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Rams, Bucs No Strangers to Monday Night
By Nick Wagoner
In a season that thus far has seemed to reunite the Rams with former players and coaches, there has also been a rekindling of many popular rivalries. Aside from the usual division rivals, St. Louis has played former division rivals Atlanta and New Orleans.
Now, the Rams are set to square off against another of their (former) rivals. Tampa Bay cruises into town for Monday Night Football at the Edward Jones Dome. This game might not have the history of the rivalry with San Francisco or the pure angst of the New Orleans’ battles, but it certainly has enough ingredients to make it a big game for both sides.
St. Louis is riding an emotional high after an astonishing comeback against Seattle on Sunday. That win improved the Rams to 3-2 and put them in a good position to make it to the bye week with a three-game winning streak.
Rams’ coach Mike Martz said the team can’t let an emotional win affect it any more than it could if the comeback had happened to the Rams.
“It goes both ways,” Martz said. “This thing you put to bed, it’s over with,” Martz said. “We’re moving on. (It’s) just like a heartbreaking loss, you have got to really focus on this week, otherwise you won’t be at your best.”
Tampa Bay is coming off its first win of the season, beating New Orleans on Sunday to go to 1-4 on the year.
The Buccaneers and Rams don’t have a long history, but in recent years, it has been a matchup of two elite teams usually squaring off in an important game.
St. Louis holds the overall edge, with an 8-6 record against Tampa Bay, but the Buccaneers have won the past four regular season meetings. Despite all of that, the Rams won the teams’ biggest matchup in 1999. That game was for the NFC Championship and St. Louis prevailed 11-6 on receiver Ricky Proehl’s late touchdown catch. This is the fourth game between the teams on Monday Night Football since 2000.
Martz said he loves games like this.
“This is kind of why you coach and why you play, for games like this,” Martz said. “It’s good for the National Football League; I look forward to it.”
INJURY REPORT: Cornerback Travis Fisher and defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy are one step closer to making their return from injury. Fisher broke his forearm against Kansas City in the second preseason game on Aug. 23 and Kennedy broke his foot on Aug. 8.
Both players began practicing again Thursday after spending the past few weeks starting to run again. Martz said they will be limited in activities and kept from contact, but will participate in some drills. Fisher and Kennedy are listed as out for the Tampa Bay game.
Defensive end Tyoka Jackson, who injured his hamstring against Seattle on Sunday, is listed as doubtful, but could play Monday.
Guard Chris Dishman (knee) linebacker Trev Faulk (hamstring), and G Darnell Alford (knee) are listed as questionable
The probables are quarterback Marc Bulger (shoulder), fullback Joey Goodspeed (heel), safety Adam Archuleta (back), cornerback DeJuan Groce (shoulder) and safety Aeneas Williams (neck).
Rich Coady has replaced Archuleta in each of the past two weeks. Groce returned from a knee injury against Seattle and played well, but injured the shoulder on receiver Shaun McDonald’s fourth quarter punt return.
SPECIAL TEAMS SPECIAL: The Rams’ special teams unit has improved in most every area since the beginning of the season. Faulk’s return to healthy and the continuity that the group is developing has been the main reason for the renaissance, according to Martz.
“We are getting the same guys involved in special teams,” Martz said. “We have been able to kind of zero in and keep guys in the same position. All of the injuries to the secondary and linebackers, that was hard. Those are the guys that really are the center point of your special teams.”
Faulk has eight special teams’ tackles to tie with receiver Mike Furrey for the team lead. Defensive end Erik Flowers earned the team’s Special Teams Player of the Week honor this week for his performance against Seattle.
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