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  1. #1
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    Rams Inside Slant

    Rams Inside Slant

    Last season, the Rams' defense was one of the worst in the NFL with 15 takeaways. The year before the Rams led the NFL with 46 takeaways. There was an omen for what happened last season when they had just one takeaway in four preseason games.
    That changed in the preseason opener against the Bears, when the defense had three takeaways. The stage was set on the first play from scrimmage when new linebacker Chris Claiborne batted down a pass from quarterback Rex Grossman.

    In the first quarter, the Bears gained just 25 yards and had one first down.

    "I felt like during this game the defense was ahead of us," coach Mike Martz said. "I was excited and anxious to see them play. Twenty-five yards and one first down, that's pretty dramatic. I'm very pleased with that defense. I think the (new) linebackers made a significant difference."

    But Martz still had some words of caution. "We've played one quarter of football with the '1s,'" he said. "I mean, what can you say? But I'm happy with it. Who knows where it's going to go from here, but it's a good start. That's it."

    Said second-year defensive end Anthony Hargrove, "We're trying to come out this year and show that we've improved on defense. And as you can see, the first half we were real stout. And then our defense was in position to win the game for us (at the end), and that's what they did."

    Noting the turnovers, linebacker Dexter Coakley said, "Defensively we went out there and swarmed the ball. The first unit got out there pretty good (and) the second unit came in and played pretty solid. There's some things to clean up. It was a good first start."

    "There's been a lot more stressing of takeaways, just because our turnover ratio was low last year," cornerback DeJuan Groce said. "We've just been working on it in practice."

    Groce started at cornerback with Jerametrius Butler out with a knee injury, while rookies safeties Jerome Carter and Oshiomogho Atogwe also started. Carter has been a starter since camp opened at strong safety. Atogwe started because Adam Archuleta was held out since he is recovering from a back injury. Archuleta is expected to play this week against San Diego.

    Groce recovered a fumble, Atogwe intercepted the final pass of the game and cornerback Corey Ivy also contributed an interception.


    —Rookie left guard Claude Terrell started and played the entire game in the team's preseason opener against the Bears. A fourth-round pick, Terrell was installed as the starter early in training camp and has done nothing to lose the job since.

    Asked about playing Terrell so much, coach Mike Martz said, "We want Claude to play. He's gonna have to get used to playing at this level. He needs to go out and play. We've always done that with rookies. We did that with Torry Holt. I think it's important for him to know the stamina that he's going to have to have to play an entire game on the offensive line."

    Said Terrell, "It felt good. I know what an NFL game feels like now. I'll have to take care of my body so I can make it through this long season. I was nervous as I don't know what before. But after that first collision, I was good to go. I enjoyed it. We'll go back and look at the film and see what needs to be improved and go from there."

    As for that nervousness, he added, "I couldn't sleep last night, so I took a nap during the day today, and I was out like a baby. On the ride over here, I was nervous, but as soon as the game got going and we got in a flow, I was good. This is what I've been doing all my life."

    —To protect themselves, the Rams signed veteran punter Bryan Barker the day before the exhibition opener against Chicago. Barker punted last season for Green Bay and is entering his 16th season. The consistency of rookie punter Reggie Hodges has been an issue, and the Rams want to make sure they have someone if those problems persist.

    "I think that after watching Reggie and his inconsistency we have got to protect ourselves," Martz said. "I like Reggie and I think he has got great potential, but in terms of a punter I am a frontrunner all the way. He has got to deal with that type of pressure and if he can't deal with it, we'll move on. I think he will, but I would be remiss as a head coach if I didn't protect our interests at that position with another guy.

    "We are going to be patient with him all the way up until the Kansas City game (Sept. 2). "We'll just see what happens. He'll have plenty of opportunities. Every punt that he makes out here is scrutinized and until he gets used to that fact and is punting every kick like he is punting in a game then he is going to be inconsistent. We are trying to get that message across to him."

    Hodges continued his inconsistency against the Bears, averaging 39.8 yards for his six punts.

    "He didn't do as well as I hoped he would," Martz said. "But I think that hopefully he can learn from this."

