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  • Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    Rams starters were shoved around

    By Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    08/24/2009

    The Rams are back at work, preparing for their third preseason game of the season.

    Here is what they must focus on:

    1. Blocking.

    2. Tackling.

    The Rams challenge is that fundamental. Their first-unit players neither blocked or tackled well during Friday night’s preseason loss to Atlanta.

    As a result, the Falcons starters shoved them around.

    What happened after that was more encouraging. Several of the depth players made a positive impression as coach Steve Spagnuolo continued his sorting process.

    But their first quarter was alarming. The Rams fell behind 14-0 immediately.

    Their offensive line was missing starters Jacob Bell and Alex Barron and it showed. The group did an OK job protecting quarterback Kyle Boller early on, but they didn’t clear running room against the Falcons defense.

    On defense, their first unit offered token resistance as the Falcons marched for touchdowns. A LOT went wrong for that group.

    “I do think our guys would tell you they would have liked to have tackled better,” Spanguolo said after the game. “That’s just defensive football. You have got to tackle.”

    At his Saturday news conference, he added this: “You go against a good running football team, it’s a good challenge. I don’t think I did a good job getting them ready for that challenge and I’m going to take the hit on that. Atlanta had some nice little twists in there in some of their run game. And when they hit that second play of the game for the long run, you know it tends to get you on your heels and we can’t do that. You just got to get back to basics and play football.”

    Here were some other impressions:

    * Playing in place of injured quarterback Marc Bulger, Kyle Boller showed good mobility and made some nice throws. He also misfired at critical points of the first half. He looks like a decent fit as a back-up in this system, but no more.

    * Rookie right tackle Jason Smith still has some work to do. With Alex Barron out because of a minor knee injury, he got to play with the first team with Adam Goldberg playing the left side. Would the Rams be better off having Smith play the left side?

    * Receiver Laurent Robertson put on a show as Boller’s No. 1 target. His highlight was a 25-yard catch and run on third down. He would have had a big TD score, too, but Boller overthrew him after Robinson gained major separation streaking toward the end zone.

    * Receiver Keenan Burton made a nice catch and tightrope run up the right sideline to advance the Rams into the red zone late in the first half. With rookie Brooks Foster possibly shelved for the season by ankle surgery, the Rams need Burton to stay healthy and produce.

    * Running back Steven Jackson got out of the game after rushing three times for 10 yards. Fear not, though; he is healthy and the Rams know what to expect from Jackson when he is healthy.

    * Running back Samkon Gado didn’t advance his case for the No. 2 role. His blocking wasn’t great and his running wasn’t great. That added up to five yards rushing on 12 carries. He salvaged the night with some decent kickoff returns.

    Gado and Boller botched a red-zone exchange, costing their team at least three points. Might the Rams give veteran running back Ahman Green a call back during the next few days?

    * Kickoff returner Kenneth Darby didn’t get anywhere on his first three attempts. His blocking wasn’t great and his running wasn’t great. Later, he salvaged his night with one big, timely run from scrimmage.

    * Star-crossed cornerback Tye Hill turned the wrong way at the end of the 14-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Tony Gonzalez. Had he turned the right way, though, he would have needed a ladder to defend the destined Hall of Fame tight end.

    * Outside linebacker Will Witherspoon read a D.J. Shockley pass in the second quarter, jumped the route . . . and dropped the pick. But at least he read the play.

    * Rookie middle linebacker James Laurinaitis had a right-place, right-time interception right after that -- picking off a pass off the carom.

    * Cornerback Ron Bartell stayed in coverage during a Shockley scramble, made a nice break on the pass and nearly got the pick.

    * Some blitz recognition issues arose during the second quarter, forcing Boller to run for his life. Sometimes he didn’t make it.

    * Tight end Daniel Fells got loose for a nice 16-yard reception from Brock Berlin, the second quarterback into the game. Berlin advanced his case in his battle with rookie Keith Null for the No. 3 quarterback spot.

    * An unfortunate holding call on Ronald Curry took some big downfield yardage away from fellow receiver Derek Stanley. Curry didn’t show much as a receiver, but he is learning the offense on the fly.

    * Stanley looked very dangerous catching quick short passes and taking off with the ball. And Derek really helped himself by catching a 20-yard TD pass from Berlin. He ran a nice route and made a nice catch.

    Later, Stanley hurt himself by dropping a wide-open pass in a classic case of running before he had the ball. But his overall performance eased the sting of the Foster injury.

