St. Louis Rams – Blog

Rams Bring Back Clayton, Make More Moves

Posted by nickwagoner on August 31, 2011 – 9:10 PM

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

- The Rams re-signed wide receiver Mark Clayton on Wednesday afternoon, fulfilling a gentleman’s agreement they had come to back when camp started.

- As Clayton rehabilitated his knee injury from last year, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said he’d keep in touch with Clayton and when he’s healthy (or healthier), they’d talk again. Satisfied with where he is in his rehab, Clayton was brought back in the fold on Wednesday.

- Where he’ll fit in right away is unclear as his knee will continue to be evaluated.

- To make room for him on the roster, the Rams placed CB Jerome Murphy (broken ankle) on injured reserve, ending his season.

- The Rams also made another move to add a body to the defensive line, signing tackle Marlon Favorite. He takes the place of CB Marquis Johnson, who will be moved to the season PUP list, meaning he has to sit the first six weeks then the Rams get a window to activate him.

- Clayton is not on the trip to Jacksonville but Favorite will join the team here.


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Whither Jackson’s Dreads?

Posted by nickwagoner on August 30, 2011 – 9:48 PM

- After he came out in last week’s game with his dreadlocks nowhere to be found and certainly not dangling down the back of his jersey, Rams RB Steven Jackson generated a little social media firestorm of fans wondering where his trademark look had gone.

- On Tuesday, Jackson put to rest any concerns about the status or future of his go-to hairstyle.

“This is kind of girly; I can’t believe I am talking about this. But the person that maintains my hair, she just had a baby. So I needed to tie it down to buy her some time to get it back.” – Jackson said, laughing.  “It was just a temporary thing. Now there is going to be a lot of pressure on her to get back.”

- Jackson’s hairstylist had her baby and he says everyone can expect to have his trademark look back in time for the regular season opener.

“Come September 11…the original look will be back,” Jackson said.


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Rams Make More Moves, Debate Status for Jacksonville

Posted by nickwagoner on August 30, 2011 – 9:37 PM

- The Rams got down to the required roster limit of 80 players on Tuesday, putting DT Jermelle Cudjo (back) and CBs Dionte Dinkins (ankle) and Mikail Baker (hamstring) on the waived/injured list. Don’t confuse that with injured reserve. Those players reached settlements with the team and have been released.

- That said, Dinkins and Baker are both practice squad eligible and could land there if they clear waivers and the Rams decide to bring them back. Cudjo is not practice squad eligible after playing in 10 games last year.

- Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo announced Tuesday that the starters would likely play the bulk of the first quarter against the Jaguars although it’s possible a few could be held out. MLB James Laurinaitis is one that is up for debate.

- Laurinaitis has a sore pectoral muscle, the one he injured early in camp. He did practice Tuesday but the question is whether it’s worth possibly making it worse to play in the final game. Spagnuolo indicated that it’s possible but not probable Laurinaitis would play. RB Steven Jackson could also be limited just as a precautionary measure.

- DT Fred Robbins is another that could sit out. He did some individual work Tuesday but it’s not likely he’ll play in this one either.

- C Drew Miller (ankle) and RB Keith Toston (thigh) are in a similar position to Robbins after doing some individual stuff but they would seem more inclined to play as they compete for a roster spot.

- CB Al Harris returned to practice fully.

- TE Michael Hoomanawanui did not practice again and will not travel to Jacksonville as he continues to nurse a calf injury.


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Rams Making Roster Moves

Posted by nickwagoner on August 29, 2011 – 8:06 PM

- In order to be in compliance with league rules, the Rams and every other team in the NFL must be down to 80 players n the roster by Tuesday.

- The Rams began that process by cutting a trio of players on Sunday: TE Schuylar Oordt and receivers Joe West and Jared Jenkins.

- On Monday, the Rams made a few more moves to get closer to the final 80.

- Heading the list is veteran LB Na’il Diggs. Diggs signed with the Rams before last season and was solid at strong side linebacker before a pectoral injury ended his season about a month early. But the team signed Brady Poppinga in the offseason and he appears to have won the job.

- DB John Dempsey and DL Kenneth Charles were also let go.

- The other move the Rams made (they started at 89 so only had to make nine moves) were all injury related. The team placed  DT Jermelle Cudjo (back)  on injured reserve.

- The release of Diggs, Dempsey, Charles, Oordt, West and Jenkins combined with the I.R. move gets the roster down to 82 players. The Rams will  have to make two more moves before Thursday night’s preseason finale in Jacksonville.

