NFC West: Matt Conrath

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- ESPN NFL Insiders Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported Monday afternoon that upon the completion of the new NFL drug policy, St. Louis Rams receiver Stedman Bailey is one of 20 players who will be reinstated.

According to the report, the deal is expected to be finalized in the next 24 hours. While Rams coach Jeff Fisher isn't yet sure of the specifics, he did confirm Monday night that the team is taking steps to prepare to welcome Bailey back to the fold.

"We have been hearing for four or five days that they're going to vote and they have a list of those who should be reinstated," Fisher said. "There was some talk about it even as late as Friday and Saturday. I haven't heard anything.

"We released (defensive tackle) Matt Conrath to clear the roster spot in the event that it does happen over the next couple of days."

Bailey was originally suspended four games on May 13 for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. He has served half of that suspension so far but wouldn't actually have been scheduled to return until after Week 5 because the team has a Week 4 bye.

A third-round draft choice out of West Virginia in 2013, Bailey didn't play much early as a rookie but got more opportunities near the end of last season. He finished with 17 catches for 226 yards and had a rushing touchdown.

During the preseason and training camp, Bailey was one of the team's better performing receivers and if he's reinstated soon could factor into the mix quickly. That's especially true considering Tavon Austin is dealing with what Fisher called a sprained knee suffered in Sunday's win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Fisher did not rule out Austin playing this week but getting Bailey back would certainly provide some insurance in case Austin is unable to play.

Shaun Hill misses practice again

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- For the second consecutive day, St. Louis Rams quarterback Shaun Hill did not participate in practice.

Hill sat out Thursday's practice with a quad/thigh injury, allowing Austin Davis to take the majority of the repetitions with the first-team offense once again. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer indicated Hill might not have to practice this week in order to be able to play Sunday in Tampa Bay because of his experience and knowledge of the offense.

Defensive end Chris Long is not on Thursday's injury report because he was officially moved to the injured reserve list with the designation to return. In his place, the Rams moved defensive tackle Matt Conrath from the practice squad to the active roster. Defensive end Kourtnei Brown was signed to the practice squad to take Conrath's place. Brown spent training camp with the Rams.

Elsewhere on the report, the only move of note from the Rams' perspective involved cornerback Lamarcus Joyner. Joyner was downgraded from limited participation to did not participate.

Here's the rundown:

Did not practice: CB Trumaine Johnson (knee), OL Barrett Jones (back), DB Lamarcus Joyner (back), QB Shaun Hill (thigh).
SEATTLE -- We've got sunshine and temperatures in the high 30s as the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams warm up on the field at CenturyLink Field.

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is the only non-specialist I see on the field at this time. He's working on his backpedal and breaking on passes thrown by a Seahawks staffer. Sherman has every reason to revel in the opportunity Sunday after dodging a four-game suspension on Thursday.

Sherman will start for Seattle. The team will be without injured linebacker Leroy Hill. The speedy but inexperienced Malcolm Smith will start in Hill's place.

Also inactive for Seattle: safety Winston Guy, cornerback Walter Thurmond, cornerback DeShawn Shead, guard Rishaw Johnson, guard John Moffitt and tackle Mike Person. Moffitt, a former starter, is inactive for a second consecutive week. The team has decided it's better off with rookie seventh-round choice J.R. Sweezy in the lineup at right guard. Sweezy started in Week 1 and again against San Francisco last week.

The Rams' inactive list includes quarterback Austin Davis, receiver Steve Smith, running back Terrance Ganaway, tight end Cory Harkey, linebacker Sammy Brown, tackle Joe Barksdale and defensive tackle Matt Conrath. No surprises there.

NFC West: Injury situations that matter

October, 24, 2012
Arizona Cardinals: Quarterback Kevin Kolb (ribs) will miss the game against San Francisco on Monday night. Safety Kerry Rhodes (back), cornerback Greg Toler (hamstring) and guard Adam Snyder (quadriceps) are also dealing with injuries. Rhodes and Toler missed the Minnesota game. Snyder started but did not finish it. Teams playing Monday night file their first formal injury reports Thursday. For that reason, the situations in Arizona and San Francisco are a little cloudier. The Cardinals do expect to have special-teams captains Anthony Sherman (knee) and Reggie Walker (concussion) back from injuries. It's not clear whether tight end Todd Heap will be back this week from the knee injury he suffered at New England in Week 2.

