Monitoring Rams returning from injury

June, 4, 2014
By Nick Wagoner | ESPN.com

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams began organized team activities Tuesday and did so with what is mostly a healthy roster intact.

However, there are a few notable exceptions and the Rams also have players returning from injury who will need to be monitored as they make their comebacks.

The two biggest names on the list, of course, are quarterback Sam Bradford and offensive tackle Jake Long. As we mentioned in Monday's OTA preview, Bradford will participate in the bulk of the OTAs though the Rams will keep a close eye on him to ensure he doesn't have a setback. Long, who didn't have his knee surgery until January, is further behind and won't participate in OTAs. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reiterated the status of those injuries Wednesday.

What's more intriguing is how the Rams will handle left tackle without Long available. The expectation has been all along that Long will be ready for the start of the regular season. The Rams still believe that to be the case but it's not out of the question that his rehab will go deep into the preseason. Someone will have to take the reps in the meantime. Rookie Greg Robinson and Rodger Saffold are obvious candidates and could both get reps on the outside but they also project as the starters at left and right guard, respectively. Lesser known players like Mike Person could also get a look there.

Elsewhere on the injury front, defensive end William Hayes is expected to join Long on the sidelines for the OTA sessions according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The actual ailment is unknown but worth noting that Hayes suffered a knee injury early last season and battled similar MCL injuries in the past while with Tennessee.

The Rams also have their share of players making their return from serious or season-ending injuries, though it appears those players are able to participate in OTAs. Center Scott Wells (fractured fibula), safety Matt Daniels (fractured right ankle) and linebacker Phillip Steward (torn Achilles) are stepping back on the field for the first time since those injuries.

As for receiver Tavon Austin, who missed the final three weeks of the season with an ankle injury, he's ready to go at full speed.

All told, the Rams should have nearly the full complement of their roster available for OTAs the next few weeks. The goal now will be to keep it that way heading toward training camp.