NFC West: Injury situations that matter

Arizona Cardinals:

Depth at running back remains the biggest injury variable for the Cardinals heading into Week 4. Beanie Wells hopes to return from the hamstring injury that sidelined him against Seattle. Hamstring injuries are notoriously difficult to manage, however. Returning too soon can put a player at heightened risk for a setback with long-term ramifications. The extent to which Wells practices late in the week should be telling. He was limited Wednesday. Chester Taylor started against Seattle, but Alfonso Smith was the primary back. Fellow running back and return specialist LaRod Stephens-Howling, recovering from a hand injury, also missed the Seattle game. He has only two kickoff returns this season. After three games last season, he had 13 returns for 351 yards and a touchdown. The Cardinals also miss what he brought to the offense as a situational player. On defense, linebacker Daryl Washington returned from his calf injury against Seattle.

San Francisco 49ers:

Receiver Braylon Edwards and fullback Moran Norris remain out, hurting the offense. Edwards would have given the team a needed receiving threat heading into the 49ers' game against Philadelphia's talented secondary. More pressure falls on Michael Crabtree, who apparently made it through Week 3 without aggravating his foot injury. Running back Frank Gore was on the practice field Wednesday despite suffering an injured right ankle against Cincinnati. That injury could lead to more playing time for rookie Kendall Hunter. Injuries were already affecting the ground game. The 49ers miss Norris and their top blocking tight end, Nate Byham, who is on injured reserve. Safety Donte Whitner was expected to play this week despite a hip injury. Having fellow safety Dashon Goldson return from injury last week helped the team's depth at the position.

Seattle Seahawks:

The Seahawks' latest injury-related change to the offensive line will not affect the game-day rotation. Assistant head coach/offensive line Tom Cable underwent back surgery that will keep him from coaching for the short term. On the field, Seattle appears likely to start the same five linemen in the same spots in back-to-back weeks, something the team has not done this season. The line made strides overall against Arizona, but Paul McQuistan struggled through a tough matchup against Calais Campbell in his first game as Robert Gallery's injury replacement at left guard. Fullback Michael Robinson's absence since Week 1 has hurt the special-teams coverage units. He's back this week. Strong safety Kam Chancellor is expected to start despite resting a thigh injury Wednesday. Receiver Sidney Rice made it through his Seattle debut without aggravating his shoulder injury. His availability is big for the passing game.

St. Louis Rams:

Sam Bradford participated fully in practice despite his sprained toe. He was hurt scrambling against Baltimore. The fact that Bradford missed no practice time suggests the injury does not threaten his availability. What it means for his mobility will be harder to say. Running back Steven Jackson practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and appeared closer to full strength than at any time since suffering a quadriceps injury in Week 1, according to reports. He appears likely to play a more significant role against Washington this week. Receiver Danny Amendola appears on course to return from a dislocated elbow following the Rams' Week 5 bye. He participated in individual drills Wednesday, but it's an upset if the Rams hurry him back into the lineup with the bye so close. Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui continues to fight through injuries. He emerged from the Baltimore game with a back injury, but he practiced on a limited basis. With injury issues affecting the secondary, the Rams signed veteran cornerback Rod Hood, formerly of the Cardinals. The Rams released rookie safety Jermale Hines, who appeared headed for the practice squad.