Fragility of 5 Rams veterans can open door for backups to earn starting roles

Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams / Harry How/GettyImages
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Durability is a vital component of any and all NFL players. Injuries to a player in one NFL season can be attributed to simple bad luck. But repeatedly missing games due to injury, random or not, depletes the team's ability to compete. At some point, the team must make business decisions about who to start, and who not to start, based on a player's injury history. If the player continues to struggle to get back onto the football field, they ultimately risk an unceremonious release.

I was critical of the LA Rams' plans to start offensive linemen Brian Allen and Joe Noteboom in 2022, and the protests proved to be horribly accurate as both Allen and Noteboom suffered injuries, starting a domino effect of injuries that laid waste to the team's entire offensive line and to many players on the roster before the end of the season.

While injuries are part of any NFL team's risks, injuries that impact offensive linemen and defensive backs are particularly brutal. The reason for that double damage to the team lies in the fact that the team not only loses the production of one player but the unit in which that player competed loses the continuity and chemistry that the team had generated among players in that unit.

Of course, the burden is upon the team to construct viable contracts that include provisions that in case of injury, the team's front office has sufficient financial resources necessary to take adequate to restore the roster to a competitive state. While possible to do so, those types of clauses are not very popular with players, and understandably so. Unless tied to performance incentives, no player wants to be hit in the pocketbook when they find themselves fighting to recover from an injury.

And so, it's up to the front office to construct a roster that, while not impervious to the random forces of injuries, can adapt to the occurrence and ensure that the team remains nearly as competitive with backup players assuming starting roles. That could mean either on a temporary basis, or as we have discovered at times, for the duration of the 2024 NFL season.

Okay, so who are the frequent fliers of late in terms of injury-induced missed games?