Wednesday, September 15, 2010
NFC West: Injury situations that matter
By Mike Sando
Arizona: The Cardinals are depleted at receiver with Early Doucet potentially having a sports hernia. The Week 1 success Arizona enjoyed with four-receiver personnel minus Doucet was misleading because the Rams were without their third and fourth corners. Future opponents won't have such limitations. The Cardinals could use more from rookie receiver Andre Roberts, who suffered a shoulder injury during preseason and was inactive for the opener. The options on offense are already limited to a degree by the injury that sent fullback Nehemiah Broughton onto injured reserve. I'm expecting the Cardinals to use two tight ends more frequently. Beanie Wells has had success running with one back and two tight ends, but a bruised knee could keep Wells from playing again this week. I wouldn't bank on him getting extensive carries unless he practices fully Thursday and Friday.
St. Louis: The Rams lack sufficient depth to weather injuries and they're hurting pretty badly for having played only one game. Chris Chamberlain's absence with a toe injury hurts the special-teams units. Expect quarterback Sam Bradford to continue feeding the ball to Mark Clayton now that two other potential targets -- tight end Michael Hoomanawanui and receiver Laurent Robinson -- are hurting. Hoomanawanui will not play. Robinson missed practice Wednesday after suffering an ankle injury Sunday. The Rams are hurting in the secondary, threatening their ability to defend three or more wide receivers at a time. That could affect their blitzing. It's not good for the Rams to see running back Steven Jackson on the injury report this early in the season. Jackson's knee swelled after the game Sunday and he did not practice Wednesday, though MRI results were normal. He's played through injuries in the past, but he was sometimes less effective.
San Francisco: Dominique Zeigler becomes the 49ers' third receiver now that Ted Ginn Jr. will miss time with a sprained knee. San Francisco hasn't been much of a three-receiver team outside two-minute situations and third down (by two-minute situations, I'm also talking about times when the 49ers are in catchup mode). Ginn had fared well enough during camp to make me think the 49ers might use those three-receiving groupings on early downs and early in games, but that did not happen against the Seahawks and it's probably not going to suddenly start happening now. Zeigler has shown good hands. He's known for running precise routes. He has taken advantage of opportunities recently. Right guard Chilo Rachal (stinger) and outside linebacker Manny Lawson (ribs) were hurting Sunday. The 49ers still have pretty good depth on their offensive line, but losing Lawson or having him at diminished capacity would hurt the defense.
Seattle: Another week, another new starting offensive lineman. Losing right guard Max Unger to a season-ending toe injury shouldn't hurt the Seahawks too much because his replacement, veteran Stacy Andrews, has experience. Andrews is best suited at right tackle and that's where he might end up eventually, but the team needs him at guard for now and that is where Andrews will play Sunday. It's not like the running game is suddenly going to lose momentum. Seattle hasn't gotten much push to this point. Perhaps Andrews can help in that area. Tyler Polumbus remains the starting left tackle while Russell Okung recovers from an ankle injury. Okung has been running on a treadmill without putting all his weight on the ankle, but the joint isn't strong enough for him to play.