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  • St. Louis Rams Team Report

    St. Louis Rams Team Report

    On a team where there was monumental turnover from last season, coach Steve Spagnuolo often talked in the offseason about the process of building a roster.
    Still, despite the numerous changes and jettisoning of veterans, there was some optimism that the team could improve from the 2-14 season in 2008. However, everyone knew, even if they wouldn't admit it, that the margin of error was slim, depth could be a factor and everything had to go just right, meaning the avoidance of injuries.

    Unfortunately that didn't happen. One week into training camp, wide receiver Donnie Avery and defensive tackle Adam Carriker were injured in a scrimmage. Avery got off to a slow start and Carriker was lost for the season.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger missed several weeks of training camp with a finger injury, and has missed games with a bruised rotator cuff and is currently out because of tibial plateau fracture in his leg.

    Wide receiver Laurent Robinson was establishing himself as a go-to receiver when he suffered a broken fibula in the third game of the season.

    After Sunday's loss to Seattle, Spagnuolo was asked if the team just isn't talented enough. Said Spagnuolo, "I would never say that because I believe in the guys we have there and we'll keep fighting. In this league, anybody can beat anybody on any given Sunday. Are we banged up? Yeah, but that's no excuse for losing and I don't think our guys would use that as an excuse."

    No, players and coaches normally don't use that excuse, but this is a team more than just "banged up."

    In addition to Carriker and Robinson, starters cornerback Bradley Fletcher, defensive tackle Gary Gibson and wide receiver Keenan Burton are on injured reserve. Burton became the starter after Robinson was injured, while Gibson took Carriker's starting spot.

    Through 11 games, 10 starters had missed a total of 48 games. At least 25 games will be added to that from the five starters on injured reserve.

    In preparations for last week's game against Seattle, five offensive players that opened the season as starters weren't practicing: Bulger, running back Steven Jackson, right tackle Jason Smith, right guard Richie Incognito and Robinson. Fullback Mike Karney was also out.

    The Rams played the Seahawks without a true fullback, and during the game, center Jason Brown suffered a knee injury, leading to an offense that stalled in the first four possessions of the second half.

    Just when some continuity was developing in the line, the departure of Brown resulted in Mark Setterstrom sliding from right guard to center and John Greco entering the game at right guard.

    The Seahawks took advantage, and while the offense came to a grinding halt, Seattle built its halftime lead from 14-10 to 27-10.

    Concluded Setterstrom, "We got into a situation where they could be aggressive. You know, they got ahead of us. But in reality, they weren't really doing anything different than what we had seen on film. They just were doing it more numerous times. ... Our quarterback got hit way too many times. We've got to clean that up."

    SERIES HISTORY: 87th meeting. Bears lead, 49-34-3. The Bears have won the last two games played in 2006 and 2008, both in St. Louis. Prior to that, the Rams won four straight including games in 1998 and 2003 in Chicago. The last Bears win over the Rams in Chicago was in 1996.


    —RB Steven Jackson had some pointed words for Seattle rookie LB Aaron Curry during a radio appearance Monday, the day after the teams played. In the season opener this season, Curry was fined $5,000 on a play for which there was no penalty.

    QB Marc Bulger also got in Curry's face that game for questionable antics.

    After Sunday's game, Curry said of Jackson, "I don't think he likes me. For some reason, half the stuff he says to me I can't remember. I just don't think he likes me. I guess it's the battle for respect and being a rookie; I just don't see myself backing down. The first time I played him he verbally assaulted me, but he's a good dude. I don't know what his intentions are, but I think it's like, who's going to lose their cool first and it isn't going to be me.

    "I respect him as a running back, I respect him for how he runs the ball, but everyone has to understand that we're all grown men out here and nobody's going to back down from any human being. That's just not what I was taught."

    Jackson said of Curry, "Some guys don't know how to be pros and I feel he has not learned that yet. Someone is over there not teaching him what it means to be a pro. It's all right to jaw-jack but unnecessary hits and taking shots at guys that are defenseless, or going after guys because they are high-profile guys and he is trying to make a name for himself, it's not professional."

    During the game, Jackson had words for Curry, and said Monday, "You don't get your name based on that because you're going after another high-profile guy. You get your name and your status because of your work and your play in it. I'm just sitting there jaw-jacking a guy and letting him know that I'm not backing down. It's obvious I'm injured, it's obvious that I haven't practiced all week and if we want to go head-to-head for 60 or 70 plays in a row, I'm willing to do so. I'm not going to back down. I'm going to let him know there's a whole another monster, a whole another level in the NFL and this is not Wake Forest or the ACC."

