On the line: NFC West teams juggling
September, 21, 2009
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
All four NFC West teams juggled their offensive lines in Week 2. A look at how things went and how they might go:
Arizona: Jeremy Bridges fared well at right tackle after an ankle injury sidelined starter Levi Brown. Brown returned in the second half, an indication he should remain available for Week 3. The Cardinals' bye falls in Week 4 and that should help Brown recover. The Cardinals allowed zero sacks against the Jaguars after a rough first week against San Francisco. They rushed for 118 yards and generally shielded Kurt Warner from punishment. Having Steve Breaston back from injury and Anquan Boldin closer to full strength allowed Warner to throw more quickly and decisively, helping out the line.
San Francisco: The 49ers' issues at right tackle could remain troublesome heading into a Week 3 game against the Vikings. Adam Snyder hasn't played as well since suffering an injury during the preseason. Snyder and Tony Pashos shared time at right tackle against the Seahawks in Week 2. Both had problems, but Pashos fared worse. Marvel Smith's retirement hurt the 49ers' quality depth at the position, a concern heading to Minnesota. The Vikings' Jared Allen generally lines up at right defensive end. Left end Ray Edwards had a sack against the Lions. The 49ers have allowed tight end Vernon Davis to release downfield quite a bit through two games. Davis is a skilled pass protector, though, and the 49ers might need him more in that role.
St. Louis: Rookie first-round choice Jason Smith suffered a knee injury and did not return. Coach Steve Spagnuolo speculated that Smith might have suffered meniscus damage. The Rams should have something more definitive later Monday. Veteran Adam Goldberg becomes the starter if Smith cannot play. Goldberg has experience, but Smith represents the future of the line. The Rams also lost center Jason Brown to a knee injury for a series, but he was able to finish the game after Mark Setterstrom replaced him. Losing Smith for an extended period would cap the line's potential for improvement as the season progresses.
Seattle: The Seahawks functioned better than expected after an ankle injury to Sean Locklear pushed third-stringer Brandon Frye into the lineup at left tackle. Locklear was wearing a boot on his lower leg after the game. The team could get starting left tackle Walter Jones back from a knee injury in Week 3. Having Jones on the field for the first time since November 2008 would significantly improve the line's overall prospects. Starting center Chris Spencer also could be close to returning. Depth at right tackle could become problem if Locklear is out for an extended period.