Gerald Hayes (Getty)
The Cardinals are starting to feel the impact of having a bye in the fourth week of this season, with several key players trying to work through various injuries. Sunday's game in St. Louis will be the team's seventh straight since their off week, and the nagging injuries are starting to mount, especially on defense.
Outside linebacker Chike Okeafor could miss his second consecutive game with a bad back. Inside linebacker Gerald Hayes has missed the last two with a back condition. Strong safety Adrian Wilson is nursing a sore groin, and cornerback Bryant McFadden has been playing with a troublesome ankle.
All except Okeafor are likely to play Sunday against the Rams, but the team's depth is being tested.
Ali Highsmith started the past two games in place of Hayes. At 230 pounds, Highsmith is 20 pounds lighter than Hayes and didn't hold up as well against the run.
While injuries have forced more backups into the lineup, they also have made the special teams young. Last week, the Cardinals had five rookies on the kickoff team, which had coaches holding their breath.
The unit played well, however, as the club gets strong contributions from running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, outside linebacker Will Davis and cornerback Greg Toler.
--WR Anquan Boldin has practiced fully this week and appears to have fully recovered from a sprained ankle.
--ILB Gerald Hayes returned to practice this week after missing two games and is expected to play Sunday in St. Louis.
--OLB Chike Okeafor hasn't practiced this week because of back pain. Okeafor has been bothered by his back intermittently this season and didn't play last week. If he can't play, Bertrand Berry will start.
--OT Mike Gandy has practiced on a limited basis this week because of a strained muscle in the pelvic region. He should be able to play Sunday, however.
--WR Sean Morey, a special teams standout, has been cleared for contact after missing last week's game because of a concussion.