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  • Rams reserves look sharp in scrimmage

    Rams reserves look sharp in scrimmage
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/07/2004





    MACOMB, Ill. - The Rams have done this scrimmage thing six times now in their 10 preseasons in St. Louis.

    They scrimmaged against Chicago in 1996, Indianapolis in '97, '98, and '99 and Tennessee in 2000. But they've probably never had a crisper, more efficient scrimmage on either side of the ball than Saturday's work against the Bears at Western Illinois University.

    "We had a chance to look at a lot of guys on the roster and answer some questions about these guys," coach Mike Martz said. "Overall, I'm pleased with the effort and the execution in many areas of this football team."

    On offense, the Rams moved 70 yards for touchdowns on their first and third series. Arlen Harris scored on a 1-yard run on the first series, with Chris Chandler at quarterback. On the third series, wide receiver Kevin Curtis scored on a 35-yard pass from rookie Jeff Smoker.

    With Smoker at quarterback, the Rams moved 46 yards on their second series for what would have been a 41-yard field goal attempt.

    Each team had a separate session for kicking field goals, but at predetermined spots on the field, and not based on what was happening from scrimmage.

    On defense, the Rams posted three-and-outs on three of the Bears' five series, with linebacker Tommy Polley all over the field in the early going. Chicago scored its only TD of the day on its fourth series, with the Rams using primarily third- and fourth-stringers by then. It was the only time the Bears were even in field goal range all day.

    "I liked what I saw," new defensive coordinator Larry Marmie said. "We would've felt better if they hadn't gotten the ball in the end zone. But it looked like there was some good hitting. It looked like our guys were in positions that they were supposed to be in for the most part. ... I'm not disappointed at all."

    But don't start making those Super Bowl travel plans just yet. The Bears and Rams both rested many of their regulars. Only eight Rams players who figure to be starters on opening day started on Saturday, four on offense and four on defense.

    Fifteen Rams were held out because of injuries, but many of those ailments were of the bump-and-bruise variety and wouldn't have kept players out of the lineup were it a regular-season game. Martz also decided to rest Marc Bulger, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt on offense, and Adam Archuleta and Aeneas Williams on defense. They were all healthy scratches.

    So about all Saturday's get-together really showed is that the Rams' reserves were a little better and a little faster than Chicago's. But that didn't deter the overflow crowd of 14,000 at Hanson Field from adding a festive atmosphere to the scrimmage.

    "It was exciting to have this many people here," Martz said. "It's a tremendous statement for this city. They've done such a great job of putting this on. As I was coming in, I was just kind of amazed at the tent set-ups, and all the tailgating going on out there. I kind of got caught up in it. I was about to stop and have some ribs myself."

    Instead he watched Chandler, who was shaky at times in Friday's workouts against the Bears, complete six of six passes on the first series. Three completions were on third down. They were to Shaun McDonald, Dane Looker and Mike Furrey.

    "Chris did a nice job," Martz said. "But you know, he's played so much and he's so smooth. And as you can see with the rhythm and the tempo, nothing fazes him."

    The play of the day came on the Rams' third series. On third and 6 from the Chicago 35, Smoker hit Curtis in stride on a crossing pattern. It looked like Curtis would make it to about the 10, but McDonald hustled up field to throw a block that allowed Curtis to score.

    "I didn't have to do much," Curtis said. "Smoker put it right on me. He got good time at the line. And Shaun kind of sprung me with that last block. I could've walked in."

    But the biggest cheers Saturday came when former Western Illinois star Russ Michna trotted out on the field for the final seven plays of the scrimmage.

    "That was nice to hear," said Michna, the Rams' No. 4 quarterback. "Right now, there's nowhere else I'd rather be than right here in Macomb. It's great to know that they still appreciate what you did for them."

    Michna completed a 17-yard pass to Furrey on his first play, but things went downhill from them. Michna was sacked twice; recovered a botched snap from rookie center Larry Turner on another play; and had a slightly overthrown pass sail through the hands of Furrey incomplete.



    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • Nick
    Jeff Gordon's Rams Recap
    by Nick
    Rams Recap: Makeshift line and Chandler hold up well
    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    08/11/2004

    As dress rehearsals go, Thursday night's exhibition with the Chicago Bears was fairly productive.

