With the new season upon us, it's a very exciting time. Not only exciting, but there also comes a sense of tension and nervousness. While the St. Louis Rams have solidified several key areas (namely QB - albeit Sam still needs to prove himself), there are still areas that are extremely vulnerable (yes even at positions we've seemingly solidified).
That coupled with last years injuries we compiled, would make any Rams fan tremble whenever they hear the word "injury". Heck, the new Rams mascot could have easily become the Red Cross mascot. It was BAD.
Looking at how the Rams training camp is progressing so far, it appears we've escaped "major" injuries (*GULP - awaiting Ron Bartell x-ray) for the most part, even though we still have a long way to go. I am however a bit worried about our D-Line as STLToday.com has given us details on our injuries thus far, and they include 3 D-Linemen:
"Defensive tackle Chris Hovan left practice early with lower-back pain. Defensive back Marquis Johnson tweaked a hamstring. … Defensive end C.J. Ah You (hamstring), guard Mark Lewis (ankle), defensive tackle Darell Scott (hamstring) and safety Darian Stewart (shoulder) sat out."
Like we need a good dose of back and hamstring injuries to THREE of our D-Linemen right?
*There is also early word about Ron Bartell being helped off the field with an ankle injury during yesterday's practice.. x-rays to follow today.. let's hope that one is minor.
At any rate, hearing about these injuries got me thinking about the painful scenarios if certain players on the Rams got injured, and how those injuries could potentially deflate the Rams and crush any hopes of a respectable season in the win/loss column. With respectable, I mean, an improved record over last year. I know it sucks thinking about stuff like this, but hey, sometimes you gotta' do it!
Let's have a look at the Rams top 5 potential team deflating injuries:
1) RB Steven Jackson OK this one is a no brainer. Losing Jackson is something any Rams fan can't even comprehend right now. Let's look at who we have behind him... Totson? Didn't he get jacked up in practice by Larry Grant? Oh wait, that was Mike Karney who got his helmet knocked off (thanks to infemous for posting that link earlier). Let's HOPE Ogbannaya steps it up and emerges during pre-season. The kid has talent and man oh man do we need that right now. Too bad Westbrook didn't pan out (yet?). That would have been a nice pickup, aged or not. SJAX is our lifeline, and our backbone. I'm sure we can ALL agree on that.
2) QB Sam Bradford I listed Sam #2 only because he has not proven himself on the field as of yet. Once he does, and if he shows some real signs of the prospect we're expecting, he could easily be moved to number 1 on this list. As it is, if Sam gets hurt, it not only hurts the position, but if the injury were serious and sidelined him for a lengthy period of time (can anyone say shoulder?), it could crush the entire future hope of this franchise for some time to come. Bottom line, a Sam Bradford injury would also seriously deflate a team already desperately searching for confidence. Somehow I don't think Feeley or Null would be the elixir to relieve the painful symptoms, do you?
3) MLB James Laurenitis (animal) OK this would be another crushing blow. JL emerged as a leader for us last year on the D-Side and it's not hard to argue that he got robbed in the ROY voting. Anyone who watched a few Rams games last year knows exactly what I'm talking about. He's a beast, a SMART beast at that, who I believe will have an even better year this year. Let's be even more realistic - even with an entire pre-season to determine the roster, Josh Hull could seriously be our starting MLB if animal gets injured. Bring on the Pepto.
4) DE Chris Long OK we all know how fragile we are on the DE side (also DT but we DO have more depth there). Even though Long has disappointed to a degree, he did show some spark toward the end of last season. I could easily see him doubling his production this year, especially with our weaker schedule. If Long gets injured, who would fill in? Ah You? One of a couple rookies? OK so Ah You isn't horrible, BUT c'mon.. Long is supposed to be our future here. This, in my opinion, COULD be one of the most devastating losses due to the sheer lack of depth at the position, and due to the fact that Long has struggled in the past already... that's all all we need... is to ad "injury prone" to Long's list of negative complaints many have had thus far. I'm sure we'd be hearing "bust" screamed as well.
5) P Donnie Jones OK so maybe this is going a BIT overboard? But hey, I had to give our star punter some love, after all, no one else outside of Rams fans is doing that. Listen, how many Rams games (the close ones) were close mainly because of Donnie? I'm being serious. The guy is a STUD and showed up every week. Clearly he got snubbed again from the pro-bowl, and even though HE IS, in my opinion, the best punter in the NFL PERIOD, being on a 1-15 team doesn't help his Pro Bowl chances. Bottom line, Pro Bowl or not we need him again this year.
On Offense.. The Bookends:
OT Rodger Saffold Eric Young will most likely be his backup.... Even though J Smith could rotate over if healthy, with Trautwein filling in for Smith.
OT Jason Smith Trautwein will most likely be his backup.. not horrible, BUT a #2 overall pick being injury prone SUCKS.. and oh wait, he's already injured with a toe problem... J Smith is one guy I have mixed emotions about. A part of me would think "oh crap" if he got hurt, another part would feel like "yea, no biggie and expected". Man i'd love to see him put together a solid string of games to at least make us feel a little better. So far we've seen almost nothing.. a few sparks followed by injuries.
On Defense.. Our turnover machine:
OJ Atogwe Can't deny he is a ball hawk and would be a severe blow indeed!
On Special Teams... Our Returner:
WR Danny Amendola OR
WR Mardy Gilyard
But seriously? At almost every position there is ONE player that could really harm the Rams if they got injured. I'm sure others will be named in the comments below.
There you have it, the top 5 injuries that would make you wince on Monday morning, and possibly make you cancel NFL Sunday Ticket.