- It’s possible the Rams other moves could come in the form of injured reserve options. CBs Jerome Murphy (ankle) and Dionte Dinkins (ankle) are a couple of candidates that could wind up on I.R. as well.

- After that game, the team will have to do some major cutting to get down to 53 and an eight-man practice squad.


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Wrapping Up Kansas City

Posted by nickwagoner on August 27, 2011 – 10:23 PM

- The Rams were undeniably sharp against the Chiefs on Friday night and there’s no better time to be sharp than the third preseason game, the game with the most “meaning” on the exhibition schedule.

- Most important, the Rams were able to make drastic improvements in the three areas they hoped to improve most after last week’s struggles against Tennessee: defending the run, running the ball and protecting the quarterback.

- Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo was pleased with the performance and just finished his day after game conference call.

- On the injury front:

WR Brandon Gibson – Has a toe injury but it’s not a fracture. He’s day to day and will be limited in practice this week.

LB Ben Leber – Has some back soreness but  will be monitored day to day.

RB Keith Toston – Has a quad strain but is expected to be OK. He’s day to day.

C Drew Miller – Has a low ankle sprain but is thought to be OK. Could play this week.

CB Dionte Dinkins – Has a high ankle sprain. He’s out two to four weeks.

MLB James Laurinaitis – Will be cautious in practice this week with pectoral injury he’s still nursing. He’s fine but team wants to manage it.

- When he spoke to the media earlier in the week, QB Sam Bradford made it clear he wanted to see the offense come together in what is likely the final time they’ll play in a game together before the regular season. The main thing he wanted was consistency; the ability to string drives together by stringing positive plays together in succession. That means converting on third down and finding a way to keep drives alive. That’s exactly what the Rams did against the Chiefs.

“Yeah, obviously the first two drives were exactly what I was talking about and what I was looking for from our offense,” Bradford said. “It seems like in our first two games, we really were yet to put together a long scoring drive. I think we came out tonight with drives of 12 and 14 (plays) to start the game. I’m just really proud of our guys because that’s exactly what I wanted. I said it this week. We came out, we executed and got two touchdowns early.”

- Bradford, who likely won’t play or might do a single series against Jacksonville on Thursday, said he feels the offense is as in tune as its been since camp began.

“Much better,” Bradford said. “I think everyone was much more comfortable out there this week than they have been the past two weeks, including myself. I felt much better with our operation. I thought we were quicker in and out of the huddle, I felt like our communication was better at the line of scrimmage. I just felt like everything tonight was almost normal in a sense that everyone is starting to jell. I just felt really good with us out there, too.”

- The Rams did indeed come home with the Governor’s Cup, though that takes a backseat to the progress the team made on the field. Still, Spagnuolo said he will take a moment (probably a very quick one, knowing him) to reflect on the Cup and show it to the team.

“I’m going to bring it – the players didn’t get a chance to see it – I’m going to bring it in the next team meeting,” Spagnuolo said. “I think they should know that. It’s deserving. It’s great that they have that. I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about what they did for the Joplin families tonight. Hopefully they raised a lot of money. It was good to see. It was a good event. It was an NFL football game and we’re all here for that, but it’s nice that it had some other meeting – the Governor’s Cup and the people down in Joplin.”

- The Rams have to cut 10 players to get down to 80 early this week. Spagnuolo indicated Sunday that the team could make those moves as soon as tomorrow.

- That’s all for this one. The Rams are off tomorrow and get back to the practice field for a short week on Monday with another practice Tuesday before a scheduled trip Wednesday to face the Jaguars in the preseason finale.


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For Rams, A Successful Dress Rehearsal

Posted by nickwagoner on August 27, 2011 – 3:10 AM

 KANSAS CITY, Mo. –

- They call the third preseason game the dress rehearsal because it’s the game where both teams actually game plan some and the starters play at least the first half.

- It’s also the game that’s supposed to most resemble a regular season game in the exhibition schedule.

- If you believe those things to be true, then you had to be happy with what you saw from the Rams in the first half against the Chiefs on Friday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

- Before we delve further into the game, let’s get the injuries out of the way.

- Offensive lineman Drew Miller suffered an ankle injury and though he attempted to return, he was unable to and had to leave the game. Miller was in a walking boot after the game.

