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St. Louis Rams vs. Cinncinnati Bengals: 5 Things To Watch

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  • St. Louis Rams vs. Cinncinnati Bengals: 5 Things To Watch

    St. Louis Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals 5 things to watch


    Rey Maualuga and James Laurinaitis were both on the board when the Rams made their second-round pick in the draft last April. To the surprise of some, they chose the linebacker from Ohio State at No. 35 overall instead of the LB from Southern Cal. Maualuga was snatched up three picks later by the Bengals.

    A disturbing trend from the Scott Linehan era has carried over so far into the Steve Spagnuolo regime — namely, a lack of preseason TDs by the first-team offense. Granted, four starters were missing last week against Atlanta, and three will be out tonight, but it's time for QB Kyle Boller and the starters to find the end zone.

    The Rams' starting defensive unit was little more than a speed bump for Michael Turner and the Atlanta running game last week. The Bengals don't have nearly the talent in the backfield or on the offensive line as the Falcons; the St. Louis front seven needs to re-assert itself, particularly at the defensive tackle positions.

    In our last installment (vs. Atlanta) Samkon Gado was stopped cold; Antonio Pittman wasn't much better. Kenneth Darby rallied but suffered a sprained knee and probably won't play tonight. Rookie Chris Ogbonnaya didn't even get a carry. Gado and Pittman can distance themselves from the pack with good showings against Cincy.

    At the moment, Derek Stanley is the front-runner for the punt return job; Gado has done the best work on kickoff returns. But nobody has been overwhelming. Special teams coordinator Tom McMahon, not to mention Spagnuolo, would breathe easier if the Rams could get something going in this area.

    — Jim Thomas

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  • r8rh8rmike
    Rams vs. Falcons: 5 Things To Watch
    by r8rh8rmike
    Rams vs. Falcons: 5 things to watch
    By Jim Thomas

    Hello, Jason — Alex Barron isn't expected to play because of a knee injury. That means No. 2 overall draft pick Jason Smith should make his first NFL start, albeit in the preseason. After a rough stretch in early August, Smith's play has smoothed out lately. A good showing at RT tonight could keep him in the starting lineup.

    Kyle's turn — With Marc Bulger (fractured finger) sidelined for perhaps the rest of the preseason, backup Kyle Boller will get plenty of work over the next couple of weeks. Boller isn't as accurate as Bulger, but he has a stronger arm and is a pretty good scrambler. Will there be a QB controversy if Boller shines?

    On the receiving end — Injuries to Donnie Avery, Tim Carter and Brooks Foster leave the Rams with only seven healthy wide receivers. That's only one more than many teams carry in the regular season. For Derek Stanley and Ronald Curry, this is an excellent chance to move up the depth chart and nail down roster spots.

    Debuts for Karney, Dahl — Starting fullback Mike Karney (ankle) and backup safety Craig Dahl (hamstring) missed the preseason opener against the New York Jets with injuries. They're healthy now, so Karney will get his first crack at lead-blocking for Steven Jackson. Dahl looks like he has special teams value as well.

    The running backs, Round 2 — Samkon Gado and Antonio Pittman were the clear winners last week in the battle to back up Jackson. But the pecking order could change again tonight with a strong showing by Kenneth Darby or rookie Chris Ogbonnaya. The news that Ahman Green was in for a free-agent visit Wednesday undoubtedly got everyone's attention in this group.
    -08-21-2009, 01:29 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    With Opener Nearing, Wounded Rams Are Returning
    by r8rh8rmike
    08.28.2009 5:31 pm
    With opener nearing, wounded Rams are returning
    By Bill Coats
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    As the regular season approaches, the St. Louis Rams are getting progressively healthier. It appears that they came out of Thursday night’s game at Cincinnati with no major injuries, and several players who have been out for a while are getting close to a full return.

    Wide receiver Tim Carter (groin) and running back Kenneth Darby (knee) played in the 24-21 victory over the Bengals despite not practicing all week. Wideout Donnie Avery (foot), defensive tackle Adam Carriker (ankle), guard Jacob Bell (concussion) and defensive end Leonard Little (knee) are expected to practice this week and could play Thursday night in the preseason finale vs. the Chiefs.

    Also, coach Steve Spagnuolo reported that quarterback Marc Bulger (finger) will throw some this week, although he might not take snaps. Bulger probably will sit out Thursday.

    The status of three players who were injured at Cincy — wideout Keenan Burton (knee), safety Craig Dahl (hamstring) and cornerback Justin King (thumb) — was not updated Friday. But none of the injuries is believed to be serious.

    Notes & quotes:

    The Rams have scored 40 points off nine turnovers in the three preseason games. During the entire regular season in 2008, the club produced just 45 points off turnovers.

    RB Samkon Gado has a team-high 5.7-yard average on 23 carries. The two other primary contenders for the backup job behind Steven Jackson – Antonio Pittman and Kenneth Darby – are averaging 4.0 and 3.1 yards, respectively.

    Rookie LB James Laurinaitis has come up with a takeaway in each of the last two games: an interception vs. the Falcons, then a fumble recovery vs. the Bengals.

    Laurent Robinson is the club’s top receiver, with 10 catches for 137 yards.
    A total of 17 players have caught at least one pass.

    Spagnuolo gave the players Saturday off. Practice resumes Sunday at Rams Park.

