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Published: Friday, December 9, 2011, 7:44 p.m.

Rams even more banged up than the Seahawks

  • With their top two quarterbacks likely out, the Rams are expected to rely even more than usual on running back Steven Jackson (above) Monday night.

    Associated Press

    With their top two quarterbacks likely out, the Rams are expected to rely even more than usual on running back Steven Jackson (above) Monday night.

RENTON -- The Seattle Seahawks have battled more than their fair share of injuries this year, but it could be worse.
After all, their head coach isn't joking about having to play quarterback on Monday night.
"I was thinking about lining up there myself," St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo said on a conference call. "I was a wishbone quarterback in high school. We could pull those notebooks out."
Wait, he is joking, right?
Well presuming Spagnuolo doesn't lace up his cleats Monday, the Rams could very well be starting a quarterback who has thrown as many regular-season passes in the NFL as Spagnuolo, which is to say, none. Starter Sam Bradford couldn't play last week because of an ankle injury, and while Spagnuolo said the Rams are still holding out hope that last year's No. 1 pick can play, Bradford had not practiced as of Friday. Backup A.J. Feeley is almost certainly out with a broken thumb, which means the Rams have been preparing this week to start Tom Brandstater, a sixth-round pick in 2009 who has bounced from Denver to Indianapolis to Miami to Dallas and now to St. Louis in his brief career. Or, you know, there's that coach/quarterback option.
"I can guarantee you, somebody's going to line up there and be our quarterback," Spagnuolo said. Words that are certain to instill confidence in Rams fans.
Who knew the Seahawks were lucky to have a quarterback with "only" an injured pectoral muscle? Of course both teams' injury issues go well beyond quarterback. Like Seattle, St. Louis has both its starting tackles (Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold) and one of its top receivers (Danny Amendola) on injured reserve along with a handful of other key players. The Rams also have put nine cornerbacks on injured reserve over the course of this season. Unlike Seattle, however, the Rams have not been able to withstand the injuries. While Seattle has gone 3-1 in its past four games even as injuries piled up, the Rams, most people's preseason NFC West favorites, have lost three straight and are 2-10.
"It's funny, at this point in the season I guess everybody's got the injury problems and sometimes you get caught up looking at your own injury problems and trying not to feel sorry for yourself, and then you're reminded that all these other teams are having issues too," said defensive end Chris Long, who with 12 sacks has been one of the few bright spots for St. Louis this season. "Definitely both teams are kind of hobbling in at some positions. ... They've done a good job of replacing some guys that have gone down during the year thus far and I have no reason to believe that they won't do that again."
Given the Rams' uncertainty at quarterback, the Seahawks will focus their efforts more than ever on stopping running back Steven Jackson. Jackson, who has had the misfortune of playing for a lot of bad teams in what has been a very impressive career, has rushed for 100 or more yards 30 times, yet strangely enough, has yet to do so in 14 games against Seattle. That's a streak the Seahawks would love to keep alive, and despite their success against Jackson and the Rams, they know he presents a difficult challenge.
"When you think of the St. Louis Rams, you think 'We've got to stop Steven Jackson,'" said linebacker Leroy Hill, who has been chasing Jackson around the field since 2005. ". . . It's the combination of the size and speed. He can run you over, he can mix you up, he can catch the ball, he can block, he has vision. He's just a complete back, and when you play against a complete back, it's hard to stop him."
Then again, stopping the run is more than a this-week goal for the Seahawks, who have, in their two years under Pete Carroll, been very stingy against the run when healthy. Last year the Seahawks had the league's second-ranked run defense before, among other injuries, defensive end Red Bryant went down with a season-ending injury. This season the Seahawks are holding opponents to 3.7 yards per carry, which ranks fourth best in the league.
"The real focus goes to the running game because if they can run it, you can't stop them," Carroll said. "It's always been about the running game. It's what gets us going."
Notable
Linebacker David Hawthorne (knee) and defensive end Raheem Brock (calf) sat out practice again Friday. Cornerback Kennard Cox (hamstring) was limited. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (pectoral) and cornerback Byron Maxwell (illness) practiced fully.
Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog
Story tags » Seahawks

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