Injuries, along with a glaring talent deficiency, torpedoed the 2011 season for the St. Louis Rams. Starters along their offensive line, WR Danny Amendola, and nearly entire defensive secondary missed time at some point during the year. Franchise QB Sam Bradford even missed six games with an ankle injury.
The Rams entered 2012 with hopes that a new season would bring better luck on the health front. While they’ve largely avoided serious injury to key players, the Rams have again been bitten by the injury bug along the offensive line.
Left tackle Rodger Saffold, who missed six games in 2011, hasn’t played since week two against the Washington Redskins. Rookie fifth-round draft pick G Rokevious Watkins was lost for the season after playing only one game. And free agent acquisition C Scott Wells has been on injured reserve since the opening weekend. Even backup T Wayne Hunter, who has filled in during Saffold’s absence, has missed the past two games.
Amendola also hasn’t been so fortunate. Early, Amendola was on his way to a career year, having caught 15 passes for 160 yards against the Redskins in week two and totaling 31 receptions through the first four weeks. But a clavicle injury in week five has forced him to miss the past three games, and the Rams offense has struggled to move the ball and score points in his absence.
The Rams were hoping to regain the services of both Saffold and Amendola after the bye week, and Rams coach Jeff Fisher delivered some good news Wednesday.
“They’re working on a limited basis now and if things go according to plan, they’ll have a good chance to play,” Fisher said of Saffold and Amendola.
Wells is also looking at a return after the bye. A new rule this season allows one player to be designed for return from the IR, which the Rams used on Wells when he fractured his foot.
Health will be paramount for the Rams in the second half of the season. Amendola was Bradford’s favorite target before the injury, and he, paired with rookie wR Chris Givens, could cause headaches for opposing defenses.
Keeping Bradford upright will help the cause. With the return of Saffold and Wells, the Rams will have their opening day starting five back intact. For the first time since halftime of that game in Detroit the Rams will also have some semblance of depth along the line.
Fisher emphasized that the bye week is a chance for the Rams to regroup. For an offense that is near the bottom of the league in yards and points per game, a healthy and functional offensive line and group of receivers will – should – go a long way toward achieving the team’s goals in the final eight games.
“The first half is over,” Fisher said. “We’re going to start over with the second half. You take the halftime approach. It’s halftime. We’re trailing right now at halftime, and we’ve got to make some adjustments and get caught up.”