St. Louis Rams: Receiver Danny Amendola returned to practice on a limited basis, but he's not expected back from his chest injury for a few weeks. Left tackles Wayne Hunter (back) and Rodger Saffold (knee) did not practice. Receiver Chris Givens (illness), linebacker Mario Haggan (thigh) and defensive end Eugene Sims (knee) also sat out Wednesday. Backup defensive tackle Matt Conrath (knee) was limited. The Rams have done a very good job getting backup offensive linemen ready to play. They've also been aggressive in trying out out new personnel up front when it gives them a chance -- not a guarantee, but a chance -- to upgrade. Update: The Rams announced Friday that Brandon Gibson, not Givens, was the player missing practice due to illness.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers emerged from their Thursday night victory over Seattle knowing Joe Staley's concussion wasn't a factor, after all. Staley and the offensive line played very well. Having additional days off between games should help San Francisco emerge healthier against Arizona. If quarterback Alex Smith's injured factor was to blame for the quarterback's less consistent deep throwing, perhaps the recovery time will help him on that front. Frank Gore is expected to play despite injured ribs. One question, however, is whether his reps will suffer any as a result. The team has yet to play Brandon Jacobs in a game. The depth behind Gore appears strong. Receiver Mario Manningham (shoulder) missed the Seattle game.

Seattle Seahawks: Receiver Doug Baldwin (ankle) has a high sprain suffered Thursday night. He'll probably miss multiple games. That means Charly Martin will reemerge in the offense. Braylon Edwards could get additional snaps as well, particularly if Golden Tate's consistency does not improve. Tate and Martin could get more work from the slot with Baldwin out. That would also open up reps for Edwards on the outside. Cornerback Walter Thurmond is practicing following a lengthy rehab from a broken fibula. The team has through next week to activate Thurmond from the physically unable to perform list. Guard John Moffitt (knee) is also back at practice this week, but it's not clear when he'll return to the rotation on game days. Defensive tackle Jason Jones (ankle) and special-teams linebacker Malcolm Smith (concussion) are expected to play.

Rams' inactives: Third-string LT vs. Pack

October, 21, 2012
ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams are healthier this season than last, but not at left tackle.

Joe Barksdale will make his first career NFL start Sunday and will match up against Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who has eight sacks this season.

Barksdale replaces the injured Wayne Hunter, who was replacing the injured Rodger Saffold. Hunter, acquired from the New York Jets before the season, missed practice Friday and was named inactive Sunday. A back injury was the culprit.

The Rams will presumably help Barksdale with tight ends, running backs and their game plan. They are also playing with their third-string left guard and second-string center.

Barksdale, Shelley Smith, Robert Turner, Harvey Dahl and Barry Richardson will start. Tim Barnes and Quinn Ojinnaka are the backups. They are the only other healthy linemen on the roster. Teams typically keep seven linemen active for games.

Smith is replacing Ojinnaka, who has struggled. Smith could provide an upgrade in run blocking.

The Packers, meanwhile, will be without receiver Greg Jennings and defensive tackle B.J. Raji. Both were named inactive.

The Rams' inactive list: Austin Davis, Danny Amendola, Terrance Ganaway, Mario Haggan, Matt Conrath, Hunter and Saffold. The Packers' list: Johnny White, Sam Shields, Nick Perry, Greg Van Roten, Jennings and Raji. The Packers have one open roster spot, meaning they could list one fewer player on the inactive list.

Teams can have 46 players active for games under NFL rules.

