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  • Rams Team Report

    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 ***** won in San Francisco earlier this season, 35-0, but for the most part, recent games have been close. Seven of the last eight have been decided by seven points or less, with six by four points or less. Of the last four games in St. Louis, the ***** have won three with two by one point. San Francisco has outscored the Rams in the 119 previous games, 2,634 to 2,601.


    —For the second time in his career, Rams running back Steven Jackson has been voted to play in the Pro Bowl. This year's game is set for Jan. 31 in Miami, one week before the Super Bowl. It appears unlikely that Jackson will play in the game because of the back injury that kept him out of Sunday's game against Arizona.

    The NFL is the only league that combines the voting of fans, players and coaches. The other running backs on the NFC team are Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and Carolina's DeAngelo Williams.

    Said Jackson, "I am humbled the fans, coaches, and my fellow players voted me to the Pro Bowl this year. The coaches, offensive line, tight ends, fullbacks, wide receivers and quarterbacks worked hard to have a productive running game this season and this nomination is a testament to that hard work."

    On his Twitter account, Jackson wrote: "Thx u, it's been a rough year at times for the kid. But it's very humbling to know my peers, coaches & fans, made me a pro bowler. Thx u."

    Jackson also posted a photo of Bell and Ross watches that he is giving to 15 players on the offense.

    With one game remaining in the season, Jackson ranks second in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,353 and is fourth in combined yards from scrimmage with 1,675. He has rushed for at least 1,000 yards for a franchise-best five consecutive seasons.

    Jackson's other Pro Bowl season was 2006 when he led the NFL with 2,334 combined yards from scrimmage. Since the start of that season, Jackson leads all NFL running backs with an average of 124.1 total yards per game.

    —For the second straight season, there was a sense of disappointment when punter Donnie Jones was not voted to the Pro Bowl. San Francisco's Andy Lee was voted to the team.

    Both players' numbers are extremely close. Lee is averaging 47.7 yards per punt and Jones 46.3. Lee's net is 41.4 compared to Jones' 41.3. Jones has placed 32 of his 79 punts inside the 20 with nine touchbacks, while Lee has 28 of 90 punts inside the 20 with seven touchbacks.

    —Coach Steve Spagnuolo rarely says a discouraging a word about a player, even when they have been benched.

    Cornerback Jonathan Wade became a starter after Tye Hill was traded to Atlanta and started the first four games of the season. Rookie Bradley Fletcher started the next three games before being injured and lost for the season.

    However, Quincy Butler started five games, followed by Justin King starting three. Wade was inactive Dec. 20 against Houston, as rookie Danny Gorrer was active for the first game of the season. Butler was injured in that game and did not play Sunday against Arizona.

    Wade was active, but even with Arizona often using four wide receivers, Wade couldn't get on the field. The Rams used three cornerbacks and three safeties in their dime defense.

    But, when Spagnuolo was asked where Wade comes up short, he said, "I'm not going there. We just decided to play certain guys over other ones. Jonathan Wade is still in there working. He may play this week. We just decided to put guys in at certain situations. That's what we went with yesterday."

    —With records of 3-13 and 2-14 the last two seasons, the Rams had the second overall pick each year. With a loss to the ***** Sunday, they will have the first selection. A win and a Detroit win over Chicago would still give the Rams the first pick.

    However, if the Rams win and the Lions lose, the first choice will come down to strength of schedule. Entering the final week of the season, Rams opponents have won two more games than Lions opponents. The team with the lower percentage in strength of schedule receives the higher pick.

    Thus, if the Rams win and the Lions lose, teams on Detroit's schedule would have to win three more games on Sunday than the teams on the Rams' schedule. If strength of schedule is tied, the Lions would get the top pick because the Rams beat them earlier this season.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 1-16 — The Rams' record in division games since the start of the 2007 season. They have lost 13 consecutive NFC West games.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "It did yesterday. I would agree with that. He is in his second year. A lot was put on him last year and by that I mean all the expectations and he started and this year there is a new system. He is getting used to another coach and I think (line coach) Brendan Daly has done a great job with him. He would tell you the same thing about Chris. I do think Chris has gotten consistently better. I would agree with that." — Coach Steve Spagnuolo, asked if the "light switch" has come on for DE Chris Long.


    For the first time since suffering a concussion Nov. 22, rookie tackle Jason Smith did some very limited work at practice Wednesday. He is unlikely to play Sunday, but Smith was pleased to be back.

    "I'm happy that I'm able to be here with the guys, working out at the facility," he said. "I'm happy to be at practice today and be able to run around a little bit."

    —Rookie quarterback Keith Null still had the majority of reps in practice Wednesday, but Kyle Boller had more than last week.

    Spagnuolo once again isn't revealing who will start Sunday against the *****.