- Spagnuolo said WR Brandon Gibson (toe) and RB Keith Toston (leg) also suffered injuries. But he said head athletic trainer Reggie Scott didn’t believe either was serious.

- CB Dionte Dinkins suffered a leg injury. He also was in a walking boot after the game.

- DTs Jermelle Cudjo and Fred Robbins did not play with back ailments. TE Michael Hoomanawanui (calf) and CB Mikail Baker (hamstring) also were inactive.

- In the opening 30 minutes, the Rams were crisp, balanced and sharp on offense and stout and resilient on defense. That resulted in a 14-3 halftime lead that would have been 14-0 had it not been for a Rams’ turnover deep in St. Louis territory.

- The Rams made it a point this week to focus their efforts on stopping the run on defense and running it better on offense. Likewise, they wanted to improve in pass protection and ensure that QB Sam Bradford was kept clean.

- With no exceptions, it would be fair to place a check mark next to all three of those areas.

- On defense, the Rams held Kansas City’s potent rushing attack to 14 yards on six carries with a long gain of 4.

- In the running game, the Rams toted it 25 times for 123 yards, an average of 4.9 yards per attempt.

- Even better, RB Steven Jackson was active with 15 carries for 72 yards in his lengthiest preseason action in a long time.

- In pass protection, Bradford was dropped for a sack and an 8-yard loss on a blitz by Kansas City LB Derrick Johnson. But otherwise, he had a nice, clean pocket for most of the night, particularly on his touchdown passes.

- Aside from getting beat for a near sack/fumble on one play, RT Jason Smith was as dominant and physical as he’s been since he got to the league. A very promising start, especially in the running game.

- Hats off to the entire offensive line, of course. A strong performance all around.

- Cadillac Williams still has plenty of juice.

- So does James Hall.

- Congrats to rookie Robert Quinn who posted his first NFL sack. It might not count but it should be recognized, especially since he was blatantly held on the play and still dropped the quarterback. He also blocked a field goal to help keep the lead late.

- Quintin Mikell seems to always be in the right place at the right time. He’s tough, physical and smart. He’s going to make a lot of Rams fans happy.

- It has probably been overlooked because Josh Brown has been so outstanding in the preseason but punter Donnie Jones is really booming it right now. Jones is one of the best in the league and it’s easy to take that for granted.

- No problems for rookie long snapper Jake McQuaide in his first game as the anointed starter at his position.

- That’s going to do it from here tonight. Back tomorrow to wrap this one up and hit on all important injury developments.


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Running Blog: Rams vs. Chiefs

Posted by nickwagoner on August 26, 2011 – 10:59 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -

Fourth Quarter

- The Rams gave it back to Kansas City with another punt to open the final quarter.

- Kansas City began moving it again but an apparent fumble killed the drive.

- The Chiefs challenged that the runner was down by contact and won to get it back in Rams territory.

- Kansas City converted on fourth-and-1 to keep the drive alive to the Rams’ 38.

- The Rams came up with a stop again to get it back with less than 6 minutes to go.

- Thaddeus Lewis took over at QB but the Rams went three and out again and had to punt again.

- Kansas City took over at its 42 with 4:54 to play.

- The Chiefs couldn’t get it done as Quinn blocked a field goal attempt to keep the score at 14-10.

- Jerious Norwood picked up a key first down on third-and-1 to keep the chains moving and help the Rams preserve the win.

- The Rams win it 14-10 and improve to 3-0 on the preseason.

Third Quarter

- The Chiefs got the ball to open the second half but couldn’t get much going and hard to punt to the Rams.

- With their second team offense in the game, the Rams also couldn’t get anything going and punted it right back on a three and out.

- The Chiefs started again at their 30.

- The Rams pieced together a strong drive on their second opportunity but Travis Daniels intercepted Feeley deep in Kansas City territory and the Chiefs got it back.

- This time, Kansas City made the Rams pay for the turnover as rookie quarterback Ricky Stanzi hit tight end Cody Slate for a 32-yard touchdown to make it 14-10.

- At the end of three quarters, that’s where we stand.

Second Quarter

- The Rams forced a Chiefs punt to open the second quarter but momentum turned a bit two plays later as Kansas City LB Derrick Johnson intercepted Bradford and returned it to the Rams ‘7.

- Cassel threw incomplete on first down. A holding penalty on second down nullified a Jamaal Charles’ touchdown run to make it second-and-goal at the 17.

