Observations from Rams' exhibition opener
August, 14, 2009
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Posted by EPSN.com's Mike Sando
The Rams and Jets are deep into the third quarter of their exhibition opener. Both first-team offenses and defenses are finished for the night. A few things I've noticed so far:
- Offensive tackle Jason Smith. The Rams' first-round draft choice is playing extensively at right tackle. I have not seen any obvious errors. Early in the game, Smith stood quite upright before some pass plays and once when he had to pull across the formation. He cleared out Vernon Gholston and nearly lifted him off the ground on one play, only to hold Gholston (without getting flagged) when Gholston recovered and tried to chase the play. The Rams successfully ran behind Smith for a short-yardage conversion late in the third quarter.
- Wide receivers. Laurent Robinson got deep for a 50-yard reception from Marc Bulger, affirming the promise Robinson has shown in practice recently. The Rams need someone to get deep while Donnie Avery recovers from a broken foot. Nice start for Robinson.
- Chris Long and the pass rush. Long didn't get around the corner or bother the quarterback, even against the Jets' backups. Leonard Little made the Rams' biggest play on defense, sacking Kellen Clemens and forcing a fumble. I thought Long had a chance to get pressure with an inside rush after lining up at left end, but he didn't get there. Mark Sanchez completed a 48-yard pass on the play.
- Mark Setterstrom's run blocking. The backup center helped left guard Roger Allen III clear out Ty Steinkuhler in springing Samkon Gado for a 77-yard touchdown run. I set out to watch starting center Jason Brown, but didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. The Rams lost starting left guard Jacob Bell to a head injury early, leaving Roy Schuening to line up next to Brown. Again, I didn't notice much here.
- Problems in blitz pickup. Neither team appeared prepared for the other's blitzes. That's no surprise during preseason. Still, the Rams' Kenneth Darby should have fared better in blitz pickup. He gave up a couple of sacks, preventing Marc Bulger from enjoying a better night. Bulger completed all four attempts, but he took three sacks, all when running backs couldn't make plays in blitz pickup.
- Cornerback Justin King. The Jets' David Clowney beat King deep for a 48-yard gain up the offensive right sideline. Safety Todd Johnson tried to help, but he wasn't able to get to the sideline quickly enough. Hard to tell if this one was on King entirely.
- Derek Stanley as a punt returner. He misjudged a punt and the ball struck his leg. Stanley then retreated to pick it up, losing yardage. Not what the Rams wanted to see.
- Tight end Randy McMichael. He caught passes for 10 and 15 yards. McMichael also decked the Jets' Calvin Pace to help spring Steven Jackson. Pace quickly retaliated by beating McMichael in pass protection. Overall, though, this was a good night for McMichael in his first game back from a broken leg.
- Linebacker Chris Chamberlain. Bet he gets fined for hitting the Jets' Wallace Wright with a helmet-to-helmet shot while Bradley Fletcher was tackling Wright.