Jeff Fisher is more tight-lipped about injuries than any of the five Rams head coaches — and two interim head coaches — who have preceded him in St. Louis.
With that in mind, it wasn’t all that surprising when Fisher went name-rank-serial number on the status of injured Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola.
“I’m going to have an injury report for you on Wednesday,” Fisher said at his Friday media session. “I’m not commenting on any injuries from the game. It’s a competitive issue. … If Danny’s going to miss a game, I’ll discuss it at a time in which I’m sure he’s going to miss a game.”
But Fisher wasn’t fooling anyone. Amendola will miss a month or more, league sources indicated to the Post-Dispatch on Friday, after suffering a separated SC joint trying to make a diving catch in the second quarter of Thursday’s 17-3 victory over Arizona. Amendola landed hard on his right shoulder and was done for the night.
In layman’s terms the sternoclavicular — or SC — joint is where the collarbone meets the breastbone. After Amendola’s separation, Rams medical officials were able to put the joint back in place immediately and cleanly, according to sources familiar with the injury. That’s important in terms of avoiding complications and a quicker recovery time.
X-rays taken at the Edward Jones Dome on Thursday night were inconclusive. The Rams wanted to make sure there was no fracture or ligament damage so Amendola underwent additional testing Friday. On Friday, an MRI exam showed no ligament damage. A CT scan showed no fractured or broken bones.
So Amendola does not need surgery. But time is needed to let the injury heal naturally. How long that takes varies, although it’s usually between four and eight weeks. In Amendola’s case, if you split the difference at six weeks, he would be sidelined until the Nov. 25 rematch with the Cardinals in Arizona.
If that happens, he would miss only five games because the Rams have their bye week during that span. Those who know Amendola realize it will be hard to keep him off the field that long. Pound-for-pound one of the toughest Rams, Amendola will be pushing to play as soon as possible.
For proof, look no farther back than last season, when after suffering elbow and triceps injuries in his left arm during the Rams’ 2011 season opener, he attempted to work himself into game shape a month later during a Rams bye week practice. He aggravated the triceps injury attempting to practice last Oct. 6 — or exactly one year ago today — and was done for the year.
In the short term, such an injury is more of a pain tolerance thing. If the injury is 100 percent healed, he’s not more prone to additional injury or an out-and-out broken collarbone, which the Rams originally feared might be the case Thursday night. But if Amendola returns too early, he could be at a greater risk to aggravating the injury.
Given the strong relationship he had with former Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Amendola probably wants to play in the Rams’ Oct. 28 London game with the New England Patriots — McDaniels’ current team.
A more likely situation, although still on the optimistic side, would have Amendola returning after the bye week for the Rams’ Nov. 11 game at San Francisco. A return at that time would be 5 1/2 weeks after the injury, and thanks to the bye, would have Amendola missing just three games: Oct. 14 at Miami, Oct. 21 at home against Green Bay, and the New England game.
No matter how long Amendola is sidelined, it’s a huge setback for the Rams’ already struggling offense.
“Obviously, losing Danny is big,” quarterback Sam Bradford said after Thursday’s victory. “Everyone knows that he’s a big part of our offense. A lot of what we do runs through him.”
Amendola was well on his way to a breakout season before the injury. Entering Thursday’s game he was second in the NFL in receptions (31) and eighth in the league in reception yards (351). He had just one catch against Arizona before the injury, but it went for 44 yards on a route in which Amendola’s speed and quickness all but turned defender Patrick Peterson into a pretzel.
His absence creates more opportunities for the team’s five remaining healthy wide receivers: Brandon Gibson, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Brian Quick and Steve Smith. Smith has tons of experience playing the slot receiver position usually manned by Amendola, but Pettis can play there as well.
Rookie Givens had moved into the No. 3 spot the past two games in terms of playing time behind starters Amendola and Gibson. Givens actually started ahead of Amendola on Thursday, although Amendola was in on the very next play.
So the likely lineup minus Amendola would have Gibson and Givens starting with Smith or Pettis working out of the slot.
According to NFL stats, Givens was in for a total of 86 snaps against the Cardinals and Seahawks. Quick was in for 26 plays, and Pettis 25 in those two games.
Smith was inactive against Arizona and Seattle last Sunday, making room for rookie Quick on the game-day roster. But that now changes for the next month or so with Amendola sidelined.