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Rams center Wells probably out for season with broken leg

2013-12-03T04:30:00Z 2013-12-03T06:13:04Z Rams center Wells probably out for season with broken legBy Joe Lyons jlyons@post-dispatch.com 636-493-9675 stltoday.com
December 03, 2013 4:30 am  • 

After fracturing his left fibula late in the first half of Sunday’s 23-13 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco, center Scott Wells is probably done for the season.

“Scott’s going to be down for four to six (weeks),’’ Rams coach Jeff Fisher said during his Monday news conference at Rams Park. “We’re still evaluating. ... It’s very similar to (safety T.J. McDonald’s injury), non-displaced, so we’re kind of evaluating what we’re going to do with the roster.’’

Wells, 32, had started all 12 games this season. A year ago, after signing a free agent deal with the Rams, he suffered a foot injury in the season opener, missed nine games and came back to start the final six.

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Wells spent his first eight NFL seasons with the Green Bay Packers, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl following the 2011 campaign.

University of Missouri product Tim Barnes, a second-year player, took over at center for Wells at the start of the second half and ended up playing the final 44 snaps of the game.

“He played pretty well,’’ Fisher said. “Tim, he’s a pro, he prepares. He gets a minimal amount of reps on the practice field and he played well with Scott being down.’’

Wells’ injury could also provide an opportunity for rookie center-guard Barrett Jones. A fourth-round draft choice from Alabama, Jones has been inactive through the first 12 games.

Wells was not the only Rams offensive lineman to go down Sunday. Late in the third quarter, left tackle Jake Long was injured after banging heads with teammate Zac Stacy as the two tried to pick up San Francisco’s Donte Whitner on a blitz.

Fisher said that Long must undergo concussion protocol this week.

“He felt pretty good today,’’ the coach said.

With Long out, Rodger Saffold moved from right guard to left tackle and Shelley Smith stepped in at right guard.

DEFENSIVE NUMBERS

Thanks to the 49ers’ time-consuming drives, the Rams were able to post some good defensive numbers Sunday.

The Rams were especially strong against the run, limiting San Francisco to 83 yards on 30 carries, an average of 2.8 per attempt.

Linebackers James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree were in on 16 and 12 tackles, respectively, to lead the team. Ogletree, who had two tackles for loss, also caused a fumble.

Rookie safety McDonald was in on eight tackles and also broke up a pass. Rodney McLeod recovered a fumble and returned it 9 yards. Janoris Jenkins had a pair of pass breakups.

The Rams’ defensive line turned in an solid day, combining for four sacks, 13 quarterback pressures, two quarterback hits and 23 tackles. Michael Brockers, who led all defensive linemen with seven tackles, also had two of the Rams’ four sacks. Robert Quinn and Kendall Langford added a sack apiece. It was the 13th of the season for Quinn, who trails only Indianapolis’ Robert Mathis (15½) in that category this season.

Chris Long had five quarterback pressures and a quarterback hit. Fellow end William Hayes had five tackles, with Eugene Sims coming up with three tackles and three quarterback pressures.

LATER START FOR DEC. 15 GAME

The NFL has announced that the Rams’ contest at the Edward Jones Dome against the New Orleans Saints will kick off at 3:25 p.m. The game was originally scheduled to begin at noon.

The time adjustment will allow the game to be seen by a wider national television audience as part of Fox’s national doubleheader.

RAM-BLINGS

Rams punter Johnny Hekker averaged 48.8 yards on five punts as the 49ers managed just 5 yards in punt returns.

The second-year pro continues to lead the NFL in net punting yardage (44.0).

• Kicker Greg Zuerlein, also in his second season, booted field goals from 43 and 34 yards and had touchbacks on three of his four kickoffs Sunday.

• Left guard Chris Williams, who left the Nov. 24 victory over the Chicago Bears with a concussion, was one of four Rams to take part in all 69 offensive plays on Sunday. The others: quarterback Kellen Clemens, guard-tackle Saffold and right tackle Joe Barksdale. On defense, linebacker Laurinaitis and safety McLeod were in on all 66 plays.

• With Sunday’s win, the 49ers improved their all-time record against the Rams to 64-62-3 and to 22-21-1 at Candlestick Park. Next year, the 49ers will move into $1.2 billion Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

Joe is a St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter.

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