    The Rams got plenty done during their 13-10 preseason overtime loss to the penalty-prone Bears at the Edward Jones Dome.

    Youngsters Andy King and Scott Tercero got to take their bows with the first-team offense during the pre-game introductions. Then they held up admirably at left guard and right tackle, respectively, despite their inexperience.

    The makeshift offensive line allowed only one sack, on a linebacker blitz, until well into the third quarter. Under the circumstances, that is not bad.

    The front defensive seven had an excellent surge for most of the game, despite the constant rotation of personnel. Captain Tyoka Jackson spent a great deal of time in the Bears backfield.

    Back-up quarterback Chris Chandler didn't always look sharp up at Macomb, Ill. -- but he was most impressive during his first Rams game in a long, long time. He looked surprisingly nimble in the pocket during his first-half appearance and made accurate throws all over the field.

    Here is what else caught our eyes:


    THE GOOD

    * With the Bears in scoring position, we loved the way cornerback Kevin Garrett smothered receiver Marty Booker on a corner route into the end zone. That Rex Grossman pass landed harmlessly out of bounds.

    * Rams quarterback Marc Bulger appeared to be in midseason form when he found receiver Isaac Bruce for 19- and 24-yard passes on back-to-back plays. He also threw a nice third-down strike to receiver Dane Looker, good for 13 yards along the right sideline and a first down.

    * On their first defensive sequence, the Rams applied decent pass pressure but didn't get results. But on the first play on of the second sequence, veteran Jackson burst in and dumped Jonathan Quinn.

    * The assault continued with defensive ends Leonard Little and Bryce Fisher arriving simultaneously to sack Quinn.

    * Receiver Shaun McDonald reminded us why the Rams liked him so much last summer; he snagged a Chandler pass while slicing right to left through the Bears secondary. He turned on his jets and turned that into a 40-yard gain.

    * Chandler showed his veteran poise to throw his first Rams touchdown pass in some time. He looked left and found nothing, then rolled back right and flipped a pass to fullback Joey Goodspeed -- who released into the right flat for a 13-yard TD reception.

    That capped an impressive 86-yard scoring drive engineered by Chandler. Maybe he does have a little bit left in that 900-year-old body.

    * Nice pass, nice catch -- rookie quarterback Jeff Smoker gunned a nice throw down the middle...
    -08-13-2004, 12:19 AM
  • RamDez
    RamView, August 12, 2004
    by RamDez
    RamView, August 12, 2004

    From Row HH

    (Report and opinions from the game.)

    Preseason Game #1: Bears 13, Rams 10 (OT)



    More penalties than total points? Must be preseason! But hey, football is back. Hooray football!



    Bright spots: Starting offensive and defensive lines looked better than expected.



    Position by position:

    * QB: Marc Bulger drove the Rams to their initial FG on 3-6-57 passing, the highlight pass a 14-yarder to Dane Looker between two defenders to convert a 3rd-and-12 from the Bear 26. The drive and Bulger's night ended with Marc getting swamped by a Bear blitz. Chris Chandler was close to perfect in relief, 8-9-108 and a TD to Joey Goodspeed. Chandler showed nice accuracy and surprisingly nimble feet, though both a 5-yard scramble on 4th-and-1 and a nice improvised rollout and zinger to Shaun McDonald for 21 were nullified by penalties on Goodspeed and Grant Williams. He scrambled some more on the Goodspeed TD, buying a lot of time before finding the fullback for the score. Chandler showed he can run this offense if needed, though he'll need to avoid dumb interceptions like the deep out intended for Kevin Curtis late in the 2nd. Gotta know after 17 years in the league that you can't force that throw, Chris. Or at least get some air under it. Jeff Smoker (7-14-81) had some expectable rookie moments, but showed he's good raw material. He did a lot of checking down, but also showed a good arm and hung tough in the pocket. (Hmm. Like the Rams' last QB from Michigan State.) Smoker, whose theme song is officially "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band, showed great touch on a 24-yard completion to TE Mike Brake early in the 3rd, but he lamentably overthrew a wide open McDonald in the 4th, which probably would have led to a score. Trying to drive the Rams for a score with 1:04 left, he held the ball too long on first down and took a sack on his own 7. He followed that with a HORRIBLE forced pass in the flat that Chicago LB Joe Odom should have intercepted and returned for a score. Smoker's got some skills, and he's definitely got Mike Martz mad at him, so he's right on schedule as a Rams rookie QB.



