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Rams Great Richter Nominated for Hall of Fame

Posted by nickwagoner on September 21, 2010 – 9:06 PM

- With the Rams’ third regular season game coming Sunday, it’s easy to look ahead to what’s to come  and all that’s going on with the current Rams. But before we dive into that, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the past and a former Ram great who will have his chance at the ultimate in NFL recognition in January.

- Richter was the second overall pick in 1952 by the Dallas Texans after an outstanding college career at California. He was traded soon after to the Los Angeles Rams for a whopping 11 players but it was the Rams who got great value out of the trade. After serving two years in the Korean War, Richter returned to the states and began his football career.

- In 1954, Richter played his first game as a Ram in a career that would include eight consecutive Pro Bowl appearances as a linebacker, guard and kicker. For his career, he intercepted 16 pass, kicked 106 extra points and 29 field goals and scored a touchdown.

- Richter retired following the 1962 season and only now is getting his shot at becoming an NFL Hall of Famer.

- Richter is a senior candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and his nomination will be voted upon at this year’s Super Bowl.

- Upon his retirement from the game, Richter became involved in auto racing, at one point even rising as high as senior vice president of operations for NASCAR. He passed away on June 12 of this year in Riverside, Calif.


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Wrapping Up Oakland

Posted by nickwagoner on September 20, 2010 – 8:12 PM

- Welcome to this week’s edition of Wrapping Up. Let’s get down to business.

- The Rams took some more bumps and bruises this week that could limit the roster again this weekend against Washington. Coach Steve Spagnuolo gave the full injury report and it looked like this…

- TE Billy Bajema has a mild MCL sprain and is expected to miss two to four weeks. That injury is believed to be similar to the one suffered by safety James Butler.

- Fellow TE Daniel Fells also has an MCL injury though it’s not as serious and he’s going to be day to day this week.

- DT Darell Scott probably has the most serious ailment, suffering a high ankle sprain in the same category as the one suffered by TE Michael Hoomanawanui last week. He’s expected to miss some extended time with that injury.

- DT Clifton Ryan will have a second opinion on his migraine headache issues this week after he was unable to play against the Raiders. The Rams are hopeful everything will come back OK from that ailment, especially with Scott out this week. The Rams could bring DT Jermelle Cudjo back to the varsity if Ryan and Scott are both not likely to play.

- LB Chris Chamberlain (foot) and Hoomanawanui (ankle) are out of their casts and in walking boots. They are still a ways away from getting back on the field but that’s a good sign for each of their recoveries.

- CBs Kevin Dockery and Justin King are making progress and could both return to practice this week with King’s return more likely earlier in the week than Dockery.

- As for the game, Spagnuolo expressed his disappointment at many of the same things that he was upset with in the immediate aftermath of the game. The penalties, the Rams’ inability to run the ball in the second half and the Raiders’ success running in the second half were the main culprits, according to Spagnuolo.

- Spagnuolo also put the blame on himself and the coaching staff, saying the Rams need to be better prepared, especially in the second half and come out with the same energy and intensity they had in the first half.

- The biggest issue to Spagnuolo in terms of the inability to run the ball is how that correlates to an inability to convert on third down. The Rams were just two-of-10 on third down against the Raiders, mostly because they rarely found themselves in manageable third down situations.

- “The combination of not being able to convert on third down and not being effective in running the ball on first and second kind of did us in a little bit,” Spagnuolo said. ” I don’t think they did anything different. They did it a little bit better and we probably blocked a little better in the first than we did in the second. And here we are.”

- As for the penalties and mistakes that have plagued the Rams in the first two weeks, Spagnuolo says they’re doing everything they can to correct them…”We are in there knocking out the mistakes,” Spagnuolo said. “I talked to the team this morning about some of the things that happened that shouldn’t happen. But after that it’s on to the next game.”

- On further review of some of the calls that went against them, particularly the close personal fouls, Spagnuolo did not want to address. He did say that he wants to team to be “aggressive but smart.”

- Spagnuolo was asked directly about the possibility of the Rams making a trade for a wide receiver, particularly one from a West Coast team that is currently suspended. Spagnuolo had this to say in response: “Billy and I always talk about that (stuff). Usually today, this afternoon is where we sit down and evaluate where we are at with injuries and who is available and all those other things. So we will have that this afternoon.”

