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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    First-string players will gain much playing time

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    08/24/2007

    Very much a traditionalist in terms of the preseason, Rams coach Scott Linehan is treating exhibition game No. 3 tonight in Oakland, Calif., as the big dress rehearsal for the regular season.

    For the most part, Rams starters will play the entire first half, and perhaps even into the third quarter. With many of the starters expected to sit out next week's exhibition finale against Kansas City, this will be the last chance to polish up for the real games. Based on what transpired last week against San Diego, there is plenty that needs polishing.

    For one, the starting offense has yet to score a touchdown in the preseason. For another, the coverage units on special teams sprang some major leaks against the Chargers. And lastly, the defense has yet to come up with a turnover in exhibition play, while also missing some tackles on run defense.

    Linehan has grown weary of being asked about the offense, or lack thereof, this preseason.

    "Last year, you (reporters) were all on my case about our red-zone offense, and that we weren't ever going to score a touchdown in the whole season," Linehan said.

    After a slow start, the Rams finished sixth in the NFL in total offense, and were among the league leaders in red-zone offense.

    The Rams' first-team offense, even with very little playing time for feature back Steven Jackson, has moved the ball fairly well this preseason. Only one of five possessions by the starting offense has resulted in a three-and-out series.

    On the other four series, the Rams advanced the ball into enemy territory each time. But three of those drives were scuttled by turnovers.

    There is no panic, quarterback Marc Bulger said. "But it is frustrating. You work really hard for this long, and you're not showing the fans and everyone what you're capable of.

    "But I think when the time's right, we'll start scoring, and hopefully it starts (against Oakland)."

    On special teams, the Rams followed a very good night for the coverage units in Minnesota with subpar work against San Diego. The worst moment was the 81-yard punt return for a touchdown by Darren Sproles.

    Part of the problem on that play, Linehan said, was that the Rams got out of their coverage lanes. But he also said several players slowed or even stopped on contact — bad habits left from the 2006 season.

    As a result, the middle of the field was wide open for Sproles; safety Oshiomogho "O.J." Atogwe seemed to be the only Rams player with even a decent chance to make the tackle.

    "The guy (Sproles) had probably a little bit more room than you'd like once he had the ball in his hands," Linehan said. "So we have to get off blocks, break down, and get the guy on the ground. We don't necessarily try to hit a moving target like that with one punch; you're going to have to try to get more guys around the returner than that."

    As for the defense, its overall play hasn't been bad this preseason. In fact, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's unit allowed an average of only 236.5 yards per game against Minnesota and San Diego. But a unit that prided itself on takeaways a year ago has yet to produce a turnover.

    "We haven't even come close right now to getting one in these first two games," Haslett said. "Guys are trying to get the ball out. ... We just haven't gotten any. So that's one area we've got to work. We've got to keep working on the tackling and the little things. But I'm encouraged. I like what I see so far."


  2. #2
    AtlantaRamFan's Avatar
    AtlantaRamFan is offline Registered User
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    Re: First-string players will gain much playing time

    Ok wait, when Leonard got his first TD I thought that was with the 1st stringers...maybe not, someone help me out. Doesn't that pass that the LB dropped count as close to a turnover?

  3. #3
    renrawtruk is offline Registered User
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    Re: First-string players will gain much playing time

    The Rams' first-team offense, even with very little playing time for feature back Steven Jackson, has moved the ball fairly well this preseason. Only one of five possessions by the starting offense has resulted in a three-and-out series.
    It definitely seemed that the first unit, aside from the deep in to Bruce, were very "dink and dunk" vs. the Chargers. Just a little concerned about our offensive philosophy this year as I can't stand to watch west coast offense type teams. Just too boring.

    I know that we are trying to become more of a ball controlled offense, and go to the tight ends more, but I really hope we don't become a team that intentionally get's into a lot of 3rd down situations because of the play calling. Great to know we can do it that way if needed, but would prefer to see more plays designed to get yards after the catch, or are intended to go 8-15 yards, not 3-6 yards.

    I'm sure this is where the vanilla game plan comes in, but I've seen a lot of teams in preseason tossing the rock out there, so would think if that is our plan during the year, we should practice it in preseason. I guess we'll see tonight.

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