Here's the injury report so far looking towards Sunday's early game against the St Louis Rams.
|Buster Davis||WR||Ribs||Full Practice||Probable|
|Ryan Mathews||RB||Ankle||Full Practice||Probable|
What do these injuries mean for Sunday's game? A lot. Let's break it down.
With Legedu Naanee out, There will only be three proven players active. Malcom Floyd, Buster Davis, and Patrick Crayton. Richard Goodman was activated and may see some time as a receiver. The good thing about that is that we may see how well he plays with Philip Rivers throwing him the ball and not Volek or Crompton. However, with CBD going into the game with a sensitive chest, one good lick over the middle could sideline him for a few plays. Expect both Floyd and Crayton to get extra game time, and a high dose of 3 Tight End sets with all of them getting some looks. Limited WR depth will also mean lots of running, and with Rookie Ryan Mathews looking better than he has all month, the run will come. The WR issues may also mean more touches for Sproles and Hester, but special teams may take a toll....
With C.J. Spillman released, Goodman will have kick and punt duties, and he really couldn't do any worse if he tried. Crosby will have to deal without Naanee and Siler in the lineup, which means more potential screw ups by Antwan Applewhite, and more Special Teams play for the Tight Ends and other players who already have to play more downs due to other injuries. Hopefully, they've gotten practice and will be focused and prepared for all punts and kickoffs. Half the injuries affect special teams directly and have been disastrous so far. Its hard to see things getting any worse, but lets not wish for it either.
Merriman is on Injuried reserve, along with his replacement, Jyles Tucker. Once again, Shaun Phillips will be the only experienced veteran OLB on Sunday, with the struggling Applewhite across from him. I hope Antwan Barnes gets a few chances at rushing to see if he's any better. Sure, it'll be another number for me to track on my D-line analysis, but Phillips needs help, and Castillo, Garay and Johnson can't be playing together on every play. Or can they? Castillo is fast, I'm sure he could drop to 280 and play OLB. Sorry, what? Oh, right... Ahem... Cooper either is struggling again like last year, or is not 100%. I'd bet on a little bit of both. He's had as many great plays as bad ones, and without Siler to spell him and offer his presence, the entire LB corps in general will have a tough task ahead of them. Like last week, at least in the first half, Ron Rivera may use lots of nickel packages and bring NB blitzes. However, the nickel backfired with 2 DE's and 2 OLB's playing the 4 man front. It would be better to replace whichever OLB isn't Phillips with a NT and keep him inside, and let Garay, Castillo or Johnson play the 3 and 4 technique for balance in both good pass rushing, and run stopping effectiveness.
I honestly expect Norv and Rivera to handle the injuries and the fire they took last week and run a quick strike defense early, and ball control offense late to a 27-16 victory.