- On the topic of receivers, Spagnuolo indicated that rookie Mardy Gilyard is closer to being ready to contribute to the offense, saying he will “get involved” and complimenting Gilyard’s work as a gunner on special teams.

- In the final evaluation of QB Sam Bradford’s second NFL start, Spagnuolo said he was pretty pleased with the way the rookie fought through the struggles he had in the third quarter…”There were a couple of things in there obviously he needed to do better. But he knows that. All in all, the offense that took the ball from the minus 3, all the way down to the 5, that was pretty impressive for a bunch of young players. I was proud of the way Sam, after struggling a little bit in the third quarter, then all of a sudden putting that together and being able to score to put us in a position to have a chance.”

- Spagnuolo acknowledged Bradford’s comfort level in the no huddle offense at the end of the game, an area Bradford excelled at Oklahoma.

- On the other side of the ball, Spagnuolo was pleased with how rookie CB Jerome Murphy competed in his first NFL playing time as he worked extensively in the nickel position. While Murphy was targeted a lot by the Raiders, he battled and came up with an important interception to keep the Rams alive. For his first game, Spagnuolo thought Murphy did pretty well.

- Back on the injury front for a moment, the Rams seem to continue to get hit at the same positions over and over. Here’s the way things look right now at a few positions and how the Rams figure to go about handling the personnel at those spots:
DT: (Healthy) Fred Robbins, Gary Gibson.  (Hurt or sick) Clifton Ryan, Darell Scott – Should those two be out this week, Cudjo could get called back up from the practice squad to the active roster.
CB: (Healthy) Ron Bartell, Bradley Fletcher, Jerome Murphy, Marquis Johnson. (Banged up) Dockery, King – It appears the Rams are about to get King and Dockery back. That would perhaps allow Johnson to return to the practice squad and free a roster spot somewhere else.
TE: (Healthy) Darcy Johnson, Fendi Onobun. (Injured) Hoomanawanui, Bajema, Fells – Pending the way Fells responds to treatment this week, the Rams might again have a need at this position. For at least the next two weeks, Hoomanawanui and Bajema will be out and likely longer. Spagnuolo said Onobun still has some work to do to be ready to contribute so that could also factor into this equation.
S: (Healthy) Oshiomogho Atogwe, Darian Stewart. (Mostly healthy) James Butler. (Injured) Craig Dahl – It’s possible Dahl could recover from the concussion in time to play this week but the Rams won’t rush anyone back from a head injury. Butler stepped in for Dahl at the end of the Oakland game and appears to be slowly getting back into football shape. Spagnuolo indicated he’d be the top option to fill in for Dahl but it also remains to be seen if Butler is ready to take on a full workload, meaning another body could be brought in to help at safety or Stewart could see a more active role.

- That’s going to do it for this week. Back with updates throughout the week and don’t forget to send your questions to Nick’s Mailbag which goes down every Tuesday right here at 12:30. Thanks for stoppin’ by.


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Rams Lament Penalties in Loss

Posted by nickwagoner on September 20, 2010 – 5:59 AM

OAKLAND –

- Sunday’s 16-14 loss to Oakland was the second excruciating defeat for the Rams in as many weeks as they open the 2010 NFL season. But this time, it wasn’t just missed opportunities (though those were present again too) that kept the Rams from a victory.

- Two weeks in, the Rams are eight points away from being 2-0. But where last week, they simply couldn’t find ways to make plays that were there to be made, this week they struggled with the mental discipline and detail required to get a win.

- Before we dive further into the game, let’s run down the injury list.

- In the aftermath of the game, the most serious ailment appeared to be the concussion to safety Craig Dahl. That injury brought him out of the game near the end and James Butler replaced him.

- Tight ends Daniel Fells and Billy Bajema suffered knee injuries. Neither appeared serious but both will be evaluated further on Monday.

- Mardy Gilyard had the wind knocked out of him on a kick return but he returned to the game.

- Tackle Rodger Saffold had some back stiffness and missed a little time in the second half but he returned to the game.

- Defensive tackle Darell scott twisted his ankle. It didn’t appear to be more serious than that but coach Steve Spagnuolo said he’d be looked at further on Monday as well.

