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With Saints ahead, Rams get down to work quickly

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  • With Saints ahead, Rams get down to work quickly


    Refreshed and relaxed after a four-day break for their bye week, the Rams returned to practice Monday. But if you think coach Steve Spagnuolo had a big speech waiting for his squad on what lies ahead over the second half of the season, think again.

    "No, just got right back into the normal week," Spagnuolo said, blinders on as usual.

    That's probably a good thing considering that this week's opponent is the unbeaten New Orleans Saints — 8-0 and proud possessors of the NFL's top-ranked offense. No need to look beyond that. "We've got a great challenge because they've got some great skill position players," defensive end Leonard Little said. "Great receivers, great quarterback, great running back. But every week is a challenge."

    That's for sure. Especially at home this season. The Saints are the third consecutive unbeaten team to visit the Edward Jones Dome. Minnesota was 4-0 before defeating the Rams 38-10 on Oct. 11. Indianapolis was 5-0 before a 42-6 rout of the Rams on Oct. 25. The Saints are merely the latest NFL heavyweight to visit the Gateway City.

    "It's been tough, the first eight games," Little said. "But I think guys got refreshed during the bye week. And we're coming back and trying to get ready for this challenge."

    The Rams have had success coming out of the bye week since the move to St. Louis in 1995. They are 9-5 over that span in their first game following a bye, including a 6-2 mark when that game is at home.

    The Saints know first-hand not to take the 1-7 Rams lightly in this situation, regardless of the record. The Rams were 0-8 under Scott Linehan coming out of their bye in 2007 but stunned a Saints team that was riding a four-game winning streak 37-29 at the Superdome. At Marc Bulger's suggestion, Linehan got the game ball after that one.

    This season, the Rams ended a franchise-record 17-game losing streak in their most recent contest, a 17-10 victory at Detroit on Nov. 1. Now, they'd like to end another streak, having lost their last eight home games. That ties the 1997-98 Rams for the second-longest home drought in franchise history. (The Los Angeles Rams lost 11 straight home games from 1961-63 to set the record.)

    "We went to a lot of road games the first half of the season," Little said. "And most of our games now are at home. It'd be nice to win at home because the fans deserve it. We're going to work hard and try to do that."

    The Rams play five of their final eight games at home, with the New Orleans game beginning a string of three consecutive home contests. The Rams don't have to leave St. Louis again until a Dec. 6 contest at Chicago.

    During the bye, many Rams left town after last Wednesday's practice to get away from football for a few days.

    Defensive end Chris Long headed to Miami to watch his alma mater, the University of Virginia, play the Hurricanes in football. Linebacker Chris Chamberlain was in his cousin's wedding in Oklahoma City.

    Rookie offensive tackle Jason Smith was in Columbia, Mo., on Saturday watching his Baylor Bears upset Missouri 40-32. He spent part of the day on the Baylor sideline, and part of the day in the Bears' alumni section at Faurot Field.

    Smith talked informally with some of his former college teammates but gave no pep talk to the team. "No, I just was there," he said. "I was just a fan along for the ride."

    Wide receiver and kick returner Danny Amendola celebrated Thanksgiving back home in Dallas. That's right, Thanksgiving.

    "I ate too much," Amendola said. "I ate a lot of turkey."

    Amendola's stepbrother and several other family members were about to leave town for several weeks. They work on oil rigs offshore of Galveston, Texas. So with Amendola also free in the bye week, they decided to celebrate Thanksgiving about three weeks early.

    "It was our only time that we were going to be all together for a number of months," Amendola said.

    And in keeping with a "tradition" established a decade ago by Dick Vermeil, even Spagnuolo broke away from Rams Park long enough to explore St. Louis. Vermeil once visited the Cahokia Mounds historic site on a bye weekend; Spagnuolo explored Forest Park on bicycle Saturday with his wife, Maria.

    "I didn't realize how big Forest Park was," Spagnuolo said. "Seriously now. I was impressed really at the beauty of it. People were all over the place. They got a museum, a boathouse, they had the amphitheater."

