Performance in the preseason is difficult to judge, with vanilla play-calling, limit snaps for the starters, and little-to-no game playing against the opponent throughout the week. However, one indisputable measure of a successful preseason could be the Week 1 injury report. The St. Louis Rams appear to have successfully vaccinated themselves from the injury bug that seemed to plague the league this season. Last year at this point, as we all remember, Michael Brockers was in a walking boot, being sidelined for the opening quarter of the season with an ankle injury sustained in the Rams’ final preseason bout. This year, St. Louis is setting a trend, with more players returning to health from injury than players being placed on the “injury report.”
In fact, there were four major “returners” to the St. Louis Rams roster this week. According to ESPN’s Nick Wagoner, Chris Long, who had missed most of the team’s practices since the Week 3 game against the Denver Broncos, fully participated in practice yesterday without any residual signs of injury.
Jermelle Cudjo and Lance Kendricks also returned to the field, after missing the entire preseason recovering from a foot injury and minor knee procedure, respectively. Matt Giordano also practiced for, what seems like, the first time since being picked up by the St. Louis Rams this offseason. Giordano was a surprise “make” during the 53-man roster cuts this past weekend, with undrafted rookie free agent, Cody Davis, figuring to steal his spot as the “fifth safety” on the roster. The return of the veteran defensive back may be a good sign for the team, especially with limited depth and experience in the secondary.
Darian Stewart and Cory Harkey were both expected scratches from practice, with Stewart still bothered by a pesky hamstring and Harkey recovering from a nasty knee injury. Quinton Pointer and UDFA, Jonathan Stewart, were also listed on the report, but were unlikely to see much time on the field anyways. Neither player will likely make the Week 1 active roster, especially with players like Daren Bates and Matt Daniels able to fill on special teams.
If this is the “final” injury report, the St. Louis Rams might be able to tag themselves as the healthiest NFL roster heading into the opening week of the regular season. Some combination of youth, coaching, and luck has kept the Rams’ players off the sideline so far this year. We’ll all be hoping that they can maintain it as the season progresses.