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    Rams notes: First preseason game will help gauge defense

    By Joe Lyons

    With their dress rehearsal at the Edward Jones Dome — Saturday’s FanFest workout — completed, the Rams now will turn their attention to preparing for their first game action of the preseason. They host the New Orleans Saints at 7 p.m. Friday.

    “Cannot wait,” rookie safety Maurice Alexander, a Eureka High product, said after Saturday’s workout. “This is something (defensive coordinator Gregg) Williams has been preparing us for since the start of OTAs, and we’re more than excited about it.”

    The Saints held their Black and Gold scrimmage Saturday in West Virginia without quarterback Drew Brees, who sat out as a precaution after straining his side in practice late last week. New Orleans finished 11-5 to earn a wild-card playoff spot a year ago. In the postseason, the Saints defeated Philadelphia 26-24 before falling 23-15 in Seattle to the eventual Super Bowl champion Seahawks.

    But the Rams, who closed out 2013 with three consecutive home wins, stunned the playoff-bound Saints on Dec. 15 when they scored the game’s first 17 points in a 27-16 victory at the Dome.

    This figures to be a good opening test for the youthful Rams, who need to see what they can do against somebody else.

    “We’re going to be a run-oriented football team, but it’s hard to gauge where it is right now,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said of the offense late last week. “We’ll have a better idea once we get into preseason. We’re getting all kinds of different looks out of our defense — times where there’s space and times there’s not. You practice in pads, but they have a mind to protect each other, so you’re not finishing, not cutting on the backside ... we’ll have a better idea in a couple of weeks.”

    Williams, the new defensive coordinator, is taking a similar approach.

    “It’s improving, but it’s not there yet,” he said, noting that over the month-long break between OTAs and training camp, he reviewed the film. “I re-watched every single practice, every single drill. I’m a lot more familiar with these guys, but until the pads came on, that was a big step. And until you play a preseason game, that’ll be the next step. It’s ever-changing. It’s moving on, but I’m getting a lot more familiar” with the players.


    The Rams recently donated a pair of Philip Lutzenkirchen game jerseys for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Fundraiser at Auburn in memory of the Tigers’ late tight end. Lutzenkirchen, who was in Rams camp a year ago, died in an automobile accident June 29.

    The Rams have strong ties to Auburn. Jeff Fisher’s son, Trent, played for the Tigers, as did Rams general manager Les Snead. The Rams have four ex-Tigers on their 90-man roster: second-year linebacker Daren Bates, second-year receiver Emory Blake and a pair of rookies — tackle Greg Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick in May’s draft, and third-round selection Tre Mason, a running back.

    “I was roommates with Phil at Auburn and it’s tough,” Blake said following a recent practice. “He was one of my best friends and for him to pass so suddenly, it’s hard, hard on a lot of people. But Phil left behind a great legacy; he was a great person and we know where he is now.’’

    Like Lutzenkirchen, Bates came to the Rams as an undrafted free agent.

    “We came into Auburn together, played all four years together, lived next door in the dorms and came here together,” Bates recalled. “Phil’s somebody I was close to for the last five years; he was like a brother to me.

    “You never expect something like this, especially somebody like ‘Lutz’, but something like this can happen to anyone, so you just have to cherish what you have.”


    Following an off day, the Rams return to training camp today for a 3:30 p.m. workout at Rams Park in Earth City. That practice, as well as Tuesday’s 5:30 p.m. session, will be free and open to the public.

  2. #2
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    Re: Rams notes: First preseason game will help gauge defense

    I suspect the Rams want to TEST their front Defensive 4 more then any part of the defense and how it affects the secondary...but with D. Breeze injured I think the Rams might be robbed of that opportunity to unless the Hounds against an elite QB...still though in game one neither starting QB likely wouldn't have seen too many snaps anyhow

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