Rams Cornerbacks and the 300-Snap Curse

Justin King. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Justin King has been the Rams’ iron man at cornerback this season.

Whatever evil curse Andre Curtis (the Rams’ defensive backs coach) picked up during the lockout, he might want to go about setting things right. Return the jewel-encrusted eye to the withered old woman in New Orleans, or burn that monkey’s paw, or take some holy water and scrub that blood-soaked pentagram off your office floor. Whatever it is, fix it, man.

With Al Harris now lost for the season with an ACL injury, that makes eight Rams defensive backs to be lost for the season, including three guys in the preseason and a fourth, Brian Jackson, who had been signed midseason as Fletcher’s replacement but never saw a snap. (Marquis Johnson’s stint on the PUP list had my early count at nine, but that was incorrect.)

Moreover, Harris’ injury continues a spooky trend in the St Louis backfield: No starting cornerback can go much more than 300 snaps without something bad happening. Check out this list of our CB usage this year:

  • Ron Bartell: 61 snaps (Neck/shoulder, Week 1)
  • Bradley Fletcher: 302 snaps (ACL, bye week practice)
  • Justin King: 347 snaps (Groin strain, Week 7)
  • Al Harris: 362 snaps (ACL, Week 10)

(One guy who is in no danger of reaching the 300 mark is Rod Hood, who accumulated a total of 4 snaps in Week 7, and hasn’t been heard from since.)

Now here’s a scary thought: Josh Gordy, who has been playing really well considering the circumstances, is up to 251 snaps, and is in line to start next week against Seattle. And King is up to 123 since his return from his groin pull.

I’m telling you, Andre, go return that sack of gold coins to the River Gods before it’s too late. 

New Meat for the Grinder

With this curse (or whatever you want to call it) well in mind, the Rams called up a practice squad corner in Nate Ness, and worked out Kendric Burney.

Burney is a name I remember well from our MockThree draft war room, and some of the folks who had scouted him – Shane Hallam of Draft Countdown and Ryan Lownes of Draft Breakdown – had good things to say on Twitter today. 

@ShanePHallam: I’m a fan. Just not overly athletic. He is good in the red zone and a short field though.

@ryanlownes: Burney’s an excellent ballhawk. Looked like a 3rd rounder prior to Combine testing. He’ll have a chance.

The obvious question on Burney (raised by myself and by friend of the Herd @lannyosu) is that if he was so highly rated, why hasn’t he stuck with a team yet?

@ryanlownes: Lack of size/speed. Think of him as an Asante Samuel-type but a bit smaller/slower. Very quick with great ball skills. But you put Burney in man coverage on an island in the NFL and well… quite simply… it won’t work.

That doesnt’ make Burney an obvious fit for the old school Spagnuolo press-coverage scheme, but with the Rams moving to much more Cover-2 and soft cushion coverage, ball skills and quickness to the receiver could make Burney a useful addition.

But no scout can answer how many snaps he can hold up in the Bermuda Triangle that is the Rams’ secondary.