    Said Barker, "Training camp is all about competition, and I would imagine that my presence here is to add to that mix a little bit, give a little competition to the kid. This is a game of handling situations, and we'll see how he handles that situation."

    As for being 41 years old, Barker said, "Am I 41? (Kicker) Jeff Wilkins and I were talking ... we were together 12 years ago in Philadelphia, and we don't feel anywhere near our age. I feel good, I feel healthy, I still enjoy it, I had a lot of fun last year, and apparently people still call me. As long as they call, I'll keep doing it."

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "When I pay, since I'm a finance major, I save the receipt so I can get the tax deduction." — Rookie OG Claude Terrell on having to buy four dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts for his fellow offensive linemen.


    BATTLE OF THE WEEK: John Parrella vs. Brian Howard for backup DT - The arrival of Parrella resulted in Howard's hamstring suddenly getting better. Parrella has a lot of years and experience on Howard, but the Rams still believe Howard can develop into a solid player in the rotation. Howard has also gotten some reps in camp at defensive end.

    OTHER BATTLEFRONTS: The competition continues between quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jeff Smoker for the No. 3 job. Fitzpatrick was in the game against Chicago before Smoker and looked poised and confident. "It was actually kind of weird," he said. "I'm not a big nervous type of guy when I get into games, but you would think with my first-ever NFL game ... but I was fine out there. I'm starting to feel a lot more comfortable behind the center, with the offense, learning more. So, it was good."

    Noting coach Mike Martz's concerning problems with mental preparation, Smoker said, "He's the head coach, and he comments on what he sees. If he expects more from me, then that's what I have to give. ... I feel like I have to pick up the pace and I have to do well this preseason."

    PLAYER OF THE WEEK: DE Brandon Green - He helped secure the game for the Rams against the Bears with a late sack, and had two other pressures that helped stop Chicago drives. He would have had two other sacks, but on one, the Bears quarterback threw an incompletion as he was only inches from the ground, and on the other, there was an intentional grounding call. Green is competing for an open job as one of the team's backup ends. "It felt good to be able to contribute, to be able to stop a drive," he said. "I thought I played pretty poorly early on, so I needed to come through in the end there." The Rams knew Green had a high motor when he was signed in the offseason, but coach Mike Martz said, "When we brought Brandon in, we felt like that was the type of guy that we were getting. But he's probably a little more athletic than what we anticipated."

    ROOKIE REPORT: CB Ron Bartell (second round) played extensively against the Bears and stood up well in coverage. ... WR Dante Ridgeway (sixth round), after struggling some in practice, had one reception for 19 yards against the Bears, but had another catch wiped out because he went out of bounds before the reception ... Fullback Madison Hedgecock played on several special teams units. ... Undrafted free-agent CB Duvol Thompson had a nice pass defense against WR Mark Bradley.

    INJURY REPORT: The Rams came out of the game against the Bears "clean," according to coach Mike Martz ... The Rams entered their first game against the Bears with only eight players injured: CB Jerametrius Butler (knee), RB Dusty McGrorty (knee), TE Erik Jensen (back), tackles Orlando Pace (quad), Grant Williams (back) and Matt Morgan (neck) and linebackers Brandon Chillar (shoulder) and Louis Ayeni (calf).

  2. #2
    UtterBlitz's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Inside Slant

    The D sounds pretty good....Claiborne batting balls, guys swarming to the ball, interceptions, and a fumble recovery.... a little bit of everything.
    Good job D. :up:

    I was hoping to watch this game since Directtv is broadcasting all the preseason games. I was not home this weekend so I set it up to tape on the vcr. Today I tried to watch it and low and behold, I have a whole tape full of a blue screen and a direct tv logo bouncing around the screen. I can listen to it, but I can't watch it. Thanks so much for that unwanted screen saver.

    Directtv :down:

    I guess I am stuck with words and no pictures this week.

  3. #3
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Inside Slant

    INJURY REPORT: The Rams came out of the game against the Bears "clean,"
    If you ask me (not that anyone did), this is the best item to come from that game. I'd love nothing more than to hear it repeated after each of our preseason games.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod


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