– After a 38-3 preseason loss in the opener against Indianapolis last week, the Rams and coach Jeff Fisher did not press the panic button. After a convincing 31-17 victory Saturday night against the visiting Chiefs to claim the Governor’s Cup, nobody in the Rams locker room was ready to throw a parade.
– And, really, that’s what the preseason is all about. There’s no reason to get too high or too low after a game like this one just like there isn’t after last week’s.
– That said, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he wanted to see his team improve in all areas against Kansas City and his request was rewarded. The first team offense was crisp and sharp and the first team defense wreaked havoc in the pass rush and created turnovers.
– Let’s hit the injury front first, which is really the most important score to keep track of in the preseason…
– At first glance, it appears the Rams came out of the game with no serious injuries for the second week in a row. That’s a big victory right there.
– DT Michael Brockers was poked in the eye early in the game but didn’t seem to have any issues carry over.
– WR Brian Quick left the game in the third quarter with what Fisher called back spasms. It’s not believed to be anything serious but Fisher said Quick will be evaluated further.
– That was about it on the injury front.
– Fisher also offered up some good news on expected returns this week. He said he expects some guys to return to action this week in WR Brandon Gibson, S Darian Stewart and C Scott Wells.
– No surprise on Gibson and Stewart but the Wells news has to be considered good news. Wells participated in some individual drills more and more as last week went on and it sounds like he’s poised to do more work this week. That would be big for an offensive line that needs some continuity heading into the second half of preseason games.
– On to the game, let’s get a couple of little details out of the way first:
– The Rams did a little more game planning for this one than they did last week. Now, they didn’t throw the kitchen sink at KC by any means but they did do more. That’s part of Fisher’s approach: put more in each week to get a gradual build toward the regular season opener.
– Fisher said he got to use the starters for exactly one quarter which was the original plan. He did not adjust the plan based on the success of the starters.
– And what a start it was. QB Sam Bradford was sharp and accurate, throwing a beauty to WR Danny Amendola to open the first drive. He went on to go six-of-nine for 102 yards and two scores in a quarter of work. Not a bad day at the office and a solid confidence booster for Bradford and the offense in the new system.
– RB Steven Jackson continues to look sharp. He picked up 49 yards on seven carries. That’s an average of 7 yards per attempt.
– Amendola continues to bring consistency and play making skills to the offense. And it should be noted that it was nice to see him down the field making plays, instead of his usual dirty work underneath.
– Tip of the cap to TE Lance Kendricks for his effort too. Hopefully he’s building some confidence because he’s going to be an integral part of this offense this year. Nice job on the catch, better job finishing it by getting in the end zone.
– Odd stat line for rookie RB Isaiah Pead tonight: six carries for negative 5 yards and a touchdown. Oddly enough, Pead and Fisher said Pead was more comfortable this week than last week. His leap for a 1-yard score was a heck of an athletic play. Pead said that’s not a signature move of his but maybe he’ll make it one.
– Fellow rookie RB Daryl Richardson got to show what he can do as well. He went for 35 yards on eight carries with a touchdown. He’s got some serious juice and it was good to see it on display.
– Special mention here for the offensive line, which might have been the most promising development of the night. That group was very sound in both pass protection and run blocking. The run blocking was there in spurts last week but it was the improvement in pass protection that Fisher wanted to see. For the first team offense, Bradford wasn’t sacked and he was hit just once.
“I thought those guys played great tonight,” Bradford said. “I don’t think I got touched once. Anytime that you come out of a game and you’re not sore, it’s a great feeling. So props to those guys.”
– Ho hum, another day, another long field goal for Young G.Z. (rookie K Greg Zuerlein). He booted a 52-yarder right down the middle with plenty of room to spare. Still need to see it in a pressure situation in a game that matters but it doesn’t seem that much fazes this kid.
– On defense, the Rams created four turnovers. Anytime you do that, you have a great chance to win.
– Nice play by CB Trumaine Johnson in timing up a pass play to lead to an interception for DT Matt Conrath, who continues to show promise.
– Strong outing from veteran LB Rocky McIntosh.
– DT Jermelle Cudjo continues to push the pocket and take advantage of his opportunities.
– S Rodney McLeod recovered a fumble after forcing one last week. He’s making an impression as well.
– LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar made a big play that will fly under the radar early in the game, dropping KC RB Shaun Draughn for a 2-yard loss on third-and-3 with a textbook open field tackle.
– That’s all for tonight. We’ll wrap this one up tomorrow after Fisher’s 4 p.m. news conference tomorrow. As always, thanks for reading.
Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »