When asked last week how difficult it was to find a rhythm with an offensive line in flux in front of him, Rams running back
But the Rams started the same offensive line for the second week in a row Saturday night against Kansas City and the results were positive, not just opening holes in the running game but also in protecting quarterback
In fact, the starting line of left tackle
“(It was) pretty good, yeah,” Fisher said. “They did protect the quarterback. Considering a couple of the rushers they have…so I thought the first group did a nice job. Sam was protected, we didn’t give up any sacks and he got the ball out.”
The starting line showed glimpses of success last week against the Colts in the running game. Jackson carried four times for 17 yards in limited work but got a few more touches against the Chiefs and looked as sharp as ever.
Running hard off the right side for most of his seven carries, Jackson racked up 49 yards with a 7-yard average. Clearly, he was pleased with that unit’s performance.
“They were very aggressive,” Jackson said. “They won the line of scrimmage, the battle there. You always want to do that week in and week out. I thought they did a great job at the point of attack of opening some lanes for me to run through.”
In the other piece of the blocking equation – pass protection – Fisher had issued the challenge to his offensive linemen to do a better job than it did a week ago against the Colts.
That game didn’t see Bradford sacked but he was hit repeatedly and Fisher noted that he wanted major improvement in that category against Kansas City.
Again, Bradford was not sacked this week but the Chiefs certainly didn’t get as many opportunities to hit him as the Colts did.
“I thought those guys played great tonight,” Bradford said. “I don’t think I got touched once. Anytime that you come out of a game and you’re not sore, it’s a great feeling. So, props to those guys. They played great tonight.”
Bradford did take one hit but his point remains that it certainly wasn’t an open season sort of situation. The result was a strong performance in which he threw for 102 yards on six-of-nine passing with two touchdowns for a rating of 144.4.
The improved performance was a direct result of the work done on the practice field, according to Bradford.
“Absolutely,” Bradford said. “I thought they had a great week. We practiced yesterday. We got after it this week. There were a lot of 1s-on-1s periods against us going against our defense. I think it was great work for us. I think they had a really solid week and I think it showed up tonight.”
OLD RELIABLE: Amongst the multitude of devastating injuries the Rams suffered in the 2011 season, perhaps none hampered the team’s chances more than the season-ending elbow injury suffered by receiver
Amendola had started strong against the Eagles in that game and seemed poised for a big season on the heels of a breakthrough 2010 campaign. His potential breakout seemed directly tied to Bradford, who had grown comfortable with Amendola quickly in his rookie season.
On Saturday night against the Chiefs, Bradford and Amendola wasted little time showing the league that they have re-established that connection quickly. Having a receiver he can trust to be in the right time at the right place is critical for Bradford.
“It’s extremely important,” Bradford said. “The fact that I trust that I know where he’s going to be – it’s everything. There are times where I lose sight of him, but I know where he’s going to end up and that’s where I put the ball and he’ll go get it.”
Amendola did indeed go get it three times in only a quarter of action against Kansas City. Bradford targeted his diminutive wideout on three occasions and Amendola came down with each one for 58 yards, including a diving 35-yarder to open the game and a circus 8-yard grab for the game’s opening touchdown.
Bradford and Amendola spent part of the offseason working out together with offseason homes near each other and it appears they haven’t missed a beat, especially now that they are in an offense similar to the one they ran in 2010.
“Obviously, besides last year, he’s been here since the beginning,” Bradford said. “We spent a lot of time together with him being in Dallas (in the offseason). I would say probably I’ve thrown more with him than probably anyone else on our team. I definitely feel like we have a good chemistry. I trust him, he trusts me, and it’s been good.”
HOMETOWN KID: In the latter stages of Saturday night’s contest, there were a few cheers that went up in the crowd that might have been a little louder than they’d normally be for that point in the second preseason contest.
That’s because tight end
St. Louis fans hold a special place for McNeill, who grew up and went to high school in Kirkwood and is now battling to make the roster. While McNeill appreciates the support of the local fans, he’s not letting any outside pressure interfere with his pursuit of landing a spot on the final roster.
“I like to think I am pretty even keeled,” McNeill said. “I try not to get too high, try not to get too low. When you think things are bad, they’re not and when you think things are great, they’re not great either. I just try to keep my head level and go from there.”
McNeill is unsure of how his performance Saturday night will affect his chances of making the roster but he’s been fairly consistent in making plays on the practice field and that effort carrying over to the preseason contests certainly shouldn’t hurt his chances.
“I don’t know,” McNeill said. “Hopefully it helps. I have said it before. I can’t control ultimately what the decision is. I can just go out there and play the best that I can and hope they like what I’m doing.”
FLYING LEAP: Rookie running back
Pead posted a strange stat line with six carries for minus-5 yards and two catches for minus-3 yards. Playing with the second team offense against Kansas City’s top defensive unit, Pead said running room was hard to come by.
“We had to get some push up front,” Pead said. “We kept trying to get things corrected, and every time we would the defense would throw a different blitzer in or someone else to fill the gap, so it was kind of hard to get going early, but we finished out strong.”
Pead helped atone for some of his own mistakes, including a 9-yard loss in the second quarter by punching in a 1-yard touchdown with an impressive leap over the Chiefs defensive line.
Pead said he’s not known for his giant leaps but was pleased with the result.
“It wasn’t a signature (move),” Pead said. “It’s something new. Change is always good.”
CUP RUNNETH OVER: The Governor’s Cup game between the Rams and Chiefs is generally contested in the preseason and actually has been around since the days of the St. Louis Cardinals.
In fact, last night’s game was the 14th preseason meeting between the teams since the Rams relocated to St. Louis. Because the trophy is awarded for a preseason contest, it doesn’t carry as much weight as most rivalry games.
“When you leave college, you think you’re done with the trophy games,” Laurinaitis said. “It’s nice to have one. It’s nice to have something to play for, especially in the preseason. When you’re playing a state team, it definitely makes it a little sweeter.”