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Rams put work into the last cuts

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  • Rams put work into the last cuts


    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 days off, their first such break since training camp began in late July. Practice resumes Monday.

    Spagnuolo said that for the first week of the regular season, he plans to restrict the media to the first 30 minutes of practice, the minimum required under NFL rules.

    "It's not like we have any big secrets or special things going on," he said. "But I think in the first game with a fresh staff ... I'd like to not take any chances. It'll just be this particular week."


    Although he didn't show his hand, Spagnuolo hinted that rookie Jason Smith, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, had earned a first-team job at right tackle.

    "Between Sunday and Monday, we'll have that wrapped up," Spagnuolo said. "Sometimes you just get thrown into the fire before you're actually ready."


    The Rams were plus 9 in turnovers in the preseason. Their 12 takeaways led to 47 of their 74 points. ... A total of 18 receivers caught at least one pass in the four games. ... The Rams averaged 3.7 yards per rushing attempt, compared with their opponents' 5.1

  • #2
    Re: Rams put work into the last cuts

    "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."
    Hmm. No mention of Darby or Pittman being able to step up and fill the void. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the state of our RB's.


    Related Topics


    • r8rh8rmike
      Rams Moving Ahead
      by r8rh8rmike
      Rams Moving Ahead
      Saturday, August 15, 2009

      By Nick Wagoner
      Senior Writer

      After reviewing the film of his first game as a head coach, Steve Spagnuolo made sure, like always, to keep the big picture view as his main focus.

      While there were plenty of positives to take away from the team’s 23-20 win against the Jets on Friday night, there were also a few negatives. But the idea is to not get too high or too low based on either of those things, especially after just one preseason game.

      And that’s the message Spagnuolo conveyed late Saturday afternoon after he had finished watching the tape.

      “We have to do work in all different areas,” Spagnuolo said. “Like I said, this is a beginning, not an end. This wasn’t a final exam, this was just a – I’m not going to say a pop quiz because we knew this was coming – but we will take whatever we can out of it good and bad and hopefully get better. We have kind of been pushing that all the way through.”

      That didn’t change on Saturday and isn’t likely to anytime soon, either. In the meantime, Spagnuolo will have the opportunity to continue to evaluate his players. Of course, Spagnuolo and staff will not completely ignore what happened on the field on Friday night, either.

      Certainly, knee jerk reactions to a spectacular catch or forced fumble or long touchdown run will not be the order of the day for the Rams but there’s no doubt that making plays to stand out will earn certain players some opportunities they haven’t yet been afforded to this point.

      “There will be a little bit of juggling,” Spagnuolo said. “I don’t know that there was anything that drastic that you will go out there tomorrow and say ‘Oh my God, they have changed here and there.’ We have a long way to go. We still have two more games before we have to make any decisions and then that final game. There will be a little bit of juggling, maybe more some guys getting some reps with the ones that haven’t and vice versa but that’s about it.”

      Clearly, no player made a bigger impression on Friday night than running back Samkon Gado. Gado got his first action of the game working on special teams and also took first half snaps at fullback in place of Mike Karney.

      To open the third quarter, Gado had a 25-yard kickoff return followed two plays later by his 77-yard touchdown run off the left side.

      In a matter of an hour and a half, Gado showed the type of versatility that Spagnuolo seems to covet up and down the roster.

      “Anybody that can play two positions I think is valuable,” Spagnuolo said. “I think anybody with versatility gives you a leg up. You go to 53 and all of a sudden it’s 45 on gameday, versatility is big.”

      Gado wasn’t the only Rams running back making a strong impression. Antonio Pittman showed some juice, picking up 36 yards on...
      -08-16-2009, 03:51 PM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Versatile Gado Gets Rare Praise From Spagnuolo
      by r8rh8rmike
      08.10.2009 4:31 pm
      Versatile Gado gets rare praise from Spagnuolo
      By Bill Coats
      St. Louis Post-Dispatch

      There still is much to learn about St. Louis Rams rookie head coach Steve Spagnuolo. Here are a few things we’ve gleaned so far, regarding his interviews:

      1. They’re short.

      2. He’s already pretty adept at tap-dancing around tough questions.

      3. He’s cautious about heaping praise on his players.

      Considering No. 3, it was a bit of a surprise, then, when asked to evaluate running back/fullback Samkon Gado, who is fighting for a roster spot, Spagnuolo replied:

      “He’s a smart football player. Guys that have the ability to play two positions are really, really valuable in this league. So we’ll keep cranking him. And I watch Sam, too, in every special-teams period taking a lot of reps. He’s a warrior out there. I have a lot of respect for Sam.”

