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Coach thinks pluses outweighed minuses
Rams encouraged by first game
BY STEVE KORTE
ST. LOUIS - After reviewing the game tape, first-year St. Louis Rams coach Scott Linehan said he was "very encouraged" by the team's 19-17 preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts.
To the credit of the Rams' players and coaches, it was an unusually clean game for a preseason opener.
The Rams had only four penalties for 30 yards in the game. They didn't have to burn any timeouts because of communication problems and they only committed one turnover.
"I think the operation of the game was very clean and efficient in all three phases for the most part," Linehan said. "I was very happy about our discipline and our lack of penalties, which you normally see in the preseason.
"I'm very encouraged. All those things you can build on, and I know you hear that a lot, but we have to use every one of these games as opportunities to get ready for the opener. I think we really came out and focused on the things that we highlighted and said were important in our first game."
Some other bright spots for the Rams included:
• Rushing for 202 yards on 40 carries.
• Allowing the Colts only 38 rushing yards on 16 carries.
• Sacking Colts quarterbacks five times, including three sacks from undrafted rookie Matthew Rice out of Penn State.
There also were areas of disappointment for the Rams, such as the way they got caught napping on an onside kick on the opening kickoff and the way that quarterback Peyton Manning and the Colts' starting offense briskly marched down the field on their opening drive.
Adam Vinatieri kicked the ball with enough top spin for it to carry 11 yards to the Indianapolis 41, where defensive back Von Hutchins fell on it.
"It was very well-executed kick," Linehan said. "That kick happened to go 10 1/2 yards. Sometimes it goes a little deeper and you get a hand on it or it doesn't go 10 yards. You saw that arguably the best kicker in football can put it anywhere he wants to. It was a pretty good lesson to be learned right out of the chute."
It took Manning and Co. only 2 minutes, 17 seconds to go 59 yards and take a 7-0 lead.
"Arguably the best quarterback in the league hit a nice throw down the sideline and converted a couple of third downs," Linehan said of the ease of the Colts' first scoring drive.
Linehan said free safety O.J. Atogwe, not cornerback Fahkir Brown, was slightly out of position on a 31-yard pass from Manning to Reggie Wayne on the fourth play of the game.
Linehan said the Rams were playing their Cover-2 defense at the time, so Atogwe was responsible for picking up Wayne down field.
"They ran play-action with a little bit of a disguise, and that got O.J. out of position," Linehan said. ""It was a heck of a throw and a catch. I don't think any other quarterback in the NFL makes that throw as well, and we're not as exposed."
Linehan said he watched the play about 50 times on tape on Friday morning trying to determine whether he should have challenged whether Wayne kept both feet in bounds.
"It looked like he got both feet in there," Linehan said. "I am convinced that it would never have been overturned. The replay wasn't conclusive, and we got the replay right as they were snapping the ball."
Linehan also would have liked for the Rams to convert on more than just two of their five trips into the red zone.
Two of those failed red zone opportunities were missed field goals -- a 48-yarder and a 37-yarder -- by first-year kicker Remy Hamilton.
Linehan said the Rams are trying to rest veteran kicker Jeff Wilkins in the team's first couple of preseason games to ensure he has a fresh leg when the regular season starts.
"He's at a point in his career where he needs to wait to really start getting it going until the third or fourth preseason game," Linehan said of Wilkins.
Re: Coach thinks pluses outweighed minusesTwo of those failed red zone opportunities were missed field goals -- a 48-yarder and a 37-yarder -- by first-year kicker Remy Hamilton.
Linehan also would have liked for the Rams to convert on more than just two of their five trips into the red zone.JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS
"HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"Adm. William "Bull" Halsey
Re: Coach thinks pluses outweighed minusesOriginally Posted by RAMMAN68ClanRam ModCast: Episode Two
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