By Howard Balzer
Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hardly any Rams fans shed a tear when wide receiver Drew Bennett was injured early in Sunday's debacle in Philadelphia. Now, with Bennett out for a significant period of time after being diagnosed with a broken bone in his foot, it will be up to others like rookie Keenan Burton to step up and fill the gap.

"We're counting on Keenan Burton playing well," offensive coordinator Al Saunders said. "He didn't have any catches (Sunday), but he did a good job blocking."

Today, the Rams will bring in a few veteran candidates to fill a roster vacancy created by the Monday release of linebacker David Vobora. The current plan is not to place Bennett on injured reserve because it's anticipated he will only miss about six weeks. He will not have surgery. That might be a questionable decision, considering it's clearly uncertain how much Bennett would actually contribute after missing that much time.

Promising Derek Stanley is also a candidate to be signed from the practice squad. Why not let the young guys play and give them the opportunity? Available veterans aren't worthy of getting excited about. The Rams are reportedly interested in Chad Jackson, a Patriots second-round pick in 2006, who has often been injured and did little until being released recently. Sources indicate Jackson is close to signing with Tennessee.

There's a reason veterans like Joe Horn are on the street. It's possible Reche Caldwell could be re-signed, but it doesn't make sense to spin your wheels with marginal veterans rather than giving younger players a chance. Eddie Kennison's name has come up, but he hasn't been anywhere since being released by the Chiefs on Feb. 27. However, in Kennison's favor is that he played under Saunders in Kansas City and knows the offense.


*Only one team from the NFC West won Sunday as Arizona defeated San Francisco. Seattle lost to Buffalo, and the Seahawks have serious issues at wide receiver. They lost Nate Burleson for the season Sunday, and are already without Deion Branch, Bobby Engram and Ben Obomanu. This week, the Seahawks host San Francisco and the Cardinals host Miami.

*In addition to defensive end Leonard Little, left guard Jacob Bell also suffered a strained hamstring Sunday. Their status will be determined Wednesday, but sources say Little could miss two games. Bell's status is unknown. Ö Punter Donnie Jones bruised his right knee trying to make a tackle on DeSean Jackson's 60-yard punt return. Jones experienced swelling after the game, but the swelling was down Monday. Ö Defensive end Chris Long will play despite suffering a fractured right pinky against the Eagles. Ö Wide receiver Donnie Avery was inactive because of a strained MCL, and coach Scott Linehan said "We have to monitor his progress here as the week goes on. We will know more, with him, probably closer to the end of the week as to whether he will be available or not."

*Rams coach Scott Linehan was hardly alone when the Rams won the coin toss and he decided to defer his first choice to the second half. In this week's games through Sunday, of the seven road teams that won the toss, four other teams in addition to the Rams deferred: Arizona, Dallas, Tampa Bay and Cincinnati. The two teams that didn't were Houston and Carolina. Of the seven home teams that won the toss, only Tennessee deferred.

*To the charge that his team failed to play with enthusiasm, Linehan said, ďI think we lacked in our ability to execute and I think you get enthusiasm through execution. You can say anything you want. You can sit there and cheerlead all you want on the sideline, but if youíre not staying on the field and converting third downs and getting positive plays and making plays, youíre not going to have enthusiasm. The only answer to that is we have to play a heck of a lot better. Part of that statement I agree with because we didnít execute.

"As far as our guys being into the game and all of that, they were into this game and they are into this season. They know we didnít pass test one of 16. All of the things that were crucial to our lack of success have to be the opposite this week. Weíre playing the defending world champions. If we donít correct the things that went wrong on Sunday, youíre going to just basically repeat the same result, which canít happen.Ē


When offensive coordinator Al Saunders walked to the stage in the team auditorium to address the media Monday, he approached the podium and wondered: "Anything ticking?"