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Rams' Michael Brockers feeling better but remaining cautious

The Rams are being cautious with nose tackle Michael Brockers, who is recovering from a shoulder injury. Kirby Lee/Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The life of an NFL nose tackle requires a lot of high-impact collisions from down to down. The reality of playing that position means rarely ever being fully healthy.

At least, that's how St. Louis Rams nose tackle Michael Brockers views his recent shoulder ailment.

"You know, shoulder is banged up," Brockers said. "Life as a nose tackle. Staying in the training room, these guys did a good job of getting me back on the field, so that's all I can do is stay on top of it, don't let it linger and keep grinding. I think that's one of the parts of the NFL and football in general is injuries."

Brockers has dealt with a preseason injury before. He entered the league in 2012 and promptly suffered an ankle injury that cost him the first three games of his rookie season. Since, Brockers has played all 16 games in each of the past two seasons.

After spending the offseason working on hand usage by taking mixed martial arts classes taught by Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer Randy White, Brockers is entering an important season. White offered Brockers tips on how to engage and disengage blockers at the point of attack. But Brockers hasn't quite been able to put those newfound skills to the test.

Brockers began having that shoulder soreness a couple weeks ago and didn't play in the second preseason game against Tennessee. He spent the ensuing practices doing individual drills but not much with the team. He returned to the field Saturday night against the Colts and said he's better.

"Yeah, I'm feeling really good," Brockers said. "It's good to see the defense actually come together, actually make some plays. We haven't the last couple weeks. I think we did a good job today coming together as a unit and seeing what everyone has to offer. Just to see everybody fully healthy was good."

As you might expect, having Brockers back in the lineup certainly helped the Rams improve their struggling run defense. After giving up 5.8 yards per carry to Oakland starting back Latavius Murray in the opener and 7.5 yards per carry to Tennessee starter Bishop Sankey in Week 2, the Rams limited Colts starter Daniel Herron to 2.8 yards per attempt.

While Frank Gore didn't play, the Rams' run defense was much better with Brockers back on the defensive line. Even the tackling was much better.

"[He] did good," coach Jeff Fisher said. "He pushed the pocket, used his hands well. We kept his hands inside and didn't want to get him overextended. He got the strength back, so yeah he played pretty well considering the plays."

With an eye toward the regular season and Seattle on Sept. 13, the Rams are still being cautious with Brockers. He didn't practice Monday and it seems unlikely he'll play in the final preseason game or, if he does, play many snaps. The Rams didn't release any of their defensive linemen among 12 roster moves Monday though they still have two subtractions to make. Which could indicate the young linemen on the roster will get a lot of work against Kansas City in the preseason finale.

"Getting out there before game 4 of the preseason, that's a big one for the younger guys so they can put stuff on film for all 32 teams, so this is pretty much may be our last time getting some good reps before the bullets are really flying, and we are going against the champs of our division and they went to the Super Bowl twice," Brockers said. "We've got to get this thing rolling, I think that's the most important part."