Missing even one practice or one game was something of a foreign concept to Rams center
So when it was determined he’d suffered a broken foot in the season opener against Detroit and that he’d have to miss an extended period, he really didn’t know what to do with himself.
“It’s frustrating, especially doing this as long as I have and not really having any setbacks like that to face,” Wells said. “I think the most consecutive games I’ve missed is maybe two. So to come back from the knee, go out there the first game and break my foot is definitely frustrating. But at the same time I have been trying to stay engaged mentally so when it’s time to come back I am ready.”
If things continue to progress for Wells, that time could be coming in the not-so-distant future. Wells returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since the injury and so began the three-week clock before the Rams must make a decision on his future for the 2012 season.
Placed on the injured reserve list with the special designation that he could return to practice six weeks later and to games eight weeks later, a specific time for Wells’ return is uncertain.
But under the rules of that new designation, coach Jeff Fisher said once the “clock starts” and Wells returns to practice, the Rams then have a three-week window to make a decision on whether Wells is placed back on the active roster or goes on injured reserve, ending his season permanently.
Technically, Wells could return to play in a game at any time since it's been eight weeks already.
The clock began ticking on Wednesday but there were no signs of any immediate urgency to rush Wells into taking on more than he might be able to handle. For now, he’s focused on slowly but surely working his way back into the mix.
“I’m standing here,” Wells said. “I feel all right. This is all part of the evaluation getting back out there, moving around, increasing the workload and seeing how the body responds. It’s all up to (the coaches and training staff). I just go out there and do what is asked of me each day and try to get better each day and then be ready for whenever they say it’s time.”
On the official injury report, Wells practiced on a limited basis Wednesday. Considering that he hadn’t played football at all since the season opener in September, he said it was good just to return to the field.
“It feels good to get back out there,” Wells said. “It was a long time. It’s the longest I have ever had to wait and sit out so it was exciting to be able to go out there and take a step in the right direction.”
Looking back at when the injury occurred, Wells said there was nothing specific that caused it and nobody stepped on his foot. Instead, it was just a matter of bad luck. When the injury happened early in the second quarter, Wells was able to finish the half.
But when Wells went to the locker room and told the athletic training staff that something was awry, they took a look at it and found a fracture. Upon return to St. Louis, Wells found himself in a cast and on crutches with orders not to bear weight on the foot.
Since, Wells has done all he can to stay involved so there won’t be a learning curve if and when the time for his return comes.
“I was mainly trying to stay mentally engaged and in tune,” Wells said. “I’ve been in all of the meetings. I’ve been rehabbing really heavily with a few of the trainers here. So I’m really just trying to make sure that I’m on the up and up so that when my time comes to come back that I’m ready.”
Wells also attended all of the Rams home games though he was forced to watch from seats up until he discarded his walking boot before the Green Bay game. Having to avoid activity and being unable to play with his six kids because he couldn’t put weight on his foot made Wells’ recovery even more difficult to swallow.
Watching his new team play nearly half a season without him was the hardest part of all.
“I told my wife several times my makeup is not to watch,” Wells said. “I have to participate. And it’s hard. It’s hard to sit back and watch. I have been chomping at the bit to tell my body to get ready to get back out there.”
There’s no telling when Wells will be back in the mix but when the time comes, Fisher said he expects his prized free agent center to step back in the role he vacated when he suffered the injury.
“That he would step in and be our starter,” Fisher said. “He was the guy we brought in here to take over and control everything up front.”
ROSTER MOVE: The Rams made a roster move Wednesday morning, replacing safety Matt Daniels on the active roster with cornerback
Daniels, of course, suffered a season-ending ACL tear against New England before the bye and was placed on injured reserve soon after the team returned from London.
With the bye week to consider their options, the Rams decided to promote in-house, bringing Pointer up from the practice squad.
Pointer started the season on the active roster after surprising some by making the team out of training camp.
The undrafted free agent out of UNLV will be asked to fill in Daniels’ role on various special teams and serve as extra depth in the secondary.
“He knows what we’re doing,” Fisher said. “He’s a fine special teams player. He fits in well. He’ll step in and can take over in everything Matt was doing for us.”
To replace Pointer on the practice squad, the Rams signed a familiar name, even if it’s not a familiar face. Receiver Saalim Hakim, the younger brother of former Rams wideout Az-Zahir Hakim, was added to the practice squad.
The 5’11, 188-pound speedster spent time in camp with Dallas after playing collegiately at Palomar Junior College in California.
INJURY REPORT: While Wells was officially listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s workout and was joined in that designation by tackle