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Thread: Time for Someone to Step Up
-09-13-2011 #1Registered User
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Time for Someone to Step Up
by Howard Balzer
As coach Steve Spagnuolo read the long list of injuries that had hit the Rams in Sunday's season opener, my mind drifted to a game in San Francisco in 2002 when the Rams were spanked by the *****.
I recalled an impressive list of inactive players for that game, but, of course, wasn't sure of them all. So, I dug out my gamebooks from that season and sure enough, there it was in black and white.
Six starters were inactive that day, and they were no slouches: Quarterback Kurt Warner, left tackle Orlando Pace, fullback James Hodgins, cornerbacks Aeneas Williams and Dexter McCleon, and linebacker Tommy Polley.
The result was a 37-13 loss, as the Rams fell to 0-5 on the season. Warner had injured his hand the previous week against Dallas. In that loss to the *****, quarterback Jamie Martin got banged around, clearing the way for Marc Bulger to make the first start of his career the next week against the undefeated Oakland Raiders.
It turned out to be the beginning of the end of Warner's career in St. Louis, as Bulger helped the Rams upset the Raiders and get the season back on track.
That will be the charge of Spagnuolo as he might be spending as much time in the trainer's room this week as in meeting rooms and the practice field.
As disappointing as injuries can be to all of a coach's best-laid plans, the reality is there are no pity parties in the National Football League. As Spagnuolo said Monday when asked how difficult it might be to lose cornerback Ron Bartell for the season, "You lose anybody for the season, anybody on our 53, certainly in the top 22, it's a blow. But I would venture to guess that if we looked around the league there's other teams going through the same thing. Like I told the team in there, just get a fox-hole mentality, get in there, regroup, get the next guy up and come out of the hole fighting. That's what we'll do."
That's all they can do.
While admitting the day-after injury report was the worst of any game since he's been with the Rams, Spagnuolo added, "There's a lot there no question. Like I say, that's why we have 53 guys, guys are going to have to step up there and play. I think you heard a couple of guys make the comments earlier that nobody's going to bury their head in the sand. We're not going away. We have 15 games. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We didn't envision starting like that. We certainly didn't envision losing all these guys, but between the coaching staff, personnel staff, the players just find a way to rally and go play."
There were those that wondered if the lockout might be contributing to injuries. Said Spagnuolo, "That's hard for me. I can't go there on that. I don't know." He then added, "When you really look at it, I thought the coaches, I thought the way we structured the practices, I thought that Reggie (trainer Reggie Scott) and his staff really did a pretty good job of keeping our team healthy throughout the training camp.
"You come out of a lockout, how do you handle them? Do you do too much too early? All the pulls, we didn't have any soft tissue injuries. I'm not sure how you avoid the one that Steven had. I'm not sure how you avoid Ron, he's just in there tackling. Danny, those things we can't control that part of it. All we control is where we sit right now."
Where they sit now is preparing to play the Giants on Monday Night Football, a team that has had their share of injury issues throughout training camp, and sent wide receiver Hakeem Nicks to the MRI man Monday because of a knee injury.
Meanwhile, the Rams were looking at a bereft free-agent market for a cornerback before Bartell's injury. With only four on the roster, there's now even more of a need with Bradley Fletcher bothered by a toe injury. There is some intrigue with Josh Gordy, whom is currently on the practice squad.
Surely, Al Harris will likely be expected to do more tham he has. Asked if Haris' knee, which he injured in 2010, is strong enough to play a whole game, Spagnuolo said, "That we don't know. I mean, he's been running around pretty good. He takes care of his body. I've been happy with the things Al's been able to do. If that's the direction we go, which it might be right know as we stand, sit here today. I'm OK with that."
As for Jackson, certainly the Rams are better equipped with Cadillac William than they have been in previous seasons. Jackson has played when sometimes maybe he shouldn't have, but Spagnuolo said that's not why he said Jackson will probably miss the Monday night game.
"That is just more on how they determine how the injury is right now and how he feels," Spagnuolo said. "Steven knows his body. God bless him, you know, you have that kind of injury and he tried to go back in there and actually gained six or seven yards or something (actually nine). I also credit him for being smart with it, not only to protect himself but you certainly don't want to hurt your own football team."
Meanwhile, with defensive end C.J. Ah You bothered by a wrist injury, that might open the door for rookie Robert Quinn to be active. Sunday, Spagnuolo linked the deactivation of Quinn to the decision to dress four tackles and four ends.
Monday, Spagnuolo was asked if there is any disappointment in Quinn not currently being among the top four ends on the roster. The four active ends were starters Chris Long and James Hall, and backups Ah You and Eugene Sims.
Said Spagnuolo, "I think that the four ends that are in front of him are pretty good. We've got to remember now and I know we all do, Robert has had basically five weeks of football in two and a half years or however you add that up. He didn't play at all last year and didn't have the OTAs. It's not an indictment on him at all. It's a compliment to the other guys. Could you have nine linemen on a 46-man roster? Possibly, but it all shapes together. When it was all figured out, we thought that was the best way to go."
Re: Time for Someone to Step Up
Let's give it up for our Coach Steve "Spags" Spagnuolo! He's come into this situation, in St. Louis and he's at least 'Man-ing' this thing up. He shoots straight answers, for that he needs to be admired. He's yet to reap anything, but noticing the seeds hes' planting, one can only believe that he'll get the job done for the Rams.[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
Re: Time for Someone to Step Up
I know we have alot of injuries, but other guys have to step up, I was telling a buddy of mine, who's also a RAMS fan...that the backups also get payed to play. Somebody needs to step up and make some plays.
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