No announcement yet.

Rams Team Report

  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Rams Team Report

    As the regular season begins, and with the division-rival Seattle Seahawks on the horizon, coach Steve Spagnuolo knows the team's 3-1 preseason record doesn't count for much.
    "I'm perfectly aware that all of this is a honeymoon period," he said. "The real challenge is upcoming.

    "It's nice to be 3-1 after the preseason, but like I told the players, the score counted when we played the games. It doesn't matter now. We're moving on. We came in and did what we thought as a group were the right things to do. But the real test is the regular season, winning and losing."

    Even though Spagnuolo realizes building this team's roster in his image is a work in progress, he does like the team's mindset so far.

    He said, "I think we've got a bunch of hungry guys. I think it's good to be hungry. It's a hungry football team that wants to be a team. We've talked a lot about it and I think the guys have embraced it. At least their actions and the attitudes and what comes out verbally says that to me. So if we can rally around that, that would be good."

    Asked what he expects from his team, Spagnuolo said, "In a nutshell, I want a focused, disciplined, tough football team. We have certain measurements that we have after games that measure that focus, discipline and toughness. I blurt them out after every game and let them know if we met them. I think the team is starting to embrace that, too. We talk about it all the time."

    "If you're a physically tough team, you're able to run the ball and stop the run."

    Said guard Richie Incognito, "That's the identity we're trying to create. Physical up front, and get the running game going ... The coaches are calling it up, dialing it up and they're keeping it coming. We're pumped up, we're excited."

    Former Rams coach Dick Vermeil would often say a coach "has to be believed to be heard." Spagnuolo sees a team that is listening and accepting leadership.

    "That means a great deal," he said. "I thanked them the other night (before the final preseason game). The night before the game for what they did. Back in the offseason program, right through training camp, it was a new training camp. It was a different hotel and we're here. New staff, new this or that, and they didn't skip a beat. They really bought into it."

    How much will the team improve from a two-win season? While Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney know there is a lot of work to do, they aren't willing to accept just minimal improvement.

    "I don't think anybody here is saying, 'Boy, if we just double our win total, we'll be happy about that,'" Devaney said. "If we win four games, then we still stink.

    "We're thinking we have a pretty good team. How fast it meshes and comes together, we're about to find out."

    SERIES HISTORY: 22nd meeting. Seahawks lead series, 12-9. Seattle has won eight consecutive games in the series since the Rams won all three games in 2004, including a playoff victory in Seattle. The Seahawks have won the last two games in Seattle by a combined score of 70-19.


    When training camp started, Chris Draft was the Rams' starting middle linebacker. After rookie James Laurinaitis was elevated to the first unit a few weeks into camp at that position, Draft moved to the strong side. Coaches always talked about Draft's veteran savvy and ability to play all three positions.

    However, as the Rams reduced their roster last weekend, Draft was asked to take a pay cut from his $1.225 million salary to the minimum for his years of service of $845,000. Draft refused.

    Thursday, his contract was terminated, leaving David Vobora as the starter on the strong side and with four backup linebackers aside from Will Witherspoon that have played a total of 40 NFL games with 12 starts. Quinton Culberson, who had been released four days earlier and was re-signed after Draft was cut, accounts for 30 of those games and 11 starts.

    Said Draft, "I just really could not look at myself in the mirror if I agreed to do that; if I freely gave up that money."

    Draft, who is a tireless worker in the community, noted that much of the money he makes goes to his foundation.

    "I felt I had to take a stand for what I've done, what I'm doing (in the community)," he said. "They said because of their current salary-cap situation, that down the line with the incentives they needed to pay to other players they'd end up being over the cap. It's a business decision; they feel like they have to do it.

    "The unfortunate thing is when it's business for them, it is all too personal to me."

    Vobora and Larry Grant had been sharing time on the strong side when Draft was in the middle. Grant is currently sidelined by a knee injury, so Vobora will get the start this week against Seattle.

    Said defensive coordinator Ken Flajole, "Only time will tell, but he's done a good job. He has been a pleasant surprise. I'm pleased that he is getting an opportunity to show what he can do. I'm sure he is too. Hopefully, he'll just take it and run."

    The final pick of the 2008 draft, Vobora was asked how much Draft has helped him over the last year-plus.

    "He's helped me a ton," Vobora said. "I definitely credit a lot of what I know, how I approach the game, how I approach practice, to him. So this opportunity is definitely big for me. I thank him for a lot of the stuff that he's helped me with."

    Said Culberson, who noted the irony of having a job because Draft rejected a pay cut, said of Draft, "If you needed help, he would go out on a limb for you. He was more than willing to do something for one of his teammates."