    (That would be the Muny, coach.)

    "That looked awesome," Spagnuolo said. "Are they doing that now?"

    (Only in the summer, coach.)

  • #2
    Re: With Saints ahead, Rams get down to work quickly

    Good to hear that they took some time to relax. Being fans, going for bike rides, catching up with people....that's good.

    Would be real nice to see a win at home.


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      Every given Sunday: Another unbeaten for Rams
      by eldfan
      AP Sports Writer

      ST. LOUIS — The schedule has done zero favors for the one-win
      St. Louis Rams, the first team in NFL history to draw unbeaten
      opponents in three straight home games.

      Good luck parlaying fresh legs off the bye week and a two-week
      buzz from their lone victory now that the prolific New Orleans
      Saints are coming to town. New Orleans (8-0) was a two-touchdown
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      Vikings (38-10, Week 5) and give the Rams another reason to lose
      faith in the home-field advantage.

      “You definitely don’t want to play a team like New Orleans every
      week,” Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said. "They’re going to get
      their points, it’s as simple as that.

      “So we have to find a way to keep up with them.”

      Since moving to St. Louis in 1995, the Rams (1-7) are 6-2 at
      home coming off the bye week. In 2007 they beat the Saints on
      the road in after the bye for their first victory after an 0-8

      Useless, ancient statistics.

      “That was two years ago,” Bulger said. “If you look around this
      locker room, there are not too many guys left that were on that

      Extra time to prepare? Rookie coach Steve Spagnuolo worries it
      wasn’t enough to get ready for the NFL’s No. 1 scoring offense,
      and scoffed at Saints comments that indicated they haven’t been
      at their best lately.

      “I don’t know if anybody ever figures them out,” Spagnuolo said.
      “That’s a compliment to them and scary for the rest of the
      league that they can play better.”

      The Saints average 37.9 points and have scored 30 or more points
      the last four games to match a franchise best. They’re 8-0 for
      the first time and one win shy of tying the franchise record for
      consecutive victories because to this point they’ve been able to
      overcome mistakes with sheer firepower and by forcing their
      opponents into a league-high 24 turnovers.

      Drew Brees leads the NFL in passer rating and has 17 touchdown
      passes; he’s also the league’s best in the fourth quarter. Seven
      Saints have scored three or more TDs.

      Last week all those tools helped erase an early two-touchdown
      deficit caused by two turnovers in a 30-20 victory over the
      Panthers. New Orleans has a plus-8 turnover differential, tied
      for third best in the NFL, which is the biggest reason it’s
      perfect after going 4-4 halfway through last season.

      “We’ve been lucky up to this point because we’ve gotten some
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    • r8rh8rmike
      Rams Refreshed After Bye Week
      by r8rh8rmike
      Rams Refreshed After Bye Week
      By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer

      In bye weeks of recent years past, the thought of getting away for a few days and then coming back to play another chunk of the season might have been a bit daunting.

      But for this year’s Rams, there’s no doubting that though the bye week served its purpose in allowing injured players to heal up and every one a little time to relax, that every one of the 53 players on the roster and the entire coaching staff was eager to get back to work on Monday.

      “I think everybody was ready to roll,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “I think everybody…you get to a certain point when you leave. You get in this grind and then you’re away from it for even three or four days, I think your body wants it back in some ways. They probably wouldn’t say that, but I think we were all happy to be back together.”

      So it was that Spagnuolo and his staff put the Rams through about an hour and a half practice Monday morning as his team begins to prepare for Sunday’s game at San Francisco.

      And the team that came back ready to work did so with a little more cache after a bye week that was beneficial for more than just its health.

      Buoyed by losses for fellow division teams Seattle (at home against the Giants) and Arizona (on the road against Minnesota), the Rams sit squarely in a tie with the Seahawks for first place in the NFC West Division.

      That they did so without lifting a finger on Sunday makes no difference but it does drive home the point that as the season enters the second half, all things are possible.

