Injuries, injuries, injures...it wouldn't be another week of St. Louis Rams football without dealing with injuries. Of course, most teams are dealing with injuries, and the Rams have been, so far, fairly fortunate in who has been injured. The medical report is having an impact on the team's depth while leaving some of the key roster spots relatively untouched, unlike years past.
The injury that concerns me most: Craig Dahl. Dahl has been a sparkplug on what has so far been a strong unit. And it's a concussion that he's dealing with, which could have him back in action next week or not until next season. Tricky injuries those are, says Yoda, just ask Jason Smith. Anyway, the Dahl has been an important part of the defense, especially the run defense. If you just look at the yards surrendered, the Rams run defense doesn't grade out so well. However, the Rams run defense has a -17.7 percent DVOA, 14th best in the league. More telling is how that unit has performed in some key situations. On third-and-short, the Rams defense has a -38.4 percent DVOA. Against the run on 3rd and 4th downs, the Rams defense has a -88.7 percent DVOA.
Obviously, that's not all on Dahl. But he has definitely had a noticeable impact on the group's performance. Filling in for Dahl is James Butler, last year's starter and the starting SS for the Giants during Spag's tenure there. If Butler's healthy, their performance shouldn't drop off significantly. In fact, against a pass-happy Washington team, Butler might be slightly better start at SS.
Being without DTs Darrell Scott and Clifton Ryan won't help the run defense either, especially Scott, who I think is having a real impact with that unit. The bigger risk to watch out for here is whether or not those injuries force Ken Flajole to expose Fred Robbins to more snaps, upping his injury risk.
Not having Laurent Robinson healthy hurts a Rams offense that just can't seem to make much happen with receivers not named Mark Clayton. However, Robinson played hurt last week, and I wonder if maybe he wasn't hurt heading into the season because he's struggled mightily with getting separation from defenders. Another injury for Laurent Robinson...I don't think the Rams can really count on this guy going forward. Back in August, the Rams receivers had tremendous potential, but big question marks about injury issues. Three weeks into the season it's more injury than potential.
TE Daniel Fells practiced yesterday and looks ready to go this week. I hope the Rams use him too. Of course, that means fewer opportunities for Fendi Onobun, but it sounds like he'll still get a few looks.
Washington has injury issues of their own. NT Anthony Bryant is out this week. Washington's run defense has a 5.2 percent DVOA. On the other side of the ball, LT Trent Williams is listed as questionable, but he says he's ready to play this week.