USA TODY



The numbers are daunting. The Saints scored 62 points Sunday night in a win over the Colts, which is more than the total points the Rams have scored in six games.
In addition, the Saints have four receivers with more receiving yards than the 296 Danario Alexander has as St. Louis' team leader, and New Orleans has six receivers with more receptions than the 17 that Rams leader Brandon Gibson has. And Gibson was inactive last week following the arrival of Brandon Lloyd from Denver.

Want more? The Rams have scored five total touchdowns in six games, while Saints quarterback Drew Brees had five touchdown passes against the Colts.

The Saints are the Rams' opponent Sunday in the last of a seven-game stretch to start the season against teams that currently have a combined 28-16 record. After this game, the Rams' next six games are against teams with a combined record of 14-22.

Despite all that, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo remains focused on the task at hand, which is facing the Saints and their second-ranked offense that is averaging 467.1 yards per game.

Asked about being worried that his team's 0-6 record will snowball, Spagnuolo said, "I don't go there. I just got done telling the football team that ... and I know I've said it here before, too. In this business you've got to be very segmented. Just a different way of saying what I've been saying; it's 16 segments. Your thinking has to be that way.

"So, we're in the seventh segment, and we can't worry about the first six or what's after that. I mean, you just have to do it that way. I don't know any other way to do it, and I've said this before, if we were 6-0 and the record was different, Wednesday would be no different. The work we would be doing, it would feel a little bit different, but the work we have to do would be no different. It would be the same."

With injuries mounting, Spagnuolo was also asked about a "woe is me" mentality creeping into his team.

"These guys are professionals," he said. "The next guy steps up. The 'woe is me' might be the person that's hurt, and then he's just got to get in the training room and get healthy. But what that does is it just creates an opportunity for somebody else."

Still, four starters were injured in Sunday's game against Dallas: right tackle Jason Smith, wide receiver Alexander, linebacker Brady Poppinga and cornerback Justin King. On Wednesday, left tackle Rodger Saffold also wasn't able to practice because of illness.

Bryan Kehl, who had never played on the strong side in a regular-season game, replaced Poppinga. Josh Gordy, signed after the season started, replaced King in a depleted secondary.

In this situation, "next man up" creates matchup problems made worse when playing talent-rich teams like the Saints.

"I don't know what more you can say other than how explosive they are, but they've got a lot of talent," Spagnuolo said. "They've had that the past few years, and they've got a guy, the triggerman (Drew Brees) that makes all that talent even that much better. They do a nice job down there. It's a great challenge for us."

SERIES HISTORY: 70th regular-season meeting. Rams lead series, 38-31. The Saints have won the last two games in the series, one of which was in St. Louis in 2009. In 2007, the Rams were 0-8 when they traveled to New Orleans and won, 37-29.

NOTES, QUOTES

—Wide receiver Brandon Gibson is the team's leading receiver with a mere 17 catches, but he was inactive for Sunday's game against Dallas following the acquisition of Brandon Lloyd.

The other active receivers were Danario Alexander, Greg Salas, Austin Pettis and Dominique Curry, the latter of whom is on the roster because of his special teams ability.

Asked about Gibson being inactive, coach Steve Spagnuolo said, "Austin Pettis is our (punt) returner. There's all those things that kind of factor in. Special teams always is going to have a factor in that when you start talking about how many you put on the 46. Brandon's a good player for us, and he's going to help us win going forward here. Some guys are up, some guys are down, and the roster gets juggled on Sunday."

—Tackle Jason Smith suffered a concussion Sunday against the Cowboys and was on the field for several minutes before being carried off on a stretcher.

As he left the field, Smith waved so everyone would know he had the use of his arms and legs.

Said running back Steven Jackson, "It was very, very emotional. He's a good friend; I think the world of him. Whenever you see a teammate or any player carted off the field in that manner, you can't help but have your heart go out to him and his family. You just pray for the best."

—Against the Cowboys, Jackson had 46 rushing yards on two successive plays that resulted in a touchdown. A 40-yarder advanced the ball to the 6-yard line, and he scored on the next play.

However, his other 16 attempts totaled just 24 yards.

Spagnuolo said, "There was some early stuff that I thought could've broken out there and been pretty good. Maybe it was one guy here, one guy there, or a block here or block there. I thought some of the run-scheme stuff that we had was well put together. They played a lot of what we call 'two-deep man under,' and when you do that, if you can pop a run on that, everybody's got their back to the ball carrier and you can get some big ones.

"Now we missed a couple, but that was the intent going in. I thought there were periods there where we had it going pretty good, certainly the two you're talking about were the best, and we were hopeful for a few more. But we didn't quite get as many as we had anticipated."

BY THE NUMBERS: 149 — The Rams have averaged 9.3 points a game and are on a pace to score 149 for the season. There are already 15 NFL teams that have scored at least 149 points, while Minnesota has scored 148 and Philadelphia 145. The Rams have scored the fewest points in the league with 56. Jacksonville, with 84, has scored the second-fewest points.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I didn't even know that. I haven't looked at one score yet except the Rams score. That's pretty impressive. We know what they're all about in terms of firepower, so it's a pretty good challenge." — Coach Steve Spagnuolo, on Monday, asked about the Saints scoring 62 points on the Colts the night before.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

—OT Mark LeVoir, who was with the Rams in 2007 and for training camp in 2008, was signed Wednesday with Jason Smith sidelined by a concussion. LeVoir was previously with New England and Baltimore this year, and he started a game for the Ravens at left guard.

—LB Jabara Williams was waived because of the Rams' need to add a tackle to the roster. He will likely be added to the practice squad at some point if he clears waivers.

—OT Rodger Saffold missed practice Wednesday because of an illness.

—RB Jerious Norwood, who didn't attend meetings Monday because of illness, was still sick Wednesday and did not practice.

INJURY IMPACT

—QB Sam Bradford remained in a boot Wednesday and did not practice, but he reported improvement in his high left ankle sprain. After working out on the ankle last Friday, Bradford said the ankle was substantially more sore the next morning, so it was put in a cast and he was declared out for the game against Dallas. The cast was taken off Wednesday, and Bradford said, "The general soreness has definitely gone down compared to last week at this time."

—OT Jason Smith was home Wednesday as he recuperates from a concussion suffered Sunday against Dallas. A visit to a spine specialist for tests showed nothing structurally wrong with his neck or spine, but he does have a bruised neck.

—DT Darell Scott did not practice Wednesday. He was home recovering from a concussion suffered Sunday against the Cowboys.

—WR Danario Alexander did not practice because of a hamstring injury. He is day-to-day.

—CB Justin King did not practice Wednesday because of a groin injury, and his availability is on a day-to-day basis.

GAME PLAN: The Rams hope to control the ball on offense to keep the ball out of Drew Brees' hands. They did that for the first half against Dallas, but then an offense that had the ball for only 16 plays in the first four possessions of the second half contributed to the Dallas offense pulling away for a 34-7 win.

Defensively, it's easier said than done, but the Rams have to limit the Saints' big plays.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Rams secondary vs. Saints receivers — With CB Justin King possibly not available for this game, the Rams only have three healthy cornerbacks unless Marquis Johnson is activated from the physically unable to perform list. Al Harris, Josh Gordy and Rod Hood will be seriously challenged against a receiving corps led by Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore.

Rams RB Steven Jackson vs. Saints run defense — The Saints have allowed 5.4 yards a rush, so the Rams will hope to run Jackson, control the clock and not fall behind. If they do allow the Saints to build a lead, what Jackson does will be largely irrelevant.