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NFC West: Injury situations that matter

11/10/2010

Arizona: Beanie Wells continues to miss practice time with swelling in his surgically repaired knee, never a good sign. The Cardinals attributed swelling last week to an allergic reaction Wells suffered in response to medication designed to support joint lubrication. Intermittent swelling following arthroscopic surgery comes as no surprise, ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell said. "If the joint is irritated and the purpose of the medication is to soothe it, then they now have one fewer tool in the armory," Bell said. In the bigger picture, Wells has suffered from quite a few lower-extremity injuries, one reason some teams passed on him in the draft. On defense, the Cardinals are giving veterans Darnell Dockett and Joey Porter some rest this week. Outside linebacker Clark Haggans could return this week, but he is not yet practicing.

St. Louis: The Rams are healthier following their bye week. Safety James Butler, tight end Fendi Onobun and receiver Danario Alexander missed practice Wednesday. Tackle Jason Smith is back following a concussion, restoring depth and stability to the offensive line (though Renardo Foster played pretty well in relief). Steven Jackson's surgically repaired finger surely benefited from the week off. Jackson could have pins removed from the finger in another week or so. He has vowed to continue playing. The team threw only one pass his way in its most recent game. Jackson made a one-handed grab. His running wasn't affected from what I could see. Jackson appeared careful not to brace himself with his left hand when falling, however. He landed on his left forearm instead.

San Francisco: Troy Smith will probably start at quarterback against the Rams. Quarterback Alex Smith's injured left shoulder is keeping him out of practice. "He has to be able to take a hit, land on it and have them not worry too much about it," Bell said. "There is an element of subjectivity. They cannot see in there to know how well it has healed. The evaluation process is one of strength in the arm, whether it's relatively pain free and whether you're confident it can absorb some contact without a huge effect." The 49ers are not to that point yet. This is a good time to give Troy Smith another look, anyway. Tight end Vernon Davis should return this week after missing much of the Denver game. He has had ankle and knee troubles this season.

Seattle: The Seahawks cleared quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to return from a concussion. Coach Pete Carroll sounded optimistic on Hasselbeck last week, only to rule out the quarterback. Hasselbeck still has to make it through practices without concussion symptoms returning. Carroll said there's very little question about Hasselbeck's availability against Arizona, however. The team will be healthier for this game. Backup left tackle Tyler Polumbus is back, providing greater flexibility on the line even if Russell Okung isn't ready. Okung will run through individual drills Wednesday in an effort to return from a high-ankle sprain. On defense, the Seahawks expect tackle Brandon Mebane to return from a calf injury. The team badly needs Mebane after losing Red Bryant for the season and Colin Cole indefinitely.