Rams place tackle Smith on injured reserve
Injuries have taken their toll on the offensive line of the St.
Louis Rams, who have lost both starting tackles and a backup to
St. Louis placed right tackle Jason Smith on the injured reserve
list Friday. Smith sustained a concussion and a neck injury Oct. 23
against Dallas. He is the 13th Rams player now on the IR list.
Smith did some work on the bike Monday, but had to shut it
”We just thought it was the right thing to do now and here’s
the reason why. When you really look at it, he’s getting close but
he’s not there,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said after practice. ”He
hasn’t done anything for a month. The concern got to be if we
waited another week or two weeks, and try to get him ready to go,
are we doing the right thing for the player in that you don’t do
anything for five weeks and then you rush him out there?
”We’re trying to be smart about it. He’ll fight through this
thing like he did a couple of years ago and we’ll get him back and
he’ll be ready to roll.”
The Rams (2-8) will host the Arizona Cardinals (3-6) on Sunday
and one of the big goals is to protect quarterback Sam Bradford. In
his second season, Bradford has been sacked 31 times for 205 yards
in losses. His quarterback rating is 70.9.
Rodger Safford, the left tackle, tore a chest muscle lifting
weights last week and was placed on injured reserve. Backup Mark
LeVoir took his starting spot last Sunday against Seattle and
sustained a similar pectoral muscle injury that will have him out
up to four weeks.
When LeVoir when down, undrafted rookie Kevin Hughes of
Southeast Louisiana took over. Hughes was promoted from the
practice squad the day before the game when Safford went on IR.
Chris Clemons, Seattle’s top pass rusher, made Hughes’ NFL debut
one to forget. Hughes allowed 2 1/2 sacks, two quarterback hits and
a quarterback hurry against Clemons.
Backup Adam Goldberg has been at right tackle since Smith went
St. Louis signed former Baltimore Ravens guard Bryan Mattison
off the waiver wire.
The Rams also signed offensive tackle Thomas Welch to the roster
Tuesday from the Buffalo practice squad. Welch was with New England
to begin the season and made one start for the Patriots.
”He’s a guy that the personnel department had their eyeball
on,” Spagnuolo said about Welch. ”He’s been in the system, knows
the terminology and the verbiage and whatnot, so that’s a bonus.
And he’s a big guy.”
The Rams made a change in centers for the Nov. 6 game at
Arizona. Tony Wragge took over for Jason Brown, who was
Spagnuolo has options to mix and match. Guard Harvey Dahl has
played tackle before and Brown has played at guard.
”We’re going to have five guys line up on the OL and away we
go,” said Spagnuolo, declining to reveal who was going to play
Running back Steven Jackson acknowledged the juggling on the
offensive line affects his timing. The three-time Pro Bowler had a
string of three consecutive 100-plus yards gained snapped in last
week’s loss to Seattle.
”It affects it a little bit. That’s why I have to try and get
as many reps as I can throughout the week with those guys,”
Jackson said. ”(I) try to get a feel for how things are going to
flow, how things are going to work when we have pulling guards or
pulling tackles in the game. The mesh and all of that will happen
”Injuries occur, mismatches with the offensive line has
happened before, nothing that I haven’t had to deal with. It’s just
more so getting the chemistry and trying to get a feel for how the
guys are going to work together.”
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels noted while the shuffling
of players along the line is necessary because of injuries, the
staff balances such issues by using its best guys, but not
displacing any one.
”That’s always a part of the equation, no question about it,”
McDaniels said. ”I don’t think there’s really any easy way to go
about doing that because no matter what you choose to start the
game with, you’re always one injury away from shuffling more
”We’re going to ask some other guys to do multiple things
because we have to. We’re at that point now where you’re going to
have potentially to play a guard at tackle, potentially play a
center at guard, swing guys left and right. And then if something
does happen in the game, there’s no question there’s going to be
some moving parts and pieces within the four quarters then, too.
They’ve accepted the challenge and the burden that we have. It’s
normal, every team goes through it. We’ve got to deal with it this