Ron Bartell is done for the season. But despite a fractured bone in his neck, the veteran cornerback intends to continue his career with the Rams next season.
"My goal is to play again," he said Tuesday. "I'm fully prepared to play again. I'm approaching it as such that I will play again."
Bartell, 29, expects to go on the injured-reserve list today. He said the C7 bone in his lower neck has two fractures, the result of being hit by an Eagles player in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 31-13 loss to Philadelphia. He won't need surgery but will spend the next two to three months wearing a brace that extends from his rib cage to his neck.
"The good news is, it's not displaced," Bartell said. "Because usually when you have displacement, you're talking about surgery; you're talking about spinal cord issues and everything. So it's stable. It's an injury that can heal over time. And everything I'm hearing is it doesn't prevent me from playing in the future."
Bartell hasn't seen tape of the injury, but his teammates filled him in.
"I had just got off a block, and I was going in to make a tackle," Bartell said. "And as I was coming in, I just felt somebody hitting me from the side. Justin (King) told me a lineman kind of just dove on top of me and I guess my head got turned funny some type of way. But it is what it is. I wouldn't say it was dirty or anything like that."
Just a couple of plays later, Bartell had planned to return to the game.
"I just thought it was a stinger," he said. "I thought it was a reoccurrence of the stingers that I had last year. So after I got the feeling back in my arm and they did a strength test I was ready to go."
Bartell sat on the bench for a minute or two, and then as he stood up, he felt a pain in his neck. He alerted head athletic trainer Reggie Scott, and Bartell was taken back to the locker room area of the Edward Jones Dome for X-rays. After the game, the trainers suggested that Bartell go to the hospital that night for additional testing.
"I was against it, then James Hall kind of convinced me to go to the hospital," Bartell said.
It's a good thing. After an examination, the fractures were discovered. Bartell got a second opinion Tuesday and will undergo some additional tests.
Injuries are a way of life for NFL players, but neck and head injuries definitely get their attention.
"You always hear about it and you never think it'll happen to you until it happens," Bartell said. "It's definitely scary. But after the game I was cool in the fact that I was able to walk and move normally. At the end of the day it's about the quality of life going forward. It puts stuff in perspective, but you know it's something we sign up for. We're aware of the consequences when we start to play."
Coaches, teammates, friends and family have been very supportive since the injury, including Bartell's wife, who's expecting a child in November. Bartell said he'll try to help the cornerback group as much as possible this season. As for himself, he says the injury hurts more emotionally than physically.
"You put in so much work and then the first game of the year to have something like that happen is kind of devastating," he said.
Cornerbacks Fred Bennett, Rod Hood, Nathan Jones, and Robert McClain all worked out Tuesday at Rams Park as the team looks for Bartell's replacement. Running backs Stafon Johnson, Lonyae Miller and Wynel Seldon also worked out. The team did not sign any of those players Tuesday, but it seems certain two players will be signed to the active roster, perhaps as early as today. It could be two cornerbacks but probably will be a cornerback and a running back, given Steven Jackson's quadriceps injury. ... Besides placing Bartell on injured reserve, the team is waiving guard-center Drew Miller. ... Quarterback Tom Brandstater and former University of Missouri center Tim Barnes were signed to the practice squad. Running back Chase Reynolds and safety Jonathan Nelson were released from the practice squad.