St. Louis Rams – Blog

Rams Find a Way Again

Posted by nickwagoner on September 30, 2012 – 9:25 PM

– We aren’t quite there yet but this might be a good time to buckle up your seatbelts or chinstraps or whatever cliche you want to go with because if the first quarter of the NFL season is any indication, the Rams are about to take us all on a wild ride.

– During a smashmouth, punch you in the face four quarters on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome, the Rams once again answered every question that was posed to them by a stout, tough Seattle defense on their way to a 19-13 victory. The win improves the Rams to 2-2 with a chance to go above .500 for the first time since 2006 only four days away. There will be plenty of time to look into that in the next couple of days but for now let’s re-live what happened Sunday.

– Real quick on the injury front, DE Eugene Sims suffered a blow to the head and did not return to the game. Shame, too, because he was having a heck of a day. He finished with a sack and made some nice plays defending the run. The Rams missed his presence up front when he left.

– DT Michael Brockers tweaked his ankle but returned to the game. He’ll have to manage it with a short week but is expected to be fine.

– As for the game, there is so much to cover, it’s hard to choose where to start. But let’s start at the top with HC Jeff Fisher.

– QB Sam Bradford was asked after the game why the Rams have been able to learn to win games like this so fast under Fisher. Bradford’s response was simple “The attitude change that came with Coach Fisher.” Bradford said Fisher told the team a long time ago that it should expect to be in games like this all year. So far, that’s been prophetic and Fisher’s emphasis was on finding a way to win these games with a play or two late in the game. In just a few weeks since not making that play in Detroit, the Rams made it on Sunday.

– Speaking of that play, how about CB Bradley Fletcher? Now, let’s not get matters confused. Obviously, Seattle TE Anthony McCoy stumbled on his route on the final Seattle pass but there’s something to be said for two things for Fletcher: 1. Being in position to make the play. 2. Making the play. Fletcher missed some golden chances for picks in the season’s first two games. That could have played havoc with his mind. Instead, he put it behind him and he squeezed the most important one yet to seal a Rams victory. Hat tip to Fletcher for staying on the ground and not going for an unneeded return as well.

– Let’s stick on the defensive side of the ball for a moment: the Rams got big plays from both rookie corners as CB Trumaine Johnson made a heck of a play in jarring a ball loose and then making the play to catch it for his first career interception. CB Janoris Jenkins forced another INT as he hit Russell Wilson and forced a wounded duck that landed in the hands of Rocky McIntosh.

– Three more takeaways for the Rams defense and just four games into the season, Rams DBs have more INTs on the season than they had all of last year. Quite a turnaround in that secondary.

– After a shaky first drive, the Rams defense settled in and did an excellent job limiting the Seahawks. Even when Seattle drove the field, it regularly settled for field goals. All told, the Seahawks had just 319 total yards and were 2-of-9 on third down. The Rams even got off the field on a number of third and short situations.

– I would have started this blog with high praise for rookie K Greg Zuerlein. But, honestly, I just don’t know what’s left to say. He hit FGs from 58, 48, 60 and 24 yards. And, save for the 60-yarder, they all looked relatively easy. He’s so cool and poised. I have a feeling No. 4 jerseys are about to become a hot seller in the STL.

– Fisher stated a number of times that one thing the staff liked about P Johnny Hekker was his ability to throw the ball. That faith was rewarded Sunday as the Rams pulled off a beautifully designed and executed fake field goal for a 2-yard TD pass from Hekker to WR Danny Amendola. With so many moving parts on that play, it would have been easy for a mixup to stop its success. It didn’t and that’s a credit to all involved.

– Want to doff the cap for LS Jake McQuaide as well. He won’t get much credit but if he’s not perfect on his snaps, none of the above plays are possible.

– Rodney McLeod is fun to watch on coverage units, isn’t he?

– On offense, the Rams didn’t have the success they would’ve liked and couldn’t put the ball in the end zone but against an excellent Seattle defense, the Rams offense did enough to move the ball and get points (with the help of Young G.Z. of course).

– Credit to Bradford for standing tall in the pocket for most of the day and delivering perfect throws down the field. The Rams converted five third downs today, not an amazing number by any stretch. But here’s the thing: all five of those third down conversions were from third-and-10 yards or longer. Keeping those drives alive not only helped lead to points but also helped chew up valuable clock.

– It was just a matter of time before rookie WR Chris Givens and Bradford hooked up for a long pass. Think I might have read that somewhere this week. Self-congratulations aside, that’s probably something we should get used to seeing. Givens almost had another one later in the game.