- Cassel threw complete to Steve Breaston for a gain of 9 but incomplete on third down to set up a 26-yard field goal for Ryan Succop.

- Succop converted to make it 14-3 Rams with 10:33 to go in first half.

- Rams took over at their 21 and got a first down as Miller converted a third-and-1 to move the chains for the second time tonight.

- The fourth drive died as Bradford was sacked on third-and-7 and the Rams punted it again. Jones boomed a 56-yard punt and Kansas City takes over at its 26.

- The Chiefs put Tyler Palko in at QB for Cassel.

- Palko promptly moved the Chiefs into Rams territory at the 44 with a series of completions, including an 11-yarder to Dwayne Bowe.

- A holding penalty ultimately killed that drive and the Rams got it back at their 9 with 3:04 to go in the half.

- The Rams went three and out again and the Chiefs took over at their 43.

- Kansas City put Cassel back in the lineup and he threw to Urban for 14 yards to the Rams’ 43.

- Casell hit McCluster for a gain of 5 to the Rams’ 38.

- The Rams defense got another stop as CB Bradley Fletcher broke up a third down pass to get it back to the Rams with just under a minute to go in the half.

- Pinned at their 1, Cadillac Williams gained 1 yard on first down to get the Rams a little breathing room.

- Williams gained 15 yards on third down to get it to the 21.

- Bradford hit Williams for a gain of 19 to the 40.

- Two plays later, Bradford took off for a gain of 13 to Kansas City’s 47.

- A couple of incompletions set up a hail mary for Bradford, who threw it to the end zone where it fell incomplete.

- At the half, the Rams lead 14-3.

First Quarter

- Mardy Gilyard took the opening kickoff back to the Rams’ 28.

- On first down, Steven Jackson broke loose for a gain of 25.

- The Rams stuck with the run as Jackson pounded out gains of 4, 5, 4 and 2 and Brit Miller picked up a first down with a 5-yard run.

- A pair of penalties seemed poised to kill the drive but Bradford hit Brandon Gibson for a gain of 20 on third-and-19 to keep the drive going.

- Another third down conversion saw Bradford hit Amendola for a gain of 4 and Jackson gained 8 more on the next play.

- All of that running set up an easy play action pass as Bradford hit Mike Sims-Walker for 6 yards and a touchdown to make it 7-0 Rams with 7:08 to go in the quarter.

- The Rams got a quick three and out on Kansas City’s opening drive as James Hall dropped Matt Cassel for an 11-yard loss.

- Bradford and Co. took over at their 40.

- The offense picked up where it left off, marching down the field with relative ease as Bradford hit Amendola for 11, Jackson broke off a run for gains of 7 and 6 and caught a pass for 5 more.

- On third-and-5 at the 28, Bradford hit Kendricks over the middle for 15 yards and he followed with a bullet to Kendricks in the end zone for 11 yards and a touchdown. The Rams marched 60 yards on 10 plays in 4:55 to take a 14-0 lead with 48 seconds to go in the first quarter.

- The Chiefs started their second drive from their 16.

- On the last play of the quarter, Matt Cassel hit Jerheme Urban for a gain of 20 and the Chiefs’ first first down of the game.

- At the end of the first, the Rams lead 14-0.

Pregame Notes

- Greetings from Arrowhead Stadium where the Rams and Chiefs are getting ready to kick off the all important third preseason game/dress rehearsal. Both teams are expected to go with the starters for the first half and possibly into the third quarter.

- No real changes to the game plan as far as that goes.

- The Rams and Chiefs will be honoring volunteers from the Joplin tornado help tonight as both sides will be wearing tan hats with the words “Joplin 2011 inscribed.”  For fans coming to the stadium tonight, they will have the option to make cash donations as they enter tonight.

- There is still a lot of work and cleanup to be done in Joplin and both teams are hoping to remind as many people as possible that donations and volunteers are still needed.

- The Rams will be without DTs Fred Robbins and Jermelle Cudjo, who are both nursing back injuries. They’ll be joined on the sideline by CB Mikail Baker (hamstring) and TE Michael Hoomanawanui (calf). CB Marquis Johnson (on the PUP with a knee injury) and Jerome Murphy (broken ankle) also will not play.

- As expected, Ben Leber will start at WIL and Brady Poppinga starts at SAM. Gary Gibson replaces Robbins.

- Rams will be in white jerseys with gold pants.

- Stay tuned here for updates throughout the game.


