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James to Hightower, and other lineup issues

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Cardinals made the switch from Edgerrin James to Tim Hightower. The results strongly suggested this was the right move for Arizona.

The 49ers have switched from J.T. O'Sullivan to Shaun Hill at quarterback. David Baas replaced Adam Snyder at left guard in Week 8. Seattle looks smart for putting Josh Wilson in the lineup at right cornerback. The Rams brought back Fakhir Brown and named him a starter, another profitable move.

What other midseason changes should teams in this division consider? I'll get it started with my take on five NFC West players feeling the heat:

  • Marc Bulger, QB, Rams. He'll struggle when the running game isn't there, but bailing on him would do more harm than good. Bulger can still be an accurate passer. He needs better protection and a better supporting cast overall. Bulger might need a full season with solid protection to recapture what he once had.

  • Nick Leckey, C, Rams. Brett Romberg gives the Rams another option, but changes at center can throw off timing and coordination. Is Romberg that much better than Leckey? Training camp failed to provide much evidence. Long-term help needed here.

  • Mark Roman, S, 49ers. The team needs to get faster at safety, no question. An injury has slowed backup Dashon Goldson recently. The 49ers need to explore other options at the position before the season is out.

  • Chris Spencer, C, Seahawks. Seattle invested a first-round pick in Spencer three years ago, but 2007 seventh-round choice Steve Vallos looked better when Spencer missed time during the exhibition season. Giving Vallos another look would make sense given the current state of the offense.

  • Deuce Lutui, RG, Cardinals. Coaches have threatened to bench him more than once. Lutui keeps giving them ammo. Two more penalties Sunday, including a drive-killing facemask infraction to wipe out a 23-yard pass play, suggest those threats aren't working. It's tough to bench a player when the offense is playing this well, but Elton Brown might warrant more playing time.

Surely I've left off a few players whose jobs could be on the line in the second half of the season. These five should give us a good starting point.