Zac Stacy, Harvey Dahl injuries and the Rams' running game

Michael Thomas

Two players essential to the Rams' new run-heavy approach are dealing with injuries of unknown severity.

St. Louis Rams running back Zac Stacy left the team's Week 8 loss to the Seahawks for a few snaps at the end of the game, coming back in on the final play, THAT final play. According to one report, he has a low ankle sprain. Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said the team was still evaluating his status to determine the extent of the injury.

"We'll have an injury report ready tomorrow," Fisher said Tuesday, "but we're still doing tests right now."

Stacy sat out Wednesday's practice. Missing practice isn't that unusual; he's missed Wednesday practice before to get some extra rest ahead of the game. Don't read much into that news in and of itself.

However, a wobbly ankle and the loss of right guard Harvey Dahl, 32, does raise some questions about the effectiveness of the running game.

"We're still undergoing tests," Fisher said Tuesday, regarding Dahl. "He did not return. The suspicion there is an MCL and then the degree is what we're concerned about right now."

The rookie had his best game of the season last week, rushing for 134 yards on 26 carries. The Rams have made an effort to run the ball over the last four weeks, and they've been successful thanks to Stacy's ability. He's got 348 yards on 76 carries, averaging 4.6 yards per carry.

The Rams ran five times over the right guard, according to Pro Football Focus. They totaled 12 yards and an average of 2.4 yards per carry on those attempts. That tied with runs over the right tackle for the most attempts at any spot on the line.

Dahl graded out at 2.6, second only to Jake Long in PFF's run blocking scores for that game. It was tied his highest run blocking grade of the season, from Week 2 against the Falcons. Overall, Dahl has a 3.3 grade as a run blocker. For the season, Dahl has a 3.3 grade as a run blocker, also second only to Long.

Shelly Smith, Dahl's replacement, had a positive grade in relief this week, scoring 0.6 on 41 snaps. He has a 2.2 grade overall, and had a good game as a run blocker working in a rotation during the Jaguars game.

The truth is that the Rams should be able to move forward without Dahl, should they lose him for a stretch this season or even the whole year. And that raises a question about his future with the team. He has one year left on his contract, with a $3.5 million salary and $500,000 bonus next year. Right now, it looks like an easy target for clearing up cap space.

Stacy's status is a much bigger concern for the running game. The Rams are on a short week because of the Monday night game. Despite an abundance of warm bodies at the position, Stacy's the only one who excels at running between the tackles.

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