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NFC West: Injury situations that matter

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Arizona: Anquan Boldin made progress Tuesday in his recovery from an ankle injury. He's an extremely tough player and I'd be surprised if this type of injury kept him out. Having an injured right ankle could affect his ability to plant and cut to his left. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said it best when speaking to reporters covering the Giants: "I would never rule Anquan out." The Cardinals appear mostly healthy otherwise. Chike Okeafor appears to have gotten past the shoulder injury that bothered him earlier in the season. He was really moving well Sunday. The Cardinals can afford to let tight end Stephen Spach recover at his own pace now that Ben Patrick has returned.

San Francisco: Frank Gore's return from an ankle injury should help the offense instantly. I think he has a chance to produce against the Texans as long as the 49ers do not fall behind. On defense, strong safety Michael Lewis says he plans to play despite suffering three concussions since August. The Texans' Andre Johnson is a big receiver -- ask Cardinals linebacker Gerald Hayes just how big -- and I wonder if Lewis' physical style will suffer or make him vulnerable.

St. Louis: Receiver Donnie Avery's hip injury is a big deal for the Rams even if Avery guts it out Sunday. Avery has shown a willingness and ability to play through injuries and recovery quickly, but he missed most of the Week 6 game at Jacksonville after catching a 17-yard touchdown pass on the Rams' first drive. Avery's effectiveness when playing hurt could be in question based on his struggles after returning quickly from a broken foot suffered in camp. Steven Jackson is the only legitimate threat on offense if Avery is diminished or cannot play. Pass-rusher James Hall has a groin injury. He's a good player, but the Colts' Peyton Manning gets rid of the ball too quickly for the Rams' pass rush to be factor either way, in my view.

Seattle: Cornerback Marcus Trufant and linebacker Leroy Hill were back at practice during the Seahawks' bye week, a welcome development for Seattle. Trufant has been ready for a couple weeks. Having the rest of the team on a bye should help Trufant work his way into the defense. The Seahawks' success hinges on their offensive line's ability to get healthier. I think Seattle will have a hard time beating the Cowboys in Week 8 without Sean Locklear and Rob Sims available, and it's unclear how ready those players might be. Getting Walter Jones back would fix a lot of things, but the Seahawks have given no indication Jones will be ready soon. Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu will miss a few weeks and possibly the rest of the season. His absence hurts because Tatupu is an instinctive player who makes the right calls.