    * Outside linebacker Larry Grant helped himself by forcing a fumble with a blitz sack. (Big Hollis Thomas, getting in better shape by the day, hustled after the loose ball and got the recovery).

    * Rookie defensive tackle Darell Scott helped himself with a nice third-quarterback sequence, following a sturdy run stuff with a quarterback sack. If he can stay healthy, he can earn his place on the team. He has lost critical practice time in this preseason.

    * The Falcons made a lot of big plays on back-up safety Todd Johnson’s watch, but he bounced back to make a diving interception on a deflected pass. That was helpful, since he is battling David Roach for a roster spot.

    * Roach didn’t help himself with his (lack of) open-field tackling.

    * Running with the reserves, running back Antonio Pittman helped himself by actually getting through a few holes.

    * Tight end Billy Bajema’s bulldozing catch and run for 16 yards reminded us that he is more than just a strong run blocker. Then he ran a couple of nice routes to catch passes from Null.

    * Null, by the way, was most impressive in the fourth quarter. His battle with Berlin is spirited. His bid for a last-second touchdown pass went through the hands of Joe Klopfenstein (go figure), then he threw a game-ending interception.

    So after a mostly positive Week 1 in the preseason, the Rams came back with a discouraging Week 2 performance. Spagnuolo doesn’t believe in live tackling drills in practice -- due to the injury risk -- but the Rams can expect a renewed since of urgency around Rams Park.

    They cannot allow Friday night’s struggle to become indicative of where this team is headed in ’09. They must get off their heels and get back on the attack.

  • #2
    Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    Cornerback Ron Bartell stayed in coverage during a Shockley scramble, made a nice break on the pass and nearly got the pick.
    Ronnie's got to come down with that one in the season.

    I think the combination of .......
    Tight end Billy Bajema’s bulldozing catch and run for 16 yards reminded us that he is more than just a strong run blocker. Then he ran a couple of nice routes to catch passes from Null.
    ......and.....
    Null, by the way, was most impressive in the fourth quarter. His battle with Berlin is spirited. His bid for a last-second touchdown pass went through the hands of Joe Klopfenstein (go figure), then he threw a game-ending interception.
    .....will contribute significantly to the extinction of the North American Horned Klopfenstein.
    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

      Kyle Boller played so bad we should dump him and keep, Null and Berlin. Berlin is playing as better then Boller.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

        Originally posted by Rambos View Post
        Kyle Boller played so bad we should dump him and keep, Null and Berlin. Berlin is playing as better then Boller.
        As crazy as this scenario might sound, the same thing was running through my head. I do not see what Boller has done that indicates he is a better QB than either Berlin or Null ...

        Now, Null has been playing against bottom feeding competition, but he does look composed in the pocket, and seems to be in touch with his ability ...

        Berlin is having his second straight fairly solid preseason ....

        I, personally, would cut Boller, and run with Bulger, Berlin, Null. If Bulger goes down, the season is probably going to be scrapped anyway, so let the young guys play and grow ....

        Boller has serious problems with accuracy from what I have seen. That has been the case his entire career. He just doesn't have "it" ...

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

          As much as I want to say something positive about Boller, I really just can't. If we were a competitive team lookingtowards the playoffs, I would almost certainly back him up, but considering that we'd have to be the reincarnation of the 99 Rams to do that, I really don't think that it would be that bad of an idea. Infiniti's right, if Bulger goes down, the season's scrapped anyway, so why not give both of the kids a shot? I can't believe I'm saying that!
          I believe!:ram:

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

            I was excited to read that we brought in Boller. My thinking was maybe a change of scenery would do him good. He has had his chances in Baltimore and couldn't cut the mustard but maybe we are jumping the gun on wanting to cut him loose and keep Berlin and Null? Boller should at least be given a fair chance to prove himself on a new team and in a new system. In my opinion Berlin is the odd man out but that's just me.
            sigpic :ram::helmet:

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

              Boller is better than Berlin. I can't understand why anyone thinks Berlin is the answer to anything.

