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Thread: Rams Punt Coverage Takes Beating
Rams Punt Coverage Takes Beating
Rams punt coverage takes beating
BY JIM THOMAS
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
CINCINNATI — One of the best things about the Rams' special teams units this preseason had been their punt coverage. Over the first two preseason games, the Rams had allowed a meager 2.2 yards per punt return, with no return longer than eight yards.
But that gaudy average ballooned upward in the span of a few quick seconds Thursday at Paul Brown Stadium. After a three-and-out series by St. Louis to open the game, Quan Cosby took a short Donnie Jones punt and raced 49 yards for a touchdown just 66 seconds into the contest.
Cosby made James Butler miss right away in the middle of the field, and then had nothing but Jones between him and the end zone. Cosby outraced Jones down the right sideline for the score.
"You can't miss tackles," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "It's like last week on defense, we had too many missed tackles. So it's the same thing on special teams ... you've got to be able to tackle. We'll find a way to get that ironed up."
Besides getting gashed for a TD, Rams special teams also were guilty of two penalties in the opening quarter. Safety David Roach was flagged for an illegal block in the back on the opening kickoff, and offensive guard Richie Incognito was guilty of a false start on Josh Brown's extra point attempt after the Rams' first touchdown.
It was just the start of what would be a 10-penalty night (for 89 yards). The Rams had only 10 penalties — total — in their first two exhibition games.
"The biggest disappointment was the penalties," Spagnuolo said. "We overcame the penalties because we had four turnovers. But I don't think you're going to win many games in the NFL with 10 penalties."
The punt coverage unit sprang another big leak in the third quarter, when Cincy's Tom Nelson raced 44 yards with a Jones punt, again finding wide-open spaces in the middle of the field.
Strongside linebacker Chris Draft and defensive tackle Gary Gibson saw limited action Thursday for an unusual reason.
"They both have asthma," Spagnuolo said. "And I don't know if you saw but there was a car on fire (near the south end zone), and I guess the smoke got to both of them."
Wide receiver Keenan Burton had one catch for eight yards in the first quarter, but tweaked his ankle and was held out thereafter for precautionary reasons. Backup safety Craig Dahl left the game with a sore hamstring. He missed time early in training camp with a hamstring injury.
SITTING IT OUT
QB Marc Bulger (finger) and LG Jacob Bell (concussion) were the only players who didn't dress for the Rams. (WR Brooks Foster remained in St. Louis following ankle surgery).
WRs Donnie Avery (foot) and Tim Carter (groin); RB Kenneth Darby (knee); DE Leonard Little (knee); and DT Adam Carriker (ankle) all dressed and took part in pregame warmups. But only Carter and Darby saw action in the game, with Carter catching two passes for nine yards and Darby running four times for only six yards.
Spagnuolo indicated that Little, Carriker, and Avery all are close to being ready to play.
"If for some reason they felt great (in warmup), maybe we would've went with 'em," Spagnuolo said. "But at this point it didn't make sense to put 'em in a situation where they could get injured worse."
Among the Bengals' pregame scratches were three starters: QB Carson Palmer, S Chris Crocker, and DE Antwan Odom.
In his second start in place of the injured Marc Bulger, Kyle Boller completed 14 of 20 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown, finishing with a passer rating of 97.1. ... Undrafted rookie Cord Parks, a cornerback, returned kickoffs for the first time this preseason. ... The Rams made it three uniform combinations in three games, coming out in blue jerseys and gold pants.
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Re: Rams Punt Coverage Takes Beating
Rams have had trouble tackling for a while. I hope we can fix this. Don't go for the big hit wrap them up bring them down, get your pads lower than the offense, that's high school football.
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