- Cornerbacks Justin King and Kevin Dockery were both inactive because of hamstring injuries. Chris Chamberlain and Michael Hoomanawanui were kept out of the game because of their previous ailments.

- Back to the happenings on the field, it was a series of bad penalties, two in particular, that drew Spagnuolo’s ire after the game.

- The Rams finished with eight panelties for 92 yards. That’s less than Oakland’s 12 penalties but more in yardage. In other words, when the Rams were flagged, they were flagged for serious infractions.

- All told, the Rams had five 15-yard infractions, including four personal fouls and a chop block. On drives where those penalties occurred, Oakland generated nine points and kept the final, clock killing drive alive. That was more than enough to make up the difference in the final score.

- Perhaps the most glaring because it happened so late was the personal foul on DT Fred Robbins. Robbins chased Oakland QB Bruce Gradkowski out of the pocket and appeared to be close enough to him for contact upon release of the pass. But considering the amount of personal fouls and chippiness of the game, it was little surprise when the flag came out. Disappointing to be sure but in a game like that, that call is likely to be made.

- Speaking of Gradkowski, what a boost he gave the Raiders in the second half. He made some things happen with his legs and threw some nice balls to help keep the Rams off balance. Hard to believe it’s the same guy who decisively lost a battle with Brock Berlin for the No. 3 job in St. Louis in 2008.

- DE James Hall had a big day for the Rams, regularly beating his man and coming up with a sack and a pair of forced fumbles. Unfortunately for the Rams they couldn’t recover either ball that hit the ground.

- Spagnuolo expressed his disappointment that the Rams’ running game vanished in the second half. They mixed it up well in the first half as Oakland did not stack to box to stop Steven Jackson. When the Raiders came out in the second half with eight up front, the run game went away and the Rams offense stagnated to the point that it mustered just 8 yards of offense in the third quarter.

- Rookie QB Sam Bradford had, as expected, another up and down day in his first NFL road start in the regular season. He and the Rams took advantage of Oakland’s aggressiveness in the first half with screens and quick shots to the tight ends but Bradford called himself “bad” in the second half and said it wasn’t enough to get the job done despite his late rally. He finished 14-of-25 for 167 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

- After his hot start in which he posted more than 100 yards from scrimmage in the first half, Jackson was severely limited in the second. He finished with 19 carries for 75 yards and four catches for 50 yards receiving.

- Mark Clayton wasn’t too involved in the offense most of the day but came through when it mattered, putting up both touchdowns for the Rams, including an excellent grab to cut Oakland’s lead late.

- Rookie CB Jerome Murphy was clearly the target of Oakland’s passing game on a number of third down opportunities and he had some bumps along the way but he did a nice job to be in the right place at the right time to get his first career interception to keep the Rams alive late.

- Nice catch, James Butler.

- Good to see the Rams snatch those two interceptions but they still continue to miss out on golden opportunities of balls that are there for the taking.

- Oakland RB Darren McFadden looked like the genuine article Sunday. He ran hard and finished with a legitimate 145 yards on 30 carries.

- That’s all for this one. Back tomorrow to wrap it all up with more thoughts and news from Spagnuolo.


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Rams Ready for Raiders

Posted by nickwagoner on September 17, 2010 – 6:49 PM

- The Rams just completed Friday’s practice and their preparation for Sunday’s game at Oakland. Coach Steve Spagnuolo was pleased with the work his team did this week and said he’s looking forward to the challenge of playing in Oakland. In his time in the league. Spagnuolo said it’s the one place he has yet to coach but he thinks he has a good idea of the atmosphere considering his past….

“I have gotten a pretty good indication of what it’s supposed to be like,” Spagnuolo said. “But you’ve got to remember I coached in Philadelphia for eight years. The one thing I will say and I am sure it’s the same way in Oakland, it’s passion for NFL football. So I respect that.”

- On the injury front, the Rams got pretty good news on a  pair of defensive tackles. Clifton Ryan returned to the facility on Friday after severe migraine headaches left him spending most of the past two days in the hospital. Ryan did not practice Friday and is listed as questionable for Sunday but Spagnuolo said if Ryan seems OK in the next day, he’d probably be good to go against Oakland.

