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Rams haven't decided who will start

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    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 team on Wednesday.

    "I messed up on one call and I said, 'Hey, I did a lot better this week than I did last week,'" Null said. "Everything was just a little bit smoother and a little bit better."

    He didn't mind the aches and pains that came the day after the game, either.

    "It sort of reminded me of playing in college, having that soreness the next day that I haven't felt in a long time," Null said. "It was actually good to feel a little soreness, but nothing too bad."

    Running back Steven Jackson missed his 10th straight practice with a lower back injury, giving him time to note on his Twitter account that he was getting a lot of Pro Bowl votes.

    Spagnuolo was hopeful that Jackson might get on the field before Sunday to work on timing.

    Jackson also lost 8 yards off what had already been a season-worst rushing total at Tennessee. The revised total, after what had been ruled a lateral pass was changed to a reception, was 39 yards on 18 carries.
    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

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  • r8rh8rmike
    Spagnuolo Keeps Quarterback Mystery Going
    by r8rh8rmike
    12.28.2009 5:10 pm
    Spagnuolo keeps quarterback mystery going
    By Bill Coats
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    Early indications are that another week of quarterback intrigue is in the forecast for Rams Park. St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo refused to tip his hand last week, even though it seemed obvious that rookie Keith Null would start at Arizona after getting the lion’s share of first-team work in practice. Null, of course, did wind up starting ahead of veteran Kyle Boller.

    On Monday, Spagnuolo again refused to offer any hints on who might be running the offense in Sunday’s season finale vs. the *****.

    “I don’t have a comment on that either way,” he said. “I get to go through the tape all through the morning, and then I usually try to take a look at it again.” Spagnuolo added that said he planned to consult with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and quarterbacks coach Dick Curl, “and then we’ll decide how to proceed on Wednesday.”

    Notes & quotes:

    *G Mark Setterstrom probably will need surgery for the torn triceps he suffered Sunday. Rookie Roger Allen is expected to start at LG vs. Frisco.

    *LB Paris Lenon has a fractured little toe but hasn’t been ruled out of Sunday’s game.

    *WR Donnie Avery has a mild strain in his thigh.

    *LB James Laurinaitis has some bursa inflammation in his left knee but should be able to play Sunday.

    *DE Leonard Little, who has missed two games with a knee infection, could get back on the field this week.

    *RBs Kenneth Darby and Chris Ogbonnaya produced 110 yards of offense standing in for Steven Jackson, who has been playing with a herniated disc in his back but couldn’t go against the Cardinals. “I thought both of them showed flashes,” Spagnuolo said. “I thought Kenny came out of the gate running pretty good. I especially liked the (19-yard) catch Chris made in the two-minute drill, over the middle. I thought those guys did some good things. Both of them blocked well.”

    *Jackson said he plans to play Sunday against the *****. “I’ll leave that up to Steven. I trust him, I trusted him yesterday,” Spagnuolo said. “That’s his competitive nature. Every day with the injury he has, sometimes it changes. But I’m hopeful.”

    *Don’t even entertain the notion of the Rams going out with a whimper Sunday, Spagnuolo cautioned. “It’s the last one, and we’re going to play it to win it,” he said
    -12-29-2009, 07:21 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Spagnuolo Won't Go There When Subject Is Incognito
    by r8rh8rmike
    12.16.2009 3:01 pm
    Spagnuolo won’t go there when subject is Incognito
    By Bill Coats
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    One of St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo’s favorite expressions when rebuffing reporters’ questions is, “I’m not going there.” On Wednesday, Spagnuolo wasn’t going there a lot when the subject was temperamental guard Richie Incognito, who was released Tuesday.

    Spagnuolo, who made only a brief statement Tuesday through the St. Louis Rams’ media relations department, offered another statement at the start of his post-practice session with the press Wednesday.

    “I want everybody to know that I have a tremendous amount of respect for Richie Incognito, and I like him a lot,” Spagnuolo began. “We had a great conversation. The decision was made in the best interest of the football team, and I do think it’s good for both parties. I believe that. I wish him the very best, I really do. I like him a lot.”

