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Rams safety Atogwe may miss rest of season

ST. LOUIS -- Safety O.J. Atogwe, one of the St. Louis Rams' top playmakers on defense, could miss the rest of the season with a dislocated right shoulder that likely will eventually require surgery.

Atogwe hasn't ruled out finishing the year while wearing a harness. He said Monday that he planned to speak with his agent and get other medical opinions, while also waiting for swelling to subside.

Coach Steve Spagnuolo described the injury sustained in Sunday's loss at Chicago as significant, with a torn labrum and cartilage damage.

"We don't have all the facts for that one just yet, but it is a pretty good injury," Spagnuolo said.

A perhaps hopeful sign: medical personnel were able to pop the shoulder back into place during the game.

"We've still got a lot of discussions to be had," Atogwe said. "No decisions have been made about it just yet."

The other significant injury for the Rams (1-11) involves rookie offensive tackle Jason Smith, who on Monday failed what is believed to be his third baseline test for concussion-related symptoms. Smith was briefly hospitalized after becoming ill during last week's loss at home to the Seahawks and Spagnuolo said latest test results were lower than Smith's original exam.

Smith was scheduled to see an independent consultant as dictated by new NFL guidelines.

"A lot of concern," Spagnuolo said. "A hard one to figure out. They can all of a sudden be OK."

Atogwe is second on the team with 84 tackles. He leads the team with two fumble recoveries, is tied for the team lead with two forced fumbles and has two interceptions. He had a forced fumble and a fumble recovery on the same play against the Bears when he stripped running back Matt Forte in the opening minute.

"He does a great job for us and I love the guy," Spagnuolo said. "He brings a lot of energy."

Atogwe was injured tackling Forte on the last play of the first half when Forte's helmet caught him flush in the shoulder. Craig Dahl, who started three games earlier in the season while strong safety James Butler was hurt, would replace Atogwe.

"It was just one of those freak hits," Atogwe said. "It was perfect placement, I guess you'd say."

Atogwe led the NFL with eight interceptions in 2007 and is finishing a one-year contract after being designated the team's franchise player. He said his contract status will not affect the decision whether to try to keep playing.

"In this game, in this life, you're not promised tomorrow," Atogwe said. "I don't want to take it for granted, the moments I do have."

Quarterback Marc Bulger (fractured shinbone) has been scheduled for an MRI exam on Friday to assess healing after missing his second start. Bulger is still on crutches.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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