    —One of the long shots that made the 53-man roster is CB Quincy Butler, who came to the team off waivers from Dallas near the end of the 2008 season.

    Butler had two interceptions in the preseason for 96 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown.

    "He's made plays, been very productive," said coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "I think he's picked up the scheme pretty well."

    Butler was even able to laugh when asked if he noticed safety James Butler's picture on the home scoreboard following the touchdown play against Kansas City.

    "I saw that," he said. "Hopefully, after I make a few more plays, they'll know who I am."

    —QB Keith Null, the team's sixth-round pick, made the roster after playing his college football at West Texas A&M. Null showed good arm strength and the ability to run the offense during the preseason.

    "I'm very excited and very blessed," he said. Asked his reaction after realizing he made the team, Null said, "I just sat there for a while and said ... 'What?'"

    WR Derek Stanley said he and his teammates saw something in Null.

    "Obviously with a young guy, he's still got to get that experience and time on the field," Stanley said. "But he's got great talent, great upside, and I think he's going to be a good ballplayer in the league."

    —A few surprises on the roster included safety David Roach instead of veteran Todd Johnson, and tackle Eric Young, who bested Renardo Foster and Phil Trautwein. Trautwein was claimed on waivers by Cleveland. C.J. Ah You made the team as the fifth defensive end. In fact, the Rams have an unusually high number of linemen: 10 each on offense and defense.

    Said coach Steve Spagnuolo, "Hey, they stepped up. Obviously, they performed well enough and caught our eye. For right now they are on the football team and we know this thing is forever changing. They deserve to be here.

    "I told the guys this morning (Monday); I congratulated everybody first of all, for being on an NFL football team. It is special - not everybody can do that and then I told them that they should feel proud of it and never take it for granted. Coaches, players, should never take this for granted. It can be taken away like that (snaps fingers) and hopefully the message got through."

    Young understands that. Admitting he was "stunned" to make the roster, he added, "You still have to approach every day, go out there and work as hard as you can and keep fighting. That's my mindset."

    Roach missed several tackles in preseason games and was also flagged for some penalties on special teams.

    He admitted, "I had some rough moments, and I also had some good moments. You can't really focus on the bad things when you're out there on the field. You have to have short-term memory, go to the next play and try to make a play the next play."

    BY THE NUMBERS: 7 — Number of players 30 years old or older on the opening-day roster. That includes three defensive linemen (Hollis Thomas, Leonard Little and James Hall), along with quarterback Marc Bulger, kicker Josh Brown, long snapper Chris Massey and tight end Randy McMichael. The Rams had as many as 20 players that age last season.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "This youngster's got the temperament, and he's got the passion, and he's bright. This guy's got it all. ... He really wants to be good. When you have a youngster like that, the sky's the limit. I would love to have been (coaching) with him for a few years." — Former Rams OL coach Jim Hanifan, now with the team's radio network, on rookie OT Jason Smith.


    The Rams were set to open the season with just four wide receivers and three running backs on the roster. They also have just five healthy linebackers with Larry Grant sidelined by a knee injury.

    After the cut to 53, the Rams were awarded DT LaJuan Ramsey and S Anthony Smith on waivers from Tennessee and Green Bay, respectively. Ramsey was originally a sixth-round of the Eagles in 2006 when coach Steve Spagnuolo was Philadelphia's linebackers coach.

    Said Spagnuolo, "I was fortunate enough to have been with LaJuan in Philadelphia his first year. It was his rookie year and one of the first things that did impress me was as a rookie defensive linemen he played both tackle and defensive end. I thought he did a nice job in the games at Tennessee this year and hopefully knowing a little bit of the system, of course I say that and it's been a little while since he's been in it, but we'll see how he goes."


    —LB Chris Draft's contract was terminated Thursday when he refused to take a $380,000 pay cut to the minimum for his years of service of $845,000. Draft opened training camp as the starting middle linebacker, and was then starting on the strong side when rookie James Laurinaitis became the starter in the middle.

    —LB David Vobora, the last selection in the 2008 draft, will start at strong-side linebacker in the season opener against Seattle Sunday following the release of Chris Draft.

    —LB Quinton Culberson, who originally made the 53-man roster, but was then waived the next day along with WR Nate Jones when the Rams added two players on waivers, was re-signed Thursday following the release of Chris Draft.

    —LB Larry Grant, who was declared out Monday by coach Steve Spagnuolo because of a knee injury, had limited participation in practice Thursday and has not been totally ruled out for Sunday's game. Grant was competing with LB David Vobora on the strong side early in camp when Chris Draft was starting at middle linebacker.