- Fellow DT Darell Scott suffered a knee injury in Thursday’s practice but it was not serious. In fact, Scott didn’t even need an MRI and should be good to go against the Raiders.

- Cornerback Justin King did a little more work on Friday and the Rams are hopeful he’ll be ready to go Sunday. He is questionable and could be a gametime decision.

- Cornerback Kevin Dockery did not practice again because of his hamstring and isn’t likely to play.

- Considering the injuries, the Rams have already put into place some contingency plans.

- It looks almost certain that CB Jerome Murphy will make his debut as the team’s nickel corner. He worked there all week and Spagnuolo said

“(He’s done) pretty good,” Spagnuolo said. “We are still working with a rookie getting ready for his first NFL regular season game. But Jerome is a competitor so long as he competes he’ll be fine.”

- Linebacker Bryan Kehl has only been with the Rams a few days but because they are short on numbers at the position and on special teams, he’s likely to be active.

“He may have to,” Spagnuolo said. “I think we are looking at that. I’m sure Tom McMahon has got him up to speed.”

- It looks like rookie WR Dominique Curry will be active for the first time this week. After losing special teams studs Chris Chamberlain and Josh Hull, the Rams could turn to Curry to help out.

“I think that’s a good possibility,” Spagnuolo said. “He’s worked in there quite a bit. Now once we get all these injured people down, we will get to the 45.”

- The Rams have a method for rewarding practice squad players by giving one the chance to travel with the team every week based on how they help the team in practice. This week, it’s WR Danario Alexander who will get the experience of traveling.

- As always thanks for following along. Stay tuned for updates from Oakland this weekend and complete coverage on Sunday evening.


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Jackson Practices, More Injuries

Posted by nickwagoner on September 16, 2010 – 9:06 PM

- The Rams appear to be snakebit right now when it comes to the injury bug. While they entered the season relatively healthy with only safety James Butler on the initial injury report, they took some hits over the weekend against Arizona. Injuries in games are very common in the NFL. But the Rams have taken a couple more blows in practice this week, limiting their depth.

- After losing LB Josh Hull for the season to a torn ACL on Wednesday, the Rams had another knee injury during Thursday’s workout. DT Darell Scott was the recipient this time and it remains to be seen how severe it is. He wrapped it up and was able to walk off under his own power. Will update when any new information comes along.

- Defensive tackle Clifton Ryan also did not practice after falling ill last night. Ryan went to the hospital and stayed overnight after feeling quesy earlier in the night. He was undergoing a battery of tests on Thursday. Like Scott, I’ll post another update when more information becomes available.

- As for the rest of the injury list, things remained about the same. Cornerback Kevin Dockery (hamstring) did not practice. Fellow corner Justin King was limited to individual work and did not participate in team drills.

- On the bright side, the Rams got a couple of players back in the workout. Running back Steven Jackson returned to practice as did receiver Laurent Robinson. Robinson was a bit limited but coach Steve Spagnuolo said he appeared to be pretty close to full strength.

- As far as the roster, the Rams made a couple of tweaks official. Linebacker Bryan Kehl was officially added to the roster after the team claimed him off waivers from the Giants. He’s wearing No. 50.

- Defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo was brought back to the practice squad after he was released earlier in the week to make room for TE Darcy Johnson. The Rams released LB Mortty Ivy to make room for Cudjo. Of course, depending on the severity of Scott’s knee injury and Ryan’s illness, Cudjo could well be back up with the varsity before the weekend.

- With the injury situation as it is, here’s how the Rams break down at positions where those ailments have hit the hardest…
LB: James Laurinaitis, Na’il Diggs, Larry Grant, David Vobora, Bryan Kehl. All five are healthy with Hull on injured reserve and Chris Chamberlain out six to eight weeks.
CB: Ron Bartell, Bradley Fletcher, Jerome Murphy. Those three are fine with King and Dockery nursing hamstring injuries. The Rams are hopeful King will be ready for Sunday.
TE: Daniel Fells, Billy Bajema, Fendi Onobun, Darcy Johnson. Those four are good to go with Michael Hoomanawanui out six to eight weeks with a high ankle sprain. Onobun isn’t likely to be active this week as Spagnuolo says he still has a ways to go to be ready.

