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Latest receiver injury rains on Rams' parade

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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Posted Nov. 29, 2010 @ 7:50 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

The good news is that the Rams won their first game on the road this season in Week 12, hanging on for dear life for a 36-33 victory over the Broncos in Denver. The bad news is that they probably lost promising rookie TE Michael Hoomanawanui for the rest of the season with what has been diagnosed as a high right ankle sprain suffered in the second quarter.

Hoomanawanui, who suffered a similar injury to his left ankle in Week One that forced him to miss the next four games, had earlier caught his second touchdown in as many weeks and has been a primary force when healthy enough to play. “They’re saying four to six weeks,” Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo said in his Monday press conference. “It was six to eight the last time, and he came back a little sooner, so we’ll be optimistic.

“We’ll know a little bit more tomorrow. He’ll be in a boot or a cast. We’ll immobilize it. We’ll literally take it day by day. Should there come a point when we don’t think we’re going to get him back, we’re going to have to make some kind of decision. As we stand here today, we’ll be hopeful.”

The PFW spin

Suffice to say injuries to receivers have been a major problem for the Rams in the Spagnuolo regime. Already this season, the team has lost WRs Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton to season-ending injuries, and WRs Laurent Robinson and rookie Danario Alexander have proven to be very fragile, although both of them are currently making their presence very much felt.

That’s particularly the case with Alexander, who returned to action Sunday for the first time since having surgery Oct. 29 to repair cartilage damage and who provided a badly needed big-play dimension with four catches for 95 yards.

While fellow TE Billy Bajema picked up the slack after Hoomanawanui went down for the count with the first two TDs of his six-year career, the Rams will definitely miss Hoomanawanui, who wasted no time developing an excellent chemistry with Rams rookie QB Sam Bradford and has an excellent combination of power and speed that bodes well for his future.

Speaking of Bradford, he continues to look like an NFL Rookie of the Year in the making following the first 300-yard passing game of his career. With the Broncos going out of their way to bottle up RB Steven Jackson and dare Bradford to throw, the first-round rookie efficiently distributed the ball to eight different receivers, as the Rams scored on five straight possessions to take a 26-13 halftime lead after falling behind 10-0 midway through the first quarter.

It just might be that Bradford is good enough to overcome the bad luck that has befallen his receiving corps. Now, if the team can just stop going into a shell in the fourth quarter (three-and-outs on its final three possessions in Denver), the offensive line can do a better job of run blocking for Jackson and the pass defense can tighten up a bit (956 gross passing yards allowed and six TDs in the last three games), the Rams just might become the kingpins in the NFC West.

Redemption in Arizona this Sunday against a faltering Cardinals team that beat them at home in Week One would be a good way to start a closing playoff run that nobody was willing to predict entering the season.

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