NFC West: Injury situations that matter

October, 10, 2012
Arizona Cardinals: Life without the injured Ryan Williams at running back begins Sunday against a Buffalo defense that allowed 621 yards to San Francisco, including 311 on the ground. Utility back LaRod Stephens-Howling expects to return from a hip injury. He was limited Wednesday. Arizona will presumably incorporate Stephens-Howling into its no-huddle offense and into its spread passing sets. He's not an every-down back, but when healthy, Stephens-Howling provides big-play ability in doses. The Cardinals did not sign a veteran back after losing Williams (for the season) and would-be starting back Beanie Wells (until Nov. 25). William Powell and Alfonso Smith are the leading candidates to carry the ball on early downs. Defensive end Darnell Dockett (hamstring) played sparingly in Week 5 and was limited Wednesday. Tight end Todd Heap practiced on a limited basis. A knee injury has kept Heap out for the past three games. Cornerback Greg Toler, who pulled up with a hamstring injury while allowing a touchdown pass at St. Louis, did not practice. Cornerback Michael Adams also missed practice with a hamstring injury. The Cardinals figure to need their cornerbacks against Buffalo, a team that uses three-plus receivers extensively. Fullback Anthony Sherman (22 snaps at St. Louis) and outside linebacker Quentin Groves (six snaps) also sat out. Sherman has a knee injury. Groves has a hamstring injury. Quarterback John Skelton is back from his ankle injury, but he's not full strength. Kevin Kolb remains the starter.

St. Louis Rams: Leading receiver Danny Amendola will miss roughly six weeks, beginning with St. Louis' game at Miami. That will probably affect the Rams' ability to throw quickly and productively against pressure, and to convert on third down. Amendola ranks third in the NFL behind Wes Welker and Victor Cruz with 24 receptions from the slot. He made eight of those receptions on third down. Safety Quintin Mikell practiced without limitation Wednesday less that a week after suffering a concussion against Arizona. Linebacker Mario Haggan (thigh), fullback Brit Miller (ankle) and left tackle Rodger Saffold (knee) did not practice. Saffold has missed three games and was expected to miss at least four. Defensive linemen William Hayes (back) and Eugene Sims (head), key contributors both, were limited in practice.

San Francisco 49ers: Coach Jim Harbaugh and quarterback Alex Smith told reporters they're not concerned about the injury Smith suffered to the middle finger on his throwing hand. The injury did not appear serious, but it was initially a concern. This could be the week San Francisco debuts running back Brandon Jacobs, who has not played since suffering a knee injury during camp. Letting Jacobs suit up against the New York Giants, his former team, would seem fitting. The 49ers are getting good play from their existing backs, however, and Jacobs doesn't offer much on special teams. One question is whether the 49ers could use Jacobs in short-yardage situations. Frank Gore has two first downs on six third-and-1 carries this season. Anthony Dixon has one first down (a touchdown) on his only third-and-1 carry. Gore converted the team's only fourth-and-1 rush. Add it up and San Francisco has converted four times in eight short-yardage chances, the same figures Jacobs posted with the Giants during the 2011 regular season.

Seattle Seahawks: Center Max Unger will join the injury report for Seattle this week with a hip injury that was expected to keep him from practicing Wednesday. Former starting guard John Moffitt, a contingency at center when healthy, was also among those missing practice. A knee injury will keep him inactive this week. Eight players have started on the offensive line for Seattle this season, tied with Jacksonville for most in the league. Seattle does have options at center. Lemuel Jeanpierre has started there. Defensive linemen Clinton McDonald (groin) and Jaye Howard (foot) did not practice. The team continues to list running back Marshawn Lynch as limited with a back injury. He has 121 touches this season, second-most in the NFL behind Arian Foster (142). Lynch had 313 touches last season.
Undrafted rookies Matt Daniels and Rodney McLeod are the St. Louis Rams' backup safeties heading into a Week 1 matchup against Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions.

The team listed Darian Stewart among its inactive players Sunday.

Stewart, who battled Craig Dahl through camp for the starting job at strong safety, was not listed on the Rams' injury report. The Rams were not required to list Stewart on their report because Stewart was able to practice without limitation during the week. A hamstring injury that had bothered him recently flared up Sunday.

Dahl and Quintin Mikell are the starters.

The Rams are also thin at defensive tackle. They named Michael Brockers, Darell Scott and Matt Conrath inactive. None practiced during the week. All are suffering from injuries.

