Losing guard Harvey Dahl leaves the St. Louis Rams without the team's top offensive lineman. Even with just two games left to play, his absence will leave the front five wanting, unless one of the backups joins the long list of players this season to jump past expectations.
"MRI shows that he's got a torn bicep tendon and he'll be having corrective surgery on Wednesday," Jeff Fisher said Monday. "So, we'll be placing him on injured reserve. Don't know what we're going to do with the roster spot yet.
Dahl should be fine for the 2013 season. In the meantime, Shelly Smith and Chris Williams will battle for the starting spot to replace him for the remainder of this season. In fact, Fisher said the two have been sorting it out in practice already. Smith has filled in for the Rams before. Williams is a more intriguing case.
"Shelley was solid," Fisher said of the backup guard. "He was solid in there. You know, it's different moving over to the right side, but he's done both and so, we feel like both he and Chris (Williams) will be able to finish that up for us."
A former first-round pick by the Chicago Bears in 2008, Williams has experience at both guard and tackle. Injuries limited him last season, but he was effective in protection when he was on the field.
The Rams signed Williams in October, after the Bears released him. He was a popular commodity on the free agent circuit, getting nibbles from a few teams. He signed a one-year, $1.523 million deal with the Rams.
What I said in that October post about Williams still stands:
His first-round bona fides make for an interesting addition to the Rams, where offensive line coach Paul Boudreau has been turning the most anonymous of players from an already anonymous position into a serviceable starters.
If the Rams can turn him into a solid starter, the roster is that much better off going forward and the Rams may want to sign him to a new deal after the season.
As for Dahl, Fisher described what made him the ideal fit for the team's approach.
"He was very, very durable week in and week out," Fisher said. "Dependable. He's the kind of guy you want on your offensive line. He finishes plays. He's tough. He battles. He just battles every play, so we'll miss him for the next couple weeks, but he'll find his way back. It's probably a three to four month long rehab."