Hurdles rising for NFC West left tackles

Arizona, St. Louis and Seattle won games Sunday with the following backups getting most or all of the snaps at left tackle:

  • D'Anthony Batiste, Cardinals: He's starting in place of the injured Levi Brown. Batiste struggled against Seattle's Chris Clemons in the opener. I thought he was generally effective during the Cardinals' 20-18 victory at New England. He had problems during a third-down sequence deep in Cardinals territory, drawing a flag for holding and then giving up a sack. Batiste was not consistently a liability, however. The Cardinals helped him on occasion but did not consistently funnel extra blockers toward Batiste's side. Batiste was not a significant limiting factor for the offense. In fact, I thought pressure came from other areas more frequently. Quarterback Kevin Kolb did a good job moving in concert with his linemen, so there were fewer surprises for the guys up front.

  • Wayne Hunter, Rams: Hunter took over for Rodger Saffold after Saffold suffered a sprained knee during the Rams' victory over Washington. The Rams had to settle for a field goal before halftime after a holding penalty against Hunter moved back the offense. A third-quarter holding penalty set back the offense again. The Rams were best when Sam Bradford threw quickly from three-receiver sets. That could be a remedy for their tackle situation. Bradford completed all nine of his third-down attempts against the Redskins. The Rams expect Saffold to miss at least one month. They caught a break against Washington when the Redskins lost Brian Orakpo to a season-ending injury. Hunter could be matched against Julius Peppers in Week 3.

  • Frank Omiyale, Seahawks: Omiyale started against Dallas while Russell Okung was recovering from a bruised knee. Okung is expected back to face Clay Matthews and the Green Bay Packers' defense on "Monday Night Football" in Week 3. The Seahawks helped Omiyale some of the time. Omiyale held up without assistance when protecting Russell Wilson's blind side during a 22-yard scoring pass to tight end Anthony McCoy. Dallas' Demarcus Ware finished the game with no sacks. Seattle rushed for 182 yards while allowing only two sacks, one of which resulted from an unblocked rusher coming free on Wilson's front side, away from Omiyale. Seattle got through this game as well as could be expected. The team has averaged 3.5 yards per rush with Okung and 4.4 yards without him. The per-carry average was slightly higher without Okung last season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. There are other variables, however. Okung is easily the most talented option at tackle.

Looking at the schedule, every NFC West left tackle faces a tough test in Week 3. San Francisco's Joe Staley matches up against Minnesota's Jared Allen. Batiste faces Philadelphia's Trent Cole. Hunter draws Peppers while Okung or Omiyale faces Matthews.