Morning Ram-blings: A parade of penalties

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
8:00
AM ET
A deluge of yellow flags has rained down upon the St. Louis Rams during this preseason, reaching its crescendo in Thursday night's game against Baltimore.

All told, the Rams were penalized 17 times for 123 yards against the Ravens, a somewhat astonishing number that it would normally take more disciplined teams two or three games to reach. St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Joe Strauss says the Rams can't afford all the sloppy mistakes, no matter if it's starters or backups on the field.

The penalty situation got so bad during the second quarter Thursday that Rams coach Jeff Fisher lit into his team at halftime even though the offending players were mostly backups. The real issue, though, is that the penalties have been an ongoing issue for a team that was the most penalized in the league last season.

In four preseason games, the Rams were called for 43 penalties for 294 yards, and those are just the penalties accepted by opponents.

The mistakes against Baltimore weren't just penalties. The Rams fumbled three times in the game's first four minutes and six seconds.

A certain amount of mental miscues are probably to be expected for a team that's again going to be one of the youngest in the league. But if this group wants to take the next step and return to the postseason, they're going to have to focus on cutting down on the laundry and giveaways.

Elsewhere:

It was a busy day in this space as we discussed ESPN senior writer John Clayton's quarterback rankings, where Rams QB Sam Bradford checked in at No. 20. ... Former Rams DT D'Marco Farr discussed the concussion-lawsuit settlement and expressed fear of the unknown. ... During last night's game against Baltimore, Rams general manager Les Snead casually mentioned Rodney McLeod as the team's starting safety, leading to the question of whether that's a permanent designation or not. ... After the game, we looked back at five things to watch, including the backup quarterback and running back situations.

The fourth preseason game came and went with only trace signs of starters from either side. The result was not pretty even though the Rams got their first exhibition victory, writes Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch.

Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell dived further into the concussion-lawsuit outcome by talking to former players Stan White and the aforementioned Farr. Burwell writes that there are no winners in the ruling and wonders what the end game from it will be.

With final cuts approaching, the hardest part of trying to predict what the 53-man roster will look like is trying to figure out the roster numbers. In another interesting nugget from the team's broadcast, former Rams receiver Torry Holt indicated that he's been told the Rams will only keep five wide receivers. That would make sense, as the first five are obvious, and a sixth isn't so clear, though Justin Veltung would be the most likely. It also could open things up for a potential fifth tight end as Cory Harkey is likely to miss some time with injury and Lance Kendricks is still returning from knee surgery.

Nick Wagoner

ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

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