Linehan wants Rams to work on finishing strong
Coach believes team fell short in that area last season
BY STEVE KORTE
After being outscored 147-40 in the fourth quarter last season, St. Louis Rams coach Scott Linehan stressed finishing strong during the team's three-day minicamp this weekend.
"Our biggest thing is that we want to finish off plays," Linehan said. "You can play well for stretches, but you have to finish the deal or finish the drive or play well in the fourth quarter, which last year was a big area that we did not do well in.
'I think the idea that it is a four-quarter game, so from the start of practice to the end of practice, we have to get better. That was one of the biggest parts of the weekend and will continue to be throughout the offseason and into training camp."
The Rams closed out what will be their only minicamp Sunday afternoon.
All of the Rams' players were present for the final practice except backup center Dustin Fry, who was excused from the minicamp so he could get married.
Backup safety Todd Johnson, who missed the first two days of the minicamp because of a commitment to a charity event, joined the team Sunday.
"We accomplished exactly what we wanted to accomplish having everybody here," Linehan said. "We had a few that were not able to participate but it was great to have everybody here. Hopefully, it will set the tone for what we want to accomplish next year."
Veteran players will continue with Organized Team Activities, which are essentially light practices, for the next month.
Rookies will join OTA's in another week.
"We're are going to work on a lot of things we wouldn't generally work with the younger players as far as continuing to add and install some of the situational offense," Linehan said of what the team will focus on next week with only the veterans around. "We will work our red-zone and some two-minute (drill) and some things like that."
Battle looming at linebacker
Chris Draft got most of the work at strong-side linebacker with the Rams' starting defense this weekend, but Linehan said Draft and Quinton Culberson will battle for a starting job in training camp.-
"It's going to be a good battle, and it will be one to keep an eye on," Linehan said. "Either way I feel great about the fact that we have two guys who we feel really comfortable with."
Draft has the edge in terms of experience having played nine seasons in the NFL. Culberson stood out in the Rams' 2007 season finale against Arizona when he had a team-high 14 tackles in his first NFL start.
"Chris has the experience and the versatility to play all three positions, and now he is in the position where he can get back into a starting role, which I know he likes," Linehan said. "The thing about Quinton is that he gets around the ball a whole lot. He had one start for us last year in the last game of the year, and I think he led the defense in tackles that day. That is hard to do in the NFL."
Receiver catches attention
One of the players who stood out during minicamp was wide receiver Reche Caldwell, a free agent from the Washington Redskins.
Caldwell showed good hands and a good knowledge of the Rams' new offense.
"You can see that he has background with the system that we are running now, playing for (offensive coordinator) Al (Saunders) last year," Linehan said of Caldwell. "He has done a nice job."
Linehan said Caldwell, who caught only 15 passes for the Redskins last year after catching 61 passes for the New England Patriots in 2006, is capable of playing either receiver spot in Saunders' offense.
"There are going to be times when we spell a receiver, or we put a guy in for a play here and there, or you go in with three wide (receivers) and sometimes you are going to move the other receivers around and you have to know basically two or three positions," Linehan said. "His background in the offense is really going to help him."
Re: Linehan wants Rams to work on finishing strong
I don't know??? I'm just not high on Caldwell. He had his best year while he played for the Patriots. That Patriots team didn't have a number one or a number two receiver. Therefore Caldwell saw alot of action as the number one I guess? Sorry, I'm sellin' this!