Bartell on the Way Back

Posted Dec 19, 2011

If Rams cornerback Ron Bartell never sees the brace he had been wearing around his neck again, it will be too soon.

Bartell made his return to the Russell Training Center last Friday, a welcome sight for his teammates and coaches who have missed his services this season. Bartell’s return coincided with a trip to the doctor to have the brace removed after wearing it for more than three months.

“It's over with now,” Bartell said, laughing. “I'm going to bury in the backyard this afternoon. Maybe burn it.”

Bartell suffered a fractured neck in the season opener against Philadelphia on Sept. 11. Initially, the injury was thought to be a stinger but further testing revealed it to be far more serious.

Neck injuries for football players have often been difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. Bartell’s injury was a bit different, though, because it was a clean break and no surgery was needed.

Instead, Bartell needed time and two braces which he alternated for traveling and another for everyday use. In losing the brace, Bartell also gained clearance that he had fully recovered and would be able to return to the game he loves without complication.

“It's healed,” Bartell said. “Actually I could play if I wasn't on IR. I'm just happy everything healed up properly, no surgery needed. (I’ll) be ready for next year.”

Getting that clearance to return to football was the first and biggest step on Bartell’s road to recovery. During the past few months, some speculation had swirled that he’d played his last game in the NFL.

But Bartell never saw it that way and now that the doctors have OK’d his return with no surgery necessary, he plans on coming back at full strength for the 2012 season.

“No doubt about it,” Bartell said. “It's something I love to do. Something I've done my whole life. I get a second chance to play. A lot of guys don't get that opportunity. You're talking about breaking your neck basically _ a lot of guys don't have the opportunity to play again. So of course, I'm going to take advantage of it.”

Bartell will soon immerse himself in some rehabilitation treatments but for an injury like his, there won’t be much to it. He says most of the work will be related to range of motion and ensuring he can turn his head and getting stronger with the muscles around his neck.

While Bartell’s injury was certainly unwelcome, he hasn’t been without activity during his time away.

Bartell spent most of that time in St. Louis and because of his injury wasn’t able to do much of anything. But he was around for the birth of his son, Emir, and has been around the house to play the role of father.

Of course, Bartell has enjoyed that opportunity but he’s more than ready to get back to work.

Bartell attended Sunday’s game against Cincinnati and couldn’t help but think about the possibilities upon his return.

“It's been hard to sit at home and not be a part of something that you've been around for so long,” Bartell said.

PENALTY PILEUP: There was enough laundry on the field during Sunday’s game against the Bengals to make Mr. Belvedere blush.

The Rams were flagged by referee Jerome Bogar and his crew for 10 penalties totaling 109 yards. Combined, there were 21 penalties for a robust 210 yards.

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo didn’t want to delve too far into officiating issues but did reveal what he said to the officials during the game.

“The only thing I can tell you is, because I was frustrated, and I’m being careful not to pass judgment now,” Spagnuolo said. “However, I did ask the referee to please try to call it both ways. If it’s going to be called and we’re going to protect, let’s protect everybody. Let’s call it…and that’s all you can really ask of any officiating crew is to just be consistent. Now I’m not saying whether it was or wasn’t. I’m just saying that’s all I asked. That was the only thing I said, was if we could try to be very consistent.”

SAVE ROOM: The Rams honored Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk by adding him to the team’s Ring of Honor at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday.

Faulk received a prime spot, right at midfield on the west side of the stadium just below the club level.

In the next few years, the Rams figure to have more names to add to that list including the likes of receiver Isaac Bruce, left tackle Orlando Pace and quarterback Kurt Warner.

Sometime, somewhere down the line, current Rams running back Steven Jackson could also enter that elite company. Jackson owns nearly every major rushing record in franchise history.

When asked after Sunday’s game about Faulk’s honor, Jackson praised Faulk and the guys that will likely go up in the Ring of Honor with him.

A big grin crept across Jackson’s face and he pointed out that he would like to someday join that group.

“I have got some years to play so who knows?” Jackson said. “Make sure they just leave room, you know because there are a lot of guys that are going to be up there.”

LONG ARM OF THE LAW: Rookie defensive end Robert Quinn got his long arms on another punt Sunday, bringing his total for the season to three.

It’s something Quinn clearly has a knack for as he’s developed into a bit of a weapon on special teams.

For his part, Quinn says he enjoys working in the punt blocking role.

“It’s kind of like rushing the passer, with less responsibilities,” Quinn said. “Being a bigger lineman against some of the smaller guys out there, size takes over. Plus, Coach (Tom McMahon) really schemes it up to make sure someone comes free. I guess I’m the one who gets to come free for those blocked punts.”

While Quinn enjoys helping on special teams, he says he still prefers making big plays defensively.
 “There’s no better feeling than a sack,” Quinn said.