Rams filling holes on defense
Losing the top three cornerbacks for the season has forced the
St. Louis Rams’ defense to be creative.
The Rams are 2-11 this season and ranked 25th in overall
defense. A bright spot has been the pass defense, where St. Louis
ranks No. 8 overall, allowing 208.8 yards per game headed into
Sunday’s matchup with Cincinnati.
That might come as a surprise because the secondary has been
devastated by injuries this season. On the injured reserve list are
cornerbacks Ron Bartell, Bradley Fletcher, Al Harris, Brian
Jackson, Marquis Johnson and Jerome Murphy.
Other players have had to step up.
”We’ve still got a job to do,” safety Darian Stewart said
Friday. ”Everyone has to be accountable and play. It’s a blessing
for me. I’m just having fun and doing what I can. We have to make
plays. Injuries are a part of this game.”
Defensive coordinator Ken Flajole has had to be flexible with
”This league is all about matchups and we spent a lot of time
trying to find out if we can get guys in position where we don’t
get a bad matchup,” Flajole said. ”Sometimes that’s not always
doable, but we work on it. I think sometimes it forces you to play
maybe more coverages, different types of two-deep coverages that
you maybe weren’t planning on because you’re trying to make sure
that you can hold up in the back end.”
Stewart, who was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in
2010, entered the starting lineup midway through the season and has
become a playmaker for the Rams. He had 11 tackles Monday night at
Seattle and is tied for second on the team with 78 stops. He is
tied for the team lead with five tackles for loss.
”I’m cool with all that but I’d rather win,” Stewart said.
”Victories are the most important numbers.”
In the Rams’ first victory of the season, against New Orleans,
Stewart notched his first interception and returned it 27 yards for
Flajole said Stewart has played several positions this year.
”We’ve had to move Stewart around a lot. He was a nickel (back)
last week. He was will linebacker in sub, he’s a strong safety,”
Flajole said. ”And those are the things we’re dealing with right
now with the injury situation and when guys don’t have the ability
to be at the same position down after down after down and it’s
unfamiliar locations, there’s always a learning curve there.”
Second-year pro Josh Gordy, a cornerback, has caught Flajole’s
eye. He had four tackles against Seattle, a career-high seven
tackles against Dallas and picked off a pass against New
”It’s been a great opportunity for me,” said Gordy, who did
not practice Friday with an abdominal injury. ”I’m making the best
of it. There’s more work I can do and improve. I want to make the
most of it.”
And he has, Flajole said.
”I know Josh is not going to get elected into the Hall of Fame
but I would say this, that kid has improved in my opinion more in
the last three or four weeks since he’s been in it,” Flajole said.
”I think he gets as much out of his God-given ability as anybody
does. And those are things you look for as a coach.
”If guys are getting better, that’s what you look for and I
think you can hang your hat on it.”
Rookie cornerback Chris Smith, who was undrafted out of Northern
Illinois, made his debut in the Seattle game and had one tackle.
Yet the injuries don’t stop. Cornerback Justin King hurt his back
in practice Friday.