Rams Draw Inspiration From Bruce
Rams Draw Inspiration from Bruce
By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer
If there was any lingering need for the Rams to find inspiration to get a win against Carolina on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome, legendary Rams wideout Isaac Bruce provided more than enough to help spur his franchise to a bounce back win.
Bruce, who has always taken ownership of his place in the Rams’ organization, spoke to the team after its Saturday morning walk through and delivered a poignant message that the team clearly took to heart in Sunday’s convincing 20-10 win against the Panthers.
“He really talked to us about having pride or having belief in the organization, having a love for the organization where it’s just not a moment you are passing through but a moment you want to help build and help leave it better than what it was,” safety Oshiomogho Atogwe said. “He just gave us some history of the Rams organization and what it meant to him and how he worked to uplift it and uplift his teammates. That’s something I took to heart and something I believe the rest of the guys took to heart uplifting the organization and uplifting your teammates.”
There were plenty of uplifting moments to come out of the Edward Jones Dome on this feel-good Sunday. But perhaps none more so than the half hour or so before the game actually started.
There, Bruce’s No. 80 jersey was raised to the rafters, never to be worn by a Ram again. In a pre-game ceremony, former Rams coach Mike Martz introduced Bruce and shared the message that Bruce shared his entire career, albeit through actions and not words.
“Winning has always been more important to Isaac Bruce than anything else,” Martz said. “He set the standard around here. He set the standard for how his position and how this game should be played.”
Bruce’s message from Saturday morning was re-iterated to the team on Saturday night by coach Steve Spagnuolo.
“In the special way that Isaac does it, it’s not really loud but his words speak volumes,” Spagnuolo said. “What I remember most is him reminding the team to always encourage each other. He said other things too and I’ll leave that between him and the team. I repeated that Saturday night because I thought it was great.”
Bruce was introduced by Rams play-by-play man Steve Savard and joined on the field by about two dozen former teammates including Torry Holt, Orlando Pace, Rickey Proehl, Ernie Conwell, Adam Timmerman, Andy McCollum, Tom Nutten, Dane Looker and Leonard Little. Martz and fellow former coach Dick Vermeil also made an appearance.
Bruce then came out to the thunderous and familiar chorus of ‘Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuce’ before delivering a short speech and thanking the fans.
Clearly, the Rams drew at least some inspiration from Bruce’s words and all he had done for the organization.
“Isaac, whenever he’s mentioned or whenever he’s around and just even maybe if you have a glimpse of Isaac, you can just see that he is someone that is a high character guy that’s very soft-spoken, but his actions and his words mean a lot when he decides to speak,” running back Steven Jackson said. “So for him to have a tribute and to have the turnout and the crowd and have all the special segments throughout the game, I think it was very appropriate. He means so much to this organization.”
JACKSON’S DAY: To almost nobody’s surprise, Jackson played through a broken finger and took on a full workload against the Panthers.
“Because I’ve had a year and eight games with Steven, I expect anything,” Spagnuolo said. “He finds a way to go out there and play. He’s a warrior and he battles. We all kind of figured he’d do that today but it’s not an easy thing to do when you’ve got pins in your finger but he did it.”
With the Panthers loading up to stop him, Jackson finished with just 59 yards on 23 carries but he kept Carolina honest and was able to help open some things up in the passing game for rookie quarterback Sam Bradford.
Jackson said he made it through the game fine and had the finger wrapped with ice after the game.
“It was no concern,” Jackson said. “It was a little bit of discomfort. I had to be very conscious of it at times, especially in the pile. I thought they would rake at the ball a little bit more than they did. I kind of got away with one this game, but business as usual.”
FOSTER FILLS IN: Right tackle Jason Smith suffered a concussion Thursday in practice and was replaced in the starting lineup by Renardo Foster, who had never started a game for the Rams.
Foster had some hiccups early but battled through it and by all accounts, handled himself well in Smith’s stead as Bradford was sacked just twice in the game.
“It’s hard for me to tell (how well he did),” Spagnuolo said. “But my guess is he probably did an admirable job. I did ask Adam in there how he was right in front of Renardo and he gave me the thumbs up so that’s a good thing.”
INJURY REPORT: Despite being without Smith, Danario Alexander, Justin King, Darian Stewart, Fendi Onobun and Darell Scott because of injuries, the Rams found ways to fight through the game despite some bumps and bruises along the way.
End James Hall suffered a broken hand but finished the game and is expected to be OK by the time the team returns from the bye week.
Fullback Mike Karney was poked in the eye but returned as did tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, who bruised ribs early in the game.
Safety James Butler was a surprise on the active list after a knee injury last week. He got better during the week and even registered an interception though he suffered an ankle injury during the contest.
“As the week progressed he got better and better,” Spagnuolo said. “(Head Athletic Trainer) Reggie Scott did a great job with him and the whole training staff. He’s a tough kid, he wants to be in there and play.”
Spagnuolo also offered an update on Alexander, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee on Friday.
“He didn’t come over here today because there was no point in him hobbling around,” Spagnuolo said. “I do know the surgery went well. And Dr. (Matt) Matava said the surgeries he had looked good. He has to feel good about that. Hopefully he’ll bounce back from this. We’ll see how long it takes.”