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NFC West: Injury situations that matter

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals came through their opener without suffering any crushing injuries. They paid their dues on that front when they lost rookie running back Ryan Williams to a season-ending knee injury during preseason. That injury affected their depth at running back -- depth that took another hit when utility back and return specialist LaRod Stephens-Howling suffered a hand contusion in Week 1. Stephens-Howling did not practice Wednesday. An injury to a running back's hand threatens ball security, so this is an injury to monitor for Arizona. Stephens-Howling had three carries, one reception and two kickoff returns in the opener. Inside linebacker Daryl Washington (calf), outside linebacker Joey Porter (knee) and tight end Jim Dray (pectoral) also missed practice. Washington is emerging as a front-line defender. Coach Ken Whisenhunt liked what he saw from backup Reggie Walker when Washington was injured Sunday. Free-agent addition Stewart Bradley should provide quality depth and familiarity with the Redskins' offense from his tenure with Philadelphia, but the Cardinals have said he hasn't transitioned to their 3-4 well enough to play just yet.

St. Louis Rams: The Rams take a vastly diminished roster into their second game of the season. First, the positive news. Quarterback Sam Bradford expects to play despite a finger injury. If the injury were serious, the Rams wouldn't have let Bradford throw in practice Wednesday. Bradford did throw, an indication he'll be OK. The team is also getting tight end Michael Hoomanawanui back from a calf injury. Durability remains a big concern for him, but if Hoomanwanui is on the field, the Rams will feel better about the two-tight end packages they've looked forward to using this season. They'll need to rely upon their tight ends more as receivers now after a dislocated elbow knocked out top possession receiver Danny Amendola. The Rams will miss Steven Jackson if a strained quadriceps keeps Jackson from playing, as expected. But backup Cadillac Williams gives them a decent fallback. On defense, the Rams will have to scheme around serious concerns in their secondary after a broken neck sent starting corner Ron Bartell to injured reserve. The other starting corner, Bradley Fletcher, missed practice with a toe injury. The Giants would be wise to spread the field with four wide receivers, just to see how the Rams react.

San Francisco 49ers: Receiver Michael Crabtree's continuing foot issues could lead the team to activate Kyle Williams for the 49ers' game against Dallas in Week 2. Crabtree was in enough pain against Seattle in the opener for the 49ers to take him out of the game in the second half. Crabtree apparently did not suffer a new injury, but his availability over the course of a full game is in question. For the 49ers, it's looking like a good thing Braylon Edwards encountered trouble in Michigan, allegedly making him available to the team at a steep discount. The 49ers also have ample weapons at tight end. They went through camp and the preseason without relying upon Crabtree. They should know how to function normally without him. On defense, free safety Dashon Goldson was back on the practice field Wednesday, but it's unclear whether his knee is ready for game action. The team had already prepared to lose Goldson in free agency, however, so missing him for another game wouldn't seem to set them back too much, particularly with Reggie Smith having returned from injury last week.

Seattle Seahawks: Middle linebacker David Hawthorne was back at practice after missing the opener with a knee injury. Rookie K.J. Wright played well in Hawthorne's absence and could factor as a starting candidate before long. Hawthorne's return restores welcome depth at the very least because he can play more than one linebacker position. Receiver Sidney Rice was limited in practice after a shoulder injury kept him from playing against San Francisco. The team wants to be careful with him, however, so it's no sure thing Rice will make his Seahawks debut in Pittsburgh. Doug Baldwin's emergence and improved play from Golden Tate have improved Seattle's options in the passing game. Adding Rice opposite Mike Williams would dramatically upgrade the team's options, however. On the line, Robert Gallery returned to practice and worked at left guard, with James Carpenter returning to right tackle. That's a good thing for Seattle if Gallery is playing at a high level. If not, shuffling the line again wouldn't accomplish much. Seattle's special teams are diminished after losing fullback Michael Robinson. Cornerback Byron Maxwell, another special-teams contributor, was also injured. Their absence against the 49ers helped Ted Ginn Jr. break two long returns. Losing Robinson in particular hurts.