– WR Brian Quick only made one catch in his most extensive work of the season but it was a big one, a 19-yarder on third down to keep a drive moving. He needs to get his feet in on the first ball thrown his way today but he’s only going to get more involved as the season goes on.

– Nice job by TE Lance Kendricks and WR Austin Pettis, both of whom kept drives alive on third downs with long catches.

– A pretty solid job by the O line all things considered. Bradford was sacked twice and hit a few others but for the most part, the Seahawks dynamic pass rush was mostly quiet.

– Strong running game in the first half by RB Steven Jackson who appeared to be closer to full strength this week. Tough sledding in the second half but there was enough run success there to at least keep the Seahawks off balance.

– Nice job by the fans in attendance today as well. Fisher made reference to the Edward Jones Dome being a hard place to play again now. It may be too early to declare that but things are well on their way. It was loud, loud, loud, especially in the fourth quarter.

– OK, that was a long-winded post but there’s much to get to. Be sure to keep an eye on the homepage with full post game coverage coming tonight.

– Hope you all enjoyed that one and thanks for reading.

Posted in From the Sidelines | 2 Comments »

Rams vs. Seahawks: Running Blog

Posted by nickwagoner on September 30, 2012 – 3:16 PM

Fourth Quarter

– Seattle settled for a 30-yard field goal to make it 16-13 Rams with 13:03 to go.

– The Rams start again from their 20.

– Need a big drive here.

– Bradford hit Amendola for 15 on first down and two plays later connected for the same yardage on third and 10.

– Another third and long got converted when Bradford hit TE Kendricks for 26 yards on third and 15 to Seattle’s 17.

– But the Rams couldn’t punch it into the end zone and settled for Zuerlein’s 24 yard field goal to make it 19-13 Rams with 6:07 to play.

– Big drive in the sense that the Rams ate up almost seven minutes of clock but missed oppotunity for a touchdown that would have made things really difficult on the Seahawks.

– Seattle takes over at its 20.

– The defense did its job with the help of an unnecessary roughness penalty on Seattle T Breno Giacomini.

– On third-and-9 from Seattle’s 21, DE Robert Quinn got to Wilson for a sack and a loss of 8.

– The Seahawks punt it back to the Rams who get it at their 46.

– It’s time for the four minute drill. This is where the Rams have to bow up and get the running game going, keep the clock moving and pick up a few first downs to put it away.

– Jackson lost 1 yard on first down and Seattle used its first timeout.

– Jackson got 10 on second down to make it third and 1 as Seattle used its second timeout.

– Not what the Rams wanted there as Jackson is dropped for a loss of 2 on third down. Rams punt it back to Washington with 3:17 to go. Seattle has no timeouts but the 2 minute warning as Seattle starts from its 20.

– Seattle methodically started moving and benefited when Wilson was ruled out of bounds on a run to the sideline.

– At the two minute warning, it’s second-and-2 at the Rams’ 45.

– CB Bradley Fletcher, who missed some chances this year to get INTS, squeezed one at the right time. Coming up with an INT. Rams in victory formation.

– Huge victory for the Rams, they improve to 2-2 with a 19-13 win.

Third Quarter

– Seattle tried some special teams trickery to open the half with an onside kick but LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar recovered it at Seattle’s 48 for prime field position to open the third quarter.

– Amendola took a handoff on the reverse for a 6-yard gain to Seattle’s 42.

– After a 1-yard run and an incompletion, Zuerlein came on and knocked through a 60-yard field goal, breaking his own record from about an hour ago.

– The Rams lead 16-7.

– Seattle responded with a 69-yard return from Washington to the Rams’ 36.

– On second down, Jenkins hit Wilson as he threw, forcing it up into the air and LB Rocky McIntosh picked it off and returned it 34 yards to Seattle’s 47.

– Two plays lost 5 yards to make it third-and-15 from the Rams’ 48.

– After an offsides penalty, Bradford just missed Givens on a deep ball down the left sideline.

– The Rams punted it back and Seattle took over at its 13.

– The Seahawks went to work with their best drive since the opening drive.

– Lynch caught a 16-yard pass and added a 9-yard run. Rookie RB Robert Turbin had runs of 9 and 11 yards.

– But after getting a first down at the Rams’ 18, Seattle couldn’t convert on third down and settled for a 31-yard field goal from Steven Hauschka to make it 16-10 Rams with 4:10 left in the third.

