Around the NFC West: Whitehurst's chance

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times offers thoughts as Charlie Whitehurst prepares to start at quarterback for the Seahawks in place of Matt Hasselbeck, whose concussion was more serious than first thought. O'Neil: "Whitehurst throws a nice deep ball, something that has never been Hasselbeck's strength. His quickness in reading through the progressions and his touch in the short game are the two biggest questions he will face, and that's a question that doesn't get answered until a quarterback faces the defensive pressure that only a regular-season game can produce." The situation on the offensive line severely complicates Whitehurst's ability to succeed Sunday. The way the Giants are knocking out quarterbacks, Seattle will want to have Zac Robinson ready in relief.

Also from O'Neil: says defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and center tackle Chris Spencer returned to practice for the Seahawks. Mebane has not played in more than a month.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Hasselbeck wasn't the only Seahawks player missing from practice Thursday. Johns: "Their short-handed offense practiced without receivers Mike Williams and Golden Tate and tackles Russell Okung and Tyler Polumbus once again. Additionally, fullback Michael Robinson remained sidelined by a sore hamstring and defensive tackle Colin Cole has already been ruled out this week by coach Pete Carroll with an ankle sprain, though Brandon Mebane did return at least in a limited role Thursday after sitting out three straight weeks with a calf strain."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says it's a good thing for the Seahawks that Hasselbeck won't be subjected to what awaits Seattle's quarterback against the Giants in Week 9. Boling: "The Giants’ destructive defense has knocked five quarterbacks out of games this season. They’ve recorded 24 sacks. Coming out of an Oakland game in which he was sacked eight times and knocked loopy, Hasselbeck does not need to be subjected to the Giants. At this point, the 4-3 Seahawks are in the NFC West Division race, which few would have envisioned at the start of the season. As such, next week’s divisional game against Arizona is more important than Sunday’s game against the Giants."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says right guard Stacy Andrews won't have much time to see his brother, Shawn Andrews, when their teams play one another Sunday at Qwest Field.

Also from Farnsworth: Whitehurst prepares for his first NFL start. Offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates: "Charlie threw the ball well (in the preseason). He was able to get out of the pocket, do some keepers. I thought he had a successful preseason. He threw a couple picks that you wanted to take back. But he needs experience, and this is a good opportunity to really get in and see what he can do in a regular-season game."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic isn't sure whether Beanie Wells will play for Arizona against the Vikings. According to coach Ken Whisenhunt, Wells suffered an extremely rare allergic reaction to an injection for the running back's surgically repaired knee. Whisenhunt: "Very, very seldom do you have a reaction like he did. So there is really nothing wrong with his knee. It's just about getting the swelling out."

Also from Somers: Clark Haggans appears likely to miss another game for the Cardinals.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Steve Breaston's knee responded favorably to the injection that led to Wells' allergic reaction. Urban: "Whisenhunt himself has used (the drug) to ease knee discomfort. It’s just that Wells’ knee reacted badly. He plans to practice Friday. Whisenhunt said Wells definitely needs some work Friday in order to play Sunday."

Also from Urban: Larry Fitzgerald's trip back to Minnesota is for business, not pleasure.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch examines the relationship between 22-year-old Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and 70-year-old position coach Dick Curl. Curl: "He wants to learn, so he's very willing to listen. This is important to Sam; he's a proud individual. And because of that he spends the time and does what's necessary in order to, down the road, become the player that he wants to be."

The Sports Xchange midseason report on the Rams offers this quote from coach Steve Spagnuolo: "I told the team that they ought to feel good about where they're at, 4-4, especially after being 3-4. We got a long way to go. We got a tough road ahead. We all realize that, and the main focus will be getting some things reassessed, re-evaluated during the bye week. The coaches will do that. We'll do some improvement things on Wednesday, and then the whole focus will be on San Francisco."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com ranks the 49ers 27th in his weekly power rankings.

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle offers a 49ers midseason review. White: "Want to find the genesis of a promising season gone terribly wrong? Go back to the offseason, when Mike Singletary crowned the unproven Smith as his one and only option at quarterback -- then watched his unbending decision backfire in a flurry of interceptions, sack-fumbles and game-losing decisions. Only now, with Smith tabled by a dislocated shoulder, is Singletary willing to try a Plan B after refusing all offseason to devise a credible backup plan at the quarterback position." Lending full support to Smith made sense once the team identified him as its starter, but the 49ers' decision to replace Shaun Hill with David Carr was a head-scratcher. Their decision against pursuing another quarterback also appears sketchy.

Ray McDonald of the 49ers reflects on the team's first eight games. McDonald on Justin Smith: "Justin is ballin’ right now. He’s a great player, a Pro Bowl-player, and you know he is going to continue to play well in the second half of the season." Smith has stepped up his game recently, at least from what I've seen.