ST. LOUIS — Sam Bradford is done for the season, and the chances on this being the year the St. Louis Rams post their first winning season in a decade changed dramatically.
They insist the season is far from over.
Coach Jeff Fisher told players to keep their chins up Monday, referencing a book by an inspirational speaker as a rallying point for the final nine games.
“We’re going to see a lot of people step up,” defensive end Chris Long said. “And we’re going to see a lot of people step up that you might not expect.”
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One of them needs to be Kellen Clemens, who will be making his 13th career start in eight seasons on Monday night against the Seahawks.
Clemens, the former Oregon standout, has been the backup the past two years and was with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer with the Jets, too, so he knows the scheme.
Plus, he’s the only other quarterback on the roster.
“Somebody’s got to play,” Clemens said. “So I’ll go out there and do the best job I can and try to help this team win some games,” Clemens said.
Bradford will have season-ending surgery for a torn ligament in his left knee after getting hurt in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 30-15 loss at Carolina that dropped the Rams to 3-4.
The Rams feared the worst on the return flight and on Monday announced results of an MRI.
Surgery will be done in the next 2-3 weeks once the swelling goes down, and Fisher was confident Bradford would make a complete recovery in time for next season.
“Very disappointing,” middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “I thought he was putting up a strong season. It’s a long grind now for him.”
The Rams will be auditioning quarterbacks this week but Fisher said they won’t make a trade, which means Clemens is likely set for his first extended opportunity since he made eight starts in 2007 for the Jets.
Major injuries hit league
Indianapolis wide receiver Reggie Wayne tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the fourth quarter against Denver and will miss the rest of the season. The soon-to-be 35-year-old wide receiver had played in 189 consecutive games. Wayne led his team with 38 catches and 503 yards this season. In 13 seasons, all with the Colts, he has 1,006 receptions, 13,506 yards and 80 TD catches.
“Looking back at it again today, there was really no one within 30 yards of him,” quarterback Andrew Luck said. “He probably would have scored if I actually give him a decent ball. I feel somewhat responsible for the whole thing. I think I feel sick to my stomach about it a little bit.”
The Chicago Bears also suffered big losses Sunday. Quarterback Jay Cutler will miss at least the next four weeks after tearing a muscle in his groin during a 45-41 loss to Washington. Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs will be out for around six weeks after suffering a small fracture in his left shoulder.
Veteran Josh McNown will replace Cutler. Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman also left the game with a knee injury for the Bears.
In other injury news:
• Houston Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Cushing is out for the season with a left knee injury that will require surgery. Cushing, who tore his left ACL last season, was injured in the third quarter of a loss at Kansas City during a low block by running back Jamaal Charles.
• Green Bay lost tight end Jermichael Finley to a significant neck injury in its win over the Browns. Finley needs more tests to determine the severity.
• Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles suffered a concussion in a loss to Dallas. Meanwhile, Michael Vick is still recovering from a hamstring injury that forced him to miss the past 2½ games.
• Even though tackle Bryant McKinnie lost his starting job two weeks ago, the Miami Dolphins figure he can upgrade their leaky line.
Miami acquired McKinnie from the Baltimore Ravens for a conditional late-round draft pick.
The 34-year-old McKinnie will likely compete for playing time with right tackle Tyson Clabo.
• Washington free safety Brandon Meriweather’s dangerous habit of leading with his helmet will cost him two games, the latest sanction from a league determined to make the game safer by discouraging blows to the head.
The NFL announced that Meriweather will be suspended for this week’s game against Denver and the following game against San Diego, a severe blow to a struggling defense as the Redskins try to recover from their poor start to the season.
• Houston rookies Willie Jefferson, Sam Montgomery and Cierre
Wood were released two days after violating team rules. Three sources told
ESPN.com that the violations occurred due to marijuana use.
• Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski said that he’s considering a change at quarterback and could start backup Jason Campbell this week against the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs in favor of Brandon Weeden.
• The New York Jets have activated veteran quarterback David Garrard to the 53-man roster and released Brady Quinn, who was cut by the Seahawks before the start of the season.
• Linebacker Jonathan Vilma, 31, has returned to practice with the New Orleans Saints, the first step in a possible return to game action from the club’s injured reserve list.