St. Louis — Preseason state bragging rights will be on the line tonight in the annual Governor's Cup game between the St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs.
In other words, forget the trophy. Both teams just want to avoid injuries heading into the games that count.
"Unfortunately, we've lost some guys along the way and that's the biggest disappointment in it all," Rams offensive tackle Kyle Turley said. "Necessary evil? Personally, I don't think so.
"I don't think we should be playing this much in the preseason for reasons like this."
The Rams (1-2) will be playing their third game in a span of 11 days and the only fresh body will be All-Pro offensive tackle Orlando Pace, who ended his summer-long holdout Tuesday. Seven Rams have undergone surgery since the beginning of training camp July 24, including the top two free safeties and a rookie who had won the No. 3 receiving job.
Safety Kim Herring (forearm) and wideout and third-round pick Kevin Curtis both were injured in Saturday's loss at Buffalo. Curtis has a broken leg and will be out four to six weeks, while Herring will be sidelined an estimated two months.
Herring joins Jason Sehorn, who broke his foot early in camp, on the sidelines.
The Chiefs are a bit shorthanded too, losing tight end Tony Gonzalez to a knee injury Tuesday in practice when he was hit while reaching for a pass. But the injury, a tiny tear of the medial collateral ligament, will heal itself, and he should be available for the Sept. 7 opener against the Chargers.
"We're very pleased that it isn't serious, and that he feels pretty good this morning," coach Dick Vermeil said. "The trainers felt very good about how the knee responded overnight."
Quarterback Trent Green will probably play one series after working two series last week. But Vermeil said running back Priest Holmes wouldn't play at all to avoid the risk of injury.
"I just think he's done enough, and he's ready to go," Vermeil said. "I don't want to expose him to one bad snap that gets him hurt."
Vermeil said the rest of the starters likely would play the first quarter.
Then again, there aren't as many backups as there were earlier in training camp due to roster cutdown dates. So, someone has to play.
"They could have at least gotten rid of one of these games, especially now because they've made a lot of cuts and you don't have a lot of backups," Rams offensive guard Adam Timmerman said. "We're going to play a lot more in this game."
The prize, the Governor's Cup, is not one that quickens the pulse. Many Rams players have never heard of the trophy.
Likewise, no one is that concerned that the Chiefs have it after winning 23-16 last year in Kansas City.
"Our order of priority is the snap you play, you play better than last week," Vermeil said "If you play 15 snaps, you play all 15 of them better than you played last week, then let someone else play.
Vermeil, who led the Rams to a Super Bowl victory in 2000, remains nostalgic about his days in St. Louis. This is his third year with the Chiefs and he won it all in his third year with the Rams.
"There are eight or nine players left on the roster and there's a ton of people in the organization who are still there," Vermeil said. "We shared some real lows and we shared some unbelievable highs.
"I'm eager to say hello to as many of them as I can."