By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Sunday, Sep. 03 2006

Dave Ragone endured a nightmarish outing Thursday in the Rams' final exhibition
game. But coach Scott Linehan said more than that was involved in his decision
to keep Ryan Fitzpatrick, and not Ragone, as his No. 3 quarterback.

"I don't think either one had their best night Thursday," Linehan said. "But
it's like I told Dave (Saturday) morning when I met with him: Not one game made
the decision. He worked an uphill battle."

Ragone, a lefthander who has appeared in two NFL games over three seasons, was
acquired from Cincinnati on June 20 for a seventh-round draft choice in 2007.
Because he missed the Rams' organized team activities and spring minicamps,
Ragone, 26, was playing catch-up from the start.

Fitzpatrick, 23, was with the team all last season after being selected in the
seventh round of the '05 draft. He spent most of the year as the No. 3
quarterback, but he appeared in four games, with three starts, because of
injuries to starter Marc Bulger and backup Jamie Martin.

"I think Fitz having some extra time (with the team) certainly gave him an
advantage," Linehan said. "He played well in practice and most of the
preseason."

Fitzpatrick played the first half in the 29-9 loss to the Dolphins, completing
seven of 14 passes for 94 yards without a touchdown or interception. Ragone
went the rest of the way, failing to connect on any of seven passes. One was
picked off and returned for a touchdown, and he also lost a fumble.

For the preseason, Fitzpatrick was 20 of 35 for 204 yards, with no touchdowns
or interceptions; his passer rating was 74.0. Ragone wound up 16 of 29 for 156
yards, with no touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 41.7.

Showing gratitude

After his first carry in almost nine months, Stephen Davis trotted over to
Linehan for a word Saturday. "I told him, 'Thank you for giving me the
opportunity,'" Davis reported.

Davis was suited up and back on the field for the first time since
mid-December, when Carolina placed him on injured reserve because of a knee
injury. The Panthers released him in March, and Davis spent the next few months
rehabbing the knee, evaluating his 32-year-old body and eventually deciding to
look for work somewhere in the NFL.

"Any time you get released (after being hurt), it's a problem. Teams are
wondering how bad is the injury," Davis said. "I didn't start running until the
end of June. My agent called me and told me, 'Why don't you go get a physical
from the doctor that did the surgery (in 2004).'

"Once everybody found out I was OK, teams started bringing me in" for auditions.

On Friday, the Rams signed Davis to a one-year deal for $850,000, including a
$40,000 signing bonus. Davis, who will back up Steven Jackson, could be ready
for the season opener Sept. 10 vs. Denver, Linehan said.

"I feel great," Davis said. "Just being around the guys, trying to compete,
getting prepared for a 16-game season ... that's all you can ask for."

No decision yet

Linehan has decided on his 53-man roster, but he still hasn't settled on his
primary kick returner. Kevin Curtis and Tony Fisher handled those chores
Saturday in practice.

"That's a big question mark that we still haven't answered," Linehan said.
"We're going to have to answer it as we go."

Staying healthy

The Rams survived the preseason without a major injury. Only one player, guard
Claude Terrell (wrist), went on injured reserve.

"I think it goes to how we trained in the offseason, with how we ran our OTAs
and minicamps," Linehan said. "And this camp was not a cakewalk. But they came
in in great shape."

Cornerback Jerametrius Butler (hip), offensive lineman Blaine Saipaia (elbow),
safety Jerome Carter (arm) and running back Tony Fisher (head) were shaken up
vs. the Dolphins. All practiced Saturday.

With the next two days off, the players scattered after Saturday's workout.
Practice resumes Tuesday morning.