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Thursday, August 7, 2014
Rams likely to keep it simple against Saints

By Nick Wagoner

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher isn't shy about revealing his plans for Friday night's preseason opener against New Orleans.

This week, Fisher made it clear the plan for the Saints is there really is no plan.

"We’re not planning," Fisher said. "We’re going to just do our stuff. I think that’s important in Game 1 to be able to adjust, let the players adjust, and they may take a look at some tape from last year on Friday, but beyond that we’re just going to keep installing."

Jeff Fisher
Coach Jeff Fisher and the Rams put little emphasis on scheming for opponents early in the preseason.
The Rams are 11 practices and nearly two weeks into this year's training camp and still a ways away from actually game-planning for an opponent. While they will gradually build to do more things throughout the preseason, they won't do much planning for any opponent other than the Minnesota Vikings, the team they open the regular season against in September.

For now, the Rams are going through installation of the playbook on both sides of the ball. That mostly means an extended refresher on what the team did in the spring, but with more emphasis placed on working with the starters.

So when it comes to the preseason, especially the first game, don't expect to see much more than the fundamentals from the Rams, not that they're known for being a wild, creative group in the first place.

"Typically, what we do is we keep things somewhat basic the first couple and just let them play," Fisher said. "You don’t try to outscheme people. You understand that, hey we’re going to run and tackle and block and cover and do those kind of things."

That the Rams plan to be basic in the preseason opener shouldn't be a surprise since that has become common practice around the league. But the Rams do approach the rest of the preseason a little different. Instead of building toward a "dress rehearsal" in the third preseason game, Fisher likes a more gradual build which ends in playing his starters more in the fourth and final preseason game than most teams.

So, though quarterback Sam Bradford, left tackle Jake Long and center Scott Wells have essentially been ruled out for Friday, there are still three games for them to get work. Likewise, there is no need to push players like linebacker James Laurinaitis (ankle), tackle Michael Brockers (ankle) and cornerback Janoris Jenkins to return right away as they recover from minor injuries.

That will create plenty of opportunities for the rookies and backups who aren't getting as many reps in practice. It's a prime opportunity to begin making a case for a roster spot since the bulk of the work in practice goes toward getting the starters ready.

"I think it’s the same thing year after year in the first preseason game," Fisher said. "You want to play as many people as you can that are able to play. You don’t want to play your starters too much. You want to get them in a flow, but we’re not out there to outsmart anybody.

"It’s preseason game number one, everybody that’s capable of playing for the most part will play."