Honestly, this is starting to get difficult.
A season that began with such promise is now shrouded in the black of mourning. Conversations among Rams fans turn to the once-taboo subject of a top-five pick. The brash will even bring up Andrew Luck. (Does he play cornerback?) The anger of game 4 has turned to sorrow, or worse, returned to the old apathy of the sad old days.
The Rams received a double-whammy of bad news from the medical world today. First, Adam Caplan reported that Danny Amendola will miss the rest of the season. (Amendola was in Texas today seeking a second opinion, but a torn triceps suffered in practice last week compounded on the dislocated elbow makes the diagnosis all but certain.) That in itself is difficult, but bearable, as Austin Pettis and Greg Salas will get that many more chances in the passing game to take over the role of Sam’s security blanket.
Later today, though, at the end of practice, it was reported that Mike Sims-Walker and Bradley Fletcher got tangled up during a scrimmage, and both landed badly. Sims-Walker escaped with a mild shoulder injury, but Fletcher suffered a torn ACL and will be done for the year. Because of player safety rules negotiated in the new CBA, the Rams were limited to two practices during their bye week. Even so, they couldn’t escape a devastating injury.
Fletcher was the team’s #1 corner, both by talent and by default, after injuries to Ron Bartell and Jerome Murphy. Counting reserve players Dionte Dinkins, Tim Atchison, Chris Smith (injured in training camp), Mikhail Baker (ditto), and the still recovering Marquis Johnson, Fletcher makes the eighth Rams cornerback to be felled by major injury in a short eight weeks.
With Al Harris still only a part-timer, that makes Justin King and newly signed Rod Hood the Rams’ new starting cornerback tandem. Presumably, Fletcher’s injury will send Devaney hunting for more.
(A mystery: why didn’t the Rams reach an injury settlement with Dinkins, when he was waived? Now healthy, the Rams are not allowed to re-sign him.)
In the short term, it means the Vegas lines for the upcoming games against Green Bay, New Orleans and Dallas will climb to stratospheric heights. And as opponents’ passing offenses repeatedly target the devastated outside depth, more pressure is placed on the Rams’ pass offense, which has been badly out of synch.
In the long term, it all but extinguishes any hope of winning the NFC West, with San Francisco suddenly playing the part of a legitimately dangerous team. Like the crew of the Endurance I alluded to yesterday, the Rams are faced with utter disaster, and the focus now turns to survival. In the coming days, we’ll explore what this means for the Rams, strategically and otherwise.