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Bartell still out; Rams secondary limping into New Orleans

Ron Bartell of the St. Louis Rams is dealing with a shoulder injury and could miss this week's game against New Orleans.
Ron Bartell of the St. Louis Rams is dealing with a shoulder injury and could miss this week's game against New Orleans.

Yikes. Ron Bartell, the St. Louis Rams top cornerback, missed practice again today, still dealing with a stinger in his neck and shoulder. He's still officially day-to-day. 

Considering the Saints average 290 passing yards per game, the Rams without Bartell could be even more vertically challenged. If Bartell can't play, look for Quincy Butler to start in his place. Compounding the worry is that CB Justin King sat out today's practice after being limited in yesterday's practice. 

According to the Rams official site, Spags was "hopeful" that Bartell and King would play this week. 

Those aren't the only injuries to the Rams' secondary. Atogwe was back at practice today; Craig Dahl and Jerome Murphy were limited. 

Backup RB Kenneth Darby. who has been seeing plenty of reps on third downs, was out today. Keith Toston was practicing in his place. The Saints running back situation looked much better, with Pierre Thomas returning to full practice today. 

More tidbits of fun below the jump...

Could the passing game start stretching more? You have to wonder when you read things like this from the Rams' practice report:

WR Danario Alexander is having another solid week of practice and seems on pace to be worked into the offense even more.

Remember when everyone said Rodger Saffold would have to be a right tackle or even a guard? Ha! The National Football Post has an interesting take on this, with a little 20/20 hindsight.

Saffold does not have the frame of "traditional" big time left tackles. At a little over 6-4, he is a tad shorter than the "ideal" left tackle. He also has a thick stocky frame with just above average arm length (33.5). So when you gave him the "eye ball" test you said guard or right tackle.

So how about his work at LT this season?

He has excellent initial quickness for both the pass and run. In the run game he is explosive coming off the ball and does an excellent job running his feet on contact. He consistently gets movement with his run blocks. He has the body control to get out into space, adjust on the move and hit a moving target. In pass protection he is very quick laterally and does a good job stopping wide speed and can also recover and come back inside to stoop counter moves. He is strong in both the upper and lower body and has a very good punch. With his bend, he doesn't give ground to a bull rush.

They had some of those skills pegged with Saffold back in April, though most scouting reports, as you can see here, were saying those very things about his ability to play LT in the NFL. VT had a nice piece on Saffold his in week 6 breakdown

Saffold will have his work cut out for him this week. The Saints blitz on 69 percent of third downs, 78 percent on third downs with 4-6 yards to go.