Wednesday, November 4, 2009
NFC West: Injury situations that matter
By Mike Sando
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Arizona: Injuries at receiver have thrown off the Cardinals a couple of times this season. Steve Breaston's last-minute deactivation caught the staff off guard in Week 1. Anquan Boldin's departure from the Panthers' game also came as a surprise because the team did not expect Boldin to take a direct hit to the ankle. Expect the Cardinals to be better prepared for Boldin's potential absence this time. Keeping Early Doucet active on the 45-man game-day roster seems like a good idea. Perhaps the Cardinals will consider using two tight ends more frequently this week. On defense, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has shown admirable toughness for a flashy young corner by fighting through an ankle injury that appeared relatively severe. He practiced Wednesday. Boldin, linebacker Gerald Hayes (back) and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (ankle) did not, but both are expected to play. The Cardinals are a bit banged up by their usually healthy standards. Holding out Boldin might not be a bad idea.
San Francisco: This is the week we find out whether Barry Sims can hold up at left tackle. Sims was excellent against the Colts after durable left tackle Joe Staley suffered a knee injury on the first play. Colts pass-rusher Dwight Freeney had spent the whole week preparing for Staley. The Titans will spend the whole week preparing for Sims. Big difference. Sims has lots of experience. The 49ers' scheme gives him a better chance than the scheme San Francisco ran last season. Quarterback Alex Smith is also doing a good job throwing quickly and moving to avoid pressure. Those factors should help Sims. The 49ers' secondary should be strong enough to succeed without the injured Nate Clements. The Titans aren't the Colts, either, and that should help. The 49ers plan for linebacker Ahmad Brooks to re-emerge as a pass-rusher now that he's recovered from a knee injury.
Seattle: The Seahawks are not yet sure whether tackle Sean Locklear will return this week. The pressure is off a little bit because veteran Damion McIntosh performed well against the Cowboys. DeMarcus Ware wasn't a game-changing presence for Dallas, a sign McIntosh did his job. Injuries remain a factor in the Seattle secondary. Marcus Trufant continues to shake off rust after a back injury sidelined him for the first six games. Fellow cornerback Ken Lucas and safety Jordan Babineaux were limited in practice Wednesday. The Lions' Calvin Johnson has also been hurting lately. If he plays, the Seahawks' secondary could be vulnerable. Overall, though, the Seahawks are healthier than they have been. Playing the Lions in Seattle should prove cathartic.
St. Louis: Left guard Jacob Bell practiced Wednesday after passing neurological tests following his latest concussion. The Rams are now off until Monday. The downtime should help Bell tremendously. The same is true for receiver Danny Amendola, who also passed post-concussion testing, albeit not in time to practice Wednesday. Right guard Richie Incognito will continue wearing a boot on his injured foot until Monday. His status for Week 10 remains unclear. Consider it a victory that running back Steven Jackson made it to midseason without suffering the types of injuries that slowed him in recent seasons.