Injuries Hit St. Louis Linemen
Injuries hit St. Louis Rams' offensive linemen
BY JIM THOMAS
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
The best thing that can be said about the health of the Rams' offensive line is that it's June. Coach Steve Spagnuolo might be in a state of panic if today were Sept. 12 instead of June 12.
"I wouldn't panic," Spagnuolo insisted Friday. "But I'd be a little bit worried. We'd have to put Billy (Devaney) to work to go and find some guys to get in here. But the good thing is you have some time to get these guys healed."
As the Rams' near the end of their offseason mp practice sessions, offensive linemen are going down all over the place. Spagnuolo announced Friday that tackle Jason Smith, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft, has suffered a stress fracture in his toe and would miss the rest of the team's offseason work.
Smith originally suffered the injury Tuesday and then tried to practice Thursday morning before having an MRI exam.
"We're going to shut him down," Spagnuolo said. "I believe (trainer) Reggie (Scott) has got him in a boot, so we're not going to play around with that. He won't go in any more of these practices."
The veterans have only today's final minicamp practice, plus three sessions next week, before taking a break of nearly six weeks before the start of training camp. But Smith's latest injury underscored the fact that he continues to miss valuable workout, practice and game time with injuries. He missed half of his rookie season with a knee injury and a concussion.
As for the toe injury, it will take time and rest to heal.
"There's no need for any kind of corrective surgery, that's what I've been told," Spagnuolo said. "You just shut him down. He'll be able to do non-weight-bearing exercises. I think they had him on the bike today. He'll get in the pool eventually. We're just going to be smart with it right now."
At least, Spagnuolo pointed out, Smith got in most of the team's offseason work this spring.
"I thought he was just feeling pretty comfortable doing some things over there at left tackle," Spagnuolo said. "So we'll just pick back up in training camp."
On Friday morning, the Rams lost guard-center Mark Setterstrom with a left arm injury. Setterstrom suffered the injury early in the practice, during a one-on-one pass-blocking session against the defensive line. He was upset once the injury occurred.
Spagnuolo had no details after practice, saying only that Setterstrom was scheduled for examination, including an MRI, and that he was hoping for the best.
"He's a smart guy, he's a tough guy, and he's dedicated and all that," Spagnuolo said. "I thought he had done pretty good (this spring). You know, he's bounced back from some rehabs."
Setterstrom suffered a season-ending left triceps injury in the next-to-last game of the 2009 campaign, Dec. 27 at Arizona, and needed surgery. He missed all but three regular-season games in the 2007 and '08 seasons with knee and kneecap injuries.
"That's my buddy; that's my best friend," center Jason Brown said. "I love him to death. And I'm praying for him right now, hoping that it's not too serious."
When Setterstrom went down Friday, the Rams were missing six of the 16 offensive linemen currently on the offseason roster. Included among those six are three of the five projected 2010 starters: left tackle Smith; left guard Jacob Bell (knee); and right tackle Rodger Saffold (knee).
Also sidelined besides Setterstrom are guard Roger Allen III (knee) and center Drew Miller (knee). With the exception of Allen, who had surgery after suffering ligament damage to his left knee in the '09 season finale against San Francisco, all of the other line injuries have occurred in May and June. Saffold, the team's second-round draft pick in April, suffered what Spagnuolo termed a strained knee on June 3 and hasn't practiced since.
"It seems there are quite a few guys down on the offensive line right now," Brown said. "Everybody goes through those cycles. One year it might be running backs. Another year it might be defensive backs.
"It's something I've seen before in the past, something we definitely went through last year. There was a lot of rotating guys in and out in the interior part of the line, posterior part of the line."
But a rash of injuries is highly unusual during spring practices, because players don't wear full pads and contact is limited. On Friday, the Rams went with a first unit of Phil Trautwein at left tackle, John Greco at left guard, Brown at center, Hank Fraley at right guard and Adam Goldberg at right tackle.
The injuries have made it tough for Spagnuolo to get a read on a revamped line that is missing two primary starters from last season in guard Richie Incognito (released) and tackle Alex Barron (traded).
"The read's tough right now because a lot of the guys that probably will appear there when we get closer to preseason games and the regular season are on the sideline right now," Spagnuolo said. "So the continuity is tough. It's a challenge for (offensive line coach) Steve Loney right now working with them, but it is a good group. And even the guys that are injured, you don't see 'em all the time, but the way they are working is commendable. They all want to get back."
But now it might not be until training camp.
Re: Injuries Hit St. Louis Linemen
When I was reading up on Hovan's season with the Bucs, I saw that Arron Sears was also released. With all the injuries that are going around on our O-Line is he someone you could see the Rams go after?