NFC West: Injury situations that matter
September, 9, 2009
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Arizona: Receiver Anquan Boldin says he plans to play against the 49ers in the opener despite a lingering hamstring problem. Injured ribs will sideline fifth receiver Early Doucet, but the Cardinals should be fine at the position as long as Boldin remains available. Quarterback Kurt Warner's sore hip became an overrated storyline this offseason when Warner complained about lingering pain. The surgical procedure he underwent was routine by NFL standards. Tim Hightower won the starting job at running back at least in part because first-round pick Beanie Wells struggled with an ankle injury. Wells' health will remain an injury situation that matters until he can show more durability.
Seattle: The Seahawks will be without Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones until at least Week 2. Sean Locklear worked extensively in that spot during training camp and the preseason, showing improvement. Depth at tackle could be an issue until Jones returns. Josh Wilson starts at cornerback while Marcus Trufant spends at least the first six games on the physically unable to perform list. The Seahawks do not face great receivers against the Rams in Week 1, however, and their home crowd should make it harder for the Rams' offense. Defensive end Patrick Kerney will crank up the intensity significantly now that the preseason has passed, putting more pressure on his surgically repaired shoulder. A hamstring injury kept receiver Deion Branch from practicing Wednesday.
St. Louis: Quarterback Marc Bulger took snaps from center Wednesday for the first time since suffering a broken pinkie finger on his throwing hand. That suggests Bulger will start against the Seahawks in Week 1, as promised, although he must be wary about re-injury. Losing Adam Carriker to season-ending shoulder surgery hurt the Rams' depth at tackle, but Carriker had yet to develop into a consistently productive player. Top receiver Donnie Avery returned ahead of schedule from a broken fourth metatarsal in his left foot. He beat the Seahawks deep last season in Seattle, though the throw missed him. The Rams want to become a physical running team, but ankle problems sidelined big fullback Mike Karney this summer. Can he play consistently? Has Steven Jackson's feel for Karney suffered recently?
San Francisco: The 49ers' offensive line appears to be getting healthy at the right time. Durability is a question for left guard David Baas. As physical as the 49ers were during camp, they wisely gave Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis extra time to recover from an ankle injury. Having him near full strength is important for the defense. Physical safety Michael Lewis suffered two concussions in recent weeks. The 49ers sound unconcerned, but Lewis' situation is certainly worth monitoring. The 49ers have turned over half their secondary -- not necessarily a bad thing, but suddenly losing Lewis could force Mark Roman back into the lineup.