      “It was our goal to win the NFC West, just like Arizona, just like San Francisco did, just like Seattle did,” linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “We are all at the midway point saying it’s there if we can hunker down and get this second half taken care of. We have to keep doing the same things we have been doing, improve on the things we’ve made mistakes on and just keep getting better.”

      Part of the process of getting better comes down to the simple measure of the team’s health. Entering the bye week, the Rams had a list of names on their injury list that would make Santa Claus blush.

      None of those injuries were too serious though and it was expected that the down time should allow those guys time to recover and be closer to full strength when they return than they had been at any point since the season began.

      On Monday, there were still about six or seven players watching from the sidelines but many of them indicated after practice that they’d be ready to play when practice resumes on Wednesday.

      For example, tackle Jason Smith, who had a concussion is symptom free though he hasn’t been fully cleared to participate in all of the practice yet according to Spagnuolo.

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    • r8rh8rmike
      St. Louis Rams' Steve Spagnuolo Takes Stock Of Team
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      St. Louis Rams' Steve Spagnuolo takes stock of team


      At the halfway mark of the season, the Rams find themselves in last place in the NFC West, last in the NFL in scoring (77 points) and last in the league in points yielded (221).

      But they did hit the midway point — and their bye week — on the heels of their first win in more than a year, a 17-10 triumph Sunday in Detroit. So, coach Steve Spagnuolo's informal "State of the Team" address Tuesday was generally upbeat.

      "There were some struggles; there were some good things," he said. "But we've built something. We talked this morning about the foundation we wanted to build. There's some trust, there's mutual respect, there's unity on the team. I think more than anything, we take that away" from the opening eight games.

      The Rams were blown out five times, crushed 179-33 in those routs. Still, with a couple of breaks they could've pulled out wins at Washington and Jacksonville and stand 3-5 instead of 1-7.

      "It was a rough road, let's face it; we had seven losses," Spagnuolo noted. "But to see what the guys did — and I'm not talking about on the field — what they did as people and what they did together, that probably sticks in my head more than anything."

      And Spagnuolo firmly believes that his group can compete with anyone on the second half of the schedule. That includes unbeaten New Orleans, which visits the Edward Jones Dome on Nov. 15.

      "There's always things to work on; every team goes through that," Spagnuolo said. "But we've got enough talent here, we've got guys that want to work at it, we've got guys that can make plays. We've just got to keep plugging away.

      "We're going to play some good football teams, and hopefully we'll be playing some good football, too."


      In yet another roster move, cornerback Danny Gorrer has been signed off the Saints' practice squad. Wide receiver Tim Carter was released to open a spot for Gorrer on the 53-man roster.

      Gorrer, a 6-foot, 185-pound rookie from Texas A&M, joined the Saints as an undrafted free agent. He was getting ready to leave for the Superdome and Monday night's game against Atlanta when he was rerouted to the airport.

      "I was very surprised. I called my agent to see if they were joking," Gorrer said. "When I got to St. Louis, I caught the second half."


      Guard Jacob Bell, who sustained a concussion Sunday, passed his neurological exam Tuesday morning but sat out practice. Spagnuolo said Bell would practice today.

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    • RamWraith
      Saints' super-sized clowns have ties to St. Louis
      by RamWraith
      By Kathleen Nelson

      Meet the Meatheads.

      Four members of the New Orleans Saints who love to lift weights have formed a merry band that eats together, goes to movies together and terrorizes the halls of the Alamodome in San Antonio on motorized scooters.

      Think circus clowns - super-sized circus clowns.

      They are a source of companionship to one another and comic relief to their teammates, a necessity since Hurricane Katrina forced the Saints to leave their homes and families. Two of the Meatheads are former Rams: tight end Ernie Conwell and defensive tackle Brian Young.

      Conwell spent seven seasons with the Rams after being drafted in 1996 and signed with the Saints in 2003. The Rams drafted Young in 2000; the Saints signed him as an unrestricted free agent in 2004.

      Young connected almost immediately upon his arrival in New Orleans with Conwell, his former teammate and soul mate, who held the Rams' bench-press record. The other Meatheads are fullback Mike Carney, who grew up with Conwell's nieces and nephews in Conwell's hometown of Kent, Wash., and Rodney Leisle, one of Young's backups.