    —QB Marc Bulger took most of the first-team reps in practice Thursday and barring any setbacks will start Sunday against Seattle. Bulger has not played since the first preseason game because of a chip fracture of a bone in his right pinky.

    —S Craig Dahl remains sidelined by a hamstring injury and appears to be questionable for Sunday's game against the Seahawks.

    —RB Samkon Gado, the main backup to Steven Jackson, had full participation in practice Thursday after being limited the day before because of an injury to his ribs.

    GAME PLAN: This one is fairly simple for the Rams. Feed the ball to RB Steven Jackson and keep feeding it. For the Rams to have a chance, they have to avoid long-yardage situations and have manageable third downs. Jackson, along with the wide receivers and tight ends, will be part of a distributive passing attack that spreads the ball around.

    Defensively, the Rams hope to be aggressive and put pressure on QB Matt Hasselbeck, going against an offensive line that is a work in progress.

    MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Rams RT Jason Smith, who is making the first start of his career, vs. Seahawks DLE Cory Redding. Seattle has moved Patrick Kerney to right end, but Redding is a formidable opponent for a rookie playing in one of the loudest stadiums in the league.

    Rams CBs Ron Bartell and Jonathan Wade vs. Seahawks WRs T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Nate Burleson. Wade is starting for the departed Tye Hill, with Justin King expected to be the nickel back. The Seahawks have Deion Branch and rookie Deon Butler as their third and fourth receivers. The Rams will need to pressure Hasselbeck to keep him from picking the secondary apart.

    INJURY IMPACT: DT Adam Carriker had surgery Sept. 9 to repair a 75 percent tear in the subscapularis muscle of his right shoulder. That muscle is the deepest muscle in the rotator cuff. Carriker was placed on injured reserve after suffering the injury in the final preseason game against Kansas City. The recovery time is estimated at four months.

  • #2
    Re: Rams Team Report

    GOD, this is one young team.
    Cant wait


    Related Topics


    • eldfan
      St Louis Rams Team Report
      by eldfan
      As the Rams prepare to play Washington Sunday, while trying to put last week's loss to Seattle behind them, they will go on the field again with a young linebacking corps that will try and find a way to support the run and prevent tight end Chris Cooley from making big plays.
      Against the Seahawks, the defense, and linebackers in particular, were generally solid against the run, except for a 62-yard run by Julius Jones that gave the Seahawks their final points. In addition, tight end John Carlson burned the Rams for two touchdowns, and his second score on a 38-yard play came immediately following a 33-yard pickup.

      "They did things we haven't seen before, and that hurt us," said second-year linebacker David Vobora. "We definitely have to do better this week."

      Vobora, a seventh-round pick in 2008, was making his first start on the strong side. He started one game at middle linebacker last season. Alongside him is rookie middle linebacker James Laurinaitis.

      The veteran of the group, weak-side starter Will Witherspoon, said of his young cohorts, "I think they did well. There were a few bumps here and there, but that's the ebb and flow of the game. Every play, every snap means one more notch in their belts.

      "They learned some things, they got to see some things, and that's what's great about it. You can't ask them to do any more than that."

      Acknowledged Laurinaitis, "There were some ups and downs. They say the best improvement is from Week 1 to Week 2. It's important for us to keep our heads up, to learn from this, and keep that feeling of a loss right there and really work that much harder this week in practice."

      Laurinaitis accepted responsibility for Carlson's first touchdown, a play that began on the 1-yard line. Hooked by a play fake, he said, "I was being overly aggressive. You're down there on the 1-yard line and you're thinking, 'Let's go after it.' ... I'm definitely at fault for that."

      Asked about the rookie's play, coach Steve Spagnuolo said of Laurinaitis, "Overall he played a real productive game. That's what he is. He's a productive guy. If he continues to have that production, it's going to help the defense."

      SERIES HISTORY: 30th meeting. Redskins lead, 20-8-1. The Rams have won two consecutive games in the series, an overtime win in St. Louis in 2006 and a last-second 19-17 victory last year in Washington. The win in 2008 was in Jim Haslett's first game as the team's interim coach.


      —One twist that coach Steve Spagnuolo has added to the team's schedule is a Monday corrections walk-through after watching tape of the previous day's game.

      Said safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, "It's important to correct the mistakes from last game and the more times you walk through it and get visual reps at it, it...
      -09-17-2009, 08:36 AM
    • eldfan
      St. Louis Rams Team Report
      by eldfan
      New Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo promised his team the first few days of training camp would be "a bear," and while the weather wasn't too hot and the two-a-days had just one practice each day in full pads, the intensity was high as well as the hitting.
      During the first two morning practices, the ones in full pads, there were about 30 plays with live tackling.