    Asked several times to elaborate, Spagnuolo wasn’t going there — for the most part, anyway. He did say this when asked how difficult the decision was to jettison Incognito, who was benched after drawing two personal fouls in the first quarter and a half Sunday at Tennessee:

    “Very . . . very. I didn’t sleep on Sunday and it took all day Monday,” Spagnuolo said. “None of those decisions are easy, and that one was particularly tough.”

    Notes & quotes:

    *Rookie QB Keith Null took all the first-team snaps at practice Wednesday because Kyle Boller was out because of illness. Boller also is nursing a thigh injury, and Spagnuolo said no decision has been made on who will start Sunday when the Texans visit the Edward Jones Dome.

    *The other starting guard, Jacob Bell, is on injured reserve after tearing a hamstring vs. the Titans. The plan is to start Mark Setterstrom in Bell’s spot at LG and John Greco in place of Incognito at RG. On Wednesday, though, C Jason Brown also was ill, so Setterstrom filled in there, with rookie Roger Allen at LG with the first unit.

    *RB Steven Jackson (back), T Jason Smith (concussion), QB Marc Bulger (leg) and DE Leonard Little (knee) also didn’t practice.

    *LBs David Vobora (knee ankle), Paris Lenon (hip) and K.C. Asiodu (hip), and DT LaJuan Ramsey (wrist) did limited work.

    *The Rams have added C Drew Miller to the practice squad. Miller, a second-year pro out of the University of Florida, was with Jacksonville last year but never got into a game.

    *This week’s captains are TE Randy McMichael (offense), end Chris Long (defense) and RB Kenneth Darby (special teams).
    -12-16-2009, 06:14 PM
  • BM_Face
    Null not discouraged
    by BM_Face

    Five interceptions or not, Keith Null wants to get back on the horse.

    "Yeah, I would love to get out and play again," Null said Monday in his west Texas drawl. "The more experience I get, the better."

    He just might get another chance. For the final three games of this season, it's either Kyle Boller or Null at quarterback. That's because Marc Bulger is still on crutches three weeks after he was diagnosed with a fractured shin bone.

    Bulger underwent a followup MRI exam Friday. According to Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, the exam "showed that (the fracture) was healing, that the swelling was down. It's not completely healed. He still has a little pain there, so (doctors) want him to stay on the crutches."

    Bulger did not accompany the team to Nashville, Tenn., or Chicago because medical officials want him to stay off his feet as much as possible and avoid putting weight on the leg. So it's all but certain that Bulger is finished for the season. It's just a matter of whether the team wants to put him on the injured reserve list.

    As for Boller, a last-minute scratch against the Tennessee Titans because of a thigh injury, there's no guarantee at this point he will be healthy enough to play Sunday against Houston.

    Does Boller start if he is?

    "I would tend to lean that way," Spagnuolo said. "But I'm not going to commit to that 100 percent. Kyle's been a competitor for us. If he's healthy, I think he can help us win a football game."

    The Rams have won only one of their past 23 football games dating back to October 2008. Sunday's 47-7 shellacking at LP Field in Nashville was among the most lopsided losses in franchise history — the fourth-worst margin of defeat.

    Null had a rhythm going early against Tennessee. But four early penalties by the offensive line, including two personal fouls against right guard Richie Incognito, made a tough situation worse for a rookie quarterback playing in his first NFL regular-season game.

    At least Null could joke Monday about his debut. After reviewing game film, he was asked what he did well.

    "Got in and out of the huddle," he said. "Called the plays right. Directed traffic. Those things that you could easily mess up on in your first start, I did well. I made some good throws. Good reads. I threw the ball to the right read most of the time. I had a lot of completions."

    Then came the punch line.

    "If you count the interceptions, even more completions," Null said, drawing laughter from the media at Rams Park.

    Spagnuolo is a firm believer in silver linings, and one of them Sunday was Null's poise and composure. Null didn't get dispirited. He didn't panic. And he kept...
    -12-15-2009, 08:52 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Spagnuolo: If Boller Heals, He'll Probably Start Vs. Texans
    by r8rh8rmike
    12.14.2009 3:58 pm
    Spagnuolo: If Boller heals, he’ll probably start vs. Texans
    By Bill Coats
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    On Monday, St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo actually compared his rookie quarterback, Keith Null, with future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

    Only kidding, coach.

    But Spagnuolo did have a point to make a day after Null was intercepted five times in his first NFL regular-season action, a 47-7 shellacking at Tennessee.

