Rams Eager for Injured Linemen's Return
Center Scott Wells is a little bit behind T Rodger Saffold in his rehab but the Rams remain hopeful he'll be back sooner than later.
By the time the Rams return to the field after the bye to take on the Niners in San Francisco in week 10, they could have a decidedly different look on their offensive line.
Ravaged by injuries in the first couple of weeks – they lost starting center Scott Wells and left tackle Rodger Saffold to foot and knee injuries, respectively – the Rams have done plenty of mixing and matching in the time since.
At center, it’s been Robert Turner who stepped in for Wells and has done an admirable job in the middle. For Saffold, the Rams have used Wayne Hunter and Joe Barksdale with Hunter taking most of the work until a back injury kept him out the past two weeks.
Likewise, the Rams have used multiple options at left guard but Shelley Smith has started the past two weeks.
Assuming Wells and Saffold plug back into their normal spots, coach Jeff Fisher will have a variety of options to explore in how he wants to use his linemen and, really, on who gets to stick around on the active roster.
“Well, we’ve got a lot of valuable experience when we get them back,” Fisher said. “When Scott comes back and Rob has great experience up to this point. So, Rob can back up both places and then we’ve got, obviously, Joe and Wayne out there that can back up both places and there’s potential that one of those guys could begin to move inside and work inside. So, I’ve got some flexibility.”
Indeed, there is plenty of flexibility upon the return of Saffold and Wells but of course before any of that stretching and shaping can take place, that duo has to return to action.
Saffold returned to the practice field Wednesday, doing some light work after he did some work on the side last week in London. He appears to be on track to make his return next week against San Francisco barring a setback from the knee injury he suffered in week 2 against Washington.
“I am constantly working to get back on the field,” Saffold said. “I have been doing everything from doing stuff in the pool to doing a little bit of running here and there and then now I’m being asked to get out there and do some individuals. It was good for me today.”
Wells, on the other hand, isn’t quite s far along in his rehabilitation as Saffold. He suffered his injury in the opening week and was placed on the special designation injured reserve list.
That designation allows Wells to be on injured reserve but not end his season early. He was actually eligible to return to practice last week and again this week but isn’t quite up to speed yet to return. The rule states that also could return to playing in games next week against San Francisco.
While Fisher and offensive line coach Paul Boudreau will have some time to kick around options it seems that upon the return of Wells and Saffold that Smith will continue to get starts at left guard with Turner serving as the primary backup inside.
PEAD’S PERFORMANCE: Rookie running back Isaiah Pead hasn’t had many opportunities to show his wares on the field in the first half of the season.
Fellow rookie back Daryl Richardson overtook Pead early in the season as the backup to starter Steven Jackson and Pead has been relegated to the occasional offensive rep and split duties as the kick returner with rookie wideout Chris Givens.
But with Sunday’s game out of hand in London and the Rams not wanting to get anyone injured, Pead got some opportunities to play offense. Although most of those reps came against New England’s backups, Pead made the most of his cameo in posting three carries for 32 yards, including a nifty 19-yard run.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Pead will have an expanded role moving forward but Fisher did say Pead will continue to be worked in the right spots.
“We drafted Isaiah because of those run skills and he’s got them,” Fisher said. “But again, it’s hard to get everybody the carries, but we’ll try to keep him involved. We had him involved in a couple packages going into that game, so he got in the ball game.”
AMENDOLA GETS MORE WORK: Much like Saffold, wide receiver Danny Amendola is also on the right path to getting back in the lineup next week against San Francisco.
“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.
Amendola did some limited work in London last week and continues to get more and more involved in each practice as the weeks go on. He originally suffered his shoulder injury in the win against Arizona in week 5.
MISSED CALLS: Fisher was asked about the three defensive pass interference calls that went against Rams cornerback Bradley Fletcher against New England and gave his usual, blunt response.
“He grabbed,” Fisher said. “When you grab and the ball’s in the air, it’s pass interference. When you grab and the ball’s not in the air, it’s defensive holding. So, in each case, there was hand contact. Sometimes those aren’t called, but I can see what they saw and why they called them.”
That trio of penalties kept drives alive three times for the Patriots with each ending in touchdowns.
But while Fisher thought the officials got those calls right, he also was not pleased that quarterback Sam Bradford repeatedly took shots to the head area that went without flags.
“I was a little disappointed – they also missed three roughing the passer calls on our quarterback,” Fisher said. “Those are 15-yard penalties and they keep drives alive. But, as I said, it’s a difficult game to officiate and they’re not going to see everything, but I’d like to have seen him do a better job of protecting our quarterback.”
THE WEEK’S WORK: As is custom for most teams around the league, the bye week is spent scouting themselves rather than getting an early jump on the next opponent. Sure, some advanced work on San Francisco, the Rams next opponent, will take place but for now the focus is on making the Rams better.
Fisher cited areas of critical important on Tuesday and re-iterated those on Wednesday when asked what the plan for the two practices this week were.
“The staff’s work is done, the self-scout work is done so the staff has moved on to San Francisco,” Fisher said. “What we are trying to do is improve in areas out here on the field, the plus territory and third down. We may do some things from a ***** standpoint but most of it is just about the Rams right now improving.”