    Asked if Curry was trying to validate his selection as the fourth overall selection in the draft, Jackson said, "I don't see our rookie, No. 2 pick overall (Jason Smith), going out and doing that. It's easier to make a name in other ways than going out there jaw-jacking and trying to draw attention to yourself. It's a professional game and this is a livelihood and I don't intentionally go out there and trying to — I'm a pro about it. I would hope that he learns that."

    —For the second straight week, the Rams will have just two healthy quarterbacks available to play: starter Kyle Boller and rookie Keith Null. A sixth-round pick from West Texas A&M, Null's initial time with the team was spent getting accustomed to taking snaps from center since his college days were spent in the spread offense.

    Said offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, "You're seeing more and more college quarterbacks that are coming from systems where they're exclusively in the shotgun. So the fundamentals of taking a snap, dropping back and throwing really was the first challenge."

    Of his frequent work with quarterbacks coach Richard Curl, Null said, "He was constantly working me with getting my feet set and getting back fast enough, all the drop stuff. I wouldn't say I'm there yet, but I'm a lot closer than I was."

    As for the speed of the game, and having played some in the preseason, Null said, "It was a challenge at the beginning. I think that I've gotten a pretty good feel for it, although I haven't been thrown into the fire yet."

    He believes he's ready if needed. "If they call on me, I'll be ready," Null said.

    Shurmur likes what he's seen from Null. "He's a natural thrower, he's got great skill and ability, and he's working extremely hard." Shurmur said. "I think he's got a lot of the attributes you're looking for in a quarterback."

    BY THE NUMBERS: 7 — Number of turnovers by QB Kyle Boller in 14 quarters of play this season. Four of the turnovers were returned for touchdowns, and two of the other three came in the red zone. The other was from the opponent's (Seattle) 23-yard line and came on a pass into the end zone.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "You never know if they're ready until you put them out there and see. He's done everything we've asked him, being a third-string quarterback. He's in tune, I know that, with everything that's going on." — Coach Steve Spagnuolo on rookie QB Keith Null.



    —OT Jason Smith did not practice Wednesday and has yet to take another neurological exam that is necessary to clear him for practice and games. Coach Steve Spagnuolo said Smith won't take the test again "until he feels better," basically saying he couldn't pass the test at this time.

    —RG Richie Incognito returned to practice Wednesday after missing four games because of a foot injury suffered against Indianapolis on Oct. 25. Officially listed as limited on the injury report, Incognito took most of the reps with the first unit at right guard. Incognito said that barring any setbacks he expects to play Sunday against Chicago.

    —RB Steven Jackson did not practice Wednesday, but could some time on the field Thursday or Friday.

    —FB Mike Karney did not practice Wednesday although coach Steve Spagnuolo said he is feeling better this week, "but we are talking about the neck so you have to be careful."

    —C Jason Brown missed what he says was the first practice of his college or pro career. Brown injured his right knee late in the second quarter of Sunday's game against Seattle. Coach Steve Spagnuolo said it's possible Brown would practice Thursday. "He wanted to practice," Spagnuolo said. "But the doctors felt it was wise to tread lightly today." Brown rode the exercise bike during practice wearing his helmet.

    —LB James Laurinaitis was reported as limited in practice Wednesday, but he was able to participate in most of the snaps. "He's battling issues with both shoulders," coach Steve Spagnuolo said, "but that's pretty normal for a MIKE linebacker."

    GAME PLAN: The Rams hope to have C Jason Brown back Sunday to continue the stability being built on the offensive line. The Rams couldn't handle the Seahawks pressure in the second half Sunday after Brown was injured, necessitating two changes in the line. With Brown back, depending on RB Steven Jackson's health, they should be able to move the ball on the Bears.

    Defensively, the Rams have actually been solid against top quarterbacks this season, and they will have another challenge against Jay Cutler. Stopping the run has been an issue, but the Bears have not run the ball effectively this season. Surely, they will try to change that this week.

    MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Rams DLE Leonard Little vs. Bears RT Chris Williams/Kevin Shaffer. Cutler has been sacked 24 times and thrown 20 interceptions this season. Williams will be trying to keep the still-speedy Little away from his quarterback, although he might end up at left tackle with Orlando Pace bothered by a groin injury. If Williams moves, Kevin Shaffer will be the right tackle.