– The Rams went to the bag of tricks again on the ensuing return but it backfired this time as a toss from Amendola to Givens lost yards and the Rams started from their 5. Momentum shift here after the Rams missed an opportunity to add more points from McIntosh’s INT.

– The Rams promptly went three and out. Seattle gets it back at its 45.

– Power running from Turbin got the Seahawks to the Rams’ 18 with a first down at the end of the third. The Rams are clinging to a 16-10 lead at the end of three.

Second Quarter

– After a run for no gain by Jackson, Seattle CB Richard Sherman picked off Bradford on the sideline. After a 15-yard penalty, Seattle takes over at its 27.

– Turnovers are always costly but could be killer in a game like this.

– A 9-yard pass ended up costing 6 yards as a personal foul on Seattle made it second and 15 from its 22.

– Wilson followed with a strike to Miller for a gain of 13 to the 35.

– On third-and-2, Wilson threw incomplete as a pass was deflected.

– The Rams take over at their 21 after an 18-yard return by Amendola.

– The offense promptly went three and out as a third-and-2 pass to Amendola fell incomplete.

– The Seahawks take over at their 21.

– Seattle began moving into Rams territory but a sack by DT Heard was followed two plays later by a big play from rookie CB Trumaine Johnson. Johnson intercepted Wilson on third down to give it back to the Rams at their 48.

– Jackson picked up 9 on first down and Richardson moved the chains with a 1-yard gain on the next play to Seattle’s 42.

– On third-and-14, the Rams converted again, this time with Bradford hitting Pettis for 17 yards.

– After an illegal formation, the Rams faced third and 10 but Bradford hit Quick for his first career catch, a 19-yard gain to Seattle’s 10 for first down.

– Jackson picked up 7 to the right to set up a second and goal at the 2-minute warning.

– A holding penalty wiped out a touchdown run by Jackson and the Rams had to settle for a field goal attempt.

– But instead of taking the field goal, the Rams reached into the bag of tricks as P Hekker found a wide open Amendola on a quick snap for a 2-yard score and a 10-7 Rams lead with 1:11 to go in the half.

– Major turn of events here as the Rams get a quick three and out on Sims’ third down sack of Wilson. Seattle punts it back to the Rams with 40 seconds left. A shanked punt gave it to the Rams at Seattle’s 46.

– Bradford hit Richardson for 11 and spiked it at Seattle’s 35.

– Richardson picked up 5 on second down to set up a 48-yard field goal for Zuerlein. He converted again – no surprise here – and the Rams take a 13-7 lead into the locker room. They’ll get the ball first to open the half.  

First Quarter

– The Rams won the toss and elected to defer.

– Rookie K Greg Zuerlein boomed a touchback and Seattle starts at its 20.

– The Seahawks wasted no time moving it with ease against the Rams as QB Russell Wilson was able to make some plays moving around the pocket. He completed passes for 17, 15 and 7 yards before RB Marshawn Lynch took a handoff left tackle for 18 yards and a touchdown.

– In just a little more than 4 minutes, the Seahawks lead 7-0.

– The Rams start from their 20.

– After a rough start with two 1-yard runs by Jackson, Bradford hit Gibson for 14 yards and a first down on third-and-13.

– The drive picked up steam as Bradford hit Gibson for 14 more and Jackson broke off an 18-yard run.

– But the drive stalled at Seattle’s 32 as a screen to Kendricks lost 4 yards and G Quinn Ojinnaka got beat for an 8-yard sack by Jones.

– A 4-yard run by Jackson set up Zuerlein for another feat of strength: he knocked through a franchise-record 58-yard field goal to make it 7-3 Seattle with 4:59 to go in the first quarter.

– Zuerlein continues his amazing start, just one week after falling a yard short of that record with a 56-yarder in Chicago.

– Seattle started again from its 20. The Seahawks picked up a first down as Wilson hit TE Zach Miller.

– But on third and 1 from the Rams’ 40, DE Eugene Sims stayed home and with the help of Jenkins stopped Lynch for a loss of 2 and forced a punt.

– Rams get it again at their 10.

– After a 4-yard run by Jackson and 6 to Amendola for a first down, Givens finally got the chance to take the top off, burning the defense on a perfect deep ball from Bradford for 52 yards to Seattle’s 28.

– At the end of one, Seattle leads 7-3.

Pregame Notes

– Greetings from the Edward Jones Dome where the Rams and Seahawks are preparing for today’s noon kickoff.

– The Rams look to even their record at 2-2 on the season and win their second consecutive home game.