    The first cuts must be made by Tuesday, although only five spots have to be trimmed off the 80-man camp roster. The final 22 cuts come just four days later.

    All for now . . .
    -08-28-2009, 04:52 PM
  • thoey
    Get your DVR's ready... St. Louis Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals
    by thoey
    08/28 - 2 am EST

    2009 NFL Preseason Game: St. Louis Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals

    09/04 - 7 am EST

    2009 NFL Preseason Game: Kansas City Chiefs vs. St. Louis Rams
    -08-24-2009, 12:27 PM
  • Rambos
    Rams put work into the last cuts
    by Rambos

    The lights at Rams Park were on late Friday night as the Rams' coaches, scouts and other personnel staffers labored to come up with a 53-man roster. They have until 3 p.m. today (St. Louis time) to complete the job.

    Several NFL teams announced at least some of their final cuts Friday, but coach Steve Spagnuolo said he didn't expect the Rams to be finished until about noon today. "And don't hold me to that," he cautioned reporters.

    The roster stood at 74 after Thursday night's 17-9 Governor's Cup win over Kansas City. The first-teamers were in for just two series, both on offense and defense, so Spagnuolo and Co. got a lengthy look at those players on the bubble.
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    Some 21 of them must go. "We could use two more preseason games to get it all figured out," Spagnuolo quipped, before adding: "We have what we have, and we have to evaluate based on that."


    Muddying the picture for the Rams' talent judges is the rib injury suffered by Samkon Gado late in the first quarter vs. the Chiefs. X-rays showed no fracture, but Gado has cartilage damage, which can be a significant problem for a running back.

    Spagnuolo said Gado was day-to-day for now, but acknowledged that "we're not really a hundred percent sure where Sam is. You'd probably have to list him as questionable right now for the game (at Seattle on Sept. 13) until we get to (the practices) Monday and Wednesday and find out exactly where he is."

    In the preseason, Gado clearly has outperformed Kenneth Darby and Antonio Pittman, the other primary contenders for the backup job behind Steven Jackson. Gado averaged 5.1 yards on 29 carries in the four games.

    If it looks as if Gado will be sidelined for a substantial period, the Rams almost surely will be scrutinizing the waiver wire for another ballcarrier.

    "You've got to have more than one back," Spagnuolo said. "Steven's a big guy and does a lot for us, but we're going to need to plug guys in there."


    The injury to Gado and defensive tackle Adam Carriker, who according to league sources will undergo shoulder surgery, were the most serious Thursday. It was feared that defensive end Eric Moore broke his wrist, but X-rays were negative and it has been diagnosed as a sprain.

    Also, safety Craig Dahl aggravated the hamstring that kept him out earlier, safety David Roach sustained heel and shoulder injuries, and cornerback Justin King had a mild knee sprain.


    Beginning Friday, the players had three consecutive...
    -09-05-2009, 10:00 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Gado, Pittman Shine In Battle To Back Up Jackson
    by r8rh8rmike
    St. Louis Rams' Gado, Pittman shine in battle to back up Jackson
    BY Jim Thomas

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Advantage Gado and Pittman. In the battle for the Rams' No. 2 running back job behind Steven Jackson, Samkon Gado and Antonio Pittman were the clear winners Friday over Kenneth Darby.

    Darby entered the preseason as the clear No. 2 back behind Jackson, but he didn't get much done against the New York Jets. Darby carried six times for 16 yards, dropped a short pass over the middle and struggled on blitz pickup.

    Pittman carried four times for 36 yards and caught a pass for nine yards — all coming on a 63-yard field goal drive to close out the first half. But it was Gado who provided the play of the day for the Rams.

    Gado burst into the open on a run up the middle, made a defender miss about 10 yards downfield, and then outraced the New York defense the rest of the way for a 77-yard touchdown. The score came on the second play from scrimmage in the second half and gave the Rams a 16-10 lead.
    In four regular seasons with Green Bay, Houston, Miami and the Rams, Gado has never had a run longer than 64 yards.

    As for Jackson, he had a light workload, with two carries for 15 yards.


    After getting most of the practice work with the first unit during the week, rookie James Laurinaitis started Friday at middle linebacker. The second-round draft pick from Ohio State was flanked by Will Witherspoon at weakside linebacker and Chris Draft on the strong side.

    Meanwhile, first-round draft pick Jason Smith didn't come in until the fourth offensive series of the game, late in the second quarter. Adam Goldberg started at right tackle, and the first offensive unit played the first three series of the game.


    So much for offensive line continuity. Left guard Jacob Bell was done for the evening after just two plays after absorbing a blow to the head. Roy Schuening replaced Bell in the lineup. The injury didn't appear serious.

    No. 3 quarterback Brock Berlin left the game 5 minutes into the fourth quarter after absorbing a hard hit by Jets defensive end Zach Potter. Berlin tweaked his knee on the play and will be checked out back in St. Louis.

    Cornerbacks Ron Bartell (hamstring) and Tye Hill (knee), and rookie defensive tackle Darell Scott (knee) missed practice time during the week with minor injuries, but all three played Friday. Fullback Mike Karney (ankle) dressed but did not play.


    Offseason pickup Gary Gibson was rewarded for his good start in training camp with a start against the Jets. Gibson replaced Adam Carriker in the lineup at defensive tackle. Carriker was a pregame scratch because of an ankle injury.

    Meanwhile, Keenan Burton replaced...
    -08-15-2009, 12:14 PM