Bradford finished: Quarterback Sam Bradford is out for the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Losing Bradford is a devastating blow to any hopes the Rams harbored of contending for a spot in the postseason, and there are important long-term implications as well. The Rams have maintained they are committed to Bradford for the long haul, but losing him means not only a missed chance to contend this year but also a lost opportunity to evaluate where Bradford is in his development heading toward a draft in which they’ll have two first-round picks.
Clemens’ turn: The Rams now must turn the reins over to veteran backup Kellen Clemens, a move that isn’t going to inspire much confidence in Rams fans. After the loss to Carolina, a number of Rams voiced their support for Clemens, but he has struggled to produce in the past, and it remains to be seen what he can do now. The Rams will also have to add another quarterback to the mix, which should be an interesting proposition given the lack of quality backups in the league, let alone those still available.
Dealing with discipline: More often than not, the Rams found themselves on the wrong end of a number of melees that broke out in Sunday’s loss. It wasn’t that they were losing fights with the Panthers so much as they were losing in the eyes of the officiating crew. Both sides threw plenty blows, but the Rams kept getting caught retaliating, which led to four unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and an ejection for defensive end Chris Long. They had five total for the game. The Rams had four unsportsmanlike conduct or unnecessary roughness penalties combined entering the Carolina game and more than doubled that total to tie for the most in the league in that category.
Right tackles take turns: As expected, Joe Barksdale started at right tackle again instead of the returning Rodger Saffold. But that doesn’t mean the job is Barksdale’s after Saffold got plenty of work in what turned into something of a rotation. Both players got their share of snaps against the Panthers as Saffold worked his way back into the mix from a knee injury suffered in Week 2 against Atlanta. In fact, it was nearly a 50-50 split, as Barksdale played 31 offensive snaps and Saffold played 30. The Rams don’t necessarily have to make a choice between Barksdale and Saffold, but for continuity’s sake, it couldn’t hurt to settle on one of the two before next week’s game against Seattle.