NFC West: Injury situations that matter
September, 16, 2009
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Arizona: The passing game could struggle with consistency while Steve Breaston (knee) and Anquan Boldin (hamstring) work through injuries. The bone bruise associated with Breaston's posterior-cruciate injury isn't going to suddenly feel fine. His unexpected deactivation for Week 1 came after the Cardinals listed him as probable, raising concerns about his availability in the future. Hamstring issues also tend to linger, and Boldin has suffered from more than his share. The offense isn't the same if Breaston and Boldin aren't the same. Quarterback Kurt Warner kept playing in Week 1 after suffering a stinger injury that affected feeling in his throwing arm. He should be fine, but injuries are affecting the Arizona offense more than they did last season.
San Francisco: Brandon Jones' potential return from injury gives the 49ers welcome depth at receiver. By my initial count, the team never used more than two wide receivers on first down against the Cardinals in Week 1. For comparison, the Seahawks used three or more receivers on first down a dozen times against the Rams. The 49ers' approach could reflect their philosophy as much or more than it reflects their depth at receiver. Josh Morgan, Isaac Bruce and Arnaz Battle were available to them in Week 1. But if the team does want to spread the field a little more, Jones' presence gives them another option with experience. On the defensive line, Ray McDonald looked good after returning from knee surgery earlier than once expected. That was a good sign for the 49ers.
St. Louis: Marc Bulger's broken finger didn't seem to affect his throwing or overall approach to the game. The Rams did go with the shotgun formation extensively, however, and that made communication more difficult in Seattle. The play clock expired once when center Jason Brown couldn't hear Bulger's pleas to snap the ball. Brown bounced one shotgun snap on the ground while appearing concerned with his individual matchup. The Rams remain on the road this week, so communication issues could persist if Bulger's sore finger leads the Rams to limit his direct snaps from center. The Redskins' Albert Haynesworth will be lining up on the other side this week. Leonard Little's health is key for the Rams' defense. He played in Week 1 despite knee concerns, but I didn't notice many quarterback pressures.
Seattle: The Seahawks can feel better about losing linebacker Leroy Hill for a few weeks after backup Will Herring flashed ability during the exhibition season and regular-season opener. It's still unclear how well Herring might hold up over several games, however, and Hill was a much more violent tackler. The Seahawks could miss Hill against the 49ers' power running game. The Seahawks have enough options in the receiving game to continue playing without receiver Deion Branch, although Branch could return from a hamstring injury this week. Left tackle Walter Jones is expected to resume practicing this week following knee surgery, but he might not be available right away. The Seahawks are much better with a healthy Jones in the lineup, although Locklear has improved since moving to the left side. Seattle probably will not miss injured starting cornerback Marcus Trufant this week simply because the 49ers do not appear committed to a diversified passing attack.