NFC West: Quinn Oninnaka

NFC West: Injury situations that matter

September, 12, 2012
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.
The 1990 NFL draft class featured Pro Football Hall of Famers Cortez Kennedy and Emmitt Smith.

Sadly, that class also included Jeff Alm, who committed suicide following a traffic accident that killed his best friend, and Anthony Smith, who would be charged with murder in 2011.

No one could have anticipated fifth overall choice Junior Seau, 43, joining that second tragic list before taking his rightful place among Kennedy and Smith as Hall of Famers from that draft class.

Clare Farnsworth of grew up in San Diego and covered the AFC West during Seau's prime years with the San Diego Chargers. Farnsworth: "I knew of Seau before I ever saw him play. In the fall of 1973, I was working for a newspaper in Oceanside, Calif., and covering the high school football team. Seau played at Oceanside High before becoming an All-American at USC. Just the mention of his name would create a silence of reverence in the locker room, especially from the players of Samoan decent. Whenever coach Herb Meyer needed an example while discussing a current player, he would evoke memories of Seau. Unfortunately, that’s all any of us are left with -- our memories of Tiaina Baul Seau, Jr."

Also from Farnsworth: Michael Robinson's plan to build on a Pro Bowl season.

Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle thinks Visanthe Shiancoe would be an appealing option for the Seahawks at tight end.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic offers thoughts on the Cardinals' front-office changes involving Steve Keim and Jason Licht. Somers: "It's interesting, and I would think encouraging for the Cardinals, that both Keim and Licht were considered for general managers' jobs in the off-season. Keim interviewed in St. Louis, and Licht in Chicago. T.J. McCreight, one of the unsung workhorses in the organization, moved from pro personnel director to a job in the Colts' front office."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that former Rams kicker Josh Brown has signed with the New York Jets. Thomas: "Brown, 33, was deemed expendable in St. Louis after the Rams drafted Missouri Western State kicker Greg Zuerlein in the sixth round of the NFL draft Saturday. Fisher informed Brown he was being released later Saturday. With the Jets, Brown is expected to compete with Nick Folk for the kicking job."

Also from Thomas: a chat transcript with thoughts on the offensive line, and more. Thomas: "They did add Scott Wells at center, a former Pro Bowler, in free agency from Green Bay. They added G/T Quinn Ojinnaka and C/G Robert Turner in free agency. And they drafted Rokevious "Rock" (or he might spell it "Rok" _ I'll have to find out ) Watkins in the fifth round. Line coach Paul Boudreau is known for being able to develop talent. The belief is he'll get Saffold back up to par at left tackle and can straighten out Jason Smith's technique. For now, Ojinnaka, Turner, Watkins, and returning squad member Bryan Mattison will all be thrown in the mix competing for the left guard line."

Matt Maiocco of offers thoughts on the 49ers' crowded offensive backfield. Maiocco: "As Frank Gore begins his eighth NFL season and has 1,653 regular-season rush attempts, the 49ers finally have some quality depth behind him. It seems likely that Gore's play time will decrease this season with more players capable of filling in. ... Anthony Dixon played just 52 snaps of offense last season. Dixon must convince the 49ers' coaching staff that he's as serious about his football career as the other running backs on the roster. As the offseason begins, Dixon clearly has the most ground to make up in the battle to win a roster spot."

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News offers thoughts from current and former 49ers on Seau's passing.