- Clearly, some more roster tweaks could be in the offing depending on how guys come along for injury. I’ll try to update Ryan and Scott’s status this evening. Thanks for checking in.


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LB Josh Hull to Miss Rest of Season

Posted by nickwagoner on September 15, 2010 – 9:04 PM

- The initial diagnosis on rookie linebacker Josh Hull was better than what the final analysis was after it became clear this afternoon that he has a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament.

- Hull suffered the injury early in the special teams period of this afternoon’s practice and was seen on crutches with a brace in the locker room later on.

- The injury will end Hull’s rookie season and he will be placed on injured reserve sooner than later.

- The Rams are working on bringing in another linebacker, likely former Giants LB Bryan Kehl, who was placed on waivers earlier in the week. More on that as it develops.


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Rams Begin Oakland Prep

Posted by nickwagoner on September 15, 2010 – 8:11 PM

- The Rams got back on the practice field Wednesday afternoon with a two-plus hour workout as they begin the process of preparing to play Oakland on Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum.

- First, a bit of business as the Rams made some roster moves late Tuesday, shuffling the practice squad and providing some depth at tight end.

- The Rams released DT Jermelle Cudjo and brought back tight end Darcy Johnson, who was with the team in training camp. Johnson was back on the practice field in his customary No. 87 on Wednesday afternoon. Cudjo is a candidate to go to the practice squad upon clearing waivers.

- Speaking of the practice squad, the Rams released RB Allen Patrick and WR Brandon McRae and brought in LB/FB Britt Miller and FB/TE Jamie McCoy. Clearly, the Rams are searching for insurance because of the injuries to TE Michael Hoomanawanui and LB Chris Chamberlain.

- Local fans might be familiar with Miller, who played his college ball at Illinois. He has been converted to a fullback but also can play linebacker and special teams as he did last year in San Francisco.

- No decision has been made yet on Chamberlain, who has a fractured toe and is expected to miss six to eight weeks. It’s possible he could still go on injured reserve but nothing appears imminent. Hoomanawanui is also expected to be out six to eight weeks.

- Wednesday’s practice represented a major shift in player participation as injuries hit the Rams fairly hard over the weekend. RB Steven Jackson (knee), WR Laurent Robinson (ankle), Hoomanawanui (ankle), Chamberlain (toe), CB Kevin Dockery (hamstring) and CB Justin King (hamstring) didn’t participate in the practice. Jackson and Robinson are expected to be OK but are being monitored on a day to day basis. Dockery isn’t likely to be ready to go but King still could bounce back.

- Additionally, LB Josh Hull suffered an MCL injury early in practice. He was on crutches with a brace afterward and Spagnuolo said he could miss some extended time.

- Clearly, the Rams will need to find some linebacker depth from somewhere in the next day or so.

- DT Fred Robbins has a lower leg injury and was limited. He’s expected to be fine.

- As for the work on the field, Brandon Gibson got more work with Robinson out as Amendola jumped into the slot. Spagnuolo says Gibson is making strides but will need to be a contributor on special teams to get a more regular role.

- Speaking of special teams, the three specialists – Josh Brown, Donnie Jones and Chris Massey – went to a local field to practice kicking on dirt because that’s what they’ll work on in Oakland.

- Spagnuolo said his team came out “hungry” on Wednesday but called the practice a bit sluggish.

- Spagnuolo also said that Amendola will continue his heavy workload but that Mardy Gilyard will continue working on kick returns.

- That’s it for today. Thanks for reading.


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Wrapping Up Arizona

Posted by nickwagoner on September 13, 2010 – 7:48 PM

- Welcome to this week’s edition of Wrapping Up where we take a look back at what happened in the Rams’ heartbreaking loss to the Cardinals on Sunday and reveal some thoughts from coach Steve Spagnuolo now that he’s reviewed the game tape and met with his team.

- One of the first things Spagnuolo did and I’d like to echo the sentiment is thank the Rams fans for showing up at the Edward Jones Dome yesterday and creating a really outstanding gameday atmosphere. The fans were into it from the beginning and really provided some support for the team. It was obvious that the team fed off that energy.

