Jason Smith returns to practice; will he start this week?

Here's a question for all of us armchair coaches out there. St. Louis Rams rookie OT Jason Smith was back at practice yesterday after an extended absence due to a concussion. Should the Rams play him this week for their season finale against the 49ers?

Stating the obvious, it's quite possible that Smith won't be ready to play. He's been out of action since week 11 and given that he was dealing with a concussion and therefore was limited in his activities Smith might not be up to speed and ready to start in this game. The second overall pick was limited in practice yesterday. 

If the Rams really are going to have their best chance of scuttling the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, then having Smith in the lineup definitely ups their chances of doing that. The drop in performance up front has been noticeable without Smith in the lineup, though the line has done a decent enough job. With Smith back, the Rams could move Adam Goldberg back to guard and probably push rookie Roger Allen to the bench. That takes away the team's opportunity to evaluate the youngsters on the offensive line though. 

Evaluations or not, having Smith in the lineup for the last game of the forgettable 2010 season gives fans something og a positive end note, finally getting to see their top draft pick back in action this year. 

Really, it's too bad Smith has been out as long as has, because he could have started taking reps at left tackle, where he should be starting next season. 

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