– That task will be made extremely difficult by a Seattle team that comes in on a roll and features one of the best defenses in the league.

– When these two teams get together in St. Louis, the games are usually close. In Seattle’s past six wins here, four have been decided by six points or less.

– A quick roster note before we get into today’s stuff: the Rams were able to keep T Ty Nsekhe, placing him on the practice squad and releasing C Chase Beeler. Nsekhe can continue to develop with the Rams now.

–  S Matt Daniels (hamstring), T Rodger Saffold (knee) and DT Matt Conrath (knee) are inactive because of injury. The first two were out on Friday’s injury report. Conrath was doubtful. None will be available.

– It’s also probably a safe bet that QB Austin Davis will be inactive as well, leaving the Rams with three spots to fill on that list.

– The other inactives are an interesting mix: WR Steve Smith, RB Isaiah Pead and DT Jermelle Cudjo.

– With Smith inactive, it means rookie WR Brian Quick is active and likely to be more involved. For those paying attention, OC Brian Schottenheimer dropped a big hint about that this week when he was asked about rookie WR Chris Givens.

– That leaves Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Austin Pettis and Givens active at WR alongside Quick.

– At running back, veteran Steven Jackson is active and expected to start but don’t look for him to take on a full load today. The Rams will need him in pass protection and blitz pickup and he’ll get some carries. But it’s interesting to note that Daryl Richardson and Terrance Ganaway, not Pead, will be the backups to Jackson. Ganaway represents a more powerful, grind it out type of back which might be necessary in a game like today’s.

– With Pead down, Givens will likely handle kick returns exclusively. Of course, the Rams haven’t had many opportunities to return kicks at all this season so how many chances he gets remains to be seen.

– Cudjo being inactive is a product of two things: the return of Michael Brockers, who is expected to start. And the type of running team Seattle is, which makes the need for a widebody like Kellen Heard even more important.

– The Seahawks will also again be without the service of G John Moffitt. He’ll be replaced by seventh-round rooki J.R. Sweezy. That should make for an interesting matchup for Brockers.

– The Rams are wearing the all blue uniforms today. Seattle is wearing white jerseys with gray pants.

– Stay tuned throughout the game for further updates.

Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »

Rams Set for Seahawks

Posted by nickwagoner on September 28, 2012 – 6:24 PM

– The Rams just wrapped up their Friday practice and completed their week of preparation for Seattle coming to the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday.

– On the injury front, RB Steven Jackson (groin) did a little bit of work on Friday but not a lot. He’ll be listed as questionable on the official injury report. He’ll again go through a pregame warmup before a final determination is made on his status but it seems likely he’ll be available again.

– DT Michael Brockers (ankle) made it through the week of practice with no apparent setbacks. He’ll be listed as questionable also but he’s expected to go.

– Tackle Wayne Hunter (knee) did not practice Friday after limited work Wednesday and Thursday. It’s still expected he’ll be available but he’s going to be listed as questionable. If Hunter can’t go, the Rams would likely kick Quinn Ojinnaka outside to left tackle and plug Shelley Smith in at left guard, rather than plugging newly-acquired Joe Barksdale in at LT only about 72 hours after acquiring him from the waiver wire.

– Coach Jeff Fisher had some positive things to say about Barksdale’s ability. At 6’5, 329 pounds, Barksdale has the size of a tackle that Fisher likes and since Barksdale was just drafted in the third round last year, there is still plenty of upside there. Even if he doesn’t start, there’s a strong chance Barksdale will be active against Seattle, just based on the numbers.

– T Rodger Saffold (knee), DT Matt Conrath (knee) and S Matt Daniels (hamstring) aren’t likely to be available this week.

– Here’s the official report:

Out: Daniels, Saffold
Doubtful: Conrath
Questionable: Jackson, Hunter, Brockers

– As always, thanks for reading.

Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »

Rams Claim OT Barksdale, Waive OT Nsekhe

Posted by nickwagoner on September 27, 2012 – 9:52 PM

– The Rams made a roster move in the on going effort to improve their offensive line depth Thursday afternoon when they were awarded OT Joseph Barksdale off waivers from Oakland. To make room for Barksdale, the team waived OT Ty Nsekhe.

– It was a strange day for Nsekhe, who just before he was informed of his release had engaged in a practice scuffle with DE Eugene Sims. Of course, the two things were not related in any way as the Rams put in the claim on Barksdale long before the skirmish and aren’t going to carry five offensive tackles on the roster.

