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  • Rams Team Report

    Rams tight end Randy McMichael has a simple way of describing running back Steven Jackson.
    Said McMichael, "We call him 'The Beast.'" He added, "Best running back in football, without a doubt."

    It was hard to debate that Sunday. Jackson accounted for 166 yards of total offense, 46 percent of the team's 362-yard total, and many of the yards came on sheer will and determination. For the game, Jackson rushed for 149 yards on 22 carries and added 17 receiving yards. His 25-yard touchdown run that won the game Sunday against the Lions was his and team's first rushing touchdown of the season.

    "Steve was a man the whole game," defensive end Leonard Little said.

    Talking about the run that won the game, center Jason Brown said, after blocking a lineman to the ground, "You look up and you see No. 39 getting smaller and smaller. And you say, 'Thank you ... thank you so much.'

    "One guy can't take him down; he's a horse ... a stallion."

    Jackson knocked over defenders, dragged them for extra yards, and even bowled over an official on a 17-yard that came one play before the touchdown.

    Of the touchdown, Jackson said, "Man, that run felt really good. We knew that ... whoever had the ball last was going to have a pretty good chance of driving the ball and putting the game away. We really felt like it was our time to take over."

    Said tight end Daniel Fells, "It couldn't happen to a better guy. Steven is the rock of this team. We all look up to him."

    Added coach Steve Spagnuolo, "That was especially special because it was him and the way he did it ... that's Steven. Just the way the run (went), breaking all those tackles and busting into the open; he was determined to get into the end zone, and that's what he's all about."

    After the same offensive line started five consecutive games, right tackle Adam Goldberg slid to his left for the game against the Lions because right guard Richie Incognito was sidelined with a foot injury. Rookie Jason Smith returned for his first start at right tackle since injuring his knee in Week 2 against Washington.

    Then, in the second half Sunday, left guard Jacob Bell left the game with an apparent concussion and was replaced by Mark Setterstrom.

    Said Spagnuolo, "That's a credit to the coaches. Steve Loney and Art (Valero), they do a great job with the O-line, and when Jacob got dinged we've got to put another guy in there, but they didn't seem to skip a beat. Steven stayed effective; that's the confidence that Steven has in the O-line. Anytime you take a backup and put him in the game where he hasn't had all the reps during practice, I think the coaches deserve some credit.

    "That means they're coaching, not just the starting five, they're getting everybody ready and every player that's a backup in this league is an ankle turn away from being in there playing."

    Said Jackson, "I'm really proud of what the guys did up front. I don't think I can give them enough praise. The team as a whole, everyone answered the challenge."

    Concluded quarterback Marc Bulger, "He played like Steven does every week. Unfortunately for him, people don't get to see how great of a back he is because, win or lose, that's how he runs, and I'm glad he finally got to get in the end zone, and we finally get a win."

    NOTES, QUOTES

    —The Rams' first touchdown was scored on a fake field goal in which PK Josh Brown ran to his left and lobbed a pass to TE Daniel Fells. The line of scrimmage was the 36-yard line, and the play began with 1:03 remaining in the first half. Fells caught the ball at the 28 and was able to see DE Cliff Avril coming at him with an angle, and he stiff-armed him at the 15.

    Originally, the Rams lined up to go for the first down on fourth-and-8, but QB Marc Bulger called timeout. Said Bulger, "We got to the line a little bit late and it just didn't feel comfortable." Noting that coach Steve Spagnuolo and quarterbacks coach Richard Curl don't like to see timeouts being wasted or used unnecessarily, Bulger added, "I was willing to take the fall for it because I thought it was an important part of the game. It worked out."

    During the timeout, the decision was made to attempt a 54-yard field or employ the fake if the Lions gave a look special teams coach Tom McMahon had noticed on film.

    Said Fells, "We'd seen that look on film all week long. Coach dialed it up at the right time."

    Still, they didn't actually practice it until their Saturday walkthrough, and it was with TE Randy McMichael as the intended receiver. Fells took his place because McMichael had bruised ribs.

    Said Brown, "It was a play that we worked on for about six minutes on Saturday."

    Added Fells, "They were a little worried: 'Oh, he doesn't know what's going on.' But I knew the play. I studied just like everybody else."

    The play was also designed where Brown could have run for the first down if a defender went with Fells. Brown believes he would have made it, but concluded, "(He) was just too wide open to not take advantage of somebody who has the ball in his hands a little bit more often. It was the best decision."

