The concussion topic has been a huge debate around the NFL this season, and the St. Louis Rams joined the foray in a big way this past week with three head injuries to key starters on their team. An injury that can’t be seen is much more difficult to assess than a broken bone or a sprain where bruising and swelling are quite visible, and walking that delicate balance between maintaining competitive zeal and protecting the well-being of the player in question is a difficult task for team’s and their training staff. There’s no doubt that theory will be put to test leading up to the Rams’ key Week 13 clash with the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Running back Zac Stacy, cornerback Trumaine Johnson and left guard Chris Williams all suffered head injuries and were replaced this past weekend. Even though the Rams had no difficulty dismantling the Chicago Bears without these pieces, the team would still much rather have its full complement of players available come Sunday. Stacy’s replacement, undrafted rookie Benny Cunningham, had the most success without a doubt as he toted the rock 13 times for 109 yards and a touchdown. That has to speak well for Williams’ replacement at guard as well, Shelley Smith, who paved the way for a lot of that yardage.
The one area where the Rams could be hurt if these guys are forced to miss significant times is with Johnson who has really come into his own of late. Nickel corner is a vital position in today’s pass-happy NFL, but one silver lining is that the 49ers don’t really spread the field all that often. They are more content to play smash-mouth football, much like the Rams, so that could mask his potential absence in the secondary. The team called up Quinton Pointer from the practice squad and used rookie Brandon McGee as well as safety Rodney McLeod in that role during the latter stages of Sunday’s game. McGee was abused a few times, but McLeod held his own which bodes well for the team persevering in spite of these issues.
Protocol on concussions has gotten much more stringent in recent years with the league trying to eliminate the effects of head injuries as much as possible. Head coach Jeff Fisher commented on the status of these guys on Monday following the game saying:
“We have a series of things that we do today, tomorrow and Wednesday. Right now everybody is doing fine.”
Updates will certainly be welcomed at this point by anxious Rams fans hoping their team can continue this magical run with many young players and a backup quarterback leading the way. It will be interesting to see just how these injuries impact the lineup it at all on Sunday, and that could have a huge effect on the outcome of the game.