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Wednesday Q & A: Rams coach Scott Linehan
Compiled By Jeff Gordon
ONLINE SPORTS COLUMNIST
Rams 2006 Preview
Rams head coach Scott LinehaN
(By Chris Lee/P-D)
So how will the Rams offense be reconfigured for Sundayís game at San Francisco?
Coach Scott Linehan hopes to have a better idea after another practice or two. With veteran center Andy McCollum sidelined by a season-ending knee injury, the Rams are looking at Larry Turner, left guard Richie Incognito and newcomer Brett Romberg at the position.
"Weíre kicking around some different lineups right now," Linehan said. "Weíre looking at all those guys and trying to go with the best rotation."
The first step is to make certain the starting center snaps the ball consistently well to Marc Bulger.
"Weíre being patient with it," Linehan said. "It is a timing thing. We had relative ease with it today. A couple times I saw the quarterback double-clutch the ball a little bit, but as the practice went on, it looked like it went fine."
Turner replaced McCollum during Sundayís 18-10 victory over Denver. Incognito is a former collegiate center that has practiced at the position since coming to the Rams. And Romberg is a natural center that was signed off the Jacksonville practice squad Monday.
"I looked at him some on tape," Linehan said. "Brett played for (Rams offensive line coach) Paul Boudreau down at Jacksonville. He knows our offensive line calls, certainly. So he is learning curve is going to be pretty quick. That helps. He played well in preseason. Started a couple of games for Paul last year in preseason and played well in those games. He gives us some insurance there."
If the Rams move Incognito to center and plug Todd Steussie in at left guard, would strengthen the entire unit or leave the team weaker at two spots instead of one?
"We have to go through that evaluation," Linehan said. "The only way to do that is to try it."
Here was Linehanís take on other topics:
On other pressing injury issues: "Pisa (Tinoisamoa) has a sore foot . . . he has a mild sprain in his foot. Itís in his mid-foot. Itís enough where we held him from practice today. It should continue to get better as the week goes on. Jimmy Kennedy had very successful surgery putting those pins in that hand. He worked on a limited basis today in practice, actually did pretty good with it. He will wear a pretty small protective cast when he plays with it. Jamal Brooks had treatment Monday on an infected area in his knee, his bursa area. It keeps him out of practice because he has a two-in incision they have drain things from his knee."
On the *****: "San Francisco is playing, as a football team, pretty well together. They have added a lot of key players to their team. Theyíve had, like any other team, some losses in the offseason moves. They added some guys in the draft that are helping them . . . they showed they are vastly improved on the offensive side of the ball. We have our work cut out for us."
On what he is trying to fix with the red zone offense: "Every play is unique in any game, whether it is the red zone or the 20-yard line coming out. Itís all really more execution. Once in a while you have that perfect play. Youíve got to really execute your best when you get down there, because itís easy to score down there, as weíre proving. It is about the timing and the details of it.
"Itís a great humbling, but learning experience for all of us. We will work very hard at getting better at it, without making it a mental thing. Just know that itís something we need to improve on and get better at executing down that. Thatís it more than anything. You can over-analyze it a little bit. You have to play better and execute better when you get down there.
"Weíre work it. Itís not like we have to get our playersí attention. They know we have to work, get better there. We have to work on our mindset as we get down there. Itís not the plays. You get down there, you have to be your sharpest.
"Itís the whole unit. Football is funny that way. There are so many moving parts in football, that if one guy doesnít do his job, it affects your ability to execute."
On Bulgerís adaptation to the new offense: "We do it by week, which is what you do anyway. Every week heíll get more and more comfortable. Thatís my goal, that we improve every week as a unit from here on out."
On ***** quarterback Alex Smith: "One I know about Alex, he is an extremely bright kid. Heís pretty mature beyond his years. That heís playing so much better and playing so well now than last year is a testament to his toughness and resolve and all that. He took a lot of criticism last year for how he played, but, you know, first-year quarterbacks usually donít look very good unless theyíve got a great running game and their defense is playing lights out. Itís hard.
"Iíve know Alex since he was four years old. He is (coach) John L. Smithís nephew. We recruited him when I was at Louisville. He was my pick if we had the first pick in Miami last year, just because I feel he is one of those guys that is going to keep getting better and