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St. Louis Rams – Blog

Rams Rally Late, Start Fast Early

Posted by nickwagoner on August 26, 2010 – 9:46 AM

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. –

- While the Rams had to rally to get a win in New England on Thursday night, they certainly had plenty to be happy about in the first half where their top units squared off against the Patriots top units.

- Before we dive into some of the action on the field, let’s hit the injury front.

- The most serious ailment for the Rams appeared to be a right knee injury to receiver Donnie Avery. Avery landed awkwardly on the knee after going up to try to catch a deep pass in the second quarter.

- Avery had to be carted off the field and it appeared to be a serious injury but nothing definitive will be known until tomorrow when he can have an MRI.

- Here’s hoping for the best for Avery who has worked so hard to add weight in the offseason to help avoid injuries. He had two catches for 48 yards before leaving the game, flashing the potential for a breakout.

- Tight end Darcy Johnson suffered a left ankle injury and did not return.

- Of course, the story of the night and focus coming in was rookie quarterback Sam Bradford.

- Bradford was calm, cool and collected in his first NFL start, displaying the poise that made him a Heisman Trophy winner at Oklahoma. He threw deep outs, deep ins, slants, wheel routes, seam passes, pretty much everything. And he finished 15-of-22 for 189 yards and two touchdowns. And the completion percentage actually could have been better were it not for some drops.

- Bradford shined on the biggest stage he’s been on so far in the preseason. The moment was not too big for him. What that means in the big picture isn’t clear yet and coach Steve Spagnuolo likely won’t tip his hand but there’s no denying it helped his cause.

- Speaking of players helping their cause, perhaps nobody did more to that end than tight end Michael Hoomanawanui or as Spagnuolo calls him “Illinois Mike.”

- Hoomanawanui finished with four catches for 53 yards and score both touchdowns from Bradford.

- The play of the day was a spectacular one-handed grab from Hoomanawanui who hauled it in with his right hand and managed to maintain momentum for a 23-yard gain to set up a field goal.

- In the competition that’s pretty wide open for jobs and a starting spot at that position, Hoomanawanui’s night could go a long way.

- The first team defense was stout again, allowing just one lengthy Patriots drive. That group held New England to a trio of three and outs and allowed just one first down before the Patriots’ final possession of the first half.

- And the run defense continues to be one of the biggest preseason bright spots as New England managed just 16 yards on seven carries.

- Defensive tackle Fred Robbins was active once again, coming up with a sack to halt one New England possession. It was his second in as many games.

- It was another weird night in terms of replay and reviews for the Rams. The Patriots had one 80-yard drive for a touchdown against the first team defense. On that drive, New England got 76 of those yards on three plays. One was a 24-yard “catch” by tight end Alge Crumpler. Crumpler hauled it in while tiptoeing the sideline. It was originally ruled out of bounds but overturned and gave New England a first down at the Rams’ 18.

- Now, there’s no denying it was close and could easily have been ruled a catch, the question is what on the replay was so conclusive that made it an overturn? Same thing in Cleveland last week with Ben Watson. Interesting interpretations in the preseason.

- New England left its starters in for the bulk of the second half to face the Rams’ backups. The Rams backup offensive unit score a touchdown on New England’s top defense but the Patriots offense rallied them to take the lead.

- For the record, New England ran the ball a grand total of zero times in the third quarter with Tom Brady still in and the Rams with their backups.

- Bradford wasn’t the only rookie quarterback to have a big night as Thaddeus Lewis played most of the second half and put together a strong performance.

- Lewis has injected himself into the competition for a roster spot with his effort, finishing 11-of-14 for 120 yards with a touchdown and one interception for a rating of 96.4.

- Kicker Josh Brown is now seven-of-seven in the preseason on his attempts, including the game winner Thursday night.

- Spagnuolo will discuss what he saw after watching the film tomorrow at 4 and I’ll be back to wrap this one up then. Thanks for reading.


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Rams Break Camp, Ready for Patriots

Posted by nickwagoner on August 24, 2010 – 5:05 AM

- The Rams brought the training camp portion of their schedule to an end Tuesday as they completed their final practice of this camp around 4:15.