– As for Barksdale, he was a third-round pick, No. 92 overall, by the Raiders in 2011 out of LSU. It’s a bit strange for a third-round selection to get such a short leash but with a new regime in Oakland, he became the odd man out.

– Barksdale appeared in all 16 games as a rookie, though mostly as a blocker on special teams. He had not appeared in a game so far this season, falling down the depth chart and becoming a pregame inactive under new Oakland coach Dennis Allen.

– At a listed 6’5, 329 pounds, Barksdale certainly looks the part of a Jeff Fisher type offensive tackle. He is only 23 years old and could have some upside under veteran line coach Paul Boudreau.

– With the knee injury to Rodger Saffold, Barksdale will be expected to be active and ready to go on Sunday against Seattle. Wayne Hunter, who has battled knee and ankle injuries this week, should be ready to make his second consecutive start. That would likely leave Barksdale as the third tackle behind Hunter and Barry Richardson.

– That’s all for today. Thanks for reading.

Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »

Rams Happy to Welcome Officials Back

Posted by nickwagoner on September 27, 2012 – 9:42 PM

– The Rams wrapped up their Thursday practice a couple hours ago and did so with the bright shining light of the news that the regular officials will be back to work in time for tonight’s game between Baltimore and Cleveland and for the rest of the season (and the next eight years).

– The news came Wednesday evening that the league and Referees’ Association had agreed to a new contract for the next eight seasons. And with it, the league’s national nightmare came to an end.

– On Thursday, the Rams expressed their happiness with the agreement and what it means for the game.

“I am happy to see the officials back,” RB StevenJackson said. “The replacement refs, they did what they could and they filled the void but I learned a lesson that officials are just as important to the game as anybody else.”

– Coach Jeff Fisher echoed those sentiments after doing a tremendous job of biting his tongue while providing subtle analysis of the situation was it was happening.

“I’m very excited that both sides could get together and get it worked out,” Fisher said. “There’s a lot that needs to get done by this weekend but I’m glad that we’ll have our regular guys doing all the game.”

– The NFL announced Thursday morning that long time veteran Gene Steratore and his crew would handle the game tonight. Considering that groups like Steratore’s have been around seemingly forever, Fisher isn’t concerned with how the officials will do upon getting back to work.

“How many years of experience do they have collectively? I think the least experienced on the crew is probably four or five years,” Fisher said. “These guys, they’ve done it before. They’ll get it done. It won’t be a problem at all.”

– Of course, Fisher isn’t going to break out rose petals to welcome the officials back. When asked how long it would take before he’d be willing to “dog cuss” an official, Fisher gave his second consecutive line of the day:

“Right after the opening kickoff,” Fisher said, a grin creeping across his face.

– Elsewhere, the Rams went through another normal Thursday practice as they prepare for Seattle on Sunday.

– On the injury front, DE Eugene Sims returned to practice after an illness kept him out Wednesday. He was listed as a full participant. Coincidentally, he felt well enough to get into a scuffle in practice with T Ty Nsekhe.

– Nsekhe was actually released later in the afternoon though it had nothing to do with that skirmish. Instead, the move was made to make way for T Joseph Barksdale, whom the Rams claimed off waivers from Oakland. (More on this in a separate blog coming shortly).

– The rest of the injury report remained the same and looks as follows:

DNP: T Rodger Saffold (knee), DT Matt Conrath (knee), Jackson (groin) and S Matt Daniels (hamstring).
Limited Participants: DT Michael Brockers (ankle), T Wayne Hunter (knee)

– That’ll do it for this. I’ll have a quick hit blog on Barksdale and Nsekhe in just a bit. Thanks for reading.

Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »

Rams Begin Prep for 2 Games in 5 Days

Posted by nickwagoner on September 26, 2012 – 8:18 PM

– The Rams got back on the practice field Wednesday after turning the page and moving on from last week’s loss in Chicago. Now, they have a regular work week to prepare for a tough, hard nosed Seattle team on Sunday. The trick is that they’ll have a tough, hard nosed Arizona team come calling only four days later.

– With that in mind, it seemed as though Coach Jeff Fisher dialed back a bit on his guys in Wednesday’s practice, with an extended walk through pace later in the workout. Makes sense with so much coming in a short period of time here in the next week or so.

– On the injury front, the Rams did get some good news as DT Michael Brockers returned on a limited basis. Brockers feels good about his chances to play coming off a high ankle sprain and said as much in the locker room. Look for much more on Brockers in a feature story coming to the homepage later today.

– DE Eugene Sims did not practice. Actually, he left early and was excused because of an illness.

