Defense did well vs. *****' running game
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Saturday, Sep. 17 2005

The best thing about the Rams' defensive effort last week in San Francisco was
their work against the run.

No one will confuse Kevan Barlow for Jim Brown. But the Rams did shut Barlow
down, limiting him to 22 yards on 14 carries. All told, the ***** had only 34
yards rushing on 21 carries for a 1.6-yard average.

Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett was impressive, frequently taking advantage of
one-on-one blocking situations. Middle linebacker Chris Claiborne also was
active against the run, looking like a good investment after signing a
three-year, $10.5 million free-agent contract in the offseason.

"We're playing good on the run," Claiborne said. "That's important, but the
thing is being consistent. We've got to do that week in and week out."

This week's opponent, Arizona, didn't get much done on the ground in its opener
against the New York Giants, rushing for 31 yards on 21 carries. But the
Cardinals' running tandem of rookie J.J. Arrington and underrated veteran
Marcel Shipp should not be taken lightly.

"Arrington's a very fast guy," Claiborne said. "And you can't forget about
Shipp. He runs very, very hard. A slasher type."

Claiborne and Dexter Coakley, the Rams' other linebacker picked up in free
agency, were on the field for only 21 defensive plays unofficially in San
Francisco, in part because the ***** ran only 41 offensive plays. But San
Francisco also employed more three- and four-wide receiver sets than
anticipated.

"Yeah, and we hate that," Claiborne said. "I absolutely hate it. I think that's
the way for people to be able to run the ball - not having us in there at
times."

Claiborne and Coakley both come off the field in the Rams' nickel and dime
defenses.


Heat alert: Drink plenty of water

The temperature is expected to approach triple digits Sunday in Sun Devil
Stadium. Many Rams players spent the week drinking extra water in preparation
for the heat.

Tight end Roland Williams had two bottles of water at his locker stall
Wednesday, which he said is his normal lunch-time quota. "But this is like my
fifth bottle of Aquafina this morning," he said. Claiborne had his own ideas
about beating the heat in Tempe.

"Stay hydrated, and if you kick their butt early, then you don't have to worry
about it late," he said.


Too bad it wasn't a night game

Free safety Michael Hawthorne appeared to be in perfect position to make an
interception, or at least knock down the ball, on Tim Rattay's end-zone pass to
Brandon Lloyd in the second quarter of last week's game in San Francisco.
Instead, Lloyd somehow came down with the ball in the end zone for a 35-yard
touchdown - the *****' first score of the game.

Guess what happened?

"I lost the ball in the sun," Hawthorne said. "Those things happen. You live,
you learn. You never would know about it if it never happened. I don't know if
you kind of shade the ball. I don't know, because we can't wear tinted visors
in the league to protect the eyes."