      The group has served as a surrogate family for Conwell, whose wife, Andrea, and four children are staying in Nashville.

      Conwell serves as a hero to the rest. While buying necessities to take to evacuees, Conwell met Ronald Tennessee, who had lost everything, including the engagement ring he planned to give his fiancee. Conwell took Tennessee to the jewelry counter and paid for a set of rings, as well as clothing for Tennessee's bride. He hasn't seen Tennessee since, though he heard that the couple were married at the shelter.

      The Meatheads take a lot of ribbing for their maniacal devotion to lifting but brazenly flaunt their favored mode of transportation. Conwell bought four scooters on clearance for $200 each, which the quartet uses inside the Alamodome.

      "They go seven, eight miles an hour," Young said. "Most of us are over the suggested weight limit. There's a warning about being over 275 (pounds). I think there's only one of us under the limit, and that's Ernie."

      Far from being the object of ridicule, the Meatheads are at the cutting edge.

      "It's starting to catch on," Young said. "I think everybody realizes how much easier it is on the body. Our meeting rooms, everything, are on the other side of the building. But we have to come down here to get dressed, walk all the way back down there for walk-throughs, come all the way back down here to get dressed and go upstairs to eat. It's a lot of walking, and it will take its toll, so it does save your legs quite a bit."

      We're guessing that you have to be there not to laugh.

      On the field, the former St. Louisans remain...
      -10-22-2005, 04:37 AM
    • RamWraith
      Saints carry confidence into meeting with Rams
      by RamWraith
      By Jim Thomas
      Of the Post-Dispatch
      Something is strangely amiss. A Saints-Rams game week has come and gone without New Orleans wide receiver Joe "Hollywood" Horn saying anything inflammatory before kickoff.

      Horn has leveled many a zinger at the Rams in the past. But he did nothing but make nice this past week in New Orleans.

      When asked by New Orleans reporters if this was still a big rivalry game for the Saints, he replied: "No. You want to know why? They've got a Super Bowl ring. They've been to multiple Super Bowls. ... I can't say nothing negative about them and try to spark a rivalry."


      And there's more.

      "Coach (Mike) Martz has done a hell of a job," Horn said.

      Take that!

      What about former Saints tight end Cam Cleeland, now with the Rams, and his anti-Saints and anti-Jim Haslett remarks on Wednesday from Rams Park?

      "That's just Cam getting off some frustrations that he felt," Horn said. "He and Kyle (Turley) had some issues that they didn't like (with the organization). But they're very good friends of mine, and I love them to death."

      In your face!

      In a conference call with St. Louis reporters, Haslett, the New Orleans coach, made it sound like he and Martz were bosom buddies. Strange, since in 2000 and 2001 - when the Saints and Rams played each other five times over a 12 1/2- month period - they looked very much like mortal enemies.

      So perhaps this is some sort of a setup. Now a couple of years older and wiser, maybe Horn and Haslett are trying to kill the Rams with kindness.

      Make no mistake, the Saints aren't going to be the least bit intimidated by the Rams' 15-game regular-season winning streak at the Edward Jones Dome. New Orleans has won its last two contests here, including one of only two regular-season losses by the NFC-champion Rams in 2001.

      No Deuce McAllister (ankle) at running back? No problem. The Saints won here in 2000 with Jerald Moore and Chad Morton as their feature backs.

      Besides, the Rams have more on their minds these days than whether the Saints remain a rival. They left the Georgia Dome on the short end of a 34-17 score to Atlanta last Sunday, bewildered by the scrambling sorties of Michael Vick and befuddled by a Falcons front four that played like the Fearsome Foursome.


      "We don't need to look any further than the fact that we need a win," defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson said. "Coming off a loss you need a win even more. It's just the way it feels. So we want to get back in the winner's column, get that good feeling again, and build off of it."

      It's as simple as that. The last thing the Rams want to do is stub their toe at home against...
      -09-26-2004, 04:47 AM