– The rest of the injury report:

DNP: Sims, DT Matt Conrath (knee), S Matt Daniels (hamstring), LT Rodger Saffold (knee) and RB Steven Jackson (groin).
Limited Practice: Brockers, LT Wayne Hunter (knee)

– Jackson will follow a similar plan as last week in hopes he can be closer to 100 percent this week. He wasn’t at full speed against the Bears but the Rams will need him to be against Seattle’s stout run defense.

– Hunter twisted his knee against the Bears but toughed it out and it appears he’ll be fine barring a setback this week.

– I’ll have a closer look at Seattle’s hot defensive start tomorrow and how the Rams match up but for now, I’ll spoil the lead (bad journalism, I know) by giving you the line of the day from Fisher. When asked about what he thought about when he watched Seattle drop Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers for eight sacks on Monday night, Fisher waited a beat and delivered this gem: “I thought about starting Kellen Clemens this week.”

– The Rams are back on the practice field on Thursday afternoon as they continue preparation for the Seahawks. Thanks for reading.

Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »

Long Makes Significant Donation to Alma Mater

Posted by nickwagoner on September 25, 2012 – 8:37 PM

– Rams DE Chris Long followed in the footsteps of his friend and teammate Sam Bradford on Tuesday when it was announced he made a sizeable donation to his alma mater, the University of Virginia. Bradford did the same over the summer with his school Oklahoma. Below is the release from the Rams on Long’s contribution:

Long Makes Significant Gift to George Welsh Indoor Practice Facility
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Chris Long, a former All-America defensive lineman at Virginia and current member of the St. Louis Rams in the National Football League, has made a $300,000 contribution to the Virginia Athletics Foundation for the new George Welsh Indoor Practice Facility. Long is currently in his fifth season with the Rams.
The facility is currently under construction on the site of a former football practice field behind the McCue Center and University Hall. The projected cost of the 78,000-square foot facility is $14.5 million, including financing costs to account for pledge payments scheduled to be made over the next five years. The facility is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2013 and will provide practice and training space for the football program and all other field sports at the University of Virginia.
“I am so proud to be a part of a brotherhood like the Virginia Football program,” Long said. “I am completely committed to helping Coach London build this program and I know it’s going to take time and hard work to do it the right way.  Some of my greatest memories were experienced at UVa working with my teammates to set a standard of excellence on the field that my University could be proud of. Virginia football players of the future deserve this same opportunity and the construction of this facility goes a long way towards ensuring that reality.”
“A big thank you is in order because this is a tremendous commitment from Chris. We appreciate his leadership in helping our program as we work to complete the fundraising for this project,” said Craig Littlepage, Virginia director of athletics. “This gift is the largest we’ve received from an active professional athlete and it will provide some added momentum to our fundraising efforts.”
The second overall pick of the 2008 NFL Draft, Long has started 54 of 66 games during his professional career, notching 175 career tackles and 31 sacks. Last season, he started all 16 games at left defensive end and posted a career-high 13 sacks, the seventh most in the NFL and fourth most among defensive linemen.
“I’m extremely grateful to Chris for his contribution to the indoor facility,” said Virginia head football coach Mike London. “I know he still bleeds orange and blue and is very proud of the Virginia program and wants to see us succeed. This gift helps to make that happen. He was the epitome of a great college football player when he played for us and this generous gift shows that he didn’t stop being that when he his career ended here. He was a difference maker for us as a player and now he’s doing it again as an alum.”
London was Long’s position coach at Virginia for the 2004, 2006 and 2007 seasons. As a senior in 2007, Long became the third unanimous All-American in Virginia history and the 11th Cavalier player to receive consensus All-America status. He was named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year and won the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation’s outstanding defensive end.
He was a finalist for the Nagurski Trophy, Lombardi Award and the Lott Trophy. He finished third in the nation with 14 sacks and finished 10th in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. He had 22 quarterback sacks at UVa to rank eighth on the school’s all-time list. His 43 tackles for loss ranks third on Virginia’s all-time list. Prior to the final game of his senior season his jersey was retired, making him the first UVa player to have their jersey retired while still an active player.

Posted in From the Sidelines | No Comments »

Statement from League on Monday Night Game

Posted by nickwagoner on September 25, 2012 – 4:26 PM

– Perusing through some of the questions on my chat for later today, there have been a ton of queries about the end of last night’s game. I’ll answer a few in the chat but for now I wanted to share with you all the statement from the league on how the Green Bay-Seattle game finished last night with their explanation.

