NFC West: Injury situations that matter

November, 18, 2009
11/18/09
7:28
PM ET
Arizona: Apologies to Cardinals inside linebacker Gerald Hayes for underestimating his value against the run. If his absence against Seattle wasn't a significant factor in the Seahawks' ability to run the ball in Week 10, well, good luck containing the Rams' Steven Jackson. Hayes, sidelined by a back injury for the last two games, was back at practice in a limited capacity Wednesday. If healthy, he figures to play extensively against the Rams because St. Louis operates from so many base personnel looks. Strong safety Adrian Wilson (groin) is another key to the Cardinals' run defense. He was limited Sunday. Linebacker Chike Okeafor (back) and cornerback Bryant McFadden (ankle) missed practice. The Rams, though improved in the passing game lately, might not exploit their absences as much as other teams would.

San Francisco: Left tackle Joe Staley and cornerback Nate Clements remain out. Linebacker Takeo Spikes (hamstring) missed practice and has been banged up overall. The 49ers have weathered Staley's absence much better than expected. Barry Sims has played well in his place. I keep thinking Staley's absence will rise up to hurt the 49ers as the season progresses, but Sims has held up so far. The 49ers are strong enough in the secondary without Clements, but the Packers can be a dynamic passing team despite significant protection issues. Having Clements healthy and on top of his game would certainly help.

Seattle: Cornerbacks Marcus Trufant and Josh Wilson missed practice Wednesday with what the team described as concussions. The assumption is that both will play, but how eager might they be in run support against the Vikings' Adrian Peterson? The Seahawks are without starting running back Julius Jones (bruised lung). His absence could be felt over time. Justin Forsett appears able to carry much of the load on a short-term basis at least. The Seahawks could find themselves in frequent passing situations against Minnesota. Forsett is suited for that type of role. Louis Rankin also played well against the Cardinals. He and Forsett have good quickness.

St. Louis: Another week, another injury issue at receiver. Brandon Gibsdon's emergence against the Saints gives the Rams reason for optimism following Keenan Burton's season-ending knee injury. Gibson very much looks the part. His production -- seven catches for 93 yards -- was also impressive. The Rams have fared well on the offensive line without guard Richie Incognito (foot), who missed practice again Wednesday. The Cardinals' Darnell Dockett presents a very difficult matchup for the right side of the Rams' line, with or without Incognito. Injuries are threatening to diminish a defensive line that has already had problems rushing the passer consistently. Chris Long (knee) missed practice Wednesday. Leonard Little (knee), James Hall (back), Clifton Ryan (toe) and C.J. Ah You (knee) were limited in practice. The Cardinals' Kurt Warner becomes very difficult to stop when the front three or four fail to get pressure.

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