Wednesday, December 15, 2010
NFC West: Injury situations that matter
By Mike Sando
Arizona: Concussion symptoms continue to sideline quarterback Derek Anderson, leaving Richard Bartel as the backup to rookie starter John Skelton. The Cardinals no longer planned for Anderson to start even if he were healthy, but they could certainly use him for depth. Skelton is making his second start. Bartel has practiced with the team for about a week. Running back Beanie Wells practiced Wednesday despite still suffering from the illness that limited him against Denver. Tim Hightower's 148-yard, two-touchdown performance against Denver gives Wells additional incentive, should he need any.
St. Louis: Cornerback Ron Bartell has enough strength back in his shoulder to resume practicing. The Rams will want their secondary closer to full strength against Kansas City, particularly if Matt Cassel is back at quarterback for the Chiefs. Left guard Jacob Bell (bruised knee) and backup running back Kenneth Darby (rib injury) are making progress toward playing, coach Steve Spagnuolo told reporters Wednesday. Bartell's status stands out as a key variable for the Rams this week.
San Francisco: The 49ers listed left guard Mike Iupati as probable with a shoulder stinger, a strong indication he'll play against San Diego. Iupati has become an effective run-blocker. Maintaining continuity also has some value, particularly with left tackle Joe Staley unavailable while he recovers from a broken leg. The team listed linebackers Takeo Spikes and Patrick Willis as questionable with hand injuries. Both have missed practice time. Both have been seen wearing cast-like contraptions. I have a tough time envisioning either player missing this game after defensive coordinator Greg Manusky told reporters he expected them to play.
Seattle: Receivers Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu returned to practice Wednesday after missing Seattle's game against San Francisco in Week 14. Getting both players back is critical for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to snap out of his recent turnover streak, particularly with Deon Butler landing on injured reserve and Brandon Stokley dealing with a tight hamstring. Guard Chester Pitts is returning to practice, but I would think Mike Gibson will remain at left guard for the time being. Defensive backs Roy Lewis (knee) and Walter Thurmond (hamstring) could be limited some during the practice week.