Rams' penalty problems persist in preseason


Looking back at how the St. Louis Rams fared, here are three things worth watching after their 18-3 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Friday night:

1. Will penalty problems persist?: In short, the answer was yes. The Rams were penalized 10 timed for 75 yards and had at least three other calls that were either declined or negated by Raiders penalties. Coach Jeff Fisher has said cutting down on penalties is a point of emphasis for his team and has pointed to preseason penalty problems as being a function of players unlikely to make the team in the past. But when the season starts, the Rams have often carried over those issues. In three seasons under Fisher, the Rams lead the league in penalties and penalty yards. Clearly, the emphasis will need to be ratcheted up through the rest of the preseason if the Rams are ever to make progress in this area.

2. First look at Foles: As expected, starting quarterback Nick Foles played two series before calling it a night. He started off as well as he could, completing his first two passes for 61 yards, including a strike to tight end Lance Kendricks for 26 yards on his first snap as Rams quarterback. It wasn't all positive for Foles, though, as he came under fire on the team's second possession with pressure coming off the left side. He was sacked once (a second was wiped out by offsetting penalties) and looked like he struggled to get through his progressions before taking those hits. All told, it was about what you'd expect with flashes of good and bad as Foles finished 3-of-5 for 69 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

3. Injuries into opportunity: With players such as running back Todd Gurley and cornerbacks E.J. Gaines and Brandon McGee battling injuries, there were ample opportunities for some other players to step in and contribute. At running back, Gurley didn't play and Tre Mason made just two carries before calling it a night. That left some chances for undrafted rookie Malcolm Brown to play. Brown did some good things, carrying twice for 18 yards and adding a catch for 7 yards. At corner, it was rookie free agent Imoan Claiborne who stepped in and surprised. He's had some interceptions in camp and added another to his tally by picking off Christian Ponder before the end of the first half. There's still a long road for players such as Brown and Claiborne to make the roster, but Friday night offered a positive step in that direction.