    “I’m not comparing Keith to Peyton Manning, OK?” Spagnuolo said. “But I think in his first year he had a bunch of interceptions early. Now again, please don’t be writing down that I’m comparing Keith to (Manning). But that’s what they go through. (Null will) learn from it. I know he will.”

    Manning set an NFL record for interceptions by a rookie, tossing 28 in 1998. He was picked off three times in his first game and had tossed 11 picks after just four outings. It wasn’t until Manning’s seventh game that he went interception-free.

    So, Null is in good company. But he might not be back in the starting lineup Sunday when the Texans visit the Edward Jones Dome. Spagnuolo indicated that if Kyle Boller’s sore thigh, which kept him out vs. the Titans, heals this week, he’ll get the call.

    “I would tend to lean that way, but I’m not going to commit to that a hundred percent,” Spagnuolo said. “Kyle’s been a competitor for us. If he’s healthy, I think he can help us win.”

    Notes & quotes:

    *Among a long list of injuries suffered Sunday, G Jacob Bell’s was the most serious. He tore a hamstring, which could land him on injured reserve.

    *LBs David Vobora (knee, ankle) and Larry Grant (knee) both had MRI exams, although the results weren’t available.

    *RB Steven Jackson (back) was “very sore, obviously. But hopefully no worse,” Spagnuolo reported.

    *Spagnuolo acknowledged that the possibility of shutting down rookie T Jason Smith for the rest of the season has been discussed. Smith, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, has missed three games after suffering a concussion and still is experiencing symptoms.

    *As this is written (before Monday night’s game), the 1-12 Rams would have the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 draft because they’ve played a weaker schedule than the 1-12 Buccaneers.
    -12-15-2009, 06:52 PM
  • eldfan
    Have the Rams bottomed out?
    by eldfan
    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
    [More columns]By Bernie Miklasz

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In terms of the depth of their futility and their absolute inability to win, the Rams are ranking right down there with some of history's more recognized losers.

    We're talking about the 1962 expansion New York Mets, the Chicago Cubs since 1908, the old St. Louis Browns, the Jamaican bobsled team, Gen. Custer at Little Big Horn, George McGovern in 1972, the patsy Washington Generals hooping against the Harlem Globetrotters.

    After being demolished 47-7 by the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at LP Field, the Rams slid deeper into the sinkhole of professional sports. They're 1-12 on the season, 1-22 in their last 23 games, 3-26 since the beginning of 2008, and 6-39 over the past three seasons.

    And at this point, what's the use in kicking them when they're as broken, bleeding and demoralized as any pro team in St. Louis sports history? Besides, that's a job for Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher. Ten years later, Fisher is still trying to get that extra yard he needed in Super Bowl XXXIV.

    With undeveloped Rams rookie quarterback Keth Null starting and appearing in a regular-season NFL game for the first time, the Titans ripped into the Rams faster than it takes baseball agent Scott Boras to reject a home-team discount for Matt Holliday. Titans running back Chris Johnson made a couple of video-game moves, and even before Alex Barron could draw his first false start penalty the Rams were down 14-0.

    With starting quarterback Kyle Boller (thigh) unable to go, Null did about as well as he could under the circumstances. He was intercepted five times, with one theft returned for a pick six. Whoa, Nullie, you aren't at West Texas A&M anymore.

    This was a concussion waiting to happen. Null was the raw red meat tossed into the lion's den. But at least Null managed to walk off the field with his brain and body intact. And actually the rookie remained quite composed over the three-hour lesson. Null made plenty of mistakes, but not because he lost his cool. Null was surprisingly calm and under control.

    Which is saying something, because the beating that took place in Nashville was fierce, ugly and cruel. Fisher ran up the score by ordering a fourth-down pass (for a touchdown) with under eight minutes remaining and his team up 33-7. The TD made it 40-7, and by then the Rams were pretty much down to their last layer of dignity.

    After the smackdown, Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo spoke in quiet, barely audible tones. Frankly, I'd never seen him so down, so bummed.

    "It's hard. It's hard. It's hard," Spagnuolo said. "But I'll bounce back. And I don't worry about that question because I know the guys in the locker room will do the same."

    Bounce back from...
    -12-14-2009, 05:05 AM