By R.B. Fallstrom
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ST. LOUIS _ Over and over, Scott Wells refused to make excuses for the ones that got away.
The St. Louis Rams centre accepts a lot of the blame for last week’s loss to the Giants. He botched two crucial shotgun snaps, twice hiking it over Shaun Hill’s head, and playing hurt is not something he leans on.
“This is the NFL, everybody’s got something,” Wells said to the Associated Press Tuesday night. “You just have to find a way to push through whatever ailment you might have and continue to perform at a high level.
“And if something bad happens, you own up to it.”
Coach Jeff Fisher values Wells’ savvy and grit enough to choose him over two healthy backup centres, Tim Barnes and Barrett Jones, on the roster. On Monday, Fisher said Wells would remain the starter in the finale at Seattle.
“Yeah, I’m going to go forward with Scott,” Fisher said. “Scott does a good job inside communicating, identifying things, getting protections called.
“He’s just going to have to not allow that to happen, especially up there this week.”
Fisher said the elbow brace that covers Wells’ entire right arm is just protective, but Wells acknowledged he’s been playing hurt the last several games. Guard Rodger Saffold will undergo surgery for a left shoulder injury after the season and Wells isn’t certain whether he’ll need a procedure, too.
“I really don’t want to give anything for a story, just a bad snap,” Wells said. “It’s injured, but I don’t know if I’m going to have anything done.”
The first bad snap cost the Rams a shot at a touchdown at the end of the half that would have cut the deficit to 20-17. Stedman Bailey was open on first-and-goal from the 2 but the timing was blown after Hill had to bat the ball out of the air and then gather it in, and threw it out of the end zone.
With just four seconds to go, the Rams (6-9) settled for a chip-shot field goal.
Daren Bates made a spectacular leap over the line to block a field goal that gave the Rams a glimmer of hope, down by 10 at the two-minute warning. On the next play the hike was so high Hill couldn’t touch it and the Giants recovered, then finished out the game with kneel downs.
“You can’t have stuff happen like that,” Wells said. “It was at a key point in the game and there’s no excuse. I’m owning up to it, that’s on me.”
Wells was a seventh-round draft pick in 2004 by the Packers, who cut him and then re-signed him to the practice squad. He started 47 consecutive games for Green Bay from 2009-11, and parlayed his first Pro Bowl nod in ’11 into a four-year free agent deal with St. Louis.
This is the first of his three seasons with the Rams in which he hasn’t missed significant time due to injury. In 2012, Wells was limited to seven games by a foot injury and missed the last four games last season with a broken left ankle.
Barnes started the last four games last season in place of Wells. He’s played in all but one game this season, but almost exclusively on special teams.
Jones, a multi-decorated offensive lineman at Alabama, has played in seven games on special teams and was among the healthy scratches last week against the Giants.
Notes: The defensive line has two Pro Bowl players, with end Robert Quinn named for the second straight year and rookie tackle Aaron Donald also selected. Quinn is among the league leaders with 10 1-2 sacks, his third straight season in double digits. Donald is the Rams’ first rookie to make the Pro Bowl since running back Jerome Bettis in 1993 and is the team’s first rookie defensive player to be honoured since linebacker Isiah Robertson in 1971. … Offensive tackle Joe Barksdale was kicked out of practice after fighting with practice squad defensive tackle Doug Worthington and flinging down Worthington’s helmet. “Yeah, we had an issue,” Fisher said. “I’ll address it.”