- On the injury front, not a lot of good news for the Rams. Valuable LB and special teamer Chris Chamberlain’s season is in question after suffering a significant turf toe/foot injury. He’s expected to miss six to eight weeks and Spagnuolo said a “decision” will be made on him at some point. In other words, because he’s going to miss more than half the season, it’s possible they could place him on injured reserve and bring in another linebacker.

- CB Kevin Dockery has a grade 1 hamstring injury and his status for this week is in doubt. He’s not likely to be available on Sunday in Oakland and would be re-evaluated next week.

- CB Justin King’s prognosis is a bit better in terms of the Rams having someone available to play in the nickel. His hamstring injury is more low-grade and he’ll be monitored in the coming days.

- TE Michael Hoomanawanui got some bad news as it was revealed he has a “significant” high ankle sprain according to Spagnuolo. There’s no set timetable on the ailment but those usually are at least a four-week recovery. Tough break for a youngster who has shown great promise.

- On the less significant side, Spagnuolo said RB Steven Jackson (knee), WR Laurent Robinson (ankle), DT Fred Robbins (ankle) and S Oshiomogho Atogwe (groin) should all be fine.

- Given a night to sleep (or not sleep) on it and review the game film, Spagnuolo couldn’t help but express his disappointment with the result of Sunday’s game. He even said at one point that “giving a great effort is not enough. You have to win.” That’s part of the process that this young team is going through and learning how to win. Spagnuolo says a big part of that is making the plays that are there to be made when the opportunities present themselves.

- In looking back at the missed chances, Spagnuolo discussed the Rams’ regiment for how they handle what they call “Fire Drills,” the times when the defense comes up with the ball and is returning it. Spagnuolo expressed some disappointment that nobody found someone to block on CB Bradley Fletcher’s fumble return early in the game. On the play, Fletcher had a convoy of blockers in front of him but none were looking back to protect him for what could have been a touchdown.

- As for Clifton Ryan’s fumbled fumble return, Spagnuolo says it’s simply a matter of holding the ball high and tight, something that is constantly emphasized in practice.

- In his final evaluation of rookie QB Sam Bradford, Spagnuolo said his young signal caller was “very solid” and he remained most impressed with how he handled pressure and adversity.

- One other area he was pleased with was the efforts of the offensive line. Despite the many types of blitzes and pressures Arizona put together, the line held its own and found ways to keep Bradford from taking too many shots. That was especially important considering the pass attempt count.

- Speaking of the 55 pass attempts for Bradford, Spagnuolo said he felt the offense was balanced fine in the sense that the numbers were skewed by some late drives. In fact, on the Rams final two possessions while trying to mount a comeback, Bradford threw 19 passes. That does make the final tally look a bit different.

- With the cornerback situation as dire as it was, Spagnuolo said the Rams could make a move or two this week to bolster the depth. Most likely, rookie Jerome Murphy will be called upon to help out in some way.

- Losing Chamberlain isn’t helpful for a couple of reasons. First, it takes away an excellent special teams player but Chamberlain had also moved into the role of the WIL linebacker when the Rams go to the nickel.

- With Chamberlain out, don’t be surprised if the Rams go with Craig Dahl moving into that WIL spot in the nickel with James Butler jumping back in at safety in his stead.

- I feel stupid for not mentioning it last night but punter Donnie Jones needs to be commended for his continuous excellence. I know a punter can be taken for granted but he is continuously one of the best in the league at his position and proved it again Sunday. He finished with an average of 54.2 yards per punt with a net of 45.7, dropping three of his six attempts inside the 20. Maybe this is the year he finally gets his due and heads to Hawaii.

- The Rams will have their usual Tuesday off tomorrow before returning to the practice field on Wednesday as they begin preparation for Sunday’s game at Oakland.

- As always, thanks for reading…


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Rams Haunted by Missed Chances

Posted by nickwagoner on September 13, 2010 – 12:47 AM

- In a game that was without question there for the taking, the Rams just couldn’t quite take advantage of some golden opportunities to come away with a victory. In the process, they fell 17-13 to Arizona at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday.

- On the injury front, LB Chris Chamberlain suffered a foot injury of some consequence and will be evaluated further in the morning.

