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Arizona's Branch Fined For Hit On Bradford
Arizona's Branch fined for hit on Bradford
BY JIM THOMAS
Sunday, December 12, 2010
When Arizona defensive lineman Alan Branch struck Rams quarterback Sam Bradford with a crunching blow last Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium, it looked like the kind of hit the NFL is trying to prevent.
Turns out it was. Branch was fined $10,000 for unnecessarily striking the quarterback in the head and neck area, the league confirmed Friday. It's the second such infraction for Branch, who had a previous one during preseason play in 2009.
Against Bradford, Branch was flagged for roughing the passer with 4˝ minutes to play in a 19-6 Rams victory. On the play, Bradford's pass intended for tight end Daniel Fells was incomplete.
It's the first big fine for an opposing defender for a hit on Bradford since the NFL imposed its stricter policy for flagrant hits to the head and neck earlier this season.
Running back Kenneth Darby didn't practice all week because of a rib injury and is listed on the Rams' injury report as doubtful. The "doubtful" designation means a player has only a 25 percent chance of playing.
So it looks like Keith Toston, an undrafted rookie from Oklahoma State, will be Steven Jackson's primary backup Sunday in New Orleans.
"I'm finally getting an opportunity to show what I can do," Toston said. "Any time you work so hard for something and you finally feel like you're going to get an opportunity, it's big."
Toston was an All-Big 12 performer in 2009 at Oklahoma State, rushing for 1,218 yards and 11 touchdowns. But he's only had 14 carries this season for the Rams, and none since the Oct. 24 game at Tampa Bay.
Darby's stats haven't been flashy — 33 carries for 100 yards, and eight catches for 62 yards. But he has scored three touchdowns, tied for second on the team behind Jackson's four. And Darby has done a good job on pass protection and blitz pickup.
"I think the hardest part is just making sure that I'm in the right place at the right time," Toston said. "I just have to make sure I'm where I'm supposed to be."
Bartell, King doubtful
Cornerbacks Ron Bartell (stinger) and Justin King (shoulder) also missed practice all week and are listed as doubtful. Barring a near-miraculous recovery by Bartell before Sunday's 3:05 p.m. kickoff, Quincy Butler will start at cornerback.
The issue for Bartell continues to be the lack of strength in his neck and left shoulder area. Butler started seven games for the Rams in '09 but was a surprise cut this season during the final roster cutdowns on Labor Day weekend. He was re-signed Oct. 25 but had played only a handful of defensive plays until Bartell was sidelined against Arizona.
"I think he did very well (against Arizona)," Bartell said. "Hadn't played in a while. Going against a pass-happy offense, going against a great wide receiver like Larry Fitzgerald. We have confidence in those guys."
King has been in and out of the lineup with injuries all season but has played decently at nickel back. Kevin Dockery is expected to replace King against New Orleans in that role, but rookie Jerome Murphy also should be available after missing the Arizona game with a hamstring injury. He was a full participant Friday and is listed as probable.
The back 7
Although listed as questionable with a shoulder injury, free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe was a full participant in practice Friday and is expected to play Sunday. So is starting strong safety Craig Dahl (knee), who is listed as probable.
It looks like the Rams will go with David Vobora at strongside linebacker in place of Na'il Diggs, who's out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Despite a slight fracture at the base of his right hand, Chris Chamblerlain is expected to start at weakside linebacker.
With so many players banged up in the back seven, how will the Rams cover a Saints passing game that features options all over the field?
"We're going to play with 12 (defenders)," coach Steve Spagnuolo quipped. "We're going to go to Canadian rules, I think. It's a challenge and they just keep throwing (receivers) in one after another, and each one as good as the next."
Re: Arizona's Branch Fined For Hit On Bradford
dirty hits cause they were losing and trying to take it out on bradford good for himTorry Holt Dont play that
Re: Arizona's Branch Fined For Hit On Bradford
mehhh... These fines are getting really ridiculous. Even though it's out of anger and frustration, they should give warnings rather than fines.
The NFL has been turning to greed in recent years and I'm starting to dislike Roger Goodell for all these changes going on in terms of rules and especially with the constant fines on James Harrison. I'm going to start hating him if he puts an 18 season game. The only good change he made was the overtime rules. If this keeps up, players will have to adjust to hitting more lightly and that makes the offense more primed to scoring points, ruining the fundamentals of good defense.
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