How the St. Louis Rams learned to love the injury report

Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

What's one secret to the Rams' success this season? Health.

Remember when the injury report used to consist of five or six back-benchers, the ones brought in to replace the mediocre starters on injured reserve? The coaching staff and the record aren't the only thing different for the St. Louis Rams this year.

Danny Amendola is closer to returning, and could do so this week. Head coach Jeff Fisher explained the situation at his Monday press conference.

"Danny tried to go. He was much better than he was last week, but we just felt it would make sense that we waited another week. I think he's got a much better chance this week."

He might have been able to play last week too. Caution prevailed, though the rationale might surprise you.

"It's uncomfortable. It's a foot injury that still needs to heal. Danny needs to be close to 100 percent to be effective -- to be able to protect himself, particularly."

That's scrappy to a new level. He could probably play second base for the Cardinals with that much scrappy cred.

The rest of the injury report was pretty tame. Craig Dahl suffered a concussion. He'll need to clear protocol, but Fisher said that the safety was feeling much better. Rodger Saffold is no worse for wear either, incredibly enough. Center Scott Wells, along with Amendola, will most likely rest again through the early part of the week.

You can attribute the Rams' improved record to a lot of things. The offensive line is playing better. Pass rushing. Coverage. Turnovers. Standout rookies. All of those things share some credit in the team's success, along with the notable change in leadership. But you can't leave out the bounce back to normal for team injuries.

What extended player injuries the Rams have suffered, the depth chart has provided solutions. The starting center goes on the shelf; Robert Turn replaces him. Sam Bradford's top receiving target goes down; a fourth-round rookie fills the void. The team's first-round pick rolls an ankle in the preseason; Jermelle Cudjo steps in.

Injuries like that have doomed the Rams for years. A starter left the lineup and was promptly replaced by slapping a clown suit on any old bum in Jay Zygmunt's Rolodex, Tony Softli's Palm Pilot or the Billy Devaney's hipster Moleskine notebook.

The coaches brought along players like Cudjo, Craig Dahl and Lance Kendricks. Guys that looked destined for oblivion a year ago. The personnel department improved the quality of the depth through free agency and the draft, thanks to additions like William Hayes or Turner. One way or another, the Rams found ways to address injury concerns by improving the roster.

Lady luck also deserves a little credit. There has been no wholesale massacre of one particular unit like the offensive line or the secondary this year. The team has lost far fewer games to injury overall than in years past.

It's probably the least heralded part of the journey from 2-14 to 6-6-1.

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