- Coach Steve Spagnuolo rewarded one fan for his loyalty and persistent presence at the training camp practices, bringing the man they call “Coach” Jerry out of the stands to break down the huddle. Coach did so with his traditional “Get Low and Stick ‘Em” as the players joined him in his familiar refrain.

- And with that, the actual camp portion of the preseason is over. It was 27 practices and nearly a month of work but now the Rams will start focusing on getting into a regular season schedule. While there is still some work to do before an actual game week, things will settle in terms of meetings and the team will have more regular hours.

- On the injury front, the only addition Tuesday was for tackle Phil Trautwein. A teammate fell on his knee during the workout and he was unable to finish the practice. Trautwein had an MRI on Tuesday afternoon.

- Tight end Daniel Fells (hyperextended knee) and receiver Mardy Gilyard (illness) also were held out but are expected to travel with the team to New England.

- Spagnuolo said the first team offense would play the first half, including quarterback Sam Bradford. Running back Steven Jackson will likely be limited to a couple, maybe three series before calling it a night. Spagnuolo said it’s possible the first team could go into the third quarter depending on how many snaps each side gets in the first half.

- That will do it for today. Back tomorrow with a look at the Patriots. Tomorrow is a travel day leading into Thursday’s game. The Rams are back to practice on Saturday.

- Special thanks to all the fans who made it out to the Russell Training Center to watch practice and those that took the time to say hello. Hope to see you again down the line.


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Rams Return to Practice, Feeley Out

Posted by nickwagoner on August 23, 2010 – 5:34 AM

- The Rams returned to the practice field Monday for the first time since Saturday night’s preseason victory against the Browns.

- They were without quarterback A.J. Feeley, though, as Feeley has a sprained right thumb that kept him out of the practice. In fact, it will keep Feeley out this whole week including Thursday night’s game against the Patriots.

- With Feeley out, rookie Sam Bradford will make his first start in New England. Bradford is expected to get a large workload against the Patriots, possibly up to the whole first half. He’ll also get his first chance to work in game action with RB Steven Jackson.

- Also on the missing from practice front, the Rams were without WR Keenan Burton (family emergency), LB Dominic Douglas (hamstring), WR Mardy Gilyard and LB David Vobora (hamstring).

- Spagnuolo indicated that Douglas’ injury is serious enough the Rams will likely have to make a roster move in the next couple of days, leaving Douglas’ future in doubt.

- As we reported last night, former Mizzou WR Danario Alexander signed with the Rams and was on the field Monday for his first practice. Alexander said he felt pretty good being back on the field but acknowledged he has a lot of work to do to get ready both in terms of continuing to recover from knee surgery and in learning the playbook.

- For the record, Alexander is wearing No. 84 for the Rams after wearing 81 in college. Gilyard already has 81.

- The Rams will have their final open practice of this training camp tomorrow. It’s set for 2:30 and to conclude at 4:30.


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Wrapping Up Cleveland

Posted by nickwagoner on August 22, 2010 – 5:30 AM

- Welcome to this week’s version of “Wrapping Up” where we’ll take a look back at last night’s 19-17 Rams win against the Browns with the perspective of Coach Steve Spagnuolo who just finished up his day after game conference call.

- As always, let’s hit the injury list first…

- QB A.J. Feeley was the pressing question of the night and it appears all came back fine with his right elbow. His right thumb, however, will need another look after the X ray. He’s scheduled for an MRI tonight to get a closer look at it.

- Feeley felt he’d be OK after the game but Spagnuolo said he was “swollen and sore” on Sunday and would need further evaluation before any decision about his status is made for this week. If Feeley can’t go, Sam Bradford will start in his place.

- CB Ron Bartell had a neck stinger last night but returned to the game and was fine on Sunday. He’s ready to go this week.

- DE Victor Adeyanju (ankle), CB Marquis Johnson (shoulder), TE Daniel Fells (hyperextended knee) and LB Dominic Douglas (hamstring) are all considered day to day though Spagnuolo indicated Douglas could miss “a bit of time.”

