Bruised & Broken: Injury Impact on NFC West


You never want to see a guy hurt on the field. Memories of former Lions player Mike Utley and Jets D-Lineman Dennis Byrd from years ago as well as the recent injury to Bills TE Kevin Everett are hard to shake and are something you never wish upon any player. And definately, my thoughts and prayers go out to Everett and his family as he continues to amaze us all with his remarkable recovery.

But along with us, some of our division rivals have taken some heavy losses in only the first 3 weeks of the season. Here’s a quick recap of what’s happening out West:


– 2nd round draft pick DT Alan Branch (fractured hand) and C Al Johnson (knee) remain questionable for this week
– 1st round draft pick OT Levi Brown left Sunday’s game with a right ankle sprain. The team is not disclosing any details, but he is listed as probable for this week

Brown’s injury could have a huge impact on the Cards offense. He is the blind side protector of QB Matt Leinart and is a mauling run blocker that has looked great so far in lining up along side second year man G Deuce Lutui. If Levi can’t go, then reserve OG Elton Brown will have to start. He played for Levi on Sunday and is capable, but not nearly as strong as Levi is in the running game. But compared to the other teams in the division, I think we are actually looking pretty good.


– 2nd year TE Vernon Davis is out for at least two weeks with a sprained ligament to his right knee, possibly longer
– OLB Manny Lawson was lost for the year due to a torn ACL suffered

Davis was actually having his best game this year before going down, with 4 catches for over 60 yards. His absence from the lineup means less time working in the offense and less of an impact on the game when he returns. Along with Davis, WR Arnez Battle is hampered by a nagging groin injury, which only serves to make the worst passing game in the league even worse. Lawson’s injury definately degrades a strong defensive unit’s ability to rush the passer as well as provide outside run support. These are all things the Cards can exploit in their rematch Thanksgiving weekend.


– Additional pictures of RB Shaun Alexander’s left wrist on Monday revealed cracks, indicating that it is indeed broken

Whenever you are a RB, your hands and your feet are precious commodities. Your strength of your feet get you to the endzone, and the strength of your hands is what helps you hold on to the rock in order to put up points. Now Seattle head coach Mike Holmgren has said that Alexander will continue to play with his hand wrapped in a protective cast and that it won’t affect him, but I would look for Alexander to start getting less touches as he continues to get pounded by opposing defenders, further weakening his grip on the ball. Again, this bodes well for the Cards.


– OL: Orlando Pace & Mark Setterstrom are out for the year
– RB Steven Jackson is out at least one week with a partial tear in his left groin muscle, but likely longer
– QB Marc Bulger has been playing with 2 broken ribs since week one and is still not 100%

The amount of punishment the Rams have been taking is really staggering. Jackson out, the entire left side of the offensive line is gone with Pace & Setterstrom out, Bulger hurt badly, I mean when it rains it pours! Rookie RB Brian Leonard looks to get the start for the injured Jackson, and while he looked solid during the preseason playing against scrubs, something tells me he is not a great backup for Jackson despite the fact that the Rams coaches rave about him. And if Bulger takes another beating in Dallas on Sunday, their back up QB option is good old Gus Frerotte. I forsee an 0-4 mark after this weekend and just getting worse when the Cards come to St Louis in two weeks.

The NFL Regular season is long and grueling, and a team can only be successful if its playmakers stay healthy. And so far, only the Cardinals seem to be winning that battle. GO CARDS!!!

Mike Duggan