The NFL preseason is a time for teams to get on the same page with their fellow players and fully synchronized for the upcoming regular season schedule. Above all else, teams cross their fingers and hope that they can stay healthy as multi-million dollar investments collide into one another at full force a few times per minute.
That strategy lasted all of two plays for the St. Louis Rams on Thursday night before right tackle Rodger Saffold had to exit the game with a shoulder injury. Jeff Fisher said following the tilt that Saffold is “fine”, but he also revealed in a radio interview that he “may miss a little bit of time.” He would elaborate on that potential missed action as he said “how much, I don’t know.”
So there you have it.
An entire offseason of preparation and expectations can be gone in a flash. And you don’t have to look at exclusively the Rams to see this possibility as several teams lost big-name players during OTAs and early in training camp before even playing a down of football.
The fact that the Rams lost to the Cleveland Browns 27-19 in their preseason debut seems secondary to the health of their tackle. If you’ll recall back to the offseason when the team signed left tackle Jake Long to essentially replace Saffold, the disgruntled player gave the Rams the silent treatment and wanted to be traded. Coach Fisher eventually talked him down from that ledge, but the uncertainty with his contract expiring following this season remains on his future in St. Louis.
Obviously the discontent had nothing to do with Saffold’s awkward fall onto his arm as he attempted to block Paul Kruger on Thursday night, but it’s definitely something worth keeping an eye on moving forward. The Rams need everyone healthy first and foremost, but they also need everyone on the same page working toward a singular goal. Hopefully this injury is just a bump in the road en route to big things for St. Louis in the upcoming campaign.
Protecting quarterback Sam Bradford will play a huge role in just how well the Rams fare during the 2013 season. Bradford has been sacked a staggering 105 times in his 42 career starts since arriving in St. Louis, and the moves made in free agency as well as the draft were supposed to alleviate some of those concerns. The team will take its next steps toward doing just that on August 17 against the Green Bay Packers in preseason tilt number two.