    Brown said the Lions had two players to his left whose job was to get push on the kick rush.

    Brown said, "We had watched tape and they came every single time when they were set up that way. It was ours for the taking."

    —It took some extra effort by Rams players to douse Steve Spagnuolo with a Gatorade bucket after his first win as an NFL head coach Sunday.

    When S James Butler and DT Leger Douzable went to get the bucket, they found nothing left in it. That caused some scrambling.

    Said Butler, "We had to put water in, get the ice. We had to do all that."

    Said Douzable, "It's got to be perfect. It can't be too early, 'cause he'll see you. If it's too late, he might be already on the field."

    It wasn't totally perfect because the bucket wasn't very full, but it worked nonetheless.

    Asked about the feeling, Spagnuolo said, "All I know is it makes me cold. I've got to get out of these quick, but it felt good — that was kind of nice."

    Immediately after the game, TE Randy McMichael presented Spagnuolo with the game ball, which the coach said he would have everyone sign.

    Said McMichael, "It was an honor to be able to deliver him the game ball with his first win in the National Football League. And I know for a fact it won't be his last. I told him how much we appreciated that with all the stuff we've been through, all the support that he's given all of us. You could see the emotion that was in him."

    —Near the end of practice Friday, two days before the game, media in attendance were asked to leave with four plays remaining so no outsider would be in earshot of Spagnuolo's post-practice words to the team.

    The message was about consistent effort and intensity.

    Said FB Mike Karney, "At some point you've got to put your foot down. And he did that. I think our team responded well — offensively, defensively and special teams."

    Added DE Leonard Little, "He just put the onus on us. Somebody has to step up; more people have to step up for us to win. Today, a lot of people stepped up."

    Of course, there were mistakes, perhaps none bigger than one by SS James Butler on an end-zone interception. With the line of scrimmage the 12-yard line, the odds were Butler wouldn't reach the 20-yard line, much less go significantly past that.

    Yet, Butler tried to bring the ball out of the end zone, went back in and was tackled for a safety.

    Said Butler, "I thought I could come out. I saw a clear lane. I made one (player) miss, but I didn't see the other guy from the other side. Next time I'll see him."

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    With the Rams entering their bye week, players will practice Tuesday and Wednesday, then be given four days off until Monday, when preparations will begin for three consecutive home games, beginning with the Saints on Nov. 15.


    PLAYER NOTES

    —WR/KR Danny Amendola suffered a concussion Sunday against Detroit, and he will have a baseline test to test his recovery on Wednesday.

    —OG Jacob Bell suffered neck and head injuries Sunday, but coach Steve Spagnuolo said it was more to his neck and declined to label it a concussion. However, Bell will have a baseline test Tuesday to make sure on the concussion angle.

    —TE Randy McMichael injured ribs Sunday but X-rays on Monday were negative.

    —OG Richie Incognito is still in a boot because of a foot injury suffered Oct. 25 against Indianapolis. Coach Steve Spagnuolo said it was "a tough call" when asked if Incognito might be available for the game after this week's bye.

    —OG Mark Setterstrom played 22 snaps at left guard Sunday against Detroit, and coach Steve Spagnuolo called his play "very solid."


    REPORT CARD VS. LIONS

    PASSING OFFENSE: D — There were a variety of problems. QB Marc Bulger was victimized by numerous drops, and he had a bad interception of a screen pass in the red zone. The only bright spots were WR Keenan Burton, who had five receptions for 54, and TE Billy Bajema, who had 43 yards on two catches. TE Randy McMichael had multiple drops, including one in the end zone two plays prior to Bulger's interception.

    RUSHING OFFENSE: A-plus — Behind a line that was minus RG Richie Incognito to start the game and then lost LG Jacob Bell in the second half, RB Steven Jackson was bound and determined to carry the offense on his back. He gained 111 of his 149 yards in the second half, with 80 on eight attempts in the fourth quarter. Except for one carry of minus-1 yard in the final quarter, his other seven rushes were, in order, 6, 7, 11, 10, 5, 17 and the 25-yard game-winning touchdown.

