Friday, September 4, 2009
Observations from Rams' exhibition game
By Mike Sando
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Thoughts and observations from the Rams' exhibition game Thursday night against the Chiefs:
- Two tight. The Rams used two tight ends on eight of their first 10 offensive plays, pairing Randy McMichael and Daniel Fells. The personnel packages should even out if fullback Mike Karney and No. 1 receiver Donnie Avery return to full health. But without a deep stable of receivers, the Rams could use two tight ends quite a bit. McMichael, Fells and Billy Bajema played extensively.
- Protection issues. The Rams had problems protecting Kyle Boller early in the game. Left guard Jacob Bell, returning from a concussion, blocked no one when the Chiefs blitzed successfully early in the game. Tamba Hali beat right tackle Jason Smith around the corner on the next play. Protection issues will be critical when the Rams open the season with three of their first four games on the road and Marc Bulger returning from a broken finger.
- Carter fades. Veteran receiver Tim Carter didn't affirm the Rams' earlier optimism over his prospects. Carter failed to secure two passes when the Chiefs hit him hard. The Rams took a long look at him in the first half, when my unofficial count had Carter playing 24 snaps, tied with Bajema for most among the Rams' non-quarterbacks (Brock Berlin played 26).
- Avery should be ready. The Rams' No. 1 receiver played nine of the first 11 snaps, his first game action since suffering a broken bone in his left foot. That seems like a strong indication Avery will be ready to contribute in Week 1.
- Secondary pretty good. With Leonard Little sitting out, the Rams generated little pass rush early in the game. Their cornerbacks seemed to hold up well anyway. The Chiefs have significant problems on offense, so it might have been telling if the Rams' corners struggled.
- Jackson needed badly. Steven Jackson watched from the sideline as the Rams smartly protected him from suffering an injury in a game with little meaning for a Pro Bowl player. The Rams without Jackson aren't a pretty sight offensively, particularly with Bulger out and Avery limited. Backup running back Samkon Gado appears adequate in short relief. He's willing in pass protection, but potentially unreliable as a receiver. He also suffered injured ribs and did not return.
- One in the box. Defensive coordinator Ken Flajole moved from the sideline to the coaches' booth midway through the exhibition season. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur remains on the sideline. Coaches change vantage points for a variety of reasons. The chaotic sideline atmosphere isn't for everyone. Having Flajole upstairs and defensive-minded head coach Steve Spagnuolo on the sideline could create a balance.
We're down to one remaining NFC West exhibition game, with the 49ers closing out their preseason schedule against San Diego.