Following the preseason opener against New Orleans, coach Jeff Fisher said there was a chance 15 or 16 of the 18 players who sat out that contest could be on the field the following week against Green Bay.
As the practice week winds down for the 3 p.m. kickoff Saturday at the Edward Jones Dome, the total of returning players won’t be that high. But it’s clear the Rams are getting bodies back as the regular season approaches.
On Thursday, starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins returned to the field after missing more than a week with a hamstring injury.
“I’m doing wonderful,” Jenkins said. “I feel pretty good. Glad to be out there with my teammates, compete, and just have fun.”
Jenkins suffered the injury trying to defend a fade pattern to Brian Quick earlier this training camp at Rams Park.
“When I reached over my head to grab the ball, I kind of came down awkward and I felt it,” Jenkins said.
It’s clear that Jenkins is feeling much better, to the point where he basically tried to sneak into 11-on-11 — or “team” — drills earlier in the week while working on the side.
“I was just trying to get a few plays in; just trying to sneak a few plays in,” Jenkins said, smiling broadly.
When asked if he was anxious to make his preseason debut against the Packers, he replied: “I’m ready.”
Fisher said it had yet to be determined whether Jenkins would play against the Packers.
“Trumaine (Johnson) will be back in the game; Brandon McGee will be back,” Fisher said. “So the younger corners will play later in the game.”
Johnson and McGee (ankle) were among the group that sat out the New Orleans game. So even if Jenkins doesn’t suit up, the Rams will have two of their top three corners in action against Green Bay.
At linebacker, James Laurinaitis (ankle) will sit out once again; he’s pointing for a return on Aug. 23 in Cleveland.
Up front, it looks like Michael Brockers (ankle) will sit another week, but Kendall Langford will return at defensive tackle.
Langford was bothered by a bone bruise in his elbow earlier in camp.
“I was giving it a shot during warmups against New Orleans, but my coach (defensive line coach Mike Waufle) felt he needed to pull me, so he made the call and told me to just rest,” Langford said.
After an offseason of more intensive training, Langford hopes to pick up where he left off in 2013 as he enters his third season with the Rams.
“Last year was way better than my first year,” Langford said. “This year’s gonna be better than last year. I had a little learning curve to go through. I adjusted. Played well my second year, but now I’m looking forward to a big year.”
Langford is down to 295 pounds after playing at 300-plus in his first two seasons in St. Louis. He started training about a month earlier than usual, ate right, and swore off all alcohol except for wine.
As a result, Langford said he’s in better shape than at any time since entering the league in 2008 as a Miami Dolphin.
“I feel good about the hay I put in the barn this offseason,” Langford said. “I feel like I play better when I’m lighter. I focused on it, and I’m feeling good.”
On offense, Fisher said quarterback Sam Bradford will play at least a quarter, and possibly into the second quarter against the Packers. Center Scott Wells is expected to return to action, in addition to backup running backs Isaiah Pead (hand) and Trey Watts (hamstring).
But Fisher said he has decided to hold back left tackle Jake Long until the Cleveland game.
“Jake’s doing a great job here, but we’re going to wait another week for Jake, and that’ll be the case with a couple of other guys,” Fisher said.
Even before the start of camp, Fisher had indicated that the goal was to have Long, who underwent January knee surgery, participate in preseason play starting with either Game 2 or Game 3. So he’s still on schedule.
Guard/tackle Rodger Saffold will miss his second consecutive preseason game, but Fisher said he’s close to returning to practice.
The Rams lost rookie center Demetrius Rhaney during Thursday’s practice when his left knee buckled while blocking during a field goal drill. He was taken off the field on a cart, but initial indications are that it’s not a serious injury.
“All indications right now are preliminary that Demetrius is going to be OK, which is encouraging,” Fisher said. “We’ll have to do an MRI but it looks like the interior of the knee is good, so that’s good news.”
With Barrett Jones still sidelined with a back issue, the Rams could be a little thin at center against the Packers. Mike Person got some work at center Thursday.