Thursday, August 29, 2013
A dozen NFC West spectators to watch
By Mike Sando
A look at 12 potential NFC West starters who have played zero preseason snaps heading into their teams' final exhibition games Thursday night:
TE Jeff King: King started 12 games last season. He could still figure prominently in the two-tight end sets new coach Bruce Arians prefers over using two backs. But with knee trouble preventing King from factoring to this point, the team has yet to get a look at him in game situations. Perhaps that changes Thursday night.
G James Carpenter: The Seahawks expect Carpenter to make his 2013 preseason debut Thursday night against the Oakland Raiders. Carpenter can still emerge as a starter this season, but he has to stay healthy. The foot injury he suffered recently set him back. The career-threatening knee injury Carpenter suffered as a rookie in 2011 has not been a problem.
TE Zach Miller: Miller is scheduled to make his preseason debut against the Raiders, his former team. The Seahawks want him to get game reps before the regular season. Miller is one of the more valuable role players on the team. Foot trouble sidelined him through training camp. Working him into the offense is a priority.
WR Sidney Rice: The Seahawks will hold out Rice until the regular-season opener. The move appears to be precautionary after Rice underwent a non-surgical procedure to address a knee condition. Coach Pete Carroll: "We know that he’ll be ready unless there’s a setback next week in practice again. He’ll go next week."
DE Cliff Avril: A hamstring injury continues to sideline Avril while calling into question his availability for the opener.
DE Chris Clemons: The Seahawks hope Clemons can return from ACL surgery in time for the regular-season opener. There are no guarantees, but moving Clemons from the active/physically unable to perform (PUP) list to the reserve/PUP list appears unlikely. Players entering the season on reserve/PUP cannot practice before Oct. 15. Clemons will presumably return before that.
WR Percy Harvin: Harvin is on the reserve/PUP list already while recovering from hip surgery. He can resume practicing between Oct. 15 and Nov. 19. Once he resumes practicing, he has 21 calendar days to join the 53-man roster and become eligible for playing in games this season.
San Francisco 49ers
ILB Patrick Willis: Willis is recovering from surgery to repair a broken hand. The feeling is that he could play if the games counted. Until further notice, all signs point to Willis returning for the regular-season opener.
WR Kyle Williams: Williams came off the PUP list early in camp after recovering from ACL surgery. He has also overcome a hamstring injury suffered early in camp. Williams could emerge as the starter opposite Anquan Boldin even though the 49ers have held him out of games to this point.
WR Michael Crabtree: The 49ers already placed Crabtree on the reserve/PUP list while he recovers from a torn Achilles tendon. He's not expected back until late in the regular season. He can resume practicing between Oct. 15 and Nov. 19.
WR Mario Manningham: Manningham is on the reserve/PUP list while recovering from a torn ACL. The same rules framing the timetable for a possible Crabtree return apply to Manningham.
St. Louis Rams
TE Lance Kendricks: Kendricks is coming off knee surgery and is expected to be ready for the regular season. He has alluded to participating in warmups for the Rams' game against Baltimore on Thursday night, but he is not expected to play in the game. Kendricks' versatility is important to a Rams offense that will feature Jared Cook as a receiver.