Things are looking up for a St. Louis Rams secondary beset with injuries of late.
CB Justin King was a full participant in practice today, after missing last week's game against New Orleans. Even more encouraging is that Ron Bartell practiced today. He was limited, but still took in a decent amount of work with the team. Ken Flajole expects all of his defensive backs to play this week.
Bartell will not be 100 percent, not unusual for a player this time of year. It begs the question of just how effective he'll be. How will this impact his ability to cover receivers? Or more pressing, how will it impact his ability to make tackles? If he can't tackle well, yards after the catch could burn the Rams.
Starting LG Jacob Bell and RB Kenneth Darby were also limited in practice today. Darby seems to be the most questionable for Sunday's game. Darby's pass blocking was missed against New Orleans. Steven Jackson gave up two sacks.
The Chiefs don't have as long of an injury report as the Rams, but they are concerned about QB Matt Cassel's status for the game. Cassel practiced again today, but it was obvious that he was not at full strength. Here's what one report said (via Arrowhead Pride):
His footwork was loose and he really seemed to be trying to throw without involving his lower torso. That's not a good sign.
No, that's not a good sign. In fact, if he's altering his throwing motion because of the injury, playing could make him a bigger liability than not playing. Could be good for the Rams.
And here's where we tie the injury reports together. If Cassel plays, then keeping Dwayne Bowe covered will be a top priority for the Rams, one that would typically fall to CB Ron Bartell. But that begs the question of just how effective Bartell is. Bradley Fletcher has seen his share of top receivers lately, and he could be the main man for Bowe.