    Rams RB Steven Jackson vs. Bears run defense. The Bears have allowed 125.6 yards rushing per game and 4.3 per attempt, so they will be hard-pressed to contain Jackson. A big key will be how healthy Jackson is after playing last week with a sore back, but still rushing for 89 yards.

    INJURY IMPACT: RG Richie Incognito expects to return to the lineup after missing four games, while RT Jason Smith seems unlikely to play this week as he continues to experience post-concussion symptoms. More will probably be known Thursday regarding the potential availability of center Jason Brown (knee).

  • #2
    Re: St. Louis Rams Team Report

    RB Steven Jackson had some pointed words for Seattle rookie LB Aaron Curry during a radio appearance Monday, the day after the teams played. In the season opener this season, Curry was fined $5,000 on a play for which there was no penalty.

    QB Marc Bulger also got in Curry's face that game for questionable antics.
    Curry doing alot of barking for someone who has not done alot.


    Related Topics


    • r8rh8rmike
      Notebook: Wyche Ready For Action With Rams
      by r8rh8rmike
      NOTEBOOK: Wyche ready for action with Rams

      Although he was drafted 3½ years ago, James Wyche would be seeing action in just his third NFL regular-season game if the Rams decide to suit him up Sunday at Arizona.

      A seventh-round pick by Jacksonville in 2006, Wyche spent most of his rookie year on the practice squad. The 6-foot-5, 279-pound defensive end from Syracuse then missed all of the next two seasons, with a groin injury in 2007 and a torn Achilles' tendon in '08.

      The Achilles' tear "is about the worst injury an athlete can have," said Wyche, 27. "But I've bounced back from there. I'm getting my leg stronger."

      Wyche got into two games this season, recording one tackle, before the Jaguars waived him a week ago. ShopSTL Marketplace

      With Leonard Little unable to get back on the field until his knee heals after an infection was drained, the Rams picked up Wyche on Monday and hustled him into the mix.

      "I've got a good jump on the plays already," Wyche said. "If they have to throw me in there on Sunday, I'm ready."

      Eager, in fact, to start proving himself to his new team.

      "Going out there, showing talent and making plays, that's what it's all about," Wyche said. "It's always good to get a new start."


      Little's absence also has provided Chris Long with extended time on the left side. Normally, Long lines up at right defensive end, his position during most of his college career at Virginia.

      "I think I can do different things from different sides," Long said. "I've got some getting-used-to to do on the left side, but I feel good over there."

      One advantage, he noted, is going against right tackles. Most teams line up their best tackle on the left side, to protect the quarterback's blind side.

      "There is a big difference," Long said. "Right tackles tend to be a little bit less athletic, more maulers. So, that can serve well on pass rush."


      Even on Christmas Day, with only two reporters in attendance for the 90-minute practice, coach Steve Spagnuolo was handing out no holiday treats — at least when the subject was his starting quarterback vs. the Cardinals.

      "I've talked with both quarterbacks, and I'm going to let them know as soon as I know," he said. "But I'm not going to make any decision right now."

      Still, all signs point to rookie Keith Null for the third Sunday in a row. Again on Friday, Null took the vast majority of the snaps with the No. 1 unit. Kyle Boller did nearly all his work with the scout team.

      "The nice thing is, both of them look healthy," Spagnuolo...
      -12-25-2009, 11:37 PM
    • eldfan
      Rams Team Report
      by eldfan
      Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo didn't realize the half of it when he reported Monday that quarterback Marc Bulger was "pretty banged up."
      Spagnuolo went on to describe how Bulger had had an MRI in the morning for a hamstring/groin problem, would have baseline testing Tuesday for a potential concussion and would be having another MRI in late afternoon because of some swelling in his knee.

      That left leg MRI revealed that Bulger had a tibial plateau fracture, and he will miss anywhere from three to six weeks. The previous week, it was reported that Bulger had banged his knees, and since no one is able to pinpoint when the fracture occurred, it's possible it might have happened Nov. 15 against the Saints.

      A tibial plateau fracture occurs on the top surface of the tibia or shin bone where it meets the knee. The injury can be more serious if there is displacement or if it affects the middle of the knee or on the inside because of the weight-bearing nature of the bone. The size of the fracture is also important.