Kendall Langford, Kellen Heard and Jermelle Cudjo are the active defensive tackles for St. Louis.

NFC West: Injury situations that matter

September, 5, 2012
Our midweek look at important injury situations in the division ...

Arizona Cardinals: Running backs Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams remain on schedule to play extensively after rehabbing from offseason knee surgeries. Their continued health should be prominent on the Cardinals' minds. The team did not line up a veteran replacement. Wells has not played against Seattle since the 2010 season, when he carried 14 times for 54 yards and a touchdown during a 22-10 road defeat. He hasn't played at home against Seattle since 2009, his rookie season. Wells rushed for 85 yards and two scores in that game. Both teams have changed dramatically since then, of course. Injuries will affect Arizona most on the offensive line. With Levi Brown and Jeremy Bridges on injured reserve, D'Anthony Batiste will start at left tackle. Batiste, 30, last started a game in 2007, at guard. Right tackle Bobby Massie is a rookie. A year ago, he opened the 2011 college season for Mississippi against Brigham Young, losing 14-13 at home. The Cardinals can feel much better about their season if Batiste and Massie exceed expectations.

St. Louis Rams: Defensive tackle is the position of greatest concern for the Rams. A high-ankle sprain will prevent rookie first-round draft choice Michael Brockers from playing. Another defensive tackle, Trevor Laws, is on injured reserve. Two more, Darell Scott and rookie Matt Conrath, missed practice Wednesday with knee injuries. The Rams still have starter Kendall Langford, a free-agent addition from Miami. Jermelle Cudjo, undrafted in 2010, and Kellen Heard, claimed off waivers from Buffalo, are the other defensive tackles on the roster. St. Louis figures to spend significant time in its sub packages against Detroit in Week 1, perhaps taking pressure off its interior run-stuffers. The Lions ran 653 plays with three or more wide receivers last season, second only to Buffalo, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

San Francisco 49ers: Running back Brandon Jacobs (knee) and receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Neither has played recently. The 49ers' have ample depth at running back whether or not Jacobs plays. Kyle Williams would replace Ginn as the 49ers' punt returner. The punts Williams muffed in the NFC Championship Game raise obvious concerns about his readiness to handle the duties at Green Bay in another game featuring conference powers. Williams has bounced back strongly enough, however, to make this game more opportunity than something for him to dread. I'd be surprised if Williams suffered similar gaffes when given another chance, particularly in the absence of challenging weather conditions. Depth at outside linebacker is the other top concern for the 49ers after Parys Haralson landed on injured reserve. Haralson started every game last season. He was supposed to provide insurance while sack leader Aldon Smith transitioned to a full-time role. Newly signed veteran Clark Haggans, 35, is the insurance policy now. He started 16 games for the Cardinals last season, but it's a little concerning that Arizona kept Quentin Groves instead.

Seattle: Having a healthy Sidney Rice at wide receiver is crucial for Seattle given injuries to other players at the position. Golden Tate suffered a knee injury in the final exhibition game and probably will not play. A hamstring injury has limited Doug Baldwin, the Seahawks' leading receiver as a rookie last season. Rice and Braylon Edwards appear most likely to start. Both are healthy. Edwards has outperformed expectations. But if Baldwin and Ben Obomanu are the primary backups, depth isn't ideal. Seattle will want to emphasize the ground game anyway. That will be easier to accomplish if 1,200-yard rusher Marshawn Lynch can overcome back spasms. Lynch participated in the Seahawks' walk-through practice Wednesday. He'll be limited in the regular practices. His situation isn't necessarily dire at this point. Lynch has managed and overcome back issues previously. Still, there's a heightened chance rookie Robert Turbin could get additional carries. Turbin has proven to be a powerful runner with surprising ability to pull away from linebackers through the line of scrimmage. The offense would not be the same without Lynch, however.