    * RB: Steven Jackson (15-73) got almost all of the work as Arlen Harris started but left early with an injury. (Here’s an SAT question for you: Arlen Harris is to Mike Martz as ? was to Dick Vermeil. Answer at end of column.) Radio said Jackson is still a little slow reading the defensive alignment before the snap, but he's fitting in nicely in the passing game, with four catches, and he made a sweet blitz pickup that belies his rookie status. As a runner, he's got explosiveness; he waits for his blocks; he can wiggle through a small hole and burst into the open, like on his long run of 18 in the 3rd; and he can take on tacklers. He didn't seem to have great speed to the outside,...
    -08-13-2004, 10:44 AM
  • Nick
    Rams take away a victory over Bears - PD
    by Nick
    Rams take away a victory over Bears
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Aug. 12 2005

    The Rams escaped Friday's preseason opener with no injuries of note, some work
    to do offensively and a little momentum on defense. As August football goes,
    that's not a bad night's work.

    It all added up to a 17-13 victory over the Chicago Bears at the Edward Jones
    Dome in the preseason opener for St. Louis. The Bears, who played Miami on
    Monday in the Hall of Fame game, are 1-1 in preseason, but more importantly
    lost quarterback Rex Grossman for three to four months Friday with a broken
    ankle.

    "We came out of this thing clean injurywise, which is a plus," coach Mike Martz
    said. "But I'm just heartsick over Rex Grossman. That's one of those things
    that's a coach's nightmare. It's a team's nightmare."

    At least on this night, it wasn't St. Louis' nightmare.

    The revamped St. Louis defense, featuring new linebackers Chris Claiborne and
    Dexter Coakley, got off on the right foot Friday, posting three-and-out series
    on Chicago's first two offensive possessions. All told, the Bears had only one
    first down and 25 yards of offense in the opening quarter before the Rams
    started sprinkling in reserves in the second quarter.

    "That first group on defense was really going good," Martz said. "We'll just
    see how it carries on."

    During that opening quarter, defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy got consistent
    penetration up the middle, Claiborne made his presence felt on run support and
    outside linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa was all over the field.

    "We're trying to come out this year and show that we've improved on defense,"
    defensive end Anthony Hargrove said. "And as you can see, the first half we
    were real stout. And then our defense was in position to win the game for us
    (at the end), and that's what they did."

    Tinoisamoa forced a fumble early in the second quarter on a carry by Chicago
    running back Thomas Jones. Cornerback DeJuan Groce, who was starting in place
    of the injured Jerametrius Butler, recovered for the Rams. "We just did a good
    job of pursuing to the ball," Groce said. "Big things happen when you get to
    the ball."

    In the third quarter, Rams cornerback Corey Ivy intercepted a Kyle Orton pass
    that was tipped by 6-foot-6 defensive end Vontrell Jamison. Ivy joined the Rams
    this year from Tampa Bay. The interception gave the Rams two takeaways for the
    night, which may not seem like a big deal until you realize it's twice as many
    as the Rams had all of last preseason.

    It became three takeaways on...
    -08-12-2005, 10:42 PM
  • RamDez
    RamView : From Row HH
    by RamDez
    Mike Franke

    (Report and opinions from the game.)

    Preseason Game #1: Bears 13, Rams 10 (OT)



    More penalties than total points? Must be preseason! But hey, football is back. Hooray football!



    Bright spots: Starting offensive and defensive lines looked better than expected.



    Position by position:

