Rams get preseason win over Browns
BY JIM THOMAS Posted: Sunday, August 22, 2010 12:10 am

CLEVELAND Quarterback A.J. Feeley and the first-team offense made it look easy - very easy - on the opening drive Saturday night in Cleveland.

But moving the football was a big-time struggle the rest of the night for St. Louis, particularly for No. 1 overall draft pick Sam Bradford. Aided by a couple of Cleveland turnovers, the Rams jumped to a 13-0 first-quarter lead but then needed a couple of late field goals by Josh Brown to rally for a 19-17 exhibition victory.

Bolstered by the preseason debut of Steven Jackson in the backfield, Feeley was sharp before leaving with thumb and elbow injuries on his throwing arm after the first series. Feeley completed five of six passes for 45 yards, including a 9-yard TD pass to tight end Daniel Fells.

"On the first drive, I liked the tempo," Feeley said. "I wanted to finish the first quarter, but with the injury, I couldn't. I think we're getting better, which is what you want to do in the preseason. We hope to build on that and continue to improve."

Feeley was injured on the fifth play of the drive, on a play in which he was hit by inside linebacker Chris Gocong. Nonetheless, Feeley completed a 7-yard pass to Danny Amendola on the play, converting a third-and-2 situation in the process. Feeley finished the drive before giving way to Bradford.

X-rays of the elbow and the arm were negative, but both areas were wrapped after the game when Feeley spoke to reporters.

"A guy came through free in the middle," Feeley said. "I just took a helmet in the elbow as I was extending to throw the football."

Even though the Rams have a quick turnaround - they play their third preseason game Thursday at New England - Feeley sounded optimistic about his chances of playing.

"There's a little soreness, but I'm good," Feeley said. "Get a little treatment and should be ready to go by next week. Definitely."

Once Feeley left the game, the Rams got nothing generated offensively for the rest of the half, and much of the second. In six series before halftime with Bradford at quarterback, the Rams managed only one first down. And that came as a result of a pass interference penalty against Browns cornerback Eric Wright on third and 8. All told, the Rams gained 28 yards on 20 plays the rest of the half with Bradford at QB.

Bradford completed six of 12 passes in the opening half for 24 yards. Although hurried occasionally, at least he wasn't sacked and was hit only once as the pass protection showed major improvement from a week ago.

Bradford's first pass, intended for Donnie Avery, was almost intercepted by Wright. Playing in a steady rain at the outset, Bradford threw a couple of wobblers. One came on a fade pattern to Laurent Robinson in the end zone that was knocked away by Sheldon Brown. Later in the quarter, Bradford threw another floater to tight end Fendi Onobun in the end zone. That one was close to being a pass interference call on safety T.J. Ward, but was ruled incomplete.

The Rams had great field position on both of those drives thanks to takeaways. New Rams defensive tackle Fred Robbins fell on a botched center exchange by Cleveland quarterback Jake Delhomme on the Browns' 23. That led to the first of Brown's two field goals in the opening quarter.

Later in the opening quarter, Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs fumbled on a punt return. Larry Grant forced the fumble for St. Louis, with long snapper Chris Massey recovering on the Cleveland 21. That set up the next Brown field goal, giving the Rams a 13-0 lead with 1:35 left in the first quarter.

It was more of the same for Bradford to open the second half. The Rams went three-and-out, with Bradford's first-down pass getting deflected off target. After a 2-yard run by Kenneth Darby, Bradford threw incomplete to rookie Mardy Gilyard on third down. That made it a six-for-14 passing night for Bradford, who then gave way to Keith Null.

Although he came close to connecting on a couple of TDs and had a couple passes dropped, Bradford wasn't pleased.

"It's not good enough in this league to be in the right place," Bradford said. "You've got to be able to get completions, and that's something I have to get better at."

Null didn't fare much better, at least not initially. But he did finally give the Rams their first first down since the opening quarter when he completed a 25-yard pass to rookie tight end Michael Hoomanawaui early in the fourth quarter. That set up another Brown field goal, narrowing Cleveland's lead to 17-16. Next came Brown's fourth field goal of the night, with 3:33 to play, which provided the winning points for St. Louis.