    PASS DEFENSE: B-plus — Most of the Lions' yards came on short passes, many when the Rams were blitzing. The only breakdown came on a 36-yard completion to Bryant Johnson that led to Detroit's only touchdown. Two receptions by Johnson were the only ones by a Lions wide receiver during the game. Running backs had seven receptions for 81 yards, and tight ends had 44 yards on five catches. DE Chris Long got his first sack of the season, and QB Matthew Stafford's passer rating was 46.0.

    RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus — A tale of two halves. The Lions were successful running in the first half with 76 yards on 19 attempts. However, Kevin Smith was rarely used in the second half, and Detroit totaled just 51 yards on 14 carries in the final two quarters.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: A — Tough to give any other grade considering the fake field goal for a touchdown late in the first half. Of course, a key to pulling it off was K Josh Brown's overall success from 50-plus yards, making a 54-yard attempt believable. Brown had a 41-yard field goal, and P Donnie Jones placed three punts inside the 20.

    COACHING: A — Coach Steve Spagnuolo made the call on the fake field goal, and he got his first win as a head coach. The Rams had only five penalties for 27 yards. Spagnuolo maintained an even keel through a seven-game winning streak. Yes, they beat a team that has won twice in its past 31 games, but anything less than a top grade on this day would be nit-picking.
    :ramlogo:

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  • r8rh8rmike
    Rams Find Daylight
    by r8rh8rmike
    Rams find daylight

    BY JIM THOMAS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    11/02/2009

    DETROIT — As with many things in the game of football, timing is everything when it comes to the celebratory Gatorade shower.

    "It's got to be perfect," defensive tackle Leger Douzable said. "It can't be too early, 'cause he'll see you. If it's too late, he might be already on the field."

    But like so many things this season for the woebegone Rams, it didn't come easy. When Douzable and safety James Butler — both former Giants who were with coach Steve Spagnuolo in New York — found the orange Gatorade bucket, it was ... empty.

    "So we had to put water in, get the ice," Butler said. "We had to do all that."


    But they did it, and so did the Rams.

    After 17 consecutive losses, over 378 days, St. Louis' long gridiron nightmare is over. Steven Jackson's 25-yard touchdown run with 1 minute, 38 seconds to play gave the Rams their first victory of the season, 17-10, and their first victory since Oct. 19, 2008.

    As he got on the Ford Field elevator for the ride down to the victorious Rams locker room, general manager Billy Devaney grinned and said, tongue in cheek, "I'm going to Disney World."

    As she left the victorious locker room, Lucia Rodriguez — daughter of the late Georgia Frontiere and one of the team's three owners — smiled and said, "I'm thrilled. Hopefully, the spell is broken."

    Inside the locker room, tight end Randy McMichael presented a game ball to Spagnuolo, who was still wet from the improvised "Gatorade" shower.

    "It was an honor to be able to deliver him the game ball with his first win in the National Football League," McMichael said. "And I know for a fact it won't be his last. I told him how much we appreciated that with all the stuff we've been through, all the support that he's given all of us. You could see the emotion that was in him."

    For once, Spagnuolo didn't try to hide those feelings in his comments to the media.

    "It's special," he said. "I know I'll remember it for a long time. What makes it most special is the people that it happened with. This is a special group of guys. They've been through a lot, especially the guys that have been around. They never quit, they bought in, stayed with it. Never leaned the other way. ... I feel proud to be part of that group."

    It may have been a warm and fuzzy postgame locker room, but that wasn't the case late last week at Rams Park. As reported Sunday by the Post-Dispatch, Spagnuolo closed the doors to the media for the final plays of Friday's practice because he wanted to chew out the team in private.

    Team sources said the topic was intensity, effort, playing hard — or lack thereof....
    -11-02-2009, 11:04 AM
  • eldfan
    Rams team report
    by eldfan
    USA TODAY


    The Rams have been in this familiar territory before, entering a practice week unsure whether running back Steven Jackson will be able to play or how well if he does.
    In 2007, he missed four games because of a groin injury. In 2008, he missed one game with a quad injury, returned too soon for a game against Arizona, then missed another three.

    Last season, Jackson emerged from a Nov. 22 game against Arizona with a back injury, and while he missed only one game (Dec. 27 at Arizona), he never practiced except for some brief walk-through plays in Friday practices.

    Now, it is more of the same after Jackson suffered a strained groin against Washington. He also practiced last week on a limited basis for two days because of a minor knee injury.

