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Rams' Spagnuolo ready for new challenge
ST. LOUIS — New St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo knows the easy part is over.
"It's nice to be 3-1 after the preseason, but like I told the players last night, the score counted when we played the games," Spagnuolo said Friday, one day after the Rams beat the Kansas City Chiefs 17-9. "It doesn't matter now. We're moving on.
"I'm perfectly aware that all of this is a honeymoon period. The real challenge is upcoming."
That challenge begins for St. Louis on Sept. 13, when the Rams open the season in Seattle. The Seahawks have beaten the Rams eight straight times. Then again, a lot of people have beaten the Rams lately, as St. Louis has won just five games the past two seasons.
No one is expecting Spagnuolo to change that overnight. He does like the way the team's mental approach heading into the season.
"I think we got a bunch of hungry guys. I think it's good to be hungry. When you get complacent, that's not a good thing. I do think it's a hungry football team. We've talked a lot about it and I think the guy's have embraced it."
However, plenty of question marks still remain. For instance, who will be under center when the Rams take the field in Seattle. Nine-year veteran Marc Bulger is the starter, but Bulger has been nursing a broken pinkie finger and has not played.
Bulger says he will be ready to start the season and Spagnuolo is counting on him.
"If he's ready to go, he goes," Spagnuolo said. "He threw in pregame last night. He felt comfortable throwing. It still comes down to taking the snap."
Another newcomer to St. Louis, Kyle Boller has started in Bulger's absence.
Another area of concern is the running game — on both sides of the ball. The Rams allowed more than 150 yards per game on the ground last season, and that area looked suspect during the preseason, particularly against Atlanta, when Falcons starters gouged Rams for two easy scores.
"We know if we had to pick out one area that we need to improve on both sides, it's in the running game, whether it's running it or stopping the run," Spagnuolo said. "I thought Atlanta came out and really took it to us. I don't think anybody felt great about that. And yet when challenged, the team bounced back against Cincinnati."
The Rams have yet to make any final roster moves. Spagnuolo said that he expects to make those by midday Saturday, but noted that the coaches were still evaluating players and positions.
One roster spot that might open up is on the defensive line. Spagnuolo reported Friday that 2007 first-round pick Adam Carriker suffered a "significant" injury to his right shoulder. He expects to have a final determination on Carriker's status Saturday.
Spagnuolo said the final cuts will be the toughest.
"We could use two more preseason games to figure it out," he said. "But we have what we have and we'll have to evaluate it based on that."
Re: Rams' Spagnuolo ready for new challenge"If he's ready to go, he goes," Spagnuolo said. "He threw in pregame last night. He felt comfortable throwing. It still comes down to taking the snap."
Hopefully I'm worrying about nothing. I'll feel much better when I hear that Bulger has taken plenty of snaps in practice and that there are no problems.
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