– For the record, the officiating crew from last night is the same one that did Rams-Redskins in Week 2.

– Here’s the league’s statement:




In Monday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, Seattle faced a 4th-and-10 from the Green Bay 24 with eight seconds remaining in the game.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a pass into the end zone.  Several players, including Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings, jumped into the air in an attempt to catch the ball.

While the ball is in the air, Tate can be seen shoving Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields to the ground.  This should have been a penalty for offensive pass interference, which would have ended the game.  It was not called and is not reviewable in instant replay.

When the players hit the ground in the end zone, the officials determined that both Tate and Jennings had possession of the ball.  Under the rule for simultaneous catch, the ball belongs to Tate, the offensive player.  The result of the play was a touchdown.

Replay Official Howard Slavin stopped the game for an instant replay review.  The aspects of the play that were reviewable included if the ball hit the ground and who had possession of the ball.  In the end zone, a ruling of a simultaneous catch is reviewable.  That is not the case in the field of play, only in the end zone.

Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood.  The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review.

The result of the game is final.

Applicable rules to the play are as follows:

A player (or players) jumping in the air has not legally gained possession of the ball until he satisfies the elements of a catch listed here. 

Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3 of the NFL Rule Book defines a catch:

A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense) if a player, who is inbounds:

(a) secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and

(b) touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands; and

(c) maintains control of the ball long enough, after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, to enable him to perform any act common to the game (i.e., maintaining control long enough to pitch it, pass it, advance with it, or avoid or ward off an opponent, etc.).

When a player (or players) is going to the ground in the attempt to catch a pass, Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1 states:

Player Going to the Ground. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete. 

Rule 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 5 states:

Simultaneous Catch. If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control. If the ball is muffed after simultaneous touching by two such players, all the players of the passing team become eligible to catch the loose ball.


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Wrapping Up Chicago

Posted by nickwagoner on September 24, 2012 – 11:51 PM

– Welcome to this week’s edition of Wrapping Up as we take a look back at Chicago. This version will be abbreviated slightly but be sure to check the two new stories on the home page for plenty of information and quotes from coach Jeff Fisher.

– First, on the injury front, the Rams came out of yesterday’s 23-6 loss to the Bears with nothing of note. That’s a big plus for a team that had been hit hard the past couple of weeks.

– RB Steven Jackson did no further damage to his groin injury but he’s still clearly not at full strength. The hope is that he’ll be able to get to full strength sooner than later with another week of rest.

– For those that are like me and are clamoring to get a look at this defense and this defensive line with rookie DT Michael Brockers in there, that chance might come this week. Fisher said it looks like there’s a chance he’ll practice this week and he could be ready to go. It’s not a moment too soon with the grind it out Seahawks and their run game coming to town.

– No word on others returning though it’s possible DT Matt Conrath and S Matt Daniels could work their way back in also. We’ll have to wait and see until Monday.

– As for the game, Fisher didn’t have much different to offer than what he said in his instant analysis from the game on Sunday. He again pointed out the offensive struggles. But he also seemed a bit relieved that he felt like many of the offensive issues could be corrected.

– One thing that will have to be corrected is communication issues. That’s something that comes with time and chemistry, two things this group of five does not yet have. But they need to find it. The sooner the better.

– Fisher was disappointed that the offense missed on some chances to make big plays on the few occasions they presented themselves. He noted the drop by WR Brandon Gibson on the deep ball. The hope is Gibson will bounce back. He’d been off to such a strong start, it’d be a shame if he didn’t.

– On defense, Fisher was pleased with the performance overall but wasn’t happy with the Bears early success running the ball. Likewise, Chicago had success in the screen game and many of those plays were continually run to the same side. The Rams have to get that cleaned up.

– Also, Fisher wants to see even more takeaways. The Rams have done a good job of getting interceptions but the reality is they have missed some opportunities with drops on potential interceptions and they have yet to even cause a fumble. Fisher wants more.

– On special teams, Fisher said he thought his group did a fine job though he would like to see more from his punter and on kickoffs. Devin Hester didn’t get a big one but he got too many opportunities to get that big one.

– As for the two first-half penalties that resulted in the Bears’ 10 points, Fisher believed both were penalties but one was the incorrect call. When LB Mario Haggan knocked over Bears P Adam Podlesh, he felt the contact was incidental and should have been a “running into” the punter rather than “roughing.” The difference is 10 yards and an automatic first down. Had it been called “running into,” the Rams still would have been able to get off the field.

