resume practicing Thursday and start Sunday. Russell Okung has a chance to return at left tackle. His backup, Tyler Polumbus, is also recovering from injury. The Seahawks need Chester Pitts to replace Ben Hamilton at left guard, but Pitts worked at left tackle in practice Wednesday. Receiver Mike Williams should be able to play despite a bruised knee, but fellow wideout Golden Tate (ankle) appears likely to miss the game.