ST. LOUIS (AP) — Losing the top three cornerbacks for the season has forced the St. Louis Rams' defense to be creative.
The Rams are 2-11 this season and ranked 25th in overall defense. A bright spot has been the pass defense, where St. Louis ranks No. 8 overall, allowing 208.8 yards per game headed into Sunday's matchup with Cincinnati.
That might come as a surprise because the secondary has been devastated by injuries this season. On the injured reserve list are cornerbacks Ron Bartell, Bradley Fletcher, Al Harris, Brian Jackson, Marquis Johnson and Jerome Murphy. Other players have had to step up.
"We've still got a job to do," safety Darian Stewart said Friday. "Everyone has to be accountable and play. It's a blessing for me. I'm just having fun and doing what I can. We have to make plays. Injuries are a part of this game."
Defensive coordinator Ken Flajole has had to be flexible with his secondary.
"This league is all about matchups and we spent a lot of time trying to find out if we can get guys in position where we don't get a bad matchup," Flajole said. "Sometimes that's not always doable, but we work on it. I think sometimes it forces you to play maybe more coverages, different types of two-deep coverages that you maybe weren't planning on because you're trying to make sure that you can hold up in the back end."
Stewart, who was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2010, entered the starting lineup midway through the season and has become a playmaker for the Rams. He had 11 tackles Monday night at Seattle and is tied for second on the team with 78 stops. He is tied for the team lead with five tackles for loss.
"I'm cool with all that but I'd rather win," Stewart said. "Victories are the most important numbers."
In the Rams' first victory of the season, against New Orleans, Stewart notched his first interception and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown.
Flajole said Stewart has played several positions this year.
"We've had to move Stewart around a lot. He was a nickel (back) last week. He was will linebacker in sub, he's a strong safety," Flajole said. "And those are the things we're dealing with right now with the injury situation and when guys don't have the ability to be at the same position down after down after down and it's unfamiliar locations, there's always a learning curve there."
Second-year pro Josh Gordy, a cornerback, has caught Flajole's eye. He had four tackles against Seattle, a career-high seven tackles against Dallas and picked off a pass against New Orleans.
"It's been a great opportunity for me," said Gordy, who did not practice Friday with an abdominal injury. "I'm making the best of it. There's more work I can do and improve. I want to make the most of it."
And he has, Flajole said.
"I know Josh is not going to get elected into the Hall of Fame but I would say this, that kid has improved in my opinion more in the last three or four weeks since he's been in it," Flajole said. "I think he gets as much out of his God-given ability as anybody does. And those are things you look for as a coach.
"If guys are getting better, that's what you look for and I think you can hang your hat on it."
Rookie cornerback Chris Smith, who was undrafted out of Northern Illinois, made his debut in the Seattle game and had one tackle. Yet the injuries don't stop. Cornerback Justin King hurt his back in practice Friday.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.