    Asked if he's optimistic about Jackson playing, coach Steve Spagnuolo said, "I don't want to say one way or the other because you've really got to leave it up to the player in this situation. You're talking about a running back with a groin ... but Steven's a warrior. You almost have to pull him back because he'll want to go.

    "I've really got to trust the player and obviously Reggie (trainer Reggie Scott), who I've got a lot of trust in. What you don't want to do is get him out there too soon and set him back, because the whole goal will be to get him to the game on Sunday. It's just a matter of the treatments and making sure we don't make it any worse."

    Jackson was injured in the second quarter against the Redskins and missed the remainder of the game. In the second half, backups Kenneth Darby and rookie Keith Toston combined for 73 rushing yards, and Darby scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 12-yard run. At one point, Darby carried the ball on six consecutive plays. Toston was playing with a shoulder that was injured on a first-half special teams play.

    "Real solid," Spagnuolo said of their performance. "I thought they both ran really well. Again, you're talking about guys that haven't gotten a lot of reps in the course of the week. But I was impressed with Keith with the shoulder injury, and yet when you watched him run the football you wouldn't have thought his shoulder was hurting and we knew it was."

    Spagnuolo acknowledged that the play of Darby and Toston not only gives them confidence, but also the rest of the offense.

    "We want Steven out there all the time or as much as possible," Spagnuolo said. "But I think it's a boost for the offensive line and those young guys if we can still finish a game out like that, without really one of your best players."

    When it was noted that Jackson referred to the injury as a blessing in disguise because now other teams know the offense can move the ball without him, Spagnuolo laughed and said, "He's a deeper thinker than I am, because I'd rather...
    -09-29-2010, 05:40 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Rams Team Report - Nov 10
    by r8rh8rmike
    Rams Team Report
    Yahoo! Sports - Nov 10, 1:40 am EST


    INSIDE SLANT


    As the Rams begin the second half of their first season under coach Steve Spagnuolo with a record of 1-7, no one knows how many wins will occur in the final eight games. Certainly, Spagnuolo was hopeful of having more than one when the team hit its bye.

    But he hasn't strayed from his consistent approach, which is to stress team first, one game at a time, and remain as positive as possible with his message. That can be tough when losses mount up, but Spagnuolo has apparently achieved it so far.

    He admitted, "I have had my moments (of frustration). But I think there's a professional way to do it. I think everybody in this business should be respected for the jobs they have. I think any business is about respecting each other. I don't see any reason to go off the cuff. I keep that to myself. Part of what we talk about as a team is being a poised team. You can't be a poised team if the head coach isn't poised."

    Said safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, "Being a guy who has been here with the Rams now going for five years, some of the younger guys and some of the vets need to see loyalty and faithfulness from the guys that have already been here, and that's going to carry over throughout the locker room so you just build a team that is really focused on one goal and one purpose and being one."

    A head coach has to have credibility, and that can be difficult for a first-timer. It surely helped Spagnuolo that he was an assistant coach for 10 seasons under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Tom Coughlin with the Giants.

    "I think that he would even admit that we bought into his system," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "We know it's going to be successful; it's just a matter of bearing with it. Once we start getting those wins, it will start to pay off. It's a winning formula. He's been with the Giants and Philadelphia. It's not always easy, but I think that the older guys around here know that it is a winning formula. We've all bought into it."

    Spagnuolo likes what he has seen, especially the absence of sulking players, or those who start pointing fingers at others.

    Said Spagnuolo, "To me, that's a credit to the players. It is easy in this business to venture somewhere else, especially when you don't have a lot of success. That's why I keep going back to and keep saying that I love the group down there, the character, the commitment, the loyalty, because if you have those things, eventually that will be the reason why you win. It won't be about coaches or trick plays. It will be because what your core of players is made of. That will be the reason why we win."

    Expounding on that point, Spagnuolo said he gets impressions from a lot of the little things that are still important in terms of the...
    -11-11-2009, 04:42 PM
  • eldfan
    St Louis Rams Team Report
    by eldfan
    When you are the coach of a team that is 0-2, has lost 12 consecutive games and is 5-29 since the start of the 2007 season, fragile can be the psyche.
    It's why coach Steve Spagnuolo is trying to stay consistent, and emphasizing the positive as the Rams prepare for their home opener Sunday against Green Bay.

