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Monday, December 28, 2009
Around the NFC West: Rams buckle

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are showing the strains associated with prolonged futility. Burwell: "Eventually, the losing wears you down. You look out there and see that there are so many holes to fill, so many things to improve, so many injuries to overcome, so many weird things like swine flu to cope with, so much of a gigantic talent gap between you and a playoff team like the Cardinals that the adversity has to get to you."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers a postgame Rams report card featuring a "B" grade for the Rams' defensive line and lower grades for the other positional groups. Coats: "Strong outings by Chris Long, Victor Adeyanju and rookie Darell Scott. LaJuan Ramsey forced a fumble when he sacked Kurt Warner. Long had a sack and two quarterback hits. Pretty good showing vs. the run. Cards averaged just 3.4 yards on 32 carries."

Also from Coats: a closer look at rookie quarterback Keith Null's performance.

More from Coats: Chris Ogbonnaya, Roger Allen and Cord Parks made their regular-season NFL debuts. Allen couldn't wait to call his fiance after the game. Allen: "I've set foot on an NFL field. It feels amazing to finally get in there and help the team."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says former Rams starter Jonathan Wade has fallen so far that the team isn't even using the cornerback in its dime defense. The Cardinals used four wide receivers to help break open the game in the second quarter. Ken Whisenhunt: "I felt like it was the best personnel group matching up against them because of their injuries and losing some players in the secondary. We thought it might be the best way to give us the advantage."

Also from Thomas: Null struggled against the Cardinals. Running back Steven Jackson wasn't there to help carry the load, sitting out for the first time this season. Jackson: "The back was just giving me a lot of problems. It wasn't loosening up. There was pain down my leg. So it was all clear signs telling me that I wasn't ready to go. Signs that I wasn't having in previous weeks."

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says the Rams' lack of talent jumped out Sunday. Balzer: "Consider that of the 45 players active for Sunday’s game, 30 entered the league as either a sixth- or seventh-round draft pick or an undrafted free agent. That includes four sixth-round picks, 10 seventh-rounders and an astounding 16 players that went undrafted. Of the eight players inactive, five were undrafted, meaning 35 of 53 players entered the league after the fifth round."