– On the helmet to helmet hit call on S Darian Stewart, Fisher believed it was borderline but understood the call and had no qualms with it.

– The Rams now get to work on a tough Seattle team that will be coming to St. Louis on a short week. But the Rams have two games in a span of just five days next week so they have a lot on their plates. Fisher already discussed that with his team and hopes they can focus and get to work in the next 10 days.

– Thanks for reading.

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Rams Can’t Find Rhythm

Posted by nickwagoner on September 24, 2012 – 2:22 AM


– For one half Sunday at Soldier Field, the Rams simply couldn’t get out of their own way as they fell behind 10-0 and eventually 10-3 going into the locker room. But despite the mental mistakes, the pass protection breakdowns and the dropped passes, there was a point in the third quarter where the Rams had the ball and were moving it toward what could have been the go ahead points.

– But as they waited for the offense to kick into gear enough to score, it never happened and the Rams ultimately succumbed to the Bears by a score of 23-6. While it won’t have the “what if?” cache that the opener against Detroit could carry, this one was certainly winnable.

– More on the game after we hit the injuries real quick:

Coach Jeff Fisher said the Rams made it through the game relatively clean and actually made mention of the Rams getting healthier, namely on the defensive front.

That means that DTs Michael Brockers and Matt Conrath could be back in the mix next week. Brockers, in particular, seems to be on track. He actually went through a pre-game warmup workout with strength coach Rock Gullickson. It looks good for the prized rookie’s return sooner than later.

– Back to the game, Rams QB Sam Bradford lamented the offense’s inability to find any traction throughout the game. The first half, the Bears seemed to be on the field for most of the time, as they held nearly a nine-minute advantage in time of possession. In spite of that, the Rams were only one score down for the bulk of the game and never trailed by more than 10 until the interception return for a touchdown by S Major Wright to make it 20-6.

– So, what caused the offensive issues? Well, as is probably always going to be the case when you don’t ever venture into your opponent’s red zone, let alone score a touchdown, the blame goes across the board.

– Bradford missed some opportunities and squeezed the ball a bit long on a couple of occasions for sacks. His two interceptions weren’t necessarily mistakes so much as the by product of trying to make something happen. Regardless, he was the first to say that the offensive performance simply wasn’t good enough.

– It was a rough day at the office for the offensive line as Bradford was sacked six times. Those aren’t all on the front five but it still wasn’t good enough against a really good Bears front four. That group couldn’t provide consistent protection for Bradford and didn’t do much in the way of opening holes in the running game. There appeared to be some communication breakdowns as well, which is common with a group that hasn’t played together much.

– The pass catchers also didn’t have their best day as some key drops also denied the offense a chance to find a rhythm.

– RB Steven Jackson played through a groin injury but lamented not having a better performance in his opportunities. He didn’t seem to be at full speed on the occasions there was room to run, either.

– Rookie WR Chris Givens got his first NFL start and extensive playing time. He’ll continue to be more involved as the season goes on.

– Strong performance from the defense, which kept the Rams in the game by limiting Chicago to 274 yards of total offense.

– Another game, another pick by CB Cortland Finnegan. What an addition he’s been.

– Surprised to see CB Janoris Jenkins drop an easy pick early in the game. Could have really set the tone early.

– Not a surprise to see DE Chris Long get his first two sacks of the season. It was just a matter of time.

– Long’s teammates were disappointed they couldn’t help him and get more pressure on Chicago QB Jay Cutler on a consistent basis.  

– In unofficial pressbox statistics, LB James Laurinaitis led the way with 11 tackles, all solo.

– It wasn’t a perfect performance as Chicago KR/PR Devin Hester got some opportunities, but Rams P Johnny Hekker did well enough and the coverage units got Hester on the ground without allowing a touchdown. That’s a win.

– Hekker did have one gem, a 56-yard boot that landed just out of bounds. It was pretty much the perfect directional punt.

– We are three weeks into the season and I’m running out of adjectives to describe rookie K Greg Zuerlein. Young G.Z. just doesn’t get fazed by any situation or surface. His two field goals were from a combined distance of 102 yards and he made them look like chip shots. The kid is special, not that we didn’t know that already.

– The Rams now get to work on Seattle, a tough division opponent that will come to St. Louis on short rest. No rest for the Rams, though, as they now dive into NFC West action against two of the league’s toughest defenses. They’ll look for ways to find that offensive rhythm they had against Washington so as not to duplicate what happened Sunday in Chicago.

– Thanks for reading, back tomorrow to wrap this one up with thoughts from Fisher and his day after game news conference.

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