Rams-Big Red: 5 Things To Watch
By Jim Thomas
Post-Dispatch
Sunday, Sep. 18 2005

Defending Kurt

If Kurt Warner gets into a rhythm throwing short and intermediate
passes and the Big Red can establish any kind of running game, Warner will be
tough to beat. The key for the Rams is getting Warner in predictable throwing
situations and forcing him to throw on the move.

"Hopefully, we'll blitz a little bit more," Rams LB Chris Claiborne
said. "Last week we kind of sat back and kind of played vanilla."

If the Rams get to Warner with any frequency, there's a chance they can get a
turnover. In 20 NFL games since the start of Warner's 2002 season with St.
Louis, he has fumbled 20 times. In comparison, Bulger has fumbled 15 times in
36 regular-season games over the same span.


Red-zone woes

If the Rams had enjoyed just an average day in the red zone against San
Francisco, they would have scored 30-plus points. A good day, and they top 40.
Instead they scored 25, or three shy of San Francisco. "For us to be as good as
we are offensively, and have the talent that we have, to get in the red zone
and not capitalize is disheartening," WR Torry Holt said. "So we
have to do a better job at that this week. . . . Coach stressed that we need to
get more focused on our details in the red zone."

Arizona's defense allowed two TDs in three red-zone series last week against
the New York Giants, so there could be opportunities Sunday for the Rams.


Arizona's big three

There may not be a bigger trio of wide receivers in the league than

An
quan Boldin (6 feet 1, 220), Larry Fitzgerald
(6-3, 221) and Bryant Johnson (6-3, 214) of Arizona. That
may be one reason the Rams are considering going with Chris Johnson
(5-11, 198) as their fifth defensive back Sunday instead of
Corey
Ivy
, who's listed at 5-10 on the Rams' roster but is 5-8 at best.

"Boldin does a good job of running his routes, getting up the field and playing
physical," Rams CB DeJuan Groce said. "Fitzgerald's a long strider,
but he's real smooth in and out of his routes. And Johnson is a straight-ahead
guy."


Special-teams follies

As bad as the Rams were on special teams a week ago, the Cardinals were worse.
The Big Red yielded a kickoff return for a TD and a punt return for a score
against the Giants. All told, the Cardinals gave up 312 yards on kickoff and
punt returns in that game.

But Rams special teams coach Bob Ligashesky has his own coverage
issues to deal with in Arizona's Reggie Swinton. Swinton averaged
27.3 yards on six kickoff returns, including a 59-yarder, against the Giants.

"Every week in this league, you're going to face a legitimate return guy,"
Ligashesky said. "We have a saying: It all starts with coverage. They can take
away your returns, but they can't take away your coverage. . . . We've got to
do a better job executing our coverage."


Dansby's a dandy

For the second week in a row, Rams blockers face a good front seven. At
defensive end for Arizona, Bertrand Berry (14 1/2 sacks last year)
lines up over LT Orlando Pace; and former Seattle Seahawk
Chike
Okeafor (8 1/2 sacks) lines up over RT
Blaine
Saipaia
.

The Big Red appear to have an emerging star at strongside linebacker in
second-year man Karlos Dansby. Dansby had a sack and two
interceptions last week against the Giants, returning one of the interceptions
for a touchdown.

"He's a spectacular player," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "I think
he's absolutely going to be one of the premier defensive players in the
league."