NFC West: Matt Gutierrez
Seattle Seahawks: They face a St. Louis team that could be without its top two quarterbacks, Sam Bradford and A.J. Feeley. Tom Brandstater, Kellen Clemens and practice-squad QB Matt Gutierrez are getting the work in practice.
San Francisco 49ers: They face the Pittsburgh Steelers, who could be without Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger said he suffered a high-ankle sprain Thursday night against Cleveland. Players usually need a few weeks to recover from such injuries. However, Roethlisberger could have an easier time playing because the injury affected his left ankle. As a right-handed quarterback, he plants off his right foot.
Arizona Cardinals: They face the Browns, who could be without quarterback Colt McCoy. McCoy suffered a concussion and an injured left hand against the Steelers. His status is uncertain. The Browns sent him home Friday amid questions about whether the team erred in sending McCoy back into the game Thursday night.
Seahawks: They visit the Chicago Bears, who remain without starting quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler has a thumb injury on his throwing hand.
Rams: They visit the Steelers. Roethlisberger's status could be a factor.
Sam Bradford, who took every snap for St. Louis as a rookie in 2010, has already missed three games to an ankle injury this season. He could miss a fourth when the Rams visit Seattle on Monday night. Bradford's backup, A.J. Feeley, is expected to miss the game after suffering a thumb injury.
Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch runs through the Rams' contingency plans for the position. The team has added Kellen Clemens off waivers after signing Tom Brandstater to its 53-man roster, and Matt Gutierrez to its practice squad. Nelson: "Brandstater worked with the starters as the Rams began installing the game plan for Monday night's matchup in Seattle against the Seahawks. Bradford ran in the pool and on the stationary bike. Feeley still had swelling in his fractured thumb and was unable to grip the ball."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Feeley could miss more than one game. Thomas: "With rookie T.J. Yates now the starting quarterback, Texans coach Gary Kubiak cited the extensive NFL experience of Delhomme, 36, and Garcia, 41, in keeping them over Clemens. Between them, Delhomme and Garcia have 215 NFL regular-season starts and have thrown nearly 6,700 regular-season passes. In comparison, Clemens has only nine NFL starts and 284 regular-season passes, all as a member of the New York Jets. That may pale in comparison to Delhomme and Garcia, but from where the Rams sit, Clemens is an NFL graybeard compared to Brandstater."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com expects Alex Smith to return to the 49ers next season after playing under a one-year deal in 2011. Maiocco: "The 49ers will not have make Smith among the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL. Early speculation around the league is that the 49ers could re-sign Smith to a two- or three-year contract for $8 million to $11 million annually. It's possible that Jim Harbaugh and his staff had no idea that Smith would be as efficient this season as he has turned out. But working with him every day, there is a belief that Smith can get better and the passing game can continue to improve."
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers use offensive plays rarely seen in the NFL. Branch: "In last week's 26-0 win over the Rams, 49ers wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. ran the fly sweep for the third time this season. Running in motion at close to full speed from the left side of the formation, Ginn ran behind quarterback Alex Smith, who took the snap, pivoted to his left and, in one seamless motion, handed off to Ginn. Smith then faked a handoff to Frank Gore, lined up on the left, attracting the defense's attention to that side. The result? A 16-yard gain around right end. The play has been just as effective when run in the other direction. Ginn had run the fly sweep at Glenville (Ohio) High School and at Ohio State, but he'd never run the play in his five-year NFL career until he sprinted 24 yards in a 48-3 win against Tampa Bay on Oct. 9. Smith, a seven-year veteran, hadn't called a fly sweep since he played at Utah."
Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle quotes a doctor for insight on when Patrick Willis might return from a Grade 2 hamstring injury. Lynch: "A wide window would be 3-6 weeks in recovery time for Willis. However, he cautioned that hamstring injuries can be 'frustrating' because of the propensity for re-injury."
Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat passes along Steve Young's recent radio comments regarding prospects for the 49ers' offense. Young: "I’d love to see some no-huddle. I’d love to see something that felt like, 'Man, we’re behind by 14, what do we do?' Just kind of react as if it was happening. I think you've got to test the boundaries of what the offense can do because at some point if you're going to win deep into January, you figure you’re going to be tested that way, so why not kind of practice that? Maybe open up the game in no-huddle. Maybe give Alex a little more ability to throw the ball downfield."
