NFL injuries are killing everyone but the Patriots
In the opening week of the season, the St. Louis Rams lost Orlando Pace, one of the NFL’s best offensive linemen.
In the next few weeks, most of their remaining offensive linemen went down, along with backups and backups to backups. Quarterback Marc Bulger and running back Steven Jackson also went out, and the Rams started 0-8.
So it was no surprise that after they won their first game two weeks ago with three offensive linemen who had been picked up off the street, coach Scott Linehan quipped: “We didn’t have an O-lineman scheduled for surgery. That’s an improvement.”
The Rams are the classic example of how injuries kill in the modern NFL, where lack of depth is legislated — the salary cap doesn’t allow teams to stockpile first-class reserves behind starters.
It wasn’t that way before the advent of free agency and the salary cap in 1993, when teams that scouted and drafted well often had backups who could start elsewhere and could be plugged in if a starter went down.
Look at the 49ers, who from 1987-90 had Steve Young as a backup to Joe Montana, one future Hall of Famer caddying for another.
In 1990, the New York Giants lost quarterback Phil Simms and replaced him with Jeff Hostetler, who was in his sixth season with the team. In his early years, he was so starved for action he persuaded Bill Parcells to play him on special teams and as a spare wide receiver. But he was a good enough QB to step in for Simms, lead the team to the Super Bowl and then win it.
Hostetler went to the Raiders as a free agent in 1993, something he might have done earlier but couldn’t under the rules at the time. The same process worked for a lot of teams in the pre-free-agency era; the Redskins used to stockpile players on “injured reserve,” winning Super Bowls after the 1983, 1987 and 1991 seasons with three different QBs, the last with Mark Rypien, one of those held in reserve until needed.
Even a team as good as Indianapolis can’t afford to lose stars.
With Marvin Harrison playing the first six games, Peyton Manning had 11 TD passes and three interceptions and the Colts were unbeaten. Harrison
the game. The Rams were pleasantly surprised as they kept walking closer and closer to the floor before settling in their seats at courtside.
UGA appeared to overmatch the smaller Elon squad and threatened to make a rout of the game with an early run; however, the Bulldogs were unable to put Elon away until the end, 76-65.
It was a good learning process for the Rams as they watched college teams miss free throws and commit turnovers — two things you cannot do to be successful. Fundamentals and discipline would continue to be the theme for the Rams when they returned to practice the next day. A good time was had by all, but this was not the first extracurricular activity for some of the Rams.
Former Newton standout Rashad Gill now plays basketball for the University of North Carolina at Asheville. During the second weekend in November, Rasmussen and assistant coach Joseph Adams took several players to Asheville to watch and support their former teammate.
One of Gill’s teammates, Kenny George, holds the distinction of being the world’s tallest basketball player. He stands at 7-foot-7, weighs 360 pounds and wears a size 28 shoe. (The height is a luxury Rasmussen will not have this season, as his tallest player is 14 inches shorter.)
Gill gave his former teammates the grand tour of the campus and they were able to get a feel for what college life is like.
In addition, the Rams also got the opportunity to watch a high school game featuring one of the top ranked high school teams in the country.
This group of Newton players has become a tight knit group. They get along well on and off the court, and their hard work at practice has been recognized.
Only time will tell if they can parlay that into success among the standings.