- Safety James Butler (knee), G John Greco (pectoral), DE George Selvie (lower leg) and WR Brandon McRae (ankle) will all still be out this week.

- On the good side, the Rams will be getting some players back from injury, at least on a limited basis. CB Kevin Dockery, CB Jerome Murphy, CB Justin King, WR Brandon Gibson, S Kevin Payne and DE Eugene Sims should all be back to work in some capacity when the Rams get back on the practice field tomorrow afternoon.

- Spagnuolo also gave his thoughts on the team’s performance, citing the following as positives:

- The Rams were only flagged for penalties twice, both on the offense. For a preseason game in bad weather, that’s almost a staggering number. Usually, preseason games are like laundromats with all of the flags that come out.

- The Rams allowed no sacks a week after giving up six. The starting offensive line only allowed two quarterback hits at all. Major improvement and step up from a week ago.

- The special teams continues to shine. In addition to Josh Brown’s perfect night kicking field goals and an extra point, that unit forced a pair of turnovers and was again strong in coverage save for Joe Haden’s return.

- The 16-play drive late in the game also caught Spagnuolo’s eye though he says he’d like to see that end in seven points rather than three.

- On the flip side, Spagnuolo said there were some issues that need to be cleaned up right away after watching the film.

- He was disappointed in the team’s red zone performance on both sides of the ball. In conjunction with that, he wasn’t happy that they were unable to convert some turnovers that left the offense a short field to work with into points.

- Perhaps at the top of the list was something LB James Lauinaitis echoed last night with the poor tackling. Spagnuolo didn’t care much about the weather but said he wanted to see more sure tackling in the future and that will be emphasized this week.

- Offensively, Spagnuolo was also disappointed in the dropped balls by the receivers, particularly a potential touchdown dropped by WR Dominique Curry. And of course, he acknowledged that the Rams must find a way to run the ball better when RB Steven Jackson isn’t in the game.

- As for some individuals he discussed, Spagnuolo put blame on himself for some of the issues Bradford had. He said he put so much emphasis on clean center exchanges that he thought perhaps Bradford was taking too long to get out from under center. Overall, he called Bradford’s night “up and down.”

- Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui made another good impression, making some plays on the ball including a late catch down the sideline to help set up a field goal. Hoomanwanui or “Illinois Mike” as Spagnuolo calls him, got some work at fullback and impressed with his versatility.

- Spagnuolo also was pleased with how CB Johnson bounced back this week from a long and arduous game against Minnesota last week. Johnson finished with four tackles, a quarterback hit and a pass defended.

- Another rookie recovering from a rough first outing was end Hall Davis. Davis came up with a pair of sacks and flashed some of the pass rush potential Spagnuolo and the Rams saw in him when he was drafted.

- Two other youngsters catching Spagnuolo’s eye: Curry and DT Jermelle Cudjo. Aside from Curry’s drop, he had three tackles on special teams and continues to show a knack in that department. Cudjo was again a force on the interior with a couple of quarterback pressures.

- Now, the Rams turn their attention to a short week. They will practice Monday and Tuesday with a walkthrough on Wednesday as they travel to New England to play the Patriots on Thursday night.


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Rams Start Fast, Finish Strong

Posted by nickwagoner on August 22, 2010 – 2:54 AM

CLEVELAND –

- On a wet and slippery night at Cleveland Browns Stadium, the Rams found a way to get out with a win after a fast start and a final flourish pushed them to a 19-17 edge.

- On the injury front, things seemed to be OK for the Rams.

- Quarterback A.J. Feeley suffered an elbow and thumb injury taking a hit about halfway through the opening drive. He finished the drive with a touchdown pass and X rays came back negative. He’ll likely be sore tomorrow but said after the game he expects to be OK to take on New England on Thursday night.

- Cornerback Ron Bartell had what appeared to be a neck stinger but was able to come back and finish his scheduled playing time.

- WR Dominique Curry cut his chin and had stitches but was able to return.