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Rams Wrap Training Camp

Posted by nickwagoner on August 24, 2011 – 8:37 PM

- The hardest part is over for the Rams after they officially wrapped up the training camp portion of the preseason on Wednesday afternoon.

- They did it inside the Russell Training Center as coach Steve Spagnuolo wanted to keep his team out of the heat. So, the team invited the fans in attendance inside to watch. When it was all over, the entire team went to the sidelines to sign autographs for the fans.

- Spagnuolo made it a point to thank all the fans that came out throughout this camp for supporting the team and finding ways to get away from work to come watch the team.

- Now, the Rams will turn their attention to the Chiefs for Friday night’s preseason contest. That game is the “dress rehearsal” where the starters get their longest action of the preseason and really, the final tuneup for the starters before the regular season begins.

- Spagnuolo says he’d like to see the starters play the entire first half and possibly a series or two in the third quarter but it will depend on the “pitch count” or number of plays they play in the first half.

- Four players who won’t play because of injury: TE Michael Hoomanawanui (calf), CB Mikail Baker (hamstring), DT Jermelle Cudjo (back) and DT Fred Robbins (back).

- Spagnuolo said Brady Poppinga (Strong side) and Ben Leber (Weak side) will likely start against the Chiefs. Don’t be surprised if Darian Stewart starts at safety next to Quintin Mikell, either. Stewart took reps with the first team again on Wednesday.

- The Rams will have a short walk through tomorrow morning before heading to Kansas City.


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Hoomanawanui to Miss a “Little Bit”

Posted by nickwagoner on August 23, 2011 – 11:17 PM

- The Rams finished up Tuesday’s practice without TE Michael Hoomanawanui. And, according to coach Steve Spagnuolo, that’s going to be something they’ll have to get used to for the next couple of weeks.

- Hoomanawanui suffered a calf strain in Monday’s practice and Spagnuolo said Tuesday it’s severe enough that he’ll likely miss the next couple of weeks or so. Hoomanawanui continues to have a run of bad luck on the injury front.

- On the bright side, WR Danario Alexander came back after his MRI and had a good practice. He caught a series of passes in team drills and looked solid. The MRI didn’t turn up anything major though Spagnuolo said Alexander had an option for surgery but chose not to do it because he didn’t want to be set back any further in the competition for roster spots. Alexander is a tough, tough kid. Hard not to root for him.

- Darian Stewart made his debut with the first team at safety on Tuesday. It’s been brewing for a bit but he replaced Craig Dahl with the first unit alongside Quintin Mikell. The coaching staff loves Stewart’s potential. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on to see if he gets to work with the first team against the Chiefs on Friday.

- The Rams will hold their final open practice of training camp tomorrow at 12:30 at the Russell Training Center. They break the training camp portion of the preseason after that and must make a cut from 90 to 80 players by the end of the weekend.


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The Classy Chris Massey

Posted by nickwagoner on August 23, 2011 – 11:08 PM

- Chris Massey went out like he came in, like he’d been for the majority of his nearly decade of service to the Rams: with pure class.

- Massey was released on Monday after nine years with the team but before he left he informed the man who beat him out for his job – rookie Jake McQuaide – that he had won the job, congratulated him and headed out.

- The Rams drafted Massey in the seventh round of the 2002 NFL Draft. Looking back now, it was probably one of the better draft picks of that era (for whatever that’s worth). But Massey immediately endeared himself to coaches and teammates with his laid back style off the field and intense and focused attitude on it.

- Massey was one of the hardest working long snappers you’ll ever see. He was an absolute beast in the weight room, regularly registering lifting records that placed him even with or above the biggest and strongest linemen. He was a diligent student in the classroom as he’d be off the practice field and in the film room watching that day’s practice within minutes of the end of the workout.

- What it translated to was a player who was immensely prepared for what he had to do on Sundays and one of the best in the league at his craft. Massey had just one botched snap in his career, an astonishing number when you consider that he snapped a football 1,051 times in his 135 games with the Rams.

- In addition, Massey was particularly adept at getting down the field and making tackles. He had 47 tackles in his years with the Rams, a pretty high number for a guy who was getting walloped most of the time as soon as he snapped the ball.

- Massey was well liked by his teammates and coaches and everyone wished him luck upon his departured. He still has plenty of snaps left in him and I’m sure he’ll land somewhere else. But I wanted to take a moment to salute him for what his dedication to the franchise has meant over the years and wish him well in the future. Best of luck, Mass.


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