Rams team report
Quarterback Sam Bradford is expected to play Sunday when the Rams travel to Cleveland to play the Browns, but it's possible he won't have a full week of practice.
Bradford suffered a high ankle sprain on the final play of the team's Oct. 16 game against Green Bay. He missed the next two games against Dallas and New Orleans.
Last week, he practiced for the first time on Thursday, throwing only in wide receiver drills. On Friday, he took about half the reps in the team segments of practice, and then played the entire game in the loss to Arizona.
Asked afterward how the ankle felt, Bradford said, "Pretty sore. I kind of knew that coming into the game. I expected it to be a little sore. I don't think it's anything major."
Monday, coach Steve Spagnuolo said Bradford had a boot back on his left foot solely as a precaution and to rest the ankle. But, he acknowledged that it wasn't a given that Bradford would be OK to fully participate in practice beginning Wednesday.
"He's a day-to-day with this Wednesday practice," Spagnuolo said. "These high ankle sprains, you get them to a certain point, you go and play, then they go back a little. So, let's see how far back we are. What you don't want to do during the week is set him back and get him sore that he can't go on Sunday. So, we're going to have to play that balancing game throughout the week."
As for his performance against the Cardinals, Bradford said were "a couple" of instances where it hurt more than others. "I noticed it a few times but I don't really think it affected me that much out there," he said.
Said Spagnuolo, "He went out there and played and he did some really good things. I think our team was sparked by the fact that he was out there playing. I think he showed a tremendous amount of courage to go out there and hang in there and stay in there with all the things that the quarterback has to face.
"Protect himself, get the ball out on time, I thought it was admirable what he did. I'm sure he'll tell you that he wished he would have played better in certain areas. I'll tell you what, that's not easy to do."
óTo a man, the Rams were stunned they were in the locker room talking about a loss after Arizona won 19-13 in overtime Sunday on a 99-yard punt return by rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson.
That play didn't happen long after a 42-yard field-goal attempt by Josh Brown that would have won the game in regulation was blocked.
Said quarterback Sam Bradford, "It's probably the toughest loss I've had since I've been in the league. I felt like, for the most part, we controlled this game. At the end with the opportunities we had in their territory to possibly go ahead and not convert on those, it's tough. It's going to be tough watching film tomorrow."
Defensive end Chris Long concurred. "That's the toughest ball game I've lost in the pros for sure. Maybe all together," he said.
Said linebacker Brady Poppinga, "It's one of those ones that stings extremely deep into the soul of a competitor because you just feel like you had every opportunity to win it and we just couldn't as a team finish it out. You look back at all the close plays that you just step off here, step off there, that you felt like could have made a difference in the outcome of the game and they just start to ring through your head. But at the end of the day, you gotta just deal with it and it's just part of being in a competition."
Asked about positives, he said, "There are a ton of positives you can take away from it and we will do that, and we'll build on the positive. But at the end of the day, it doesn't change the way you feel as a competitor. It's still going to hurt. But yeah, there are a ton of positives. Not all is lost. Doomsday isn't here. Tomorrow will come and we'll learn from it and we'll be better because of it. But it still hurts."
After scoring touchdowns on three drives that reached the red zone in the previous week's win over New Orleans, the Rams kicked three field goals in the first half on drives that stalled. In the second half, their only points came on two safeties.
Said Bradford, "It's the same thing it has been all year. One drive we get down there and get a penalty to put ourselves in second-and-(long). Now we're just playing to get ourselves back into field-goal range. There were a lot of self-inflicted wounds once we got down there. When you do that to yourself, you're just not going to score touchdowns."
Still, on three manageable third-down plays before those field goals (third-and-4, third-and-1, third-and-2), there were two sacks and running back Steven Jackson was dropped for a two-yard loss.
For the game, the Rams converted only 3-of-14 third-down opportunities.
óDespite having only one day in practice working in team portions of practice, quarterback Sam Bradford started against Arizona after missing the previous two games with a high ankle sprain.
Bradford had rehabbed closely with trainer Reggie Scott, and coach Steve Spagnuolo believed playing him was the right decision.
