Rams work around injuries in offensive line, secondary

Saturday, December 3, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- Now that it's certain that Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at quarterback for the Rams on Sunday against the Washington Redskins, the question is: Who will protect him?

Offensive tackle Orlando Pace is expected to return to the lineup, but he left in the first half of last week's overtime victory over the Texans with hamstring and hip flexor injuries.

Tackle Alex Barron is out after suffering a thumb injury Sunday that required surgery earlier this week.

Offensive lineman Blaine Saipaia, who still is experiencing headaches related to a concussion, may see playing time due since the Rams are shorthanded on the line. Saipaia said he'd only be used in an emergency Sunday.

"Coach [Joe] Vitt says it's a family and you've got to do what you can for your family," Saipaia said. "So that's what I'm doing."

Vitt expected Pace, who was rested all week, to be fine for the game. He was listed as probable.

"He's played with this kind of thing before, he feels confident about it, so I feel confident about it," Vitt said.

The Rams defensive secondary also has injury concerns.

Safety Adam Archuleta and defensive back DeJuan Groce are still recovering from concussions, and cornerback Travis Fisher is out for a third straight week with a groin injury. Archuleta and Fisher are listed as questionable; Groce is probable.

Archuleta was injured in a collision with Groce in the first quarter two weeks ago against the Cardinals and missed last week's game. He had a baseline test earlier in the week that was normal, but he wasn't sure whether he was ready to return.

"I've played through a lot worse, but this is kind of a sensitive issue when you're talking about the head and concussions," Archuleta said. "It's just one of those things where you've got to make sure you do the right thing."


* The Rams shuffled backup offensive linemen, claiming Ben Noll off waivers from the Cowboys and releasing Matt Morgan. Vitt said Noll, who is from St. Louis and played at Priory High School, won't be active this week.

* Jeff Wilkins' game-tying 47-yard field goal last week against the Texans was his 200th with the Rams.

* The Rams are an NFL-best 42-11 at home since 1999, although they're only 3-2 this year.

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