      The 5-10, 227-pound Gado, a fourth-year pro, has had an impressive camp. He’s probably third on the depth chart at running back, has been getting in a lot of work at fullback with Mike Karney hobbled, and also is among those returning kicks.

      The highlight of Gado’s career came on Nov. 13, 2005, when he earned a trifecta of honors: NFL player of the week, NFL rookie of the week, and NFC offensive player of the week. They came after Gado, then with the Packers, rushed for 103 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 33-25 victory over the Falcons.

      He finished with 582 yards on the ground that year, but he hasn’t produced more than 210 in a season since then. He joined the Rams last November as a free agent and played in one game. He subsequently was released, then re-signed in January.

      Notes & quotes:

      *The players were in shells for Monday afternoon’s practice, which ran just 55 minutes.

      *Officials from Conference USA worked both practices.

      *DE Leonard Little, who sat out the morning practice with a minor neck strain, was back on the field in the afternoon.

      *FB Mike Karney got into team drills for the first time since spraining his ankle about 10 days ago.

      *S Craig Dahl (hamstring) did some running on the side.

      *LB Chris Draft missed a few plays after taking a blow to the neck.

      *Rookie S Mark Rubin, re-signed Monday nearly six weeks after the Rams released him, had an interception on a deflected pass in the late workout.

      *Mike Sando of is in town for a look-see at Rams camp.

      *DT Shaun Smith, who visited Rams Park on Sunday, has agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal with the Lions, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Browns released Smith on Saturday.

      All for now . . .
      -08-10-2009, 09:19 PM
    • r8rh8rmike
      End Is Near For 21 Players
      by r8rh8rmike
      End is near for 21


      In terms of roster moves, what took place Tuesday at Rams Park was mere appetizer. The main course is at hand, and it's never a pleasant time of year for players or coaches in the National Football League.

      Teams must be down to the regular-season roster limit of 53 players by 3 p.m. local time Saturday. In St. Louis, that means 21 of the 74 players currently on the Rams' roster will be out of jobs. For some, tonight's preseason finale against Kansas City at the Edward Jones Dome will be the last game of their careers.

      "Let's face it, you're talking about lives and jobs," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "It's not going to be a very enjoyable thing to do. But it's a necessary thing in the league."

      Spagnuolo hopes to personally inform every player who is being released.

      "Now sometimes, when there's a lot of guys rolling out there, you don't get to everybody," Spagnuolo said. "But I'd like to be able to do that. ... Or somebody from the organization. I think that's the right way to do it."

      The final say on the 53-man roster belongs to Spagnuolo. But he will get plenty of input from general manager Billy Devaney, the coaching staff and the scouting department.

      "We use all our resources," Spagnuolo said. "And then we'll sit down and make a hard decision on which ways we will go. If we get down to where we can't (decide), maybe we go back to the scouts and back to the coaches and say, 'Just give us a little bit more on this and that.' "

      Obviously, performance in preseason games is a major determining factor for less-established players competing for roster spots. But Spagnuolo says he's factoring in everything. How a player practices. Does he pay attention in the meeting room? Does he sneak out of the weight room early?

      All of that tells him something about a player, and could tip a close decision one way or another.

      With a new coaching staff, lots of new players, and a cleansing throughout the organization, Spagnuolo has told players that Rams Park is the land of opportunity. Jobs are there for the taking. But the window of opportunity is closing, making these tense times for players on the fringe of the roster.

      "I was talking to my roommate (Phil Trautwein), who is a rookie," running back Samkon Gado said. "And I just told him if you're going to play in this league, you've got to be prepared to be cut. I've been cut I think six or seven times in five years. It's just the nature of the beast.

      "You do the best that you can. And a lot of times, it's not really up to you. It's not really how well you played or how poorly you played. It's just there's not a need for you. So I think the best thing to do is just...
      -09-03-2009, 10:50 AM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Spagnuolo Puts Blame On Himself
      by r8rh8rmike
      Spagnuolo puts blame on himself

      The score was 14-0, Atlanta, before most spectators had a chance to dig into their popcorn Friday at the Edward Jones Dome. For a Rams franchise intent on showing the fan base that things will be different this season, it was the last thing they wanted to happen.

      On Saturday, after reviewing game tape, coach Steve Spagnuolo blamed himself.

