TSX Report: St. Louis Rams
By: The Sports Xchange
Posted Aug 16, 2010
On the day after the Rams lost their preseason opener to Minnesota, it was exactly four week until the Sept. 12 season opener against Arizona.
But, coach Steve Spagnuolo knows that day will get here sooner than later, and that important decisions have to be made on the team's offense. Not only at the quarterback position, but on the offensive line, where the team is trying to put together a stable unit.
The Rams play at Cleveland next Saturday, but they will then have a short week because of a game the following Thursday in New England. That limits the practice time between games.
Asked about making some important choices, Spagnuolo said, "I think we'll start to try to hone in here, maybe take a day or two this week, but I think by midweek we ought to (know), because the following week is a short week. We won't do a lot of work there getting ready for the Patriots and all of a sudden you're in your fourth preseason game. So we're going to have to hone in here. We talked a little bit about it this morning. We're going to talk more about it this afternoon as an offense, so hopefully by Tuesday in that second practice we'll be headed where we think we're going to go."
Left guard Jacob Bell is expected back at practice this week, which would likely result in Adam Goldberg moving back to right guard. With Goldberg on the left side against the Vikings, center Jason Brown was at right guard and Hank Fraley was at center.
If Bell can stay in the lineup, Brown would likely shift back to center, with Fraley becoming the swing backup player. Numerous recent practices have seen Fraley and Brown flipping back and forth between center and right guard.
Asked about using Brown at guard, Spagnuolo said, "He's a big guard and when you play those 4-3 teams and they put big people at tackle, and of course (Minnesota) has two big ones, I think that's a big-time bonus. The one thing about Jason, and this is a plus for our football team, is he's a good center and he's a good guard. So what we've got to do is make sure we get him in the best place for him comfort wise and find the other person that has to play the spot that he's not playing. That'll be what we have to iron out in the next couple days."
Without running back Steven Jackson, the ground game was unproductive against Minnesota and that contributed to some of the protection problems in the passing game.
"I think it goes without saying, when your best football player is on the sideline, the unit that he plays with isn't going to feel the same," Spagnuolo said. "No excuse, and nobody in our locker room will make any excuses. We know what Steven can do. We'll be anxious to get him back in there at whatever point we decide, but when he's not in there, which could happen in the regular season, the play can't go down. We've got to be just as effective, and our guys have a lot of pride that way."
CAMP CALENDAR: Camp closes Aug. 24.
- Coach Steve Spagnuolo liked what he saw from quarterback Sam Bradford in how he handled himself during the first preseason game.
Said Spagnuolo, "He made two really, really good decisions to dump the ball to the back. I know that's not the most glamorous play in football, but he made quick decisions. To me, that was one of the most positive things he did. He made really quick decisions. There were some center-quarterback exchange issues that he had to deal with, and he'll work on that, and a couple other communications in there that I think he'd like to do a little bit better job at. I did like how quick he was with his decision making on throwing the ball."
- The Rams started the game against Minnesota without cornerbacks Ron Bartell, Bradley Fletcher and Justin King. Then, in the first half, Kevin Dockery (hip pointer) and Rookie Jerome Murphy (ankle) went out. That left Quincy Butler, seventh-round pick Marquis Johnson and undrafted free agent Antoine Thompson as the only healthy cornerbacks.
That was "scary," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "You didn't want to start putting other guys back in the game and then be kicking yourself in the butt. I tell you what, the guys that had to play ... Antoine stayed in there quite a bit. Quincy Butler played a lot for a guy that's been working with the first group here, so I appreciate their efforts. It gets scary. All of the sudden, think of it, you've got an 80-man roster right now, you go to 45 it gets challenging in the middle of a regular season game too. We got through it and hopefully the guys get better."
The good news was that Bartell and Fletcher are expected to be able to play this week, but the status of Dockery and Murphy is uncertain.
- The Rams downplayed an ESPN report saying the signing of RB Brian Westbrook could happen by Monday. Vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff said he hadn't talked to Westbrook's agent in a few days.
Said Spagnuolo, "No real update. We've got a personnel meeting here at two. We go in with the coaches, we'll talk about the game and then (general manager) Billy (Devaney) and I then usually after that visit about other things outside of the building here like where we would go and what we would do. I talked to Brian before I went on vacation because him and I have a good relationship. Then every once in a while we'll text back and forth but nothing concrete right now. But Billy and I will probably talk about all the positions you know with injuries and what's going on outside the Rams around the league."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "For his first time out he did a pretty good job, mixed it up a little bit there with Jared Allen. He got beat a couple times inside on that particular pass-rush move up inside and he knows he's got to work on that, but he moves his feet well and he battled in there. Overall, OK for his first time out." - Coach Steve Spagnuolo on the play of rookie LT Rodger Saffold in his preseason debut.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
With kicker Josh Brown sidelined by a hip injury, the Rams signed Shaun Suisham.
Suisham kicked for the Redskins and Cowboys last season, making a combined 20 of 24 field-goal attempts and 25 of 26 extra points. He finished the season with Dallas, but became a free agent when the Cowboys elected not to tender him as a restricted free agent.
He signed with Cleveland on May 18, but was released on June 17. The Rams released FB Eric Butler to make room for Suisham on the roster.
- S Craig Dahl suffered a mild sprain of his right knee against Minnesota and is considered day-to-day.
- CB Kevin Dockery suffered a right hip pointer against Minnesota and was very sore the day after the game. It is hoped he will be able to practice by mid-week.
- LB Dominic Douglas suffered a right shoulder injury against Minnesota and is considered day-to-day.
- WR Brandon McRae suffered a sprained ankle against Minnesota and could miss some significant time.
- CB Jerome Murphy suffered a sprained ankle against Minnesota and could miss some significant time.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Danny Amendola vs. Mardy Gilyard for slot WR and kick returner — This battle has fizzled as Gilyard missed a week with an arm injury. Amendola returned a punt 93 yards for a touchdown against Minnesota.
OTHER BATTLEFRONTS: No one has jumped out in the fight for the backup job behind RB Steven Jackson. Chris Ogbonnaya did fine receiving against Minnesota (4-31), but only had nine yards on three rushes. Rookie Keith Toston had 16 yards on four attempts playing with the backups.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: LB Larry Grant -- He was all over the field against the Vikings, and was credited with four tackles, a tackle for loss and two passes defensed. He also had a huge hit on special teams. Named a starter when camp started, Grant is winning the job on the weak side.
ROOKIE REPORT: TE Fendi Onobun continues to show progress and could give the coaches a tough decision to make ... TE Michael Hoomanawanui is also showing his ability as a blocker and pass-catcher. ... LB Josh Hull played well against the Vikings, although it was late in the game with and against the deep backups ... WR Mardy Gilyard, out with a forearm injury, is losing ground to Danny Amendola.
INJURY REPORT: Listed as returning to practice this week are DL C.J. Ah You, G Jacob Bell, WRs Brandon Gibson and Mardy Gilyard and CBs Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher. Still out are K Josh Brown, S James Butler, G John Greco, CB Justin King and DE Eugene Sims.
Re: TSX Report: St. Louis Rams
Thanks for that rockin ...:ram: reasonably honest appraisal of Rams v Vikings .. Larry Grant is going great !