NFC West: Injury situations that matter

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Arizona: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has had enough problems without adding a finger injury to the equation as he prepares to face Texans receiver Andre Johnson. Rodgers-Cromartie ranks among the most talented corners in the league, but he has taken a step backward in his second season. He's wearing a large wrap on his broken right index finger. The injury could complicate his efforts to bat away passes or make plays on the ball in general. Might it also affect his confidence (the real kind, not the false bravado)? Overall, the Cardinals should be relatively healthy coming off their bye.

San Francisco: Running back Frank Gore's absence continues to hurt the 49ers on offense. Rookie Glen Coffee is willing, but he lacks the experience and feel for the game needed to function on Gore's level consistently. Like Gore, Coffee needs better production from the 49ers' offensive line. Overall, the 49ers appear relatively healthy. The injuries they suffered in Week 4 against the Rams qualified as bumps and bruises, not the serious kind.

St. Louis: The Rams could remain vulnerable defensively down the middle of the field. Starting safety James Butler is out. His replacement, Craig Dahl, was limited Wednesday after suffering a concussion at San Francisco. Starting cornerback Ron Bartell (thigh) has also been hurting. On offense, the Rams will almost certainly rest Marc Bulger another week. They will probably get rookie Jason Smith back, a boost for the offensive line. But the Rams' tackles face difficult matchups in pass protection against the Vikings in Week 4, with or without Smith. The situation at receiver remains dire since Laurent Robinson landed on injured reserve.

Seattle: The Seahawks might be able to get Matt Hasselbeck back on the field in Week 5. How long can they keep him there? Hasselbeck threw in practice Wednesday as expected. But with both starting tackles again unavailable (and Walter Jones' long-term status in some question), any Seattle quarterback could be additionally vulnerable to punishment. The reps Hasselbeck took in practice came at the expense of preparing Seneca Wallace, a concern outweighed by the need to get Hasselbeck running the offense again. Getting cornerback Josh Wilson back from an ankle injury helps a great deal because Seattle was so thin at the position. Improved depth on the defensive line helps offset Patrick Kerney's likely loss to a groin injury. Expect the running game to improve if veteran fullback Justin Griffith retuns as expected.