"I thought that Reggie and the staff did a really good job this week and all of the weeks that he has been hurt, and how they went step by step," Spagnuolo said. "When Sam cleared each hurdle, we said, 'OK, there is a chance.' Even into yesterday (Saturday), when we did a mock game, when it was just a walk through, that was another hurdle that he cleared. This morning he felt that he could do it.
"We certainly didn't want to get him hit as much as he did. That was a concern. I hope he got through it OK. I haven't talked to him. But generally on those high ankles, when you play on them, you set it back a little bit and then you try to get them back. So we'll see where we're at this week with how we are going to operate. But that is going to be a back and forth thing for the next few weeks. That's just how those work."
As for what Bradford did before the game, Spagnuolo said, "After the mock game, where he moved around a little bit, we wanted to see how it reacted. He felt fine and of course he wanted to play. We wanted him in there and we thought he did a pretty good job."
Bradford was generally pleased with how he played, but did say, "I missed some throws today that I think I normally would make. That's what is frustrating to me. Especially some of those deep balls, I wasn't even close on. I think that's just me not being out there. That's something I need to get done this week in practice, especially with (wide receiver Brandon) Lloyd, considering I really haven't worked with him much."
óWith the Rams leading 13-6, the Cardinals started a possession at their own 16-yard line with 8:34 left in the game. To that point, Arizona had gained 183 yards on 46 plays (4.0 per play).
But quarterback John Skelton ran for 14 yards on each of two second-and long plays, and Skelton eventually found wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for a 13-yard touchdown that tied the game after the extra point. The Cardinals, 2-of-10 on third down in the game, didn't have a third-down play in the nine-play drive.
Said linebacker James Laurinaitis, noting that the defense played well, "But at the end of the day, we have to come up with a stop there at the end. We can't let them get that touchdown to tie it up and I think that's the kind of thing that stings. Just that one drive they were able to get down there and get six. We gotta be able to somehow, someway, get a stop or a turnover there."
óPatrick Peterson had three punt returns for 28 yards and Rams punter Donnie Jones had placed four punts inside the 20 prior to overtime. But then Peterson field a punt at his own 1-yard line and 99 yards later had won the game for the Cardinals.
"It was a hell of a punt by Donnie," linebacker Chris Chamberlain said. "We were covering the ball and focusing on getting in our lanes. I was pretty surprised he fielded that punt back by his goal line. That's kind of unorthodox but I felt like we were still covering. He kind of broke outside, his guys did a great job of sealing a couple of us off. We tried to get him down, obviously the guy is a great returner and we just couldn't get him down. We'll have to see it on film to know more but it's a play we would like to have back. That's not a characteristic of this team to give up plays like that on special teams. It's terrible timing for something like that to happen. For the most part we played a solid game and it's just unfortunate that we let that one slip away."
Said Jones, who saw his net average in the game fall from 45.0 to 32.1 on that punt, "We gotta finish. There's no excuses to make. ... It's very disappointing."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
óRB Steven Jackson's 130 rushing yards Sunday marked his second consecutive game with 100 or more yards and it was the 29th of his career. Jackson also caught the 344th pass of his career, moving past Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch into sixth place on the team's all-time list.
óWR Danario Alexander leads the Rams with 296 receiving yards despite the fact he hasn't played in three of the team's eight games. Alexander was inactive for the season opener as a coach's decision, and has been inactive the last two games because of a hamstring injury. He leads Brandon Gibson by one yard.
óRB Jerious Norwood has now been inactive for the last five games, and has been affected by an injured hamstring.
óDE Chris Long registered his seventh sack of the season Sunday and fourth in two games. He now has 24.5 sacks in his career.
óDE Robert Quinn is starting to make his presence felt after a slow start. A rookie, Quinn had a sack Sunday against Arizona, his second straight game with one.
óDE James Hall reached 60 sacks for his career when he dropped Arizona QB John Skelton Sunday. Hall was also credited with a safety in the game.
óCB Marquis Johnson curiously did not play in Sunday's game against Arizona even though he was active. The previous week, Johnson was credited with seven tackles against New Orleans and also played on special teams.
Re: Rams team report
Must they keep reminding us of that loss?!!!