The Rams and Cardinals get an early jump on breaking the quarter mark of the season in tonight’s Thursday Night Football matchup. In a seemingly wide-open NFC West, every divisional game this season should have the feel of a playoff game for the Rams. After advancing past the Seattle Seahawks last week, St. Louis has a chance to match the Cards’ divisional record at 2-0, while grasping another tied-breaker victory in a case where the division winner will be determined by head-to-head play (i.e. Bradford’s rookie season).
The winner of this game could easily boil down to a couple of plays and, maybe, down to a couple of players. Early in the week it was reported that the St. Louis Rams leader in receiving yards and receptions, Danny Amendola, had been limited at practice nursing an ankle injury.
Brandon Gibson was also limited throughout the week, but both are listed as “probable” for tonight’s game. The probable status is a complicated way of saying that a player will be a full-go for the game, barring some re-injury stepping off the bus at the stadium. However, it also may increase the likelihood of an “retweeking” during the game. The rest of the Rams roster appears ready to go, most notably, Michael Brockers, whose name does not appear in any context on the latest injury report.
Both Steven Jackson and Wayne Hunter are listed as “questionable,” but will likely both be starting by the time the Rams hit the field. Both have had that same status for nearly half of the season, but have yet to miss an opening snap as a result of it. Hunter played extremely well against the Seattle front four, especially in pass protection. Jackson will likely start as well, especially given the magnitude of the game. It is his first chance to top .500 in half of a decade, and there is no doubt that he will want to be on the field to help push the Rams over the hump.
For the Cardinals, the biggest issue may be the “questionable” status of Darnell Dockett, who has been one of the centerpieces to the Arizona dominate front seven. The Rams have played well against some of the more elite defensive ends, but have had a hard time keeping the interior defensive linemen out of the backfield (i.e. Brandon Mebane against Seattle). Arizona may also be without change-of-pace halfback, and special teams return man, LaRod Stephens-Howlings, who is also listed as questionable following Wednesday’s practice.
Full list of names on the injury report:
RB Steven Jackson (groin)
OT Wayne Hunter (knee)
DT Matt Conrath (knee)
S Matt Daniels (hamstring) are “questionable”
WR Brandon Gibson (knee)
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
DE William Hayes (knee) are “probable”
DE Eugene Sims (head)
OT Rodger Saffold (knee) are “out”