              Considering how below average Smith has been in pass protection, why are people still wondering if he should be playing on the left side? Pass blocking was his weakness in college, he's proving it is still his weakness and people continue to want to move him to the blind side. I don't get it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

                Nobody is talking about Tye Hill getting turned around by old Tony Gonzalez for a TD. Tye better step up!
                LA RAMMER

                It's Jim not Chris
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HNgqQVHI_8

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

                  Originally posted by laram0 View Post
                  I was excited to read that we brought in Boller. My thinking was maybe a change of scenery would do him good. He has had his chances in Baltimore and couldn't cut the mustard but maybe we are jumping the gun on wanting to cut him loose and keep Berlin and Null? Boller should at least be given a fair chance to prove himself on a new team and in a new system. In my opinion Berlin is the odd man out but that's just me.
                  Exactly! We've only played two preseason games so far, and Boller is learning a new system with receivers that he's had no prior experience with. Couple that with the fact our O-line is still in a state of flux and Jackson only getting token touches, then it seems quite a stretch to expect Boller to set the world on fire two games into the preseason. Hey .. at least he can run, and from all accounts so far, this is an attribute that will serve Kyle well adding to the possibility he'll emerge alive after the last preseason game..

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

                    Ahman Green is sounding better and better after the last game. Does anybody else get that feeling?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

                      Originally posted by viper View Post
                      Ahman Green is sounding better and better after the last game. Does anybody else get that feeling?

                      As much as I want us to have a solid back-up to SJ, Ahman Green sounds like "cash for clunkers" to me. He's past his prime and we should work with a younger runner who will be around for a few more years. Just my humble opinon.

                      Go Rams!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

                        Originally posted by mde8352gorams View Post
                        As much as I want us to have a solid back-up to SJ, Ahman Green sounds like "cash for clunkers" to me. He's past his prime and we should work with a younger runner who will be around for a few more years. Just my humble opinon.

                        Go Rams!
                        I agree with the youth movement. I'm just not so sure we have the right youth in place. I'm talking about a possible stop gap measure until we find the right young lad. Maybe he is already on the team...again, maybe he's not.

                        Gado, Darby and Pittman all have potential, I suppose. Gado showed promise with the one big run. But, then again that could have been a fluke. 12 carries for 5 yards in game two doesn't inspire much confidence. Darby looks like a strong runner and may prove to be solid and Pittman has shown some flashes for getting through holes. I guess I'm just getting impatient with that backup RB position and would really like to get that shored up.

                        Much work left to be done on this team, in many areas, Grasshopper. That's for sure.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

                          Originally posted by MauiRam View Post
                          Exactly! We've only played two preseason games so far, and Boller is learning a new system with receivers that he's had no prior experience with. Couple that with the fact our O-line is still in a state of flux and Jackson only getting token touches, then it seems quite a stretch to expect Boller to set the world on fire two games into the preseason. Hey .. at least he can run, and from all accounts so far, this is an attribute that will serve Kyle well adding to the possibility he'll emerge alive after the last preseason game..
                          I agree with Maui, you guys are crazy. Boller is 9 for 16 for 91 yards which is decent, but not bad or great.

                          But when you look at all the factors it's better than it may appear. Consider he's going against the falcons first D who were using many different blitz packages. 1) With a RB that didn't really play much last year (Gado), they had virtually no running game. Anytime you average less than 3 yards per carry, it makes the QB's job very difficult. 2) career back up receivers or rookies at the receiver position. His stronger arm than the other three QB's allows him to throw to the WR's much more. However, the rams receivers are probably one of the worst corps in the NFL and consider Avery was not playing would make things even more difficult. 3) The offensive line was a make shift line. He was put on the ground on 10 of his passes. 4) Plus, he had less than one week of preparation with the so called 1's.

                          Consider those 4 factors what do you guys expect 13/16 2 td?? You guys are not very realistic or don't know that much about football.
                          Last edited by Toprank; -08-25-2009, 09:07 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

                            Honestly, I'm not worried about Boller. He's got a cannon for an arm and missed all of last year to injury, so he's getting his touch back.

                            Ahman Green is not the answer either (or TJ Duckett for that matter). Green hasn't played a full season since he left Green Bay.

                            Comment

                            Related Topics

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                            • MFranke
                              RamView, 8/21/2009: Falcons 20, Rams 13 (Long)
                              by MFranke
                              RamView, August 21, 2009
                              From Row HH
                              (Report and opinions from the game.)
                              Preseason Game #2: Falcons 20, Rams 13

                              Preseason is easy to overreact to; trust me, I'm an expert at it. The Rams definitely showed flaws, some painfully familiar, while getting overpowered by the Falcons tonight. But just as those weren't the 1999 Rams who won in New York last week, those weren't the 2007-08 Rams last night. While not ignoring the minuses, we'll be better off heeding the timeless words of Allen Iverson. We're talking about practice!

