Reports of Rodger Saffold's demise may be greatly exaggerated. Heads turned Wednesday when Saffold returned to the practice field on a (very) limited basis just three days after being carted off in Detroit with a neck injury.
On Thursday, the reaction was more like jaws dropping when Saffold was full participation in practice.
"I'm not surprised at all based on the information that we had immediately and the information that we got that evening, and then how quickly he's come around," coach Jeff Fisher insisted following Thursday's practice.
Others were very surprised to see Saffold in the huddle Thursday.
"I'm actually quite amazed," running back Steven Jackson said. "Especially the way he was taken off the field on Sunday. For him to be with us now on Thursday, especially considering he may be playing (against Washington) — that's big for him. If he's 100 percent, I actually believe he's going to try to go. If not, we all understand."
Saffold fell short of any predictions that he will play against the Redskins.
"I'm just basically testing myself," he said. "I wanted to see where I'm at because with this type of thing, the best way to figure out if I'm ready to play is if I go out and actually do something. I'm still on Reggie (Scott)'s and the rest of the trainers' plan, so I'm still taking it day to day. But at least I get to be able to do something instead of standing there out on the field. I hate that."
There wasn't much contact in Thursday's practice, so Saffold can't gauge how the neck will respond to a collision.
"That's something else I'll probably be testing this week," he said. "I didn't get a chance to do anything when we were in full pads. But I'll probably put on the pads later on in the week and see what's going on.
"But I'm going to leave this up to Reggie, he knows best. I don't want to put myself in a situation I'm not ready for."
Saffold said he didn't feel "much pain" on the practice field Thursday. Given the current climate in the NFL, with an increased emphasis on player safety plus the host of concussion-related lawsuits, the Rams will take every possible precaution to make sure Saffold is ready to play.
The Rams are back to a three-quarterback roster with the return of veteran Kellen Clemens. Defensive tackle Darell Scott, a fourth-round draft pick in 2009, was released to make room for Clemens.
"We got caught in a precarious injury scenario after the final preseason game, specifically with the defensive tackles," Fisher said. "We fully intended on keeping all three quarterbacks, so we put Kellen out there thinking that hopefully he'd be available for us once we started (getting healthier). So we're happy to have him back."
The Rams had been keeping six players at defensive tackle prior to Scott's release — or two more than is usually the case. Scott underwent knee surgery during the preseason, but returned to practice Wednesday.
The Rams had indicated to Clemens that they wanted him back; his locker stall at Rams Park was never even cleared out. He has a place in St. Louis and just stayed there waiting for the call.
"You don't get too many opportunities like that to spend time with your family, especially in September," Clemens said. "So that's what I did. Followed the team as closely as I could from a distance and just made sure that whenever they called to bring me back that I was ready to go."
Clemens, who was released Aug. 31, said he threw a Thomas the Tank Engine Nerf football to his 3-year-old son to keep his arm loose.
Regardless of the circumstances, it's never an easy thing to be released. And because he re-signed with the team after Week 1, Clemens' salary is not guaranteed in 2012.
"There are business decisions that have to be made," he said. "That's a part of this industry. So you roll with it as best you can."
As for the timing of his return, Clemens joked that he's back this week, "because of the speed I have, so that I can simulate Robert Griffin on scout team. Since I cut my hair, people can kind of distinguish a little bit easier. But athletically, I ran the hurdles in high school. There's a lot of similarities."
GAME ON LOCAL TV
The Rams have met sellout requirements for Sunday's 3:05 p.m. kickoff against Washington, so the contest will be televised locally on KTVI (Ch. 2).
Once again, DTs Michael Brockers (ankle) and Matt Conrath (knee), and OG Rokevious Watkins (ankle) did not practice Thursday. For Washington, WR Pierre Garcon (foot) practiced on a limited basis Thursday after being held out of practice Wednesday.