Monday, September 13, 2010
Rams thoughts: Close calls not enough
By Mike Sando ESPN.com
ST. LOUIS -- Thoughts following coach Steve Spagnuolo's news conference Monday from St. Louis Rams headquarters, a day after the team's 17-13 defeat to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1:
Sam Bradford was "solid" in his first NFL start, according to coach Steve Spagnuolo.
Overall vibe. It's fine to see Sam Bradford's obvious talent in projecting a bright future for the Rams, but the team needs to win games. Arizona fumbled seven times and still beat the Rams in St. Louis. The Oakland Raiders are next on the Rams' schedule and if St. Louis squanders opportunities again -- the overtime road defeat at Jacksonville last season comes to mind -- the long-term outlook with Bradford shouldn't be the only focus. Coach Steve Spagnuolo understands this. He said there's no secret to taking advantage of opportunities. The team just has to do it. The Rams should have a chance to win a couple games in the relative near term. Their schedule appears tougher later and depth will likely become a problem as injuries take effect. That is already happening.
Bradford solid. Spagnuolo used the word "solid" to describe Bradford's performance. He said Bradford would learn from the fourth-and-10 interception, implying it resulted from a poor decision. But Spagnuolo had no trouble with the first-quarter pass Adrian Wilson intercepted. Wilson made a spectacular play and Spagnuolo said he could have seen any quarterback falling victim to that one. Spagnuolo had high, high praise for Wilson, who made dominant plays.
Bradford's pass count. Bradford attempted 55 passes, but 19 came during the Rams' final two drives. Those were 2-minute situations. The team also ran its 2-minute offense late in the first half. That accounted for the unusual number of pass plays.
One more Bradford thought. Spagnuolo said the quarterback has as much freedom as any quarterback would to change plays at the line of scrimmage.
Nickel defense hurting. The Rams could have a hard time stopping spread passing teams. The Cardinals had success with four-receiver packages featuring two undrafted rookie free agents in part because the Rams were without their third and fourth cornerbacks. Kevin Dockery could miss a game after suffering a Grade 1 hamstring injury. Justin King's hamstring injury was less serious. Rookie Jerome Murphy might need to play in Week 2, although the team could look outside its roster for help, too.
Special-teams coverage takes hit. Linebacker Chris Chamberlain could miss 6-8 weeks after suffering an injury similar to turf toe, only more serious. The team might have to consider placing Chamberlain on injured reserve. Chamberlain is arguably the best special-teams player on the Rams. Linebacker Bobby Carpenter, released by the Rams on the cutdown to 53 players, has subsequently signed with Miami.
Steven Jackson's knee sore. Running back Steven Jackson underwent an MRI after experiencing knee inflammation. He's OK, Spagnuolo said.
Bad news on rookie tight end. Mike Hoomanawanui's quick development into a contributor at tight end suffered a significant setback when the rookie suffered a severe high-ankle sprain against the Cardinals. No word yet on when he might return.
I spoke with Rams receiver Mark Clayton in the locker room Monday afternoon and plan to take a closer look at his 10-catch performance. First I've got about 6 hours of flight time returning home from St. Louis.