Wednesday, November 2, 2011
NFC West: Injury situations that matter
By Mike Sando
Arizona: Quarterback Kevin Kolb shed his walking boot Wednesday and has a better chance to start Sunday as a result. He did not practice. Kolb played most of the team's game at Baltimore with a turf-toe injury. The Cardinals should be able to lean on their ground game against St. Louis. That could help Kolb get through a game at less than full strength. Backup John Skelton had a 2-2 record as a starter last season. Top running back Beanie Wells is hurting, but he ran hard against Baltimore's rugged defense, playing 54.7 percent of offensive snaps despite a bad knee. Coach Ken Whisenhunt called Wells a "tough sucker" and said he expected Wells to be ready against the Rams as well. Tight end Todd Heap is expected back from a hamstring injury, but much depends on how he fares during practices. Fullback Anthony Sherman's ankle injury led the team to bring back Reagan Maui'a, who knows the offense and should be able to function. Backup tight end Jim Dray helped out at fullback last week.
St. Louis: Quarterback Sam Bradford, sidelined the last two weeks by a high-ankle sprain, shed his walking boot and began strengthening exercises. He did not practice Wednesday and could still be another week away from returning. The Rams averaged only 8.8 yards per completed pass against New Orleans with A.J. Feeley at quarterback, but the Cardinals' struggling pass defense could help this week. The Rams will likely remain without offensive tackle Jason Smith (neck/concussion) and defensive tackle Darell Scott (concussion). Adam Goldberg fared relatively well in Smith's place against New Orleans. Danario Alexander (hamstring), linebacker Brady Poppinga (calf) and cornerback Justin King (groin) are participating in individual drills. King's status is more pressing given depth issues in the secondary, but with the Cardinals using two tight ends quite a bit, the challenge is different this week than last.
San Francisco: Defensive end Ray McDonald suffered a hamstring injury against Cleveland, interrupting what has been a strong season for him. Replacement Ricky Jean-Francois played 69.8 percent of the 49ers' snaps against Cleveland. The 49ers have enough talent on defense to play well without McDonald, should he need this week to recover. Receiver Braylon Edwards played 55.2 percent of the offensive snaps Sunday in his first game back from knee surgery. He took a few hits, struggled for yardage and did not appear any worse for the experience. Vernon Davis played through an arm injury against Cleveland and was expected to remain available against Washington. The 49ers have not updated their injury situation yet Wednesday. Their reports have featured a surprise or two previously this season. I'll update if that is the case this week as well. Update: Defensive end Justin Smith, who has started 162 consecutive games, did not practice. Could just be a day of rest. No details yet.
Seattle: Tarvaris Jackson is getting most of the practice snaps and will start against the Dallas Cowboys, barring a setback in his recovery from a pectoral injury. Jackson was much better than backup Charlie Whitehurst last week. He gives the Seahawks' their best chance in the passing game. Receiver Mike Williams was a surprise game-day scratch against Cincinnati. He remains limited with a hamstring injury. Whether he plays matters less than it would have last season given how the passing game has been running through Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Ben Obomanu. Tight end Cameron Morrah is resting a knee injury. Depth behind Zach Miller has been a bit sketchy. Anthony McCoy has struggled. Update: Linebacker Leroy Hill (knee) did not practice.