NFC West: Injury situations that matter

October, 28, 2009
10/28/09
7:32
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Arizona: The Cardinals' secondary is hurting and that's the No. 1 concern for Arizona heading into the next couple weeks. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie practiced on his sprained ankle Wednesday, a good sign, and he told reporters the ankle was at about 85 percent strength. Safety Antrel Rolle rested a foot injury Wednesday. Strong safety Adrian Wilson has recovered from the cramps that prevented him from finishing the Cardinals' game against the Giants. Receiver Anquan Boldin practiced some Wednesday despite his ankle injury. He was clearly hobbling during the Giants game, but he still managed to get open for a couple of key receptions. Getting Boldin healthier for the long term should be a priority.

San Francisco: The 49ers are dangerously thin at right tackle after Marvel Smith retired and Tony Pashos landed on injured reserve. Adam Snyder and Barry Sims are the options Sunday. Either one will have a very difficult time against Colts defensive end Robert Mathis. Whichever player starts at right tackle will have additional problems given how poorly the situation at right guard has evolved. On defense, strong safety Michael Lewis is expected to return after suffering three concussions since August. Lewis is best as an in-the-box run defender. In-the-box run defenders aren't going to faze the Colts' Peyton Manning. Any team foolish enough to load the box against Manning deserves to suffer the consequences. Takeo Spikes' shoulder injury could affect his availability. Spikes' experience could be useful against Manning. Without Spikes, rookie Scott McKillop would find himself in Manning's sights.

St. Louis: The season-ending injury receiver Laurent Robinson suffered early in the season continues to haunt the Rams. Perhaps Brandon Gibson's availability against the Lions on Sunday will protect the Rams from what Tim Carter offered in Week 7. With or without Gibson, the Rams miss Robinson in a big way. Right guard Richie Incognito's foot injury has led the team to move Adam Goldberg from right tackle into Incognito's spot. The fallout -- more playing time for first-round rookie Jason Smith at right tackle -- seems like a net positive for the Rams. On defense, the Rams miss starting right end James Hall. Hall was limited Wednesday. The team's already shaky pass rush is weaker for his absence. The Rams' pass defense will likely suffer without promising young cornerback Bradley Fletcher, who was lost for the season. The special teams also face challenges as the Rams break in a new snapper, a potential concern in the kicking game as Josh Brown adjusts.

Seattle: Placing left tackle Walter Jones on injured reserve actually helps the Seahawks by clearing a roster spot. Lately, the team had been carrying Jones on its roster seemingly more out of respect for him than any real hope that his knee would suddenly improve. The fact that starting right tackle Sean Locklear probably will not play against the Cowboys carries more immediate ramifications. Locklear was the No. 2 left tackle. Without him and without No. 3 left tackle Brandon Frye, who is already on injured reserve, the Seahawks will ask aging free-agent addition Damion McIntosh to help protect quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. The last time the Seahawks visited Dallas, Jones allowed two sacks while essentially playing on one leg. Seattle might conceivably be better off with Jones in that state than without him and without Locklear. On defense, the Seahawks will miss Lofa Tatupu's leadership. Patrick Kerney's groin injury is another potential concern. Getting cornerback Marcus Trufant and linebacker Leroy Hill back should help.

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