Amendola, Saffold are nearly back

2012-11-01T11:05:00Z 2013-05-22T15:21:28Z Amendola, Saffold are nearly backBY JIM THOMAS stltoday.com

Danny Amendola left little doubt Wednesday about his plans for Nov. 11. He plans to be playing wide receiver against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park.

Rodger Saffold wasn’t as gung-ho about a return date, but the third-year left tackle took a big step in the right direction Wednesday, practicing for the first time since suffering a left knee injury in Week 2 against Washington.

“They’re working on a limited basis now and if things go according to plan, they’ll have a good chance to play (against San Francisco),” coach Jeff Fisher said following Wednesday’s practice.

The Rams have one more practice today and then scatter for a four-day weekend. Under rules of the new collective bargaining agreement, players must have four consecutive days off during their bye week.

Amendola was moving around well and catching the ball well during the portion of practice open to reporters Wednesday.

“I feel pretty good, and I feel ready to go,” Amendola said. “I’ve got full range of motion and strength and everything.”

Amendola hasn’t played since suffering a separated SC joint — the joint where the collarbone meets the breastbone — midway through the second quarter of the Rams’ 17-3 victory over Arizona on Oct. 4. Entering that game, he ranked second in the NFL in receptions and eighth in reception yards.

So there’s no doubt the return of Amendola would provide a lift to a Rams offense that is struggling to reach the end zone. By the way, the Rams are 0-3 without him in the lineup, which obviously was tough to watch for Amendola.

“They all tried their best,” he said. “We had good game plans in. We fought and scrapped and tried to get things done. It’s frustrating missing time regardless. Win or lose it’s frustrating.”

Sitting was doubly frustrating considering Amendola suffered a season-ending triceps injury in Game 1 of 2011.

“When you sit out a year, and then you go down again and miss a couple games, it’s hard,” he said. “But I’m ready to come back and ready to do what I can.”

Although he didn’t play against New England, Amendola practiced on a limited basis all week in London, testing the injury and beginning the process of knocking off rust and getting his timing back with quarterback Sam Bradford. That process continues and accelerates this week.

“That’s the reason why I’m out here practicing during the bye week, trying to get everything down, so that when it comes to the (San Francisco) game in two weeks it’s all second nature,” Amendola said.

Saffold has been out six weeks, or twice as long as Amendola, so getting back into game shape may take a while longer. He tested the left knee to a degree in London by doing some work on the side and has tried to keep his head in the game throughout the rehab and recovery process.

“Being in the meetings and all those types of things has been good for me,” Saffold said. “I’ve been still staying in the game mentally, so every win and loss I’ve been with this team.”

As for his availability against the 49ers, Saffold said: “That’s going to be a conversation I’m going to have with my coach. That’s going to be a conversation I’m going to have with (trainer) Reggie (Scott). If Reggie feels like I’m ready to go, then I’ll go. But if they feel like I need to sit back, then I will.”

Saffold expects to practice on a limited basis again today.

“They really don’t want me to go out there and just put everything on the table, especially during this week,” Saffold said. “Maybe, hopefully, I’ll get to do a little bit more. But if they decide that they need me to continue to do the same amount of reps I’ve been doing now, I’ll just have to deal with that until next week.”

Dating back to mid-November of last year, Saffold has endured a bad run of injuries. He missed the final seven games of 2011 with a pectoral muscle injury from weightlifting. In the 2012 season opener, he was carted off the field in Detroit with a severe neck sprain.

Surprisingly, he was back in the starting lineup the following Sunday against Washington, only to suffer ligament damage in the knee trying to return a fumble recovery just 5½ minutes into the game.

“Got my leg stuck in the ground and got hit in the knee,” Saffold said. “Body went one way, knee went the other. It’s the same old story that you see all the time.

“At first when it happened, I didn’t know what was going on with my knee. It hurt so bad, I didn’t know if I’d be back this year. Right now, it’s just been a bunch of blessings. I’m getting a lot of help from Reggie and just a lot of advice from the guys that’s helped me get through it.

“All I want to do is be able to play again. I want to go against somebody else. And when it comes down to just being there for my team, I just want to be there.”

Follow Jim Thomas on twitter @jthom1

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