- Cornerback Marquis Johnson banged up his shoulder but also is expected to be OK.

- LB Dominic Douglas strained a hamstring and end Victor Adeyanju injured his knee. Both will be re-evaluated and are viewed as day to day.

- As for the game, it was indeed nice to see the Rams get off to a quick start after coach Steve Spagnuolo challenged them to do just that earlier in the week.

- Feeley was reminiscent of his performance in the scrimmage at Lindenwood, looking poised and leading the Rams right down the field for a touchdown on the opening drive.

- You can just see the confidence that running back Steven Jackson’s presence gives the Rams. Jackson burst up the middle for a gain of 11 yards on his first carry and the Rams used it to push down the field for a touchdown.

- Likewise, having the offensive line the team would like to use on opening day in place, made a difference. After six sacks allowed last week, they allowed none this week and only two quarterback hits to either Feeley or Sam Bradford.

- Defensive tackle Fred Robbins showed he still has plenty of juice left, coming up with a sack and a fumble recovery.

- Nice bounce back game for rookie end Hall Davis. He had a sack and a half and showed some of the potential that the Rams believed he had when they drafted him in the fifth round last April.

- Having Bartell and Bradley Fletcher available at corner also made a difference and both were physical early with the Browns receivers.

- Tremendous catch by TE Ben Watson of Cleveland. Not sure th video was conclusive enough to overturn the call but a great catch nonetheless.

- Bradford’s night was a little more up and down, though he didn’t benefit from some drops. He acknowledged after the game that he did feel like it was good for him to play in those conditions.

- Nice to see Bobby Carpenter come up with an interception to seal the game. Quincy Butler also had a pick in addition to Robbins’ fumble recovery.

- Aside from Danny Amendola’s fumble in last week’s game, the Rams’ special teams have been outstanding in the first two games. Against Cleveland, they came up with two fumble recoveries, got a nice return from Mardy Gilyard and Josh Brown nailed four field goals.

- The Rams are back to work at practice on Monday, wrap camp on Tuesday and then head to New England for preseason contest No. 3 on Wednesday.


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Rams Finish Prep for Cleveland

Posted by nickwagoner on August 19, 2010 – 4:55 AM

- The Rams just finished up their one and only practice for Thursday with temperatures on the rise again. But they made it through OK and have finished practice for the week leading into Saturday night’s game against Cleveland.

- The only ailment of note was tight end Michael Hoomanawanui got a little sick to his stomach and went in early. He should be fine. Everyone else made it through the workout OK.

- Coach Steve Spagnuolo discussed some of the playing time scenarios for Saturday and here’s the lay out.

- The quarterback breakdown will be about the same. A.J. Feeley starts and gets a drive or two before handing off to Bradford who will finish the first half and could get another series or so in the third quarter depending on how the previous playing time breaks up.

- Spagnuolo says he is pleased with the way tackle Jason Smith has attacked practice this week and how he’s coming along from his toe injury. Smith will start at right tackle again on Saturday.

- And the best news is Smith is expected to start next to the line the Rams are hoping will be their opening day line with Rodger Saffold at left tackle, Jacob Bell at left guard, Jason Brown at center, Adam Goldberg at right guard and Smith.

- Spagnuolo said no decision has been made on playing RB Steven Jackson on Saturday night. Spagnuolo said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Jackson got a few reps in this game.

- The Rams remain hopeful that kicker Josh Brown will be able to play but that decision will be made before the night is over.

- Cornerbacks Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher are expected to play after missing the first week with injuries.

- The Rams will have a walkthrough tomorrow before heading to the Kickoff Luncheon at the Sheraton Westport and on to Cleveland for Saturday night’s game.


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Heat Returns as Rams Go Through Long Wednesday Workout

Posted by nickwagoner on August 18, 2010 – 4:40 AM

- The Rams were back on the practice field Wednesday with their longest practice of the week. And the weather did them no favors as the heat returned to near the triple digit mark as the Rams went through the paces over two and a half hours.

- There’s nothing new to report on the injury front. DE George Selvie is still limited by his lower right leg injury. The rest of the group not practicing was the same.

