With another seven days to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement, optimism is pretty high that a deal will get done and the 2011 NFL season will be saved. Both sides have plenty left to work out. Michael Silver had some insight into the parameters of the deal, but much can and likely will change between now and then. One thing that is not likely to change is the introduction of the 18-game season. With two more games, comes an exponentially greater chance of injuries and more potential to shake up the playoff race.
Injuries made a big difference for the St. Louis Rams last year. Ending the season just one win away from their first playoff berth since 2004, you can argue that the Rams' loss of Donnie Avery or Mark Clayton made all the difference. I even wonder if the Rams fortunes might have been different if they hadn't lost Danario Alexander for a few games to a knee scope, his fifth knee surgery.
An extended season will no doubt bring some concessions at the bargaining table, an increased roster size for example. Another possibility mentioned by Andrew Brandt today is a short-term injured reserve status, one that would allow teams to bring back players on IR prior to the end of the season. That wouldn't have mattered for the injured Rams receivers last year, who are still rehabbing from pretty serious knee injuries.
Now, that group of wide receivers returns with just as many health questions, too many to allow the Rams to count on them. An 18-game season is unlikely for 2011, according to the Michael Silver scoop on the web today. That's good news for the Rams, who desperately need to add receivers. If the season doesn't get a Jimmy Johnson Extendzion until 2012 that gives the Rams another year to restock the pantry with WRs...and just enough time to expose other spots on the roster to injuries.