Khaled Elsayed of Pro Football Focus ranks the Seahawks' offensive line last overall in a ranking of 32 lines across the league. Elsayed: "The Seahawks opted to get some rookies some experience when it was clear the veterans in their way offered no long-term prospects. It resulted in a combined grade of minus-47.3 on the right side of their line as neither James Carpenter nor John Moffit were ready to start in the NFL. Perhaps more worrying is the play of Russell Okung, who while not terrible, didn’t have quite the year we expected after a good rookie year." Noted: Okung seemed to be improving over the last several weeks. He was trending in the right direction. He'll spend the final four games with Carpenter and Moffitt on injured reserve, a setback for the line's development.
Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle thinks Robert Griffin III would make sense for Seattle in the upcoming draft.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says the team is getting solid play from linebacker Leroy Hill.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says defensive end Raheem Brock faces DUI charges stemming from his arrest last year.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune looks at the Seahawks' improved young depth along the offensive line.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals' second-half rally and overtime victory over Dallas gave the team a needed boost. Urban: "Coach Ken Whisenhunt called Kevin Kolb’s play down the stretch 'progress' and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said he was encouraged by the offensive rally and 'happy' for Kolb. Earlier in the season, Kolb and the Cards had the ball against the Redskins (Chansi Stuckey fumble), Seahawks (interception) and Giants (fourth-down incompletion) late in the fourth quarter with the chance to tie or take the lead. They couldn’t convert."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes, who is back at practice after suffering a broken foot earlier in the season. Somers: "The Cardinals replaced Rhodes with two players. Rashad Johnson moved into the starting lineup in the base defense. Cornerback Richard Marshall moved to safety in passing situations, replacing Johnson. There was a trickle-down effect, too. With Marshall at safety, cornerback Michael Adams became the nickel back, with A.J. Jefferson and Patrick Peterson playing the outside spots. It was a gamble the Cardinals were forced to take. Johnson, a third-round draft pick in 2009, had yet to prove himself. And Marshall, signed as a free agent before the season, was playing safety for the first time. The adjustments worked."
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
New England inactives: Warren, receiver Kelley Washington, linebacker Vince Redd, linebacker Pierre Woods, tackle Wesley Britt, guard Billy Yates, tight end David Thomas. Matt Gutierrez is the third quarterback.
With Jones out, Seattle's offensive line looks like this, left to right: Sean Locklear, Floyd Womack, Steve Vallos, Mansfield Wrotto and Ray Willis. The projected starters this season, left to right: Jones, Mike Wahle, Chris Spencer, Rob Sims and Locklear. Mansfield is making his first NFL start. Veteran center Steve McKinney, signed during the week, is active.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers have named pass rusher Roderick Green inactive for their game against the Patriots. Cornerback Reggie Smith, cornerback Shawntae Spencer, linebacker Ahmad Brooks, offensive lineman Cody Wallace, tackle Jonas Jennings and linebacker Manny Lawson are also inactive. Jamie Martin is again the third quarterback.
Green had two sacks through the 49ers' first four games this season. I did not seem him mentioned among injured players.
The Patriots' inactive players: receiver Kelley Washington, receiver Maurice Price, cornerback Lewis Sanders, linebacker Eric Alexander, offensive lineman Dan Connolly, offensive lineman Wesley Britt and linebacker Shawn Crable. Matt Gutierrez is the third quarterback.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Matt Leinart gave the Cardinals what they wanted from him Thursday night: a performance good enough to justify their continued faith in him.
The exhibition opener wasn't necessarily going to cost Leinart his job if he faltered. He hadn't faced live action since suffering a season-ending injury 311 days earlier. But by running the offense effectively and putting up a solid stat line, Leinart did nothing to bolster the case for Kurt Warner to lead the offense. That is a victory for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals have wanted to get their screen game going. They have wanted to involve their running backs more prominently in the passing game. Leinart found fullback Terrelle Smith for a near-touchdown on a short pass to set up Tim Hightower's touchdown run. Saints defensive end Charles Grant was in Leinart's face and hit him on the play.
The chart compares Leinart's stats to those of the other starters Thursday night. Most completed a high percentage of their passes working against vanilla defenses. Leinart fit in nicely with that group. This was a step forward for him.