                              Position by position:
                              * QB: Now that I know Kyle Boller is dating former Miss California Carrie Prejean, who joins a list that includes Tara Reid and Petra Nemcova, all I can think now when I see him is, “Stoney Case”. If Boller (9-16-91) was as rusty in the singles scene as he was on the field tonight, he'd be dating Madeline Albright. Boller was about as accurate as a rookie weatherman at times. Most of his sideline passes were adventures. At least two of them should have been picked off. Laurent Robinson was open by a good couple of yards for what should have been a 40-yard TD in the 2nd, and Boller threw a bomb out of bounds that the WR couldn't even get to. He had Randy McMichael open by a mile on a dig route deep in Atlanta territory in the 2nd and threw the pass into the ground, short of him by yards. He had Keenan Burton open on one sideline pass, pumped, then had to roll out Burton's direction and throw him the pass on the comeback, that way he could get it out there. Yikes. I understand Boller's coming off shoulder surgery, and that he had men in his face on some of his throws, but everybody else understand that we're going to miss Marc Bulger if he stays hurt. A lot. I'll try to account for Boller's rust and that we've been spoiled by pinpoint-accurate throwers like Bulger and Kurt Warner for a decade. But Boller's numbers on the night were inches from being Ryan Leaf-quality. Speaking of Leaf, his protege Keith Null (6-9-56) had a pretty nice 4th quarter, though Null should look good in the 2:00 drill; that's basically his college offense. Null was accurate, threw the ball into some tight spots, showed a sweet play fake, and ran the offense and stood tall in the pocket with poise. He drove the Rams right down the field from their 35 toward the tying TD before Sean Walker got knocked off his route on a 4th-down blitz, and Null's spot pass for him was intercepted in the end zone. But it looks more and more like the kid's got “it”. That may be a bad thing for Brock Berlin (5-8-71), though he didn't have a bad 3rd quarter. His TD pass to Derek Stanley was a suh-weet throw. He couldn't keep the momentum going, though, taking a sack the next possession despite having plenty of time to throw and Jerome Johnson out in the flat lonelier than a pork chop at a vegan buffet. Thank you! I'll be here all week. So will Berlin, though thanks to Null's emergence, I'm...
                              -08-22-2009, 10:40 AM
                            • r8rh8rmike
                              Kyle Boller Still Has Soreness In Thigh
                              by r8rh8rmike
                              Kyle Boller still has soreness in thigh
                              By Bill Coats
                              ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                              12/12/2009

                              Perhaps the Rams were fortunate that kickoff for Sunday's game at Tennessee was moved back to 3:05 p.m. under the NFL flex-scheduling program. Quarterback Kyle Boller apparently will need as much time as possible to heal his sore thigh.

                              "I feel all right," Boller said after seeing limited action at practice Friday. "We still have 48 hours till the game. ... I'm not going to jeopardize the team if I'm not ready. I just feel like the progress I've made since yesterday is good. ... I don't think it should be a problem."

                              Boller was hurt last Sunday in the 17-9 loss at Chicago. He went through a full practice Wednesday but woke up sore Thursday. "It set him back a little bit," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "We're trying not to go backward."

                              Spagnuolo decreased Boller's reps significantly Thursday and Friday. Backing off with Boller meant ramping up with rookie Keith Null, who moved up to No. 2 when starter Marc Bulger was injured three weeks ago. Null, who had been running the scout-team offense, got his most extensive work with the first team all season.

                              "It's definitely good to get in, call our plays, run our plays and get some experience; it helps a ton," said Null, a sixth-round draft pick from NCAA Division II West Texas A&M. "It's one thing to watch and say the play while you're standing back, and it's another thing to actually get in the huddle, call it and then run that play."

                              Even if Boller starts vs. the Titans, as is fully expected, another shot to his leg could shove Null into his first regular-season action. "I have to be ready for anything," he said. "Being the backup, now you're only one play away."

                              Null, who played in a spread offense in college, has made considerable progress since the spring, Spagnuolo reported.

                              "He looks more comfortable, I guess is the best way to say it," Spagnuolo said. "I can remember back in (organized team activities) when taking a snap was a little bit different for him. So he's come a long way."

                              SMITH OUT AGAIN

                              Rookie Jason Smith, still experiencing the effects of a concussion, has been ruled out of a third consecutive game. Veteran Adam Goldberg will start again at right tackle.