      Spagnuolo described the injury as "a hairline fracture" and said it is likely that the injury is to the lateral or outside part of the knee. It isn't out of the question that Bulger could be OK to play in three weeks.

      It appears the Rams' plan is not to place Bulger on injured reserve, even though the team is currently 1-9. Kyle Boller will start Sunday against Seattle, with rookie sixth-round pick Keith Null the backup.

      For this week, the apparent plan is to go with two quarterbacks. If another quarterback is added after this week, it likely would be Brock Berlin, who was with the team in training camp.

      There are also questions about whether Null will be provided an opportunity to play at some point. Bulger's salary is scheduled to be $8.5 million in 2010, and he would count $10.5 million if there is a salary cap next year.


      —In his third game for the Rams, wide receiver Brandon Gibson was targeted on 17 Marc Bulger passes, catching five for 61 yards. Afterward, the focus was more on the missed connections than the receptions.

      Asked about miscommunication on a couple of plays, Bulger said, "Yeah, there was more than a couple. I think that's going to happen with a young receiver. I'm not going to put it on him. It's just a matter of us working together. The more time we spend together, the more on the same page we will be."

      Gibson agreed, saying, "My biggest thing is not leaving plays on the field, and that's what I did today. I'm frustrated at myself because I know I can play at a high level. I think we've just got to get on the same page, me and Marc.

      "There were just some things that I did, and we just weren't on the same page there on the goal line. That's two plays that stick out in my head, and I've got to do my best to come...
      -11-25-2009, 08:26 AM
    • Varg6
      Rams haven't decided who will start
      by Varg6

      ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams have put off a decision on who's starting at quarterback this weekend, with Kyle Boller sent home due to illness and rookie Keith Null getting all the practice snaps.

      There's enough going on without pondering that choice for the game against the Houston Texans.

      The Rams (1-12) have openings at both guard spots, too, after temperamental Richie Incognito was released Tuesday and Jacob Bell was placed on injured reserve Wednesday with a torn hamstring. A third starter on the line, center Jason Brown, was at home fighting a cold Wednesday.

      Bell becomes the 11th Ram to land on injured reserve this season. Little wonder coach Steve Spagnuolo didn't want to talk about Incognito, cut loose after helmet-butting two opponents in a 47-7 loss at Tennessee last Sunday.

      The rookie head coach lightly revised his statement from a day earlier -- that the move was made in the best interests of the team and player -- and tried to make that stand. He didn't open up much when the Incognito questions came anyway, beyond saying the move was not taken lightly.

      "I didn't sleep on Sunday and took all day Monday," Spagnuolo said. "None of those decisions are easy, and that one was particularly tough."

      But Spagnuolo declined to discuss the team's frustration level with Incognito, who frequently landed in trouble for playing long after the whistle and was benched for the second half on Sunday.

      Leaning on a variation of his trademark phrase during a nightmarish season, Spagnuolo said, "I'm not going down that road. I'm not going to do that."

      The Rams quickly gave away Incognito's jersey No. 68 to offensive tackle Ryan McKee, signed off waivers from the New York Jets.

      When Brown returns to practice, he'll have lightly used backups John Greco on the right side in Incognito's old spot and Mark Setterstrom on the left in place of Bell. Greco will be making his second career start, Setterstrom his second this season.

      On Wednesday, though, Setterstrom had to fill in at center.

      "Everybody's ready," Greco said. "When that chance comes, you've got to take advantage of it."

      Null made his NFL debut last week, making a surprise start when Boller's thigh injury kept him on the bench. Spagnuolo expects to have a better idea Thursday of his quarterback situation. He seemed to lean toward the veteran Boller, saying he didn't think it was important for Null to quickly rid the taste of his error-prone debut.

      "I'm hopeful in his career at some point he'll get to do that," Spagnuolo said. "I don't think we have to force ourselves into that right now. We'll just see what happens."

      Null, who played at Division II West Texas A&M, said the game experience added to his comfort level running the...
      -12-16-2009, 05:14 PM
    • eldfan
      Rams Team Report
      by eldfan
      Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo always has a single-minded purpose like most coaches as another game approaches. No matter what the record, he is intent on trying to figure out a way to win.
      It's no different this week as the Rams enter the season finale at home against the ***** with a 1-14 record. Spagnuolo had another message this week for the fans he hopes show up.

      The last two home games have had announced attendances under 50,000, the two lowest since the team moved to St. Louis in 1995.

