I'm not a doctor, so I can't say for sure what constitutes an outbreak, an epidemic. Officially or unofficially, we can call what has happened to the St. Louis Rams this season, on the injury front, an epidemic. Since the start of training camp, players have been dropping like flies, some with serious maladies, some with nagging injuries. More often than not, those injuries have been the season-ending variety.
Yesterday, second-year left tackle Rodger Saffold tore a pectoral muscle while doing one of the more mundane tasks of being a professional football player, bench pressing. He is most likely out for the season, leaving the Rams perilously thin at offensive tackle. More notable is that Saffold is another one of the Rams starters to, maybe, see his season ended because of an injury.
Check out this list of players on IR, not UDFA-types who were waived with a settlement instead of being placed on IR, just plain old injured reserve players:
- Jermelle Cudjo, DT - Aug. 7, back injuries, a backup defensive lineman who had a strong rookie season. the Rams have needed depth that he would have provided.
- Jerome Murphy, CB - Aug. 12, fractured ankle, starting nickel corner
- Ron Bartell, CB - Sep. 11, fractured vertebrae, the Rams' top cover corner will be lucky if he plays football again
- Danny Amendola, WR - Sep. 11, dislocated elbow/torn triceps , perhaps the costliest of all the injuries. Sam Bradford has certainly missed his safety valve when he can't find reads downfield.
- Bradley Fletcher, CB - Oct. 5, torn ACL, Fletcher tore the same ACL he tore in his rookie year when he hyperextended his knee. He should be back next season.
- Brian Jackson, CB - Oct. 29, knee, not even a month after he was signed as an October replacement...
- Greg Salas, WR - Nov. 6, fractured fibula, Just as the rookie was starting to get in the swing of things, giving the Rams a solid replacement for Amendola...
- Al Harris, CB - Nov. 13, torn ACL, Injuries thrust Harris into a starting role, and he was playing well...until the Cleveland game.
- Michael Hoomanawanui, TE - Nov. 13, torn ACL, In his first two seasons, the tight end has spent more time on the injury list than he has the active roster. He's also been counted on as a starter.
- Rodger Saffold, OT - Nov. 18, torn pectoral...
Amazing. Five players who were penciled in to be starters when the season started are on IR, along with three key backups/depth players who had either taken over as starters because of injuries or would have. And this is just the list of players on injured reserve. Take a look at the list of players who have missed time with injuries this season, or in some cases still causing them to miss time.
- Sam Bradford, QB - The high ankle sprain caused the most problems, but poor play has led to lots of abuse and nagging injuries for Bradford. Don't forget he sat for part of the season opener because of a finger injury.
- Steven Jackson, RB - Lost after two plays in the opener, Jackson missed one game and was limited in the next two.
- Jason Smith, OT - The disappointing Smith is still dealing with his third concussion, and there's no telling when he could be back on the field.
- Cadillac Williams, RB - Jackson's backup, he will sit this week with a calf injury he suffered running onto the field last week.
- Gary Gibson, DT - A key role player, he missed time recently leaving the defensive line thin.
That's just a partial list, the highlights, if you will. Needless to say, those injuries have contributed significantly to the Rams shortcomings on the field this season. I still wouldn't be so generous as to say their struggles can be blamed entirely upon this long list of missing players.
Losing Amendola for the season and Steven Jackson to start the season really did hurt this offense. The coaches failed to adapt adequately to the new realities presented, but it isn't hard to make a partial link between Bradford's struggles and those two losses in particular.
Looking at this list of injuries, I will assume that it does at least buy Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo another year, a grace period, at the helm of the Rams. Spags has indicated that there will be changes made elsewhere among the coaching staff, but the he and McDaniels will most likely be here in 2012.
Is keeping the coaches the right move? Will fewer injuries clear the way for the Rams to finally live up to the lofty expectations fans had coming into this season? We'll see what happens. One thing I do know is that the injury list won't be as long as it is this year. Right?