                              Running back Steven Jackson (back) participated in a handful of plays in the early "install" period, then sat out the rest of practice. For the third Friday in a row, he was listed as questionable on the injury report.

                              Fullback Mike Karney (neck) and defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey (wrist) also were questionable. Probables were Boller, wide receivers Donnie Avery (shoulder) and Brandon Gibson (ankle), linebacker James Laurinaitis (shoulder)...
                              -12-12-2009, 11:34 AM
                            • MFranke
                              RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009
                              by MFranke
                              RamView, August 7, 2007
                              Team Scrimmage Report from Lindenwood College


                              Hey, St. Louis may have figured out it's time for some football. A capacity crowd of 7,000 watched tonight as the Rams locked horns with one another in the closest atmosphere to a live game they've seen so far this preseason. The problem is, I'm not really sure exactly what we all learned tonight. The Rams might have answers right now to a couple of their myriad issues, but there are still an awful lot of questions left blank thus far on their 2009 NFL entrance exam.

                              Position by position:

                              * QB: Marc Bulger looked solid enough, though I'm not ready to proclaim he's “back” like they just did on the 10 o'clock news. The short passing game clicked and Bulger especially made some nice throws into tight spaces. He found Keenan Burton and Donnie Avery downfield a couple of times and is still working really well with Randy McMichael. He was picked off from the goal line by Quincy Butler on an attempted out route to Laurent Robinson. Butler really jumped that route, so I'm not sure if Bulger's throw was the problem there. At least I hope not. That wasn't Bulger's only INT, though; Craig Dahl picked off a deep throw to end the offense's first two-minute drill. Nobody inspired much confidence behind Bulger. Kyle Boller was under pretty good pressure much of the scrimmage and chucked a couple of INTs – one a dumb throw into double coverage, another 10 yards past the nearest receiver and right to the deep safety, I think Dahl again. The TE cut off his route early on that second INT, though, and I'll bet he wasn't supposed to. At least in Boller's mind. I actually started worrying about Boller before the scrimmage started; I don't think he made a single good throw to the sideline in warmups. Brock Berlin lost the snap from center on his first play, really bad timing since the Rams were starting that drive at their goal line. Keith Null didn't show a lot of zing on his deep throws, and he badly missed on a timing route into the end zone during goal line drills, but he drilled a pass into the end zone the next play for a TD on what had to be his best throw of camp so far. Null also showed off a pretty nice play-fake. They're doing well enough by-and-large with the short passing game, but there were a lot of misses deep.

                              * RB: Very limited action for Steven Jackson – 3-4 snaps – and Kenneth Darby, and on just about any sweep, the refs were blowing the whistle before the back could get out and turn the corner, making it hard again to figure how well many running plays actually would have fared. Samkon Gado started at fullback; I do not believe Mike Karney played. Gado's RB3 ahead of Antonio Pittman, but Pittman showed some of the nice footwork and elusiveness that makes him worth keeping around. Chris Ogbannaya and Null collided on one attempted handoff and had a lengthy discussion on the field over who was at fault....
                              -08-08-2009, 12:07 AM
                            • MFranke
                              RamView, 9/3/2009: Rams 17, Chiefs 9 (Long)
                              by MFranke
                              RamView, September 3, 2009
                              From Row HH
                              (Report and opinions from the game.)
                              Preseason Game #4: Rams 17, Chiefs 9

                              The St. Louis Rams – 2009 Missouri state champs! But more important than that, believe it or not, were the final intrasquad contests, at nearly every position. RamView will now take on the daunting task of breaking down those battles while not detracting from the historical nature of the Rams bringing the storied Governor’s Cup back east…