- The rest of the injuries didn’t appear to be too serious but were costly in the course of the game. Cornerbacks Justin King and Kevin Dockery suffered hamstring injuries that kept them out of the final quarter of the game and left the Rams short at the position. Arizona took advantage in the passing game late.

- Also missing with what appears to be a minor injury was tight end Michael Hoomanawanui who suffered an ankle injury that kept him out and gave the Rams one less target in the red zone.

- As for rookie QB Sam Bradford, it was an up and down day as would be expected from a rookie signal caller. Bradford finished 32-of-55 for 253 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. Nobody could have expected him to throw 55 times but he handled it well and said he felt good physically after the game.

- RB Steven Jackson finished with 81 yards on 22 carries.

- For someone with only three practices under his belt, WR Mark Clayton made a heck of an impact. He finished with 10 catches for 119 yards, the first 100-yard game by a Rams receiver since Oct. 26, 2008.

- CB Ron Bartell played a heck of a game in coverage. Although he dropped an interception, Bartell shadowed Larry Fitzgerald all day and found ways to keep him from making big plays. Fitzgerald was targetd 15 times and had just three catches for 43 yards. The Rams were in zone on the touchdown so Bartell handled himself well against Fitzgerald (who wasn’t quite 100 percent).

- The missed opportunities will be the thing that haunts the Rams from this game. Clifton Ryan fumbling his fumble recovery at the goal line. Bradley Fletcher not scoring on his fumble return. Josh Brown’s blocked field goal attempt. Bartell’s missed interception. In the NFL, where one or two plays often makes all the difference, the Rams’ inability to finish those plays ultimately cost them the win.

- The Rams threw the kitchen sink at Derek Anderson all day and the blitz packages were outstanding. Anderson was sacked twice but he took nine hits in the process.

- The Rams forced seven fumbles and came up with four, unfortunately they were just one short again.

- In unofficial pressbox statistics, safety Oshiomogho Atogwe led the Rams with eight tackles.

- Be back tomorrow to wrap this one up. It’s onward and upward for the Rams as they now prepare for a road trip to Oakland next week.


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Rams Ready for Arizona

Posted by nickwagoner on September 10, 2010 – 5:26 PM

- The Rams just wrapped up their Friday afternoon practice and have completed preparation for Sunday’s season opener against Arizona.

- On the injury front, things look good for the Rams. Once again, only safety James Butler is listed on the report as he continues to come back from a knee injury. Butler could potentially be available in a backup role on Sunday but that will likely be a game time decision.

- Otherwise, the Rams have to feel good about their injury situation. Every player on the roster practiced in at least some capacity all week.

- As for the starters for this weekend, there are still some decisions that will need to be made in the next couple of days. As it stands, it looks like it could shape up something like this:

- Offense: QB Sam Bradford, RB Steven Jackson, FB Mike Karney, WR Laurent Robinson, WR Danny Amendola, TE Billy Bajema, LT Rodger Saffold, LG Jacob Bell, C Jason Brown, RG Adam Goldberg and RT Jason Smith.

- Now, there will be a few guys who figure in prominently that will play a lot and could actually start. TE Michael Hoomanawanui and WR Mark Clayton should get a lot of opportunities.

- Defense: LDE Chris Long, LDT Fred Robbins, RDT Gary Gibson, RDE James Hall, SLB Na’il Diggs, MLB James Laurinaitis, WLB Larry Grant, LCB Ron Bartell, RCB Bradley Fletcher, SS Craig Dahl and FS Oshiomogho Atogwe.

- As always, Spagnuolo will use plenty of rotation along the defensive line.

- There is some intrigue on special teams, particularly in the return game. Coordinator Tom McMahon said the Rams will likely use both Mardy Gilyard and Danny Amendola on returns against the Cardinals and even mentioned Clayton as an alternative. Most likely, Gilyard will get first crack on kick returns with Amendola on punt return duty.

- Just as a reminder for those that can’t make it to the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday, the game will be televised locally on Sunday at 3:15 p.m. live on KTVI-FOX 2.

- That’ll do it for this week. Be sure to check out all of the game preview stuff we have coming on the front of the site in the next few hours and follow along here and on Twitter @OneRamsWay on Sunday. It’s football time, folks. Thanks for reading.


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