      "Personally, I think it's all on the head coach," Spagnuolo said. "The first quarter, I don't think I had the team ready to play. I'm going to take the onus on that. We need to start the game better, especially against a good football team."

      So what can Spagnuolo do differently to make sure his team gets out of the gate quicker?
      "I don't know," he said. "Just like we evaluate the players, I'm going to evaluate myself all the time. I'll sit back this week, and if I think there's something we can do differently in practice we'll do it.

      "If I think there's something we can say or approach (differently) the day before the game, we'll do that. But right now, if the team's not ready early like that, it's on the head coach. So we'll figure out a way."

      Besides being outscored 14-0, the Rams were outgained 147 yards to 56 by Atlanta in the opening quarter. Spagnuolo said it's impossible to gauge whether or not a team is ready to play based on pregame warm-up or really anything else leading up to the game.

      "I've stopped doing that in football," he said. "Sometimes you walk in there and say, 'This team's not ready to play.' And they go out and beat a team by 30 points. That's hard to assess."

      Granted it came once the starters were done for the night and the reserves had taken over, but Spagnuolo was pleased with the fact that the team chipped away at the early deficit and was in position to tie or win the game in the fourth quarter.


      The Rams' draft class of '09 took its first major injury hit, with Spagnuolo announcing Saturday that wide receiver Brooks Foster will be out six to eight weeks following ankle surgery.

      Foster suffered what originally was termed a sprained ankle in the Aug. 14 preseason opener against the New York Jets. But additional testing revealed additional problems, so Foster underwent surgery on Friday.

      The Rams must decide whether to place Foster on the injured reserve list. The fifth-round pick from North Carolina had some good moments on the practice field during training camp as well as in the scrimmage at Lindenwood University. But he had no catches in the Jets' game, and faced an uphill struggle on making the 53-man roster.


      As expected, Spagnuolo said wide receiver Donnie Avery (foot)...
      -08-23-2009, 03:52 PM
    • Nick
      Darby remains Rams' No. 2 running back
      by Nick
      Darby remains Rams' No. 2 running back
      BY BILL COATS • Posted: Saturday, September 11, 2010 12:15 am

      The offseason buzz made its way to Kenneth Darby: The Rams must bring in a No. 2 running back. Either draft one or pick up a free agent. But get somebody.

      Darby, who filled that role behind Steven Jackson last year, was unperturbed by the pleas.

      "Naw, naw," he said, laughing. "If anything, it just gave me more of that hunger to work harder and prove people wrong, show people what I can do."

      The Rams made a push to sign free agent Brian Westbrook, but he wound up in San Francisco. Then they gave Chris Ogbonnaya, a seventh-round draft pick last year, the first opportunity to earn the job. After teams trimmed their rosters last weekend, the Rams scoured the waiver wire. They signed Allen Patrick but assigned him to the practice squad.

      So as the Rams head into Sunday's regular-season opener against Arizona, Darby is back in his familiar slot, where he gained 140 yards on 32 carries last season. Keith Toston, an undrafted rookie from Oklahoma State, is the other running back on the 53-man roster. Ogbonnaya was released after an unproductive preseason showing.

      A healthy Jackson will get a heavy workload. He had 375 touches — 324 carries and 51 receptions — last year in 15 games. But Jackson is coming off back surgery in April, and the Rams have to prepare for all possibilities.

      "We're fine there," coach Steve Spagnuolo. "You're not going to have at all 22 positions a 1 and a 1A; there's just not enough spots for that. But we've got two solid running backs there that we think can get it done should something happen to Steven."

      The 5-foot-10, 219-pound Darby, a fourth-year pro out of Alabama, had a sluggish start to the preseason, averaging just 3.1 yards a carry in the first two games. But in the last two, he picked up 74 yards on 19 attempts, a 3.9 average.

      Darby said that when he changed his thinking, he changed his production.

      "My mind-set coming into this preseason was getting the No. 2 spot. And I guess I was just thinking about that too much instead of playing my game," he said. "I just said, 'Forget it, just relax, Darby, play your game and let the game come to you.' And that's exactly what I did. I relaxed and started playing my game."

      Toston, 5-11 and 214, was the team's leading rusher in the preseason, with 127 yards on 39 carries, a 3.3 average.

      "Toston has really come on — showed he had a little burst," Spagnuolo said. "I like that he's a north-and-south runner."

      Beating the odds and making the team "is a dream," Toston said. Now he's eager to get into a regular-season game.

      "Any time you're in this business, you want to play," Toston...
      -09-10-2010, 11:24 PM