      "Sunday is a special day," Spagnuolo said. "Not only is it the last game, but it is fan appreciation day. We do appreciate the fans that are behind us and that have hung in there in a tough, tough year. It's tough for us, tough for the players, and tough for the fans. Just know that we'll continue to work to try to get this thing straightened out. We're going to do everything we can to win this football game."

      Asked about fans that boo when the team doesn't play well, Spagnuolo said he understands.

      "Absolutely," he said. "I love to have them there. When I was in Philadelphia, of course the Philadelphia fan is a passionate fan. I've always felt good, better, and indifferent. When the fans are there and they're passionate and care, I'm OK with that, I really am. That means they care. I'm OK with that."

      While some fans hope the Rams lose so they will be assured of the first overall pick in the draft, the fans that were there for the Dec. 20 Houston game were cheering for a victory in what turned out to be a 16-13 loss. They weren't thinking about draft picks.

      Worrying about draft picks is nowhere near Spagnuolo's thinking.

      Asked this week if he had given any thought to the draft, Spagnuolo said chuckling, "No. You're way ahead of me there. Way, way ahead of me. No. Absolutely not."

      When it was pointed out that the Rams currently have the first pick in the draft with one less win than Detroit and are "neck and neck" with the Lions, Spagnuolo said, "I'll worry about that in a couple of weeks. We're 'neck and neck' in trying to win a football game this Sunday. I'm knee-deep, or whatever you want to say, in trying to win a game. It's the last one, and we're going to play it to win it."

      The Rams have played a large number of young players this season, and in recent weeks. Rookie guard Roger Allen III will start his first game of his career Sunday, on the left side, in place of the injured Mark Setterstrom. When asked about playing other young players that haven't seen action, he said, "We're going to make all the decisions based on winning the game. Should it head that way for guys like that, that's what we'll do. If not, we won't. It'll still be about winning the game."

      SERIES HISTORY: 120th regular-season meeting. Rams lead, 60-57-2. The...
      -12-31-2009, 10:56 AM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Rams Facing Big Shortage
      by r8rh8rmike
      Rams facing big shortage

      Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo cringed when considering the possibility that five of his 11 starters on offense could be watching from the sideline Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.

      "Well, when you list it like that ... " Spagnuolo said before reverting quickly to the company line.

      "In this league, you've got to step in there and play," he said. "All teams have injuries. We just line up and play the game."

      Still, the Rams' odds of knocking off Seattle certainly would be enhanced if quarterback Marc Bulger (leg), guard Richie Incognito (foot), running back Steven Jackson (back spasms), fullback Mike Karney (neck) and tackle Jason Smith (concussion) were on the field for the noon kickoff.
      Bulger and Smith definitely won't suit up. Kyle Boller takes over for Bulger with the first team. Adam Goldberg slides from right guard into Smith's spot at right tackle, with Mark Setterstrom expected to move in at right guard.

      Setterstrom, who hasn't started a game since the third week of the 2007 season, had "a solid week" of practice with the first team, Spagnuolo reported.

      Incognito, Jackson and Karney were listed as questionable on Friday's injury report. In NFL parlance, that means they have a 50-50 chance of playing.

      Jackson, the NFL's second-leading rusher, missed a third consecutive day of practice, although he did some individual work with the trainers on the sideline. Spagnuolo said he hoped to reach a decision on Jackson's availability today but conceded he might wait until Sunday morning.

      "I trust Steven and what he can tell me. I think he'll be truthful," Spagnuolo said. "The competitive juices come out. But I think he's been in the league long enough that he knows he doesn't want to hurt the team, yet he wants to be out there to help the team."

      Spagnuolo indicated that despite missing the entire week of practice, Jackson could step in on game day without a glitch. Jackson, who said earlier in the week that he expected to play Sunday, was unavailable to reporters Friday.

      If Jackson were unable to play, Kenneth Darby and Samkon Gado would be the primary ball-carriers. Rookie Chris Ogbonnaya, a seventh-round draftee who has spent the season on the practice squad, could be promoted to the 45-man game-day roster.

      "They just told me to prepare, be ready just in case they need me," said Ogbonnaya, who took some reps with the first unit this week. "Whatever happens, happens. I'll just stay patient, stay positive."


      For just the seventh time since the Rams moved here in 1995, a home game will be blacked out locally. Several thousand tickets remained unsold for Sunday's contest as...
      -11-28-2009, 12:46 PM