Wednesday, September 12, 2012
NFC West: Injury situations that matter
By Mike Sando
Our midweek look at important injury situations in the division ...
Arizona Cardinals: Kevin Kolb heads into Week 2 as the presumed starting quarterback while John Skelton recovers from an ankle injury expected to sideline him for the next couple weeks. Skelton's injury gives Kolb an opportunity to build upon his game-winning drive against Seattle without pressuring coach Ken Whisenhunt to make a long-term decision right away. Kolb has had trouble staying healthy. If he gets hurt and Skelton cannot play, rookie Ryan Lindley is next in the line of succession. The team could consider signing a veteran at that point, but the Cardinals aren't in that position at present. Running back Beanie Wells' hamstring situation will merit monitoring later in the week. He missed practice Friday and did not start as a result. Rookie Ryan Williams lost a fumble. That position still needs to settle out. Good depth at cornerback allowed Arizona to arguably upgrade with Michael Adams after rookie Jamell Fleming left the Seattle game with a shoulder injury. Fleming was limited Wednesday, as were outside linebacker O'Brien Schofield (knee) and safety Adrian Wilson (ankle).
St. Louis Rams: Last season, the Rams suffered an inordinate number of injuries at cornerback. The offensive line is taking hits early in the 2012 season. The team placed veteran center Scott Wells on injured reserve with a designation for return at midseason. Left tackle Rodger Saffold practiced on a limited basis Wednesday after suffering a neck injury in the opener, a very encouraging sign. He's expected to miss this game against Washington. Rookie Rokevious Watkins, who finished the opener at left guard, suffered an ankle injury and was on crutches Wednesday. The team re-signed Quinn Ojinnaka and could start him at left guard. Robert Turner, who replaced Wells in the opener, will start at center. Wayne Hunter, acquired from the New York Jets in the Jason Smith trade, becomes the starter at left tackle. He started 16 games last season and knows the offense, as does Ojinnaka. Michael Brockers (ankle) remains out, compromising depth at defensive tackle. Darell Scott (knee) was limited and would help the rotation if available. The Redskins' Week 1 opponent, New Orleans, was in its base defense not quite half the time last week.
San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers' injury situation has improved from last week. Aldon Smith showed the hip injury he suffered during preseason wasn't going to be a factor entering the regular season. The team could still wind up missing former starting outside linebacker Parys Haralson, who landed on injured reserve. But that was not the case against Green Bay and should not be the case against Detroit. The Packers and Lions are largely passing teams. San Francisco still does not have receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (ankle) or running back Brandon Jacobs (knee) back at practice. The rotations at their positions appear plenty deep anyway.
Seattle Seahawks: Russell Okung's bruised knee kept him from practicing Wedneseday. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he thinks Okung will practice later in the week, with a good shot at playing against Dallas. Frank Omiyale is getting first-team work in the meantime. Carroll has landed on the optimistic side in the past, so we'll be watching closely to see if Okung actually does practice this week. Okung fared pretty well against Cowboys pass-rusher Demarcus Ware last season. While he struggled against the Cardinals last week, Okung gives the Seahawks their best chance against Ware. Left guard Paul McQuistan finished last season at left tackle and could move there if needed. Seattle expects to have John Moffitt back from an elbow injury this week. Moffitt will replace rookie J.R. Sweezy at right guard if Moffitt holds up in practice this week. He's more experienced than Sweezy and would probably fare better picking up inside blitzes. Former starting right tackle James Carpenter is also back to full participation following knee surgery. He's an option at left guard, at least eventually. Receiver Golden Tate is returning from a knee injury suffered during the final preseason game. Doug Baldwin had teeth knocked out Sunday, but should play. Tate's return comes while receiver Charly Martin misses at least one game after suffering a bruised lung. Sidney Rice missed practice with a knee injury. He was expected to play against Dallas.