When a dynamic start on a national stage in his team’s Thursday night victory against Arizona came to an abrupt end because of a shoulder injury, Rams receiver
Surrounded by Rams medical and security personnel, Amendola walked toward the X ray room at the Edward Jones Dome and was caught on camera flinging his helmet into a wall as hard as he could.
And who could blame him? Little more than a year after his 2011 season ended early because of a dislocated elbow and torn triceps, Amendola thought it was happening again just four-plus games into this season.
“I thought the worst,” Amendola said. “Obviously I was pretty upset. Luckily it wasn’t as bad as we thought and I’m going to be able to get back out there sooner than I expected.”
While coach Jeff Fisher and the Rams elected to remain mum on a possible timetable for Amendola’s return – the belief was that he could return sooner than later and they didn’t want to put a number on something so fluid – Amendola set about getting back on track to return.
As is always the case with Amendola, there had to be a period of ensuring that he didn’t return too soon and suffer another setback. But now as the Rams return from their bye week tomorrow, Amendola looks poised to make his return against San Francisco this week after an absence of three games and four weeks.
Considering that some believed he’d be out for up to eight weeks or even the season, Amendola’s return has been especially expedient.
“Absolutely, I have been waiting three weeks too many so I am ready to get back,” Amendola said. “I am just ready to get back. I had a couple good weeks of work, limited of course but I feel really good and I am ready to get back out there.”
Barring some sort of major setback in this week’s preparation for the 49ers, Amendola figures prominently into the team’s plans for a comeback by the bay.
After initially suffering the injury, Amendola was nowhere to be found for about a week but he accompanied the team to London two weeks ago and surprisingly showed up on the field to practice on a limited basis while the team was there.
Amendola did more work in advance of the New England game with each passing day but most of that work was limited to running routes and catching passes. He was up to the task to do those things in a game but there was more to it than that.
“I felt good going into it,” Amendola said. “I didn’t feel really secure with getting hit and blocking and stuff so I didn’t want to leave some guys hanging if I wasn’t able to block somebody. I felt good running routes and catching balls but there were a lot of other aspects to the game that I wasn’t comfortable with.”
With the bye week coming following the London game, Amendola knew he’d have an extra two full weeks to get back to full strength and participate more fully in practice before suiting up for a game.
That’s why Amendola did more work with the team during practice last week and will likely get more involved this week as he adjusts to the other parts of his job.
“It’s a physical game,” Amendola said. “Getting on and off the line and blocking and getting tackled and hitting the ground and stuff like that. As long as I am good with that, I can play.”
Amendola’s return couldn’t come at a better time for an offense that seemed to be playing its best when he left that Arizona game on Oct. 4. At the time of his injury, he ranked second in the league in receptions and eighth in receiving yards and was clearly on his way to his best season as a pro.
Without Amendola, the offense has sputtered a bit, struggling to find the end zone in particular and the special teams also haven’t been as effective without him returning punts. The Rams record without Amendola is 0-3.
Getting Amendola back to take on a powerful San Francisco defense would be a boon to an offense in need of a spark.
“Obviously, he got off to a great start before the injury and he was making a lot of plays for us, keeping drives alive for us, giving us an opportunity to get the ball in the end zone,” Fisher said. “So, we’d expect that to continue when he returns.”
Upon his return, it stands to reason that the threat of Givens working deep down the field could open things up for Amendola to work the middle of the field from his normal slot position with even more success.
“Yeah, he’s got a lot of speed and he can run downfield and open some things up for a lot of guys and he’s a great athlete,” Amendola said. “I’m ready to get back out there with him.”