Rams Dealing with DT Injuries

Posted Aug 31, 2012

Rookie DT Matt Conrath is one of three Rams defensive tackles working through an injury as the team begins searching the waiver wire for depth.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher prefers not to disclose injury information until absolutely necessary (i.e. injury reports are necessary) but it was clear from his Friday news conference that a couple of injuries in Thursday’s preseason finale have hit one position.

Namely, the two players Fisher acknowledged with injuries Thursday night are both defensive tackles, a position that had already lost Darell Scott to a knee injury. This time, it was a pair of rookies: Michael Brockers and Matt Conrath.

Brockers’ injury appeared to be the most serious as he was the victim of what appeared to be an illegal high-low block from the Ravens. Brockers’ right leg got rolled up on and he stayed on the field before being helped off.

Eventually, Brockers was carted to the locker room for x rays and left the Edward Jones Dome in a walking boot. He had an MRI on Friday, the results of which Fisher prefers not to disclose but he did indicate that Brockers could miss some extended time because of an apparent right ankle injury.

“You push through it,” Fisher said. “You can’t dwell on it. You just move on. I’m not going to go into specifics of the injuries for competitive reasons but if you get a guy that goes down for an extended period of time, someone else plays, someone else gets an opportunity.”

The loss of Brockers for any length of time comes as a disappointment for the rookie first-round pick, who just appeared to be coming into his own in recent weeks.

Brockers started every preseason game next to veteran Kendall Langford and had seemingly cemented his spot in the starting lineup. The good news seems to be that the injury isn’t season-threatening and end Chris Long said Brockers was in good spirits after the game.

“It’s tough to see,” Long said. “It can happen on any play, it can happen in practice. He’ll be fine. We’ll see what the docs say tomorrow, but he’s a tough kid. He’ll bounce back. Luckily, it doesn’t seem to be anything too terrible. Brock’s made some good strides in preseason. He’ll pick up where he left off when he gets back.”
Losing Brockers, even for a game, is disappointing enough but it’s compounded by the apparent loss of Conrath in addition to Scott. Earlier this week, the Rams also put defensive tackle Trevor Laws on injured reserve.

Conrath left Thursday’s game with an undisclosed knee injury but it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to return in time for the opener against Detroit.

Should the Rams be without Brockers, Conrath, Laws and Scott for week one, they have only Langford and Jermelle Cudjo remaining on the roster healthy.

Not surprisingly, Fisher made it clear that defensive tackle is one spot where the Rams will be looking for help as other teams make their cuts to 53.

“Well, if you have injuries at the same position it does (complicate things),” Fisher said. “But that’s why we have a pro scouting department and a college scouting department; if you need to replace somebody for the time being, we will.”

RED ZONE SUCCESS: One area the Rams and quarterback Sam Bradford had hoped to make big strides during the preseason was in the red zone, taking the chances they get inside the opponent’s 20 and turning it into touchdowns.

It’s been an issue for the offense in the past two seasons and it’s been a point of emphasis in practices throughout training camp and the preseason.

While it came against the Ravens’ second unit on Thursday night, Bradford and the No. 1 offense were a perfect three-for-three in the red zone, with all three scores coming on Bradford touchdown passes to different receivers.

“Yeah, you know, that’s very satisfying,” Bradford said. “That’s something we’ve talked about as an offensive unit all preseason is setting high standards down there. Scoring touchdowns when we get there and not settling for field goals. I thought we did a great job of that tonight.”

WELCOME BACK UH OH: One of the aforementioned touchdown passes came on a 9-yard toss from Bradford to tight end Michael Hoomanawanui with just under seven minutes to go in the second quarter.

Finding Hoomanawanui was particularly gratifying for Bradford and Hoomanawanui himself.

“Yeah, it was good,” Bradford said. “It’s obviously great to throw touchdowns to him. He was fired up about it. He ran a great route and finished it off with a nice catch.”

As fellow members of the 2010 draft class, Bradford and Hoomanawanui had instant chemistry in the passing game as rookies but injuries have derailed the early promise of a long term connection between the duo.

For his part, Hoomanawanui was excited to get back on the same page with Bradford.

“Definitely missing all that time, having a short season last year, new guys coming in, different players, we’ll have to get it back,” Hoomanawanui said. “We met each other in the end zone and he said, ‘Nice to have you back.’ I like the sound of that, and hopefully we’ll get some more here.”
Hoomanawanui landed a spot on the 53-man roster and will jockey for position with fellow tight ends Lance Kendricks, Matthew Mulligan and Mike McNeill for time.

PETTIS’ PRESEASON: Receiver Austin Pettis was officially placed on the reserve/suspended list Friday as he still has two games remaining on his suspension from last season.

After those two weeks are up, the Rams will have to make a decision on Pettis’ future but based on his preseason, it seems almost a certainty that he’ll be added to the active roster and thrown into the mix at wideout.

Pettis came back leaner and quicker and put together one of the best camps and preseasons of any Ram. He finished preseason with six catches for 63 yards and two touchdowns in making his case for a spot.

“I was able to make a good few plays in camp this year,” Pettis said. “I know my receiver coach was real happy with that. He was just helping me out with different things I need to work on, and that was my main focus. I’m just trying to continue to get better and I felt like I had a pretty decent camp overall. I’m just excited for the season to start.”