      After the first day, Spagnuolo said, "We need to find out quickly - you've got to remember again it's a whole new staff and a lot of unknowns - really the only way to find out is to put them in those kind of situations. As we go along here every day we will decide how many of those periods will be live. It was really two periods and about 30 plays of live."

      When questioned further by the media, Spagnuolo winked and said, "Do you think it was tough? I didn't think it was that tough. It was physical."

      Of course, Spagnuolo did admit to something else: "I'm doing this every time. I've got my hands behind my back (crossing fingers)."

      Said linebacker Will Witherspoon, "Usually you don't go live that first day of pads but it's good. You really want to get the feel of hitting again, striking guys again. That was kind of the key point of it and getting the feel of hitting through a guy. It was great. I think it was good for everybody to come out here and just get moving and get in the momentum of the game."

      Added cornerback Ron Bartell, "One thing I have learned over the years is that it's a lot easier to be hard on guys and then kind of back off than it is to be light and try to get hard on guys again. I think he knows what he's doing. He knows when to let up. Right now, it's day two so I think we'll be fine."

      The hitting even included running back Steven Jackson.

      "He's got to get hit, everybody else has got to get hit," linebacker Chris Draft said. "We have got to get ready too. Right now, that's what we have. We have our chance to get out here, run to the ball and be able to tackle the ball. It doesn't matter who has it."

      Players have been running to the ball, gang tackling, and picking up even incomplete passes to run with it to get in the mindset of creating turnovers and making plays. While the defense has been maligned in recent seasons, Spagnuolo believes there's more there than is realized.

      "I think we've got guys with that kind of attitude," he said. "I do believe that. We've got to keep healthy. (But) we've got to do the things out here to kind of get ready for the competition that we're going to face going forward."

      Concluded Bartell, "You better have some attitude. I don't think we've carried the attitude the past couple years that we should've had, and we paid for it on the field. So (the coaches) are coming in, they're instilling...
      -08-03-2009, 08:55 AM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Rams Team Report - Oct 29
      by r8rh8rmike
      Rams Team Report
      Yahoo! Sports - Oct 29, 2:56 am EDT


      It surely hasn't been the start of his NFL head coaching career that Steve Spagnuolo envisioned.

      The Rams have lost their first seven games and now face for the second straight week a team coming off their bye. Last week, it was the 5-0 Colts at home, and this week it's the 1-5 Lions on the road.

      Teams playing after their bye have won 52.5 percent of the time since byes were added to the schedule in 1990.

      In addition, the way the schedule has worked for the Rams has had the better teams at home and the arguably more winnable games on the road. The current combined records of the home games -- Green Bay (4-2), Minnesota (6-1) and Indianapolis (6-0) -- is 16-3.

      Conversely, the total record for the road games -- Seattle (2-4), Washington (2-5), San Francisco (3-3) and Jacksonville (3-3) -- is 10-15.

      The trend continues this week with Detroit on the road and New Orleans (6-0) at home on Nov. 8 after the Rams' bye.

      By(e) the way, the Rams are one of only five teams that have two consecutive games against teams coming off their bye. They are one of only two teams that opened the season with two games on the road, and one of four teams that played four of their first six games on the road.

      When those numbers were presented to Spagnuolo on Monday, he smiled and said, "I appreciate all your info. It's enlightening in a way, but it doesn't change what we've got to do."

      He later added, "I don't get wrapped up in (scheduling). And I really learned that from (Philadelphia coach) Andy Reid. Andy had a unique way when the schedules came out ... there would always be positives about the way he looked at the schedule."

      Perhaps the only positive are the three straight home games in November after the bye, but the best the Rams will be then is 1-7.

      Asked if he gets advice from fans in emails or at the gas station, Spagnuolo said, "When you're winning, you get a lot of phone calls. When you're not, everybody is afraid (to call). But really that's when you want them. That's when you need them. It works the other way. I don't know why. I have some very good people that will hang in there. It's much appreciated. As long as I have my wife still on my side, I'll be OK."

      Spagnuolo has managed to maintain an even-keel attitude despite the gloom and doom, and seemingly has his players battling and not pointing fingers at each other.

      Said free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, "We stay together. In tough times like this the only thing you can do is stay together and continue to press on forward and that's what we're going to do because we have guys of character in here. Things will turn around and that's what we're fighting for."

