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Observations from Rams' second exhibition game

8/22/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Things I noticed watching the first half of the Rams' game against the Falcons in St. Louis' second exhibition game under coach Steve Spagnuolo:

  • Jason Smith is not ready. I've wondered why the Rams have withheld the No. 2 overall draft choice from the starting lineup. I've wondered why they've put him on the right side instead of the left, where a high pick should play. The way Smith played against the Falcons validated the conservative approach. Smith played too high in pass protection. His footwork was shaky. He spent too much time on the ground. He did not appear athletic enough to recover from his mistakes (could be thinking more than he will be once he gets up to speed). He appeared eager. He tried to hunt down a defensive back on one run. But it's clear the Rams cannot trust him yet. Defensive end Chauncey Davis pancaked Smith while rushing the passer. Defensive end Jamaal Anderson beat Smith to the outside before drilling Kyle Boller. On the next play, a run, Smith whiffed on Anderson, then held him, drawing a penalty.

  • So much for live tackling. The Rams' training camp featured live tackling, unusual for NFL practices. There wasn't enough live tackling against the Falcons. The Rams were sloppy on defense. Leonard Little and James Laurinaitis missed tackles, as did Oshiomogho Atogwe. Tye Hill missed a couple. The Falcons ran the ball effectively in the red zone against eight in the box when defensive end Chris Long couldn't get away from Falcons tight end Justin Peelle in time to make a play. Long did make a couple of plays at the snap with his quickness.

  • Robinson looks good at receiver. Laurent Robinson has shown in practice an ability to beat smaller corners on quick slants. He did it again against the Falcons. Robinson, who had a 50-yard reception in the exhibition opener, again showed an ability to get deep. He badly beat Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes off the line and was wide open in the end zone, only to have Boller miss the throw.

  • Ahman Green looked good. The Rams worked out Green during the week and added the veteran runner to their list of potential players to sign if none of the current backups seizes the job behind Steven Jackson. Samkon Gado, who played well for the Rams in the exhibition opener, hurt his chances at earning a roster spot. He dropped a screen pass early in the game. He lost a fumble right before halftime.

I'll take a look at the rest of the game as time permits. The first half wasn't all bad for the Rams. Laurinaitis did pick off a pass. Robinson, as noted, made a positive impression at receiver. Overall, though, the first-team offense and defense struggled.