Three things revisited: Chiefs-Rams

August, 18, 2012
Looking back on three things discussed here before St. Louis' preseason home opener Saturday night against Kansas City, a game the Rams led 31-10 as I filed this in the fourth quarter and ended up winning 31-17:

1. First-team execution. The Rams scored touchdowns on their first two drives, marked improvement from their performance against Indianapolis last week. Sam Bradford found his favorite receiver, Danny Amendola, for a 35-yard gain off play-action on the first play. Steven Jackson powered through a huge hole for an 18-yard gain on the next play. Bradford soon found Lance Kendricks over the middle for a 23-yard touchdown. Bradford and Amendola connected for a touchdown on the Rams’ second drive. Bradford beat pressure and Amendola made an impressive adjustment on the ball. The Rams’ first-team offense accomplished its goals in this game.

2. Rookie RB rebound. Rookie running back Isaiah Pead was looking to bounce back from a couple miscues suffered in the opener. He scored a touchdown with a high leap over the Chiefs’ defense at the goal line. Pead also lost nine yards with an ill-advised reversal of course. Pead probably should have cut his losses on that run. He carried six times for minus-5 yards.

3. Pass defense. The Rams made progress in this area after a rough game against Andrew Luck. Chris Long batted down a pass early. Craig Dahl quickly brought down the elusive Dexter McCluster after a short gain. The Rams made Matt Cassel and McCluster work for a short completion on third-and-5. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins was right there. Later, rookie corner Trumaine Johnson broke up a pass, leading to an interception for defensive lineman Matt Conrath.

2012 pre-camp analysis: Rams 'D'

July, 3, 2012
Our two-day look at NFC West rosters continues with projections for the St. Louis Rams' defense and special teams.

Defensive linemen (13)

Average number kept since 2003: 8.8

Safest bets: Chris Long, Michael Brockers, Kendall Langford, Robert Quinn

Leading contenders: William Hayes, Eugene Sims, Darell Scott, Matt Conrath, Jermelle Cudjo

Longer odds: Trevor Laws, Jamaar Jarrett, Cornell Banks, Scott Smith

Comment: The Rams have three relatively recent first-round draft choices starting on the line, plus Langford, a free-agent addition from Miami. The position should be a strength for years to come. Brockers and Langford give the team needed bulk in the middle. It's tough to know what the new coaching staff thinks about some of the other talent. Hayes received a $100,000 roster bonus, an indication the team has hopes for him. Sims and Scott each played more than 20 percent of the defensive snaps last season. Cudjo was on the roster but did not play.

Linebackers (10)

Average number kept since 2003: 6.3

Safest bets: James Laurinaitis, Jo-Lonn Dunbar

Leading contenders: Rocky McIntosh, Mario Haggan, Josh Hull, Aaron Brown, Sammy Brown, Alex Hoffman-Ellis

Longer odds: Justin Cole, Noah Keller

Comment: Laurinaitis is the only mainstay player at the position. Dunbar projects as a starter after the Rams paid a $1 million signing bonus to him in free agency. McIntosh and Haggan are veteran newcomers with starting experience. They're stopgaps until the Rams can address the position next offseason. It's looking like at least one undrafted rookie linebacker will stick on the roster.

Defensive backs (14)

Average number kept since 2003: 8.2

Safest bets: Cortland Finnegan, Darian Stewart, Quintin Mikell, Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, Craig Dahl, Bradley Fletcher

Leading contenders: Matt Daniels, Josh Gordy, Jerome Murphy

Longer odds: Kendric Burney, Quinton Pointer, Jeremy Caldwell, Rodney McLeod

Comment: Secondary depth is vastly improved, and not just through improved health. Fletcher was arguably the most promising cornerback on the roster last season. Now, it's tough to know whether he fits into the team's long-term plans. Depth at safety might be better than it appears. The Rams had a high enough grade on Daniels to give him a $10,000 signing bonus as an undrafted free agent from Duke.

Special teams (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.1

Safest bets: Greg Zuerlein, John Hekker, Jake McQuaide

Leading contenders: Tom Malone, Garrett Lindholm

Longer odds: Travis Tripucka

Comment: McQuaide, the snapper, is back from last season, but this group lacks experience overall. Zuerlein was a sixth-round pick. Hekker was an undrafted free agent. The Rams wanted better directional punting than Donnie Jones provided, particularly after watching Patrick Peterson score twice on returns last season.