    "I am going to wait to make a decision," he said. "They are both healthy, I like what they both do, they both got reps today and again, we've done it the same way every week. We'll take it through the week of practice and see what we feel like in the end."


    —OT Jason Smith was at practice for the first time since suffering a concussion Nov. 22 against Arizona. Smith is unlikely to play in the season finale against San Francisco.

    —DE Leonard Little did not practice Wednesday, but hope to play Sunday. He still has an open wound from a knee infection.

    —LB Paris Lenon did not practice Wednesday because of a toe injury, but is expected to play Sunday.

    —G Mark Setterstrom will have surgery to repair a torn triceps, an injury he suffered Sunday against Arizona.

    —LB James Laurinaitis was limited in practice Wednesday because of a knee injury.

    —T Phil Trautwein took some reps with the first unit on the right side Wednesday, Starting right tackle Adam Goldberg is the only backup guard on the roster, so Trautwein could play if one of the guards is injured.

    —WR Donnie Avery was limited in practice Wednesday because of a thigh injury.

    GAME PLAN: The most important aspect of the game, especially if Keith Null starts again, is keeping the blitz away. Arizona got to Null with some pressure, and certainly the ***** will try the same tactic.

    On offense, limiting turnovers will be important. Null has eight interceptions in three starts. The Rams' minus-13 turnover ratio is the second-worst in the NFL and their 33 turnovers is tied for third-worst.

    MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Rams LG Roger Allen III vs. ***** DRT Justin Smith - Making his first start, Allen will have his hands full with the relentless Smith, who goes hard on every down.

    Rams DE Chris Long vs. ***** OTs Joe Staley and Adam Snyder. Last week, Long was expected to start on the left side, but he was moved to the right side in an attempt to take advantage of the matchup with Arizona LT Jeremy Bridges. It worked. Long had one of his best days as a pro against the run and pass. The defensive coaches will likely match him against the tackle they believe he will do better against.

    INJURY IMPACT: The Rams are now on their third left guard in four weeks. Jacob Bell suffered a torn hamstring Dec. 13 against Tennessee. Mark Setterstrom started the next two games, but left in last week's game because of a torn triceps. The latest left guard is rookie Roger Allen III. Through the first 10 weeks of the season, the Rams had started just six different offensive linemen. They have added three starters in the next six games.

Related Topics


  • 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, 05:50 PM
  • eldfan
    Rams team report
    by eldfan

    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
  • eldfan
    Rams Team Report
    by eldfan

    It's obvious what the focus will be for the Rams this week as they travel to Tampa Bay for a game against the Buccaneers. Even in the celebratory locker room Sunday afternoon following their 20-17 win over San Diego, the focus was already being directed ahead seven days.
    Everyone knows the Rams won't be taken seriously as a legitimate threat to win the NFC West until they show they can win on the road.

    Of course, entering this season, they first had to show they could win anywhere after totaling just six wins in three seasons. The Rams have now shown they can win at home, having won three straight after an opening-day loss to Arizona.

    It's why within minutes after defeating the Chargers, the trip to Tampa Bay was already on everyone's mind.

    Said running back Steven Jackson, "I think this is an example of what we can be. We're only going to get better as the season goes on, after weeks go by. We're going to celebrate. We're going to take this in today, but to be an elite team and to get ourselves in position to be in the playoffs, we have to learn how to win on the road. And I think that's our next challenge. That's the one good things about this team is we're always looking ahead. We're always looking for the next challenge."

    When defensive end Chris Long was asked about rebounding from the previous week's 44-6 loss in Detroit, he said, "It's funny. You say you move past a game like that, and some teams might pay it lip service, but I really don't feel like anybody in here was thinking about Detroit. No one in here was looking back.

    "I actually thought to myself right before the game when the ball was about to be kicked off, I said, 'Man, I haven't even thought about that game.' We're just moving forward. We won't be thinking about San Diego next week. We'll be trying to win a road game, which is a whole new challenge."

    Of course, there might be lingering thoughts of the Detroit debacle now that another road game is ahead. Since 2007, the Rams have lost 22 of 26 road games, and the losses have mostly been ugly.

    In 12 of the losses, the Rams have scored fewer than 10 points. In 13 of the losses, they have allowed 30 or more points, including four of 40 or more. Only six of the 22 losses have been within one score.

    Last season, the seven losses were by a combined score of 190-53. In 2008, it was 245-88 in seven losses and 181-48 in six 2007 losses. This season, two losses have been by a 60-20 count, making the total score for the 22 defeats an astounding 676-209.

    With a 3-3 record, the Rams are one-half game behind first-place Arizona and Seattle, both 3-2. After a home game Oct. 31 against Carolina, followed by the Rams' bye, the second half of the season features five road games, including three straight at Denver, Arizona and New Orleans. Four of the...
    -10-21-2010, 10:45 AM
  • eldfan
    Last whimper for Rams
    by eldfan
    Last whimper for Rams

    Like so many other Sundays this season, the Rams came out scrappy, hung around and threatened to make a game of it.