                              * QB: Whoever won the fight at third QB tonight didn’t do it by knockout. Brock Berlin (9-17-97) probably had the better night, despite a bad interception deep in the Rams’ own end in the 2nd. Berlin underthrew what was supposed to be a quick out for Daniel Fells. Hard to believe he didn’t see DaJuan Morgan out there, so I’m assuming the throw was worse than the decision was. Berlin played the second quarter and led the Rams on an earlier TD drive, making several nice throws along the way. After being robbed of a 33-yard TD pass thanks to Derek Stanley’s brutal drop, he hit Nate Jones on the sideline at the 6 with a 27- yard pass, and shortly after, drilled a pass to Fells in traffic at the goal line for the go-ahead TD. Berlin’s engineered some TD drives this summer; his ability to finish drives has to work in his favor. Keith Null (9-17-78) auditioned the whole second half, hitting only one long throw of note, as 23-yarder to Sean Walker. Null didn’t show a lot of touch on what you’d have to call classic WCO throws. Several of the five-yard slant-variety throws he made were high, hard ones his receiver couldn’t handle. Easy there, hoss. Null also fumbled on a completely-blown running play and walked right into a sack in the 4th. Tonight’s starter was actually Kyle Boller (3-4-24), who barely broke even if you take away the 18 yards he lost on just two sacks. I have no idea what the decision’s going to be at QB. Taking the snap from center, having to deal with blitzes, Null hasn’t looked ready to run the offense the last couple of weeks. Yeah, about as ready as Berlin was to play in Cincinnati a couple of years ago. And Steve Spagnuolo’s last team in New York wasn’t that concerned about entering recent seasons without much experience at third string, like Andre Woodson or Hefty Lefty Lorenzen, both 7th-round picks iirc. The guess here is that Berlin’s really going to wish he had that interception back. Waiver bait: Berlin.

                              * RB: The muddle behind Steven Jackson on the depth chart got even more muddled when Samkon Gado (6-17) left the game due to a rib injury. And even more muddled because the other backs didn’t make much of their golden ticket. Antonio Pittman (3-3) made a couple of nice blitz pickups but didn’t find much running room. Kenneth Darby (3-14) weaved through the middle nicely a couple of times. Chris Ogbannaya (12-41) got extensive work in the 2nd half. He popped a couple of 10-yard runs early but spent the rest of...
                              -09-04-2009, 11:14 AM
                            • MFranke
                              RamView, 8/27/2009: Rams 24, Bengals 21 (Long)
                              by MFranke
                              RamView, August 27, 2009
                              From The Couch
                              (Report and opinions on the game.)
                              Preseason Game #3: Rams 24, Bengals 21

                              The Rams took a hard knock early from the stars of Hard Knocks, but rode the turnover wave again to bounce back for their second preseason victory, and bounce back from last week’s tough loss. Overcoming their flaws tonight with opportunism and resiliency, this team’s showing the character Steve Spagnuolo’s trying to instill in them. They’re far from perfect, but unlike the last two seasons, they’re playing like believers.

                              * QB: It was a nice night to be Kyle Boller (14-20-96, 1 TD), as he led a long TD drive in the 1st to reset the team’s momentum from a poor start. Boller showed fine poise in the pocket, nice mobility I should have given him more credit for last week, and good accuracy on most of his passes. It helped that everything was to the middle of the field this week instead of the more difficult outside throws Boller’s been struggling with. But it helped more that he made critical plays during the two TD drives he led. A screen to Steven Jackson with a blitz coming converted a 2nd-and-long, and again later with a Bengal bearing down on him, Boller found Ronald Curry on 3rd-and-7 to keep the 1st TD drive alive. Boller kept the 2nd TD drive afloat with clutch play, a tough 2nd-down scramble followed by a bullet slant pass to Laurent Robinson for a first down at the Bengals 5. Factor in 2 or 3 drops by his receivers, and Boller had as good a night as you could want him to have, especially since it left out those difficult deep throws that vexed him last week. The QB3 battle, meanwhile, has turned into an unpretty war of attrition, with neither of the back-benchers showing much tonight. Brock Berlin was 2-5-21 in the 3rd, and in the 4th, Keith Null (1-4-24) suddenly turned into 2000 Rick Ankiel, making high, wild throws and looking little like a player who had developed into one of the surprises of training camp. Even his one completion was a dubious play, a ball unwisely chucked into coverage but caught by Sean Walker across midfield. Not sure what made Null so uncomfortable tonight – less work from the shotgun? Bengal blitzing? But he looked as bad making sideline throws as Boller did last week, and the clash at QB3 is going to come down to a tiebreaker next week.

                              * RB: What does Steven Jackson (5-12) have in common with the President of the US? They both get a LOT of August off. Jackson had just 6 touches tonight, most of them handoffs with no room to run where he got stuffed. He had one 10-yard run, but a key play of the first TD drive was a 2nd-and-11 screen pass where he hurdled a tackler and scooted for the 1st. Samkon Gado (5-33) stepped in that same drive at RB2 and loudly announced “I’d like to keep this job, please,” with a 9-yard power run and a 16-yard cutback run for a TD that put the Rams back in the game. Also helping Gado keep RB2: Antonio...
                              -08-28-2009, 12:54 PM
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