      Rookie middle...
      -10-29-2009, 04:50 PM
    • eldfan
      Rams Team Report
      by eldfan
      USA Today
      Posted 12h 35m ago E-mail | Save | Print |

      Aside from trying to win games, coach Steve Spagnuolo had one thing he stressed from the first day he was hired last January: Concentrate on "team first" and building an atmosphere that had that as the main goal.
      The Rams won only one game during the season, but Spagnuolo insists the team goal was met. Now he knows what has to be done to create wins for an organization that has won just six games in three seasons.

      Rookie middle linebacker James Laurinaitis likes what was accomplished and says the young talent will only get better.

      "I think we have a lot of talent on this team," Laurinaitis said. "If you look at a lot of the games this year, they could've gone other ways. I think we have great coaches. Another year together, it's going to be something good. There's definitely a lot of competitiveness in this group."

      It was also a unique year for Laurinaitis, who didn't lose many games during his entire college career at Ohio State, much less 15 in one season.

      "It's very easy to play 100 percent when you're winning and things are rolling and the crowd's into it, and stuff like that," he said. "But when you're down and things get out of control, that's when it's very easy to pack it in. I think I learned a lot about myself this year. I've never been put in that (losing) situation except for a few times in college. You can tell who really cares by who really keeps trying in those moments."

      Cornerback Ron Bartell was an unrestricted free agent last March and was being wooed by the Saints. After meeting Spagnuolo, Bartell elected to re-sign with the Rams. Does he regret it, considering New Orleans was 13-3 this past season and earned the top seed in the NFC playoffs?

      He said, "When I re-signed, I knew it wasn't going to be an overnight thing. I got into it for the long haul. So I knew it was going to take time. We still have the right people in place. I totally, firmly believe that. I think I made the best decision for me. I still think we can get this thing turned around."

      Of course, he acknowledged how tough the season was.

      "It was extremely difficult," Bartell said. "With all the changes we made, you definitely didn't see that coming. But it is what it is. We put ourselves in this position. The only thing we can do now is move forward."

      Bartell also likes the talent on the roster.

      "We have a good mix of young guys that are willing to learn, and veterans that are willing to lead," he said. "Not a lot of egos. Everybody's playing for the same goal. We didn't accomplish that, of course, but I think in the end we all just stuck together."

      Said veteran James Hall, who has played 10 seasons in the NFL...
      -01-14-2010, 01:33 PM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Rams Rookie Roundup
      by r8rh8rmike
      Rams Rookie Roundup
      Monday, January 18, 2010

      By Nick Wagoner
      Senior Writer

      After an offseason roster overhaul, the 2009 Rams had a decidedly youthful feel to it.

      As one of the three youngest rosters in the league, opportunities were abound for young players at every position to make a difference, especially members of the 2009 NFL Draft class.

      And almost to a man, every member of that seven-man class made an impact on the field at some point or another.

      Most general managers hope to find a couple of starters and some role players in each draft but at various times, five rookie Rams started games. Some made greater impacts than others but almost all showed some promise that they can and will make a bigger difference well into the coming years.

      OT Jason Smith – First Round, No. 2 Overall

      Entering the draft, the Rams had placed a high priority on bolstering the offensive line. They did it in a big way, adding the top rated tackle on the board in the form of Smith.

      After a training camp spent learning the ropes, Smith emerged as the team’s starting right tackle in the season opener. Smith provided the Rams a physical presence on the right side and was one of those opening the hole for running back Steven Jackson’s game winning touchdown against Detroit.

      Although he has been hampered by knee and head injuries, Smith has made progress in his time on the field and figures to be a bedrock for the offensive line for many years to come.

      IN HIS WORDS: “Obviously the more you do something, the better you get at it,” Smith said. “As a team, we want to play hard, play physical and play together. I am just one piece of the puzzle. I just know that to go out and get better as an individual will help the team. I’m a guy that is always about we and not me.”

      THEY SAID IT: “He’s doing a nice job,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “I listen for little things like in the huddle he is calling the down and distance. For a rookie to be aware of that every play, that’s impressive to me. He is vocal. He is a confident guy so we kind of hang our hat on that right now.”

      MLB James Laurinaitis – Second Round, No. 35 Overall

      Perhaps no rookie in the league, let alone on the team made a greater impact in year one than Laurinaitis.
      Laurinaitis became the first rookie since Pisa Tinoisamoa to lead the team in tackles and Laurinaitis set a rookie franchise record for tackles in a season.

      Laurinaitis moved into the starting lineup early in training camp and hasn’t vacated the position while playing through his share of bumps and bruises. He doesn’t figure to leave that role anytime soon and has established himself as a cornerstone player for the franchise.

      IN HIS WORDS: “That’s one thing you will find out about me,” Laurinaitis said. “I am a perfectionist...
      -01-18-2010, 11:59 AM