Jo-Lonn Dunbar returns to the Rams with a chip on his shoulder after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's performance enhancing drug policy. The Rams somewhat surprisingly cut Dunbar prior to the first week of the season, and let him serve his suspension as a free agent. The move worked out for the Rams as they were able to get some salary cap relief and, in the end, keep an integral part of the defense.
The Rams defense has suffered without Dunbar. Some have called Dunbar the spiritual and emotional leader of the defensive side of the ball. If that's the case, one could expect the Rams defense to improve with Dunbar back.
Timing also seems to be on Dunbar's side, as "replacement" Will Witherspoon is currently nursing a hamstring injury. Dunbar seems poised to hop in and return to his starting role right off the bat. In the pre-season and training camp, Dunbar looked like a top linebacker in the Rams defensive system. Fans will hope his play provides a spark to a team that has struggled mightily the last two weeks to stop the run.
The Rams cut Max Starks to make room for Dunbar on the roster. Starks was signed two weeks ago as a backup offensive tackle. Starks saw action in the Rams games against Dallas and San Fransisco. Starks appeared slow, and looked like a veteran on his way out of the league. This move may signal that Saffold will be returning sooner than many might have suspected. The Rams offensive line has been more effective with Saffold in the game this season, so his appearance would be a sight for sore eyes.
Could the return of Jo Lonn Dunbar and Roger Saffold provide the spark this team needs?