    Like so many other Sundays, they went out quietly — another day, another defeat. When things go south with these guys, they go w-a-y south. And so it was Sunday on Fan Appreciation Day at the Edward Jones Dome.

    Trailing only 7-6 against San Francisco with 7˝ minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the Rams picked the worst time possible to give up their longest pass play of the season. On third and 1 from the San Francisco 27, quarterback Alex Smith threw deep to Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis. Davis got behind Rams safety James Butler, and once Davis got the ball nobody was going to catch him.

    The 73-yard touchdown catch gave San Francisco a 14-6 lead with 7:29 to play. Before all was said and done, the 'Niners left town with a 28-6 victory, and the Rams left the stadium red-faced as usual.

    "It's a hard way to finish," Steve Spagnuolo said of his 1-15 debut as an NFL head coach. "For 3˝ quarters, it was toe to toe with a good football team ... and then to have it kind of get away like that at the end. We were hoping to finish on a high note and weren't able to do that."

    Not even close. Just about any way you slice it, this was the worst season in Rams football history. Over the course of the campaign the Rams set franchise marks for:

    — Most consecutive losses (17, going back to last season).

    — Most consecutive home losses (13).

    — Most losses in one season (15).

    The 1-15 debacle is definitely something no player, coach or anyone else in the organization ever wants to go through again.

    "That's kind of like asking a boxer who just got knocked out, 'Do you want to get knocked out again?' " offensive lineman Adam Goldberg said. "No, you don't want to get knocked out again."

    The Rams were pummeled on several levels Sunday, particularly on offense.

    They managed a mere 109 yards, a single-game low since the franchise moved to St. Louis in 1995.

    For the 13th time in 16 games, the Rams scored one or fewer TDs.

    The Rams managed only one first down in the entire second half, and just six for the game.

    Add it all up, and their season total of 175 points scored was the sixth-lowest total in the NFL since the league went to the 16-game schedule in 1978.

    On Sunday, rookie quarterback Keith Null was knocked woozy by a relentless San Francisco pass rush. His replacement midway through the third quarter, Kyle Boller, was under siege not only from the ***** but also from teammate Steven Jackson.

    Early in the fourth quarter, Jackson was stuffed behind...
    -01-04-2010, 05:20 AM
  • eldfan
    Rams Report
    by eldfan

    During the 2010 season, Rams running back Steven Jackson spoke often about how important it was for the offensive line in front of him to have continuity.
    It is something the Rams' line has rarely had over the last decade. When it has, the result has been obvious. Even last season, though the Rams had a losing record, there was still improvement from the year before.

    The five players on the line started all but one game the entire season. From 1999-2001, when the Rams had a cumulative regular-season record of 37-11, the opening-day starters on the line missed a total of seven starts in three seasons.

    In 2002, there were several injuries on the line, and the record slipped to 7-9. It went back to 12-4 the next season when the all five linemen started every game.

    Of course, the biggest disaster for the Rams was 2007. Coming off an 8-8 season in 2006, there was optimism heading into the next year. Jackson had led the NFL in combined yards from scrimmage. Quarterback Marc Bulger passed for over 4,000 yards, while receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce each went over 1,000.

    But the attrition in the line in '07 started in training camp and extended into the first few weeks of the season. The casualties were Orlando Pace, Mark Setterstrom, Richie Incognito, Todd Steussie and Adam Goldberg, all by the fourth week of the season.

    By the end of the season, 13 different players had started games on the line at 18 different positions. Bulger was beat up like a rag doll, and the record was 3-13. He really never recovered.

    Now, the shuffling will likely be happening again on the line. Right tackle Jason Smith has already missed four games because of post-concussion symptoms and appears headed to injured reserve. Left tackle Rodger Saffold tore a pectoral muscle lifting weights last Friday and is done for the year.

    His replacement, Mark LeVoir, suffered a pectoral injury against Seattle that won't require surgery but will keep him on the sideline for at least two games and maybe four. Rookie Kevin Hughes replaced LeVoir in that game, and the Rams signed tackle Thomas Welch off the Buffalo practice squad this week, but neither is expected to start.

    The Rams are expected to play their best five guys, even if it means moving a guard to tackle. Both Jacob Bell and Harvey Dahl have played some tackle in their career, although it hasn't been for a while. Goldberg has also played left tackle in the past, and Jason Brown, who was benched two games ago at center, has played guard. Some NFL personnel people have thought Brown might be a better guard than center anyway.

    Also keep in mind that four of the Rams' final six games will be played against teams (Arizona, San Francisco twice and Pittsburgh) that play 3-4 defenses.

    Brown said he's not sure what the line will look like Sunday because he expects...
    -11-24-2011, 06:32 PM