- The good news for the players was the small break taken during practice where they were given some competition in order to get tonight’s meetings off. Unfortunately for them, their fate rest in the heads of their respective coordinators. Coach Steve Spagnuolo told them there’d be a punt catch off in which the coordinator who caught the most punts clean would be able to give his group the night off. After the first round tied, Spagnuolo adjusted it so if your coordinator caught his next attempt, you’d be off. Pat Shurmur, Ken Flajole and Tom McMahon all delivered and the team has the night off from meetings.

- Spagnuolo also did his players another “favor” in canceling the remaining evening practices on the schedule. That means two a days are over for the year. The remaining two practice days on the schedule have changed. Tomorrow, there will be one practice at 2:15 and there will be on practice on Tuesday, Aug. 24 at 2:30. Note that the only other remaining practice is set for Monday at 2:30.

- As for the events on the practice field today, Spagnuolo took notice of rookie receiver Mardy Gilyard’s performance the past few days in returning from injury. Gilyard has been sharpe since his return and appears to have fresh legs. He’s wearing a brace/cast type of contraption on the wrist and it doesn’t seem to be bothering him in catching the ball.

- Kicker Josh Brown hasn’t kicked again this week and the Rams will again wait until the end of the week to make a choice on whether to bring in another kicker for this weekend’s game.
- Once again, the Rams top offensive line (from left, Saffold, Bell, J. Brown, Goldberg and J. Smith) took the bulk of the reps with the first team. That’s a good sign as the group searches for some continuity.

- Rams are back to work tomorrow with their final practice before this weekend’s preseason game in Cleveland.


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Tempers Flare Tuesday Morning, Saffold OK

Posted by nickwagoner on August 17, 2010 – 11:38 AM

- The Rams went through perhaps their most spirited practice Tuesday morning. Or, as coach Steve Spagnuolo called it “festive.”

- There were three full fledged scuffles during the workout as DT Gary Gibson and G Hank Fraley engaged first. Then DE Chris Long and OT Jason Smith which led to a group fracas that ended with RB Steven Jackson and Gibson tangled up.

- Nobody was hurt in the mix and all sides had made up and calmed down before even returning to the locker room. Spagnuolo said he likes the feistiness to a point but wanted to make sure it didn’t carry over into the locker room. By all accounts, it didn’t.

- On the injury front, the Rams continue to get good news and bad news. The best news was the return to practice of LT Rodger Saffold. He suffered a back injury in yesterday’s practice and went for X rays Monday night. Those X rays were negative and Saffold was in full pads with full participation Tuesday morning.

- In more good news for the O-line, guard Jacob Bell did some work in team drills for the first time since his oblique injury. And, for the first time in this camp, the Rams had the five players they’d like to start lined up in team drills. From left, they had Saffold, Bell, J. Brown, Goldberg and J. Smith. Now, they hope that everyone can continue to progress without setbacks so as to build some chemistry before the regular season.

- Also, cornerback Ron Bartell continued to do just about everything and told me after practice that he plans on playing against Cleveland on Saturday night. He’s fired up to be healthy and ready to go and says he has a lot to prove this year.

- On the downside, the Rams were without DE Victor Adeyanju (knee), DE George Selvie (lower leg) and safety Kevin Payne (knee). Those were all new additions to the injury list but all are considered day to day and should be fine in the coming days.

- Gibson tweaked his knee in the practice but said afterward that he’s fine and doesn’t expect to miss any time.

- On Selvie, who was a new addition to the list, he went to get an X ray on his lower leg. It has been bothering him for the past couple of weeks and the Rams wanted to have it checked to be sure he’s OK. Word should came later on Selvie’s status.

- One highlight of the practice was the short yardage work for running back Chris Ogbonnaya running behind the top line. Ogbonnaya had one run in “live” drills where he busted through a tackle and found his way into the end zone. The play fired up RB coach Sylvester Croom so much that he ran over and slapped Ogbonnaya on the helmet.

- The Rams are back to work tonight with their final two a day of training camp.


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