    * QB: Marc Bulger drove the Rams to their initial FG on 3-6-57 passing, the highlight pass a 14-yarder to Dane Looker between two defenders to convert a 3rd-and-12 from the Bear 26. The drive and Bulger's night ended with Marc getting swamped by a Bear blitz. Chris Chandler was close to perfect in relief, 8-9-108 and a TD to Joey Goodspeed. Chandler showed nice accuracy and surprisingly nimble feet, though both a 5-yard scramble on 4th-and-1 and a nice improvised rollout and zinger to Shaun McDonald for 21 were nullified by penalties on Goodspeed and Grant Williams. He scrambled some more on the Goodspeed TD, buying a lot of time before finding the fullback for the score. Chandler showed he can run this offense if needed, though he'll need to avoid dumb interceptions like the deep out intended for Kevin Curtis late in the 2nd. Gotta know after 17 years in the league that you can't force that throw, Chris. Or at least get some air under it. Jeff Smoker (7-14-81) had some expectable rookie moments, but showed he's good raw material. He did a lot of checking down, but also showed a good arm and hung tough in the pocket. (Hmm. Like the Rams' last QB from Michigan State.) Smoker, whose theme song is officially "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band, showed great touch on a 24-yard completion to TE Mike Brake early in the 3rd, but he lamentably overthrew a wide open McDonald in the 4th, which probably would have led to a score. Trying to drive the Rams for a score with 1:04 left, he held the ball too long on first down and took a sack on his own 7. He followed that with a HORRIBLE forced pass in the flat that Chicago LB Joe Odom should have intercepted and returned for a score. Smoker's got some skills, and he's definitely got Mike Martz mad at him, so he's right on schedule as a Rams rookie QB.



    * RB: Steven Jackson (15-73) got almost all of the work as Arlen Harris started but left early with an injury. (Here’s an SAT question for you: Arlen Harris is to Mike Martz as ? was to Dick Vermeil. Answer at end of column.) Radio said Jackson is still a little slow reading the defensive alignment before the snap, but he's fitting in nicely in the passing game, with four catches, and he made a sweet blitz pickup that belies his rookie status. As a runner, he's got explosiveness; he waits for his blocks; he can wiggle through a small hole and burst into the open, like on his long run of 18 in the 3rd; and he can take on tacklers. He didn't seem to have great speed to the outside, and he had footing problems a couple of times....
    -08-13-2004, 01:46 PM
  • RamDez
    Chandler makes his mark in Rams' loss
    by RamDez
    Chandler makes his mark in Rams' loss
    By Bill Coats

    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/13/2004





    Rams backup quarterback Chris Chandler will turn 39 in October - ancient by NFL standards. But he proved Thursday night on the Edward Jones Dome turf that plenty of life remains in his arm. And his legs.

    On the Rams' first possession in their exhibition-opening 13-10 overtime loss to Chicago, first-team QB Marc Bulger directed a 12-play, 64-yard march that ended with a 33-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins. Then Bulger handed off to Chandler, who performed like the 17-year NFL veteran that he is.

    Though Chandler has called coach Mike Martz's intricate attack "the most challenging offense I've ever been in," he was more than efficient at the controls. Chandler completed eight of nine passes for 108 of the Rams' 222 passing yards. He also engineered the team's only touchdown drive, a four-play, 86-yard march that took only 2 minutes off the clock.

    "He did a great job," Martz said. "For a guy his age, he gets plenty of zip on the ball. I was very pleased with his performance."

    Chandler said: "I felt like I saw everything the way I was supposed to see it and threw the ball well. When you have an understanding of this offense, it's really a fun one to work within."

    The TD march began with a 2-yard run by running back Steven Jackson, the team's No. 1 draft choice. Then Chandler hooked up with second-year wide receiver Shaun McDonald for a 40-yard gain. On the next play, Chandler lofted a pass for wideout Kevin Curtis, who had sprinted past the defense.

    When cornerback Eric Kelly hauled down Curtis, the pass interference call gave the Rams an additional 30 yards and a first down at the Chicago 14. Two plays later, Chandler nimbly spun away from a pair of rushing defenders, sprinted to his right and hit fullback Joey Goodspeed, who scampered 13 yards to the end zone.

    Bulger was impressed with Chandler's mobility.

    "He was running around a lot more than I thought he could," Bulger said.

    After the Bears punted, Chandler had the offense moving again. He hit Jackson twice with short tosses, then on successive snaps connected with McDonald near the right sideline for 8 yards, Curtis for 19 down the middle and McDonald again on the right side for 9. With 33 seconds to go, the Rams had advanced to the Chicago 39.

    "He stepped in there and made some plays," said McDonald, who led receivers with five catches for 78 yards. "You're not in the league for that long for no reason."

    An interception halted the drive, but Chandler wasn't culpable. His pass down the left sideline nestled into Curtis' arms, but Kelly charged up from behind and snatched the ball away.

    "I thought I had it and
    ...
    -08-13-2004, 01:41 PM
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