Rams Deal with Injuries
Monday, September 28, 2009
By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer

The Rams spent most of the past 24 hours waiting anxiously for injury news on a few of their most important pieces. What they got in return was a mixed bag of better than expected and worse than feared.

In Sunday’s loss to Green Bay, the Rams were hit hard by the injury bug as it seemed not a quarter went by without another ailment striking someone down. None were bigger than quarterback Marc Bulger’s right shoulder injury; safety James Butler’s left knee injury and receiver Laurent Robinson’s right ankle injury.

Still, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo and Co. held out hope that further examinations on Monday morning would came back better than expected. In two of those cases, perhaps it did. On another, not so much.

Spagnuolo announced Monday afternoon that the player hit the worst was Robinson, who suffered a high ankle sprain and what Spagnuolo described as a “fracture high on his fibula.”

Translation: Robinson will need surgery in the coming days and will almost certainly be out for the rest of the season.

“The most significant one was Laurent Robinson, who is going to require surgery,” Spagnuolo said. “It was a high ankle sprain and also a fracture high on his fibula. He will pretty much be done.”

The news about Robinson is particularly disappointing considering how he had established himself since coming to the Rams in a trade during the offseason.

Robinson had emerged as the Rams’ most consistent receiving threat, posting a team-leading 13 catches with 167 yards and a touchdown in his two plus games.

But a simple running play to the left side in which Robinson was out front blocking resulted in the end of his season when the pile rolled up on his right leg from behind.

“I thought he had done a really good job, the whole season,” Spagnuolo said. “The whole wealth of his work, preseason on, I thought he had done an excellent job. He was a tremendous addition to this team. It was a good move by Billy when he pulled the trigger on that. Unfortunately for us and for him, he will probably be out the rest of the season.”

From there, the news was a little brighter on the injury front. Bulger was driven to the ground, landing on his right shoulder on two consecutive plays in the first quarter against the Packers.

After the first one, he attempted to come back on the field but he was hit and landed almost exactly as the first hit and was unable to return to the game.

There was a fear as recently as last night that Bulger’s injury would be extremely serious but a Monday morning MRI revealed some positive news.

Bulger has no tear or sprain in the shoulder and was diagnosed with a bruised rotator cuff. In other words, no surgery is needed and Bulger can resume throwing and playing whenever the pain subsides.

Spagnuolo said Bulger hasn’t even been ruled out for this week and the Rams will play it day by day with their starting signal caller.

“He is very sore today,” Spagnuolo said. “Tomorrow when he comes in, we’ll see where he’s at. I know one thing about Marc Bulger. If there is a way for him to go and fight through pain, he’ll do that. I don’t want to speak for him but I know he is very sore today and we want to be careful with it. If he can throw Wednesday, he will. If he can’t, he won’t. My understanding is it could have been a lot worse.”

Things also could have been much worse for Butler, especially considering the nature of knee injuries suffered in football games. Like Bulger, though, Butler got some decent news.

Although he will have to miss time, Butler has a third degree MCL strain, an injury that also could have been worse. The timetable for his return is a little less certain though Spagnuolo said it would likely be a minimum of two weeks with a probable maximum of four.

Of course, that timetable varies depending on the athlete.

“It’s somewhat significant,” Spagnuolo said. “It doesn’t require surgery. All guys are different and guys recover differently from these things. But he will be out obviously this week.”

As for the rest of the walking wounded, it appears the Rams will have plenty of day to day ailments to deal with but nothing of the more serious variety. Receiver Donnie Avery had an X ray on his ribs and it came back negative. He’s expected to be OK and will be day to day.

Linebacker David Vobora suffered a concussion and will have the necessary tests for clearance from doctors in the next day or so. Defensive tackle Gary Gibson (leg) and linebacker James Laurinaitis (shoulder) are expected to be OK.

Tackle Jason Smith is still battling through his knee injury but Spagnuolo upgraded him to questionable and acknowledged the possibility that Smith could return to practice this week.
In the wake of the injury bug biting so often on Sunday, the Rams have already begun formulating contingency plans for the players who might be out and for the ones who will definitely not play.

Robinson’s absence probably requires the most immediate attention. Spagnuolo said he has yet to talk to General Manager Billy Devaney about finding someone to come in to replace Robinson but also said something would “probably happen.”

The Rams could bring in some receivers for a tryout or look in house to the practice squad with someone like Nate Jones. In the meantime, Ruvell Martin, who was inactive against the Packers, could now figure into the mix.

“I think we’re headed that way,” Spagnuolo said. “He’s done some good things in practice right now and the system it was just a little terminology so we are hopeful of that.”

Should Bulger be unable to play, the Rams would again turn to Kyle Boller with rookie Keith Null as the backup.

Boller gave the Rams a spark against Green Bay, leading them on three scoring drives to draw the Rams within a score.

“Kyle is a fiery guy, very confident in what he does,” Spagnuolo said. “He’d tell you he’d like to have his first two throws back yesterday but you know you get thrown in that situation and then he settled down. I thought he did a nice job. I do think going back to preseason where he had to play those games and the team understands and knows that he knows, I think there is some confidence there and I am hoping that will help us.”

The safety situation was decided Sunday as Craig Dahl replaced Butler and played well in his stead.

Dahl had been hampered by a hamstring injury which rendered him inactive in the first two games but made his Rams debut a success in leading the team in tackles after replacing Butler.

:It was kind of nice to know that you can put a guy in there with limited reps and was fighting injury, and he knew the calls, knew what he was doing, he made some plays for us, had a lot of tackles,” Spagnuolo said. “It’s nice to have that.”