    While noting the fact that the offense had three possessions of 10 plays or more and the defense prevented the Redskins from scoring touchdowns on four trips to the red zone, Spagnuolo acknowledged, "We have a lot to work on. As I told the team, I'm disappointed, but not discouraged. We have to continue to emphasize the details, because this loss came down to the details."

    Yes, the Rams had those three possessions that totaled 33 plays. But they managed just one touchdown, and there were only 17 plays on their other five possessions.

    Yes, the Rams stopped the Redskins in the red zone, but four of Washington's possessions lasted 55 plays, gained 302 yards and took 27:04 off the clock. Overall, the Redskins ran 70 plays to the Rams' 50 and had the ball for 34:53.

    Spagnuolo added, "There's no moral victories in this league. But I'm mostly disappointed in the fact that we've got a football team that works their butts off, and they haven't had a chance to feel victory yet. We've got a long ways to go here.

    "It is a cliche that you take one or two plays out of a game and the outcome changes. But in this particular (game), that would be true. Because there were certain plays in there that if they went differently, we might be on the other end of the win-loss column."

    Two of the plays were a fumble by Donnie Avery at the Washington 5-yard line in the fourth quarter that stopped a drive, and a sack of quarterback Jason Campbell on which he barely got out of the end zone.

    Said Avery, "I was just trying to get more yards. I was trying to get YAC (yards after the catch) on the play, and ended up fumbling. I let the team down."

    Adam Goldberg, who replaced rookie Jason Smith at right tackle in the first half after Smith injured his knee, said, "We know as a team we have to tidy things up and go out and get it done. We all feel this way. It's time to get it done and go out and get a W."

    NOTES, QUOTES

    —Quarterback Marc Bulger received treatment after the Washington game for a sore back that was the result of a three-yard run in the second half. Bulger went into a slide, but that didn't stop two Redskins players from hitting him. Bulger wasn't pleased that a penalty wasn't called on the play. The Rams called time out to allow Bulger to recover, and during the break, he made his point to referee Jerome Boger.

    After the game, Bulger said, "I think my thoughts were obvious. But I don't want to go back and re-hash it."

    Early in...
    -09-23-2009, 05:20 PM
  • eldfan
    Rams team report
    by eldfan
    USA TODAY

    In 2008, he tried to play with a quad injury in a key division game against Arizona. Last year, he played five of the final six games of the season with a herniated disk in his back and nerve pain in his leg even though the team had only one victory.
    Maybe it's no surprise then, that Rams running back Steven Jackson did everything he humanly could to be on the field Sunday for his team's game against the Seattle Seahawks despite the partially torn groin he had suffered the week before against the Washington Redskins.

    His team. Jackson is one of several veteran leaders on a very young football team, and as he peeled off three layers of protective padding following the surprisingly easy 20-3 win, he stated simply, "I was not able to run full speed. But as a leader, you can't preach one thing and do something else."

    What he did was gut out a 70-yard rushing effort, adding 54 receiving yards, the bulk of which came on a 49-yard run with a screen pass that led to a third-quarter touchdown and a 17-3 lead.

    Asked if the injury affected him, Jackson said, "Absolutely," then laughed and added, "Did you see that run?"

    He admitted to consciously thinking on that run not to try and run too fast and "overextend myself, taking smaller steps," minimizing the chance of aggravating the injury.

    But he simply wasn't going to miss this game.

    "I knew I had enough to give what coach would need out of me," Jackson said. "I wanted to come out and be a part of something. I felt that this team is going in the right direction, and I just wanted to be a part of it today.

    "It's been a long time — 2004 (since beating Seattle). I know we have a philosophy around here that we don't look back. But sometimes you just can't help but think about some of the hardship that this organization has been through. For us to be able to get a win against Seattle at home, a divisional win, it means a lot to me. I think it means a lot to the guys that are in this locker room."

    During the week, Jackson did very little on the field. Off the field was another story. There was still a pocket of blood in his groin area on Thursday, "so there was quite a bit of swelling," he said. "Just continued to work hard. I would literally ... I would take a stim (muscle stimulation) machine home with me. I was doing acupuncture; I was doing everything. I was literally stimming myself at four in the morning trying to make sure that I could get whatever edge, whatever I could do to get back on the field. All I can say is, I just thank God it worked out."

    Then, there was the work of the training and medical staff to protect him as much as possible.

    "Look at all of this stuff that kept me together," he said after the game. "They got so many...
    -10-05-2010, 02:02 PM
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