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Thread: Rams Team Report
Rams Team Report
After four days to get refreshed, the Rams returned to practice Monday tied for first place in the NFC West and ready to prepare for Sunday's showdown against the ***** in San Francisco.
Seattle's loss to the Giants left the Seahawks and Rams tied with 4-4 records, although the Rams technically have the edge over Seattle because they won the one game played so far this season between the two teams.
But the ***** are knocking on the door, despite their poor start to their season. The Rams are well aware that a San Francisco victory this week would move the ***** one game behind the Rams. Meanwhile, Seattle is at 3-5 Arizona this week.
While coach Steve Spagnuolo has talked about the goal of winning the division before, he has also made sure to keep his team's eyes on the task at hand: the next game. That focus has helped the Rams bounce back from an 0-2 start to the season and beat Washington; rebound from a convincing loss in Detroit to defeat San Diego; and recover from a crushing last-second loss to Tampa Bay to beat Carolina.
Says running back Steven Jackson about Spagnuolo, "I think in (his) leadership, we've learned how to deal with adversity in a manner that we don't panic. We kind of embrace it. We accept that things are going to happen, but we also know that it's also about the 53 guys with Rams helmets on who are going to change it. I think guys have really embraced that thought and philosophy."
Added linebacker James Laurinaitis, "Team is a lot like the coach, a lot like Spags. He's a tough guy who preaches it all the time, playing hard, playing with passion, and that's what these guys do. There are a lot of guys in this locker room that care about this football team and this organization, and that's what they try to show every Sunday."
The Rams have been able to stay competitive in games despite injuries that have cost units multiple lost players, like the secondary and receivers. Tight ends Billy Bajema and Michael Hoomanawanui missed a succession of games at the same time.
The team could have felt "woe is me," especially when wide receiver Mark Clayton was lost for the season after injuring his knee in the Week 5 game against Detroit. Rookie Danario Alexander stepped in and had a huge game against San Diego the following week, only to reinjure his knee in practice two days prior to the Week 8 game against Carolina.
Yet, younger players have stepped up and the team stayed together. Jackson points to a preseason game against New England in August when the Patriots kept their starters in the game well after the Rams' first-stringers had departed. St. Louis' backups went toe-to-toe with New England's starters and added to the Rams' lead.
Jackson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Coach just kept our young guys in there. The way our young guys handled them the way they did, that was one of those subtle ways he showed us that the system worked not just with starters. I think that's the moment when he really won us over."
—Quarterback Sam Bradford has gone three complete games without throwing an interception, a streak of 96 passes. His last seven attempts in the Week 5 loss to Detroit started the streak.
The period of time has been 187 minutes. During that stretch, Bradford's passer rating is 93.9, and he has completed 61.5 percent of his attempts.
—The team's streak of seven consecutive games started with the same offensive line was snapped when Renardo Foster replaced Jason Smith in the Week 8 game against Carolina. Only twice since the 2003 season, when the same line started all 16 games, have the Rams had streaks of five consecutive games with the same group of linemen in the same season.
Smith suffered a concussion in practice three days before the game and was inactive. He is expected to be cleared and be able to play Sunday against San Francisco.
—Wide receiver Danario Alexander was dressed and at practice Monday, although he didn't participate in drills. Alexander underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee Oct. 29 and said he expects to begin running this week.
"I feel pretty good," he said. Alexander acknowledged being "kind of upset" when the injury occurred in practice because of the four previous surgeries he has had on that knee.
"But once I knew what it was, even though I could have played with it, I said to get it (surgery) done."
The ever-confident and persistent Alexander said, "I anticipate playing in the next couple weeks."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
—OT Jason Smith was back on the practice field Monday after missing the Week 8 game against Carolina because of a concussion. Smith was described as "symptom-free" by coach Steve Spagnuolo.
—OG Adam Goldberg was sent home from the team facility Monday because of an illness. He is expected to be back Wednesday when full preparations begin for Sunday's game against San Francisco.
—LB Brit Miller did not practice Monday because of a calf injury suffered last week during the team's one bye-week practice.
—CB Justin King, who has missed the last two games because of a hamstring injury, was back practicing Monday.
—WR Danario Alexander will begin running this week as he recovers from Oct. 29 surgery for a torn meniscus. Alexander did not participate, but he was at practice Monday.
REPORT CARD AFTER EIGHT GAMES
PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus — Considering the talent, the passing game has been as good as anyone could expect. WR Donnie Avery was lost for the year in the preseason, and Mark Clayton went down after becoming the team's leading receiver. QB Sam Bradford has become a leader, and he operates the offense efficiently without mistakes. He has currently thrown 96 passes without an interception. Most telling is that the leading receiver is WR Danny Amendola, who has 43 receptions, is averaging just 8.4 yards per catch. The key for the second half of the season could be the continued development and improvement of TEs Daniel Fells and Michael Hoomanawanui.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B — RB Steve Jackson has been the ultimate warrior, playing first with an injured groin and then with a broken finger in his left hand. Jackson has 676 yards at the season's halfway point, is averaging 3.9 yards per rush and has just two touchdowns. Kenneth Darby has shown himself to be a decent backup, but it remains paramount that Jackson is able to play. Darby was a big contributor in the team's Week 3 win over Washington, when Jackson injured his groin in the first half.
PASS DEFENSE: A — Despite injuries in the secondary, the pass defense has played gutsy and aggressive. DEs James Hall (6.5) and Chris Long (4.5) have combined for 11 sacks, and the inside presence of DT Fred Robbins has helped. Ten different players have contributed to the 23 sacks. Most notably, the opponent's passer rating is 76.0 and the defense, has limited opposing quarterbacks to a completion percentage of 58.0 and nine touchdown passes. S Oshiomogho Atogwe, CB Bradley Fletcher and S James Butler each have two interceptions.
RUSH DEFENSE: B-plus — The Rams have allowed under 100 yards rushing per game (97.8), and only one running back has reached 100 yards. That was Oakland's Darren McFadden with 130 in Week 2. The next highest was Tampa Bay's LeGarrette Blount with 72. Big plays have been kept to a minimum with just 14 runs of 10 yards or more, and the longest was 36. The defense has allowed just two rushing touchdowns compared to 24 last season.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus — The weakest part of the Rams' special teams is the return game. There were high expectations for rookie Mardy Gilyard, but he has been a disappointment, averaging just 22.3 yards on 16 returns. Danny Amendola has probably been affected by playing so much on offense, and he is averaging 22.8 yards on kickoffs and 9.9 on punt returns.
COACHING: A — Coach Steve Spagnuolo is molding a young team in his own image, and he got the team's selected veterans to buy in, and they reiterate the message. On defense, the second year in the system has players reacting and not thinking. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and quarterbacks coach Dick Curl have done an exceptional job bringing Bradford along and getting him prepared to play from Day One. Now, they just have to figure out a way to cajole some wins on the road.
Re: Rams Team ReportThe defense has allowed just two rushing touchdowns compared to 24 last season.
Re: Rams Team Report
It's Whiner week....UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is the game that separates the men from the boys.
C'mon RAMS let's do this!
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