Should a player be allowed to play through an injury even if it can potentially hurt a team? That's a pretty common question in all of sports, and one that the St. Louis Rams have struggled with this season with their top cornerback, Ron Bartell.
Bartell has been dealing with a thigh injury for two months, and it's caused him to get burned on some costly plays on more than one occassion this season. I'll forgive him the Colts game, since I'm a pretty firm believer in the notion that the best passes usually beat the best coverage. Here's Bartell on playing through it:
It's been frustrating. But I chose to play and try to fight through it. I have to play better, regardless of how it feels. I'm expected to play at a certain level, and I haven't been playing at that level.
To a large extent, the Rams don't have a choice but to play their walking wounded at cornerback. The team isn't deep enough, especially with Bradley Fletcher lost for the season since week 7. Prior to that, it was still a valid question as to whether the Rams should have played Bartell or let him rest for a week.
His injury is similar to what Steven Jackson dealt with last season. A thigh injury has a more direct impact on a running back, but it's obviously compromised some of Bartell's skills in coverage.
This week, he's had a chance to rest it and is feeling more confident about his readiness for a game against the Saints, one where the secondary is sure to be tested early and often.