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Short Week Provides No Rest for Rams

Posted Oct 1, 2012

Inside the ContinuityX Training Center, the Rams have video screens located in all areas the players use with a breakdown of the schedule day by day.

The schedule lists meeting, practice and workout times and in big, bold letters at the top, the date. Today, that date listed was Thursday, October 1, 2012 and no, that wasn’t a typo.

Only moments after Sunday’s thrilling 19-13 win against Seattle, Rams coach Jeff Fisher turned the page on the calendar and let it be known that it was already Wednesday because the Rams only had three days to prepare for Thursday night’s game against Arizona.

“It’s different but it’s not,” center Robert Turner said. “It’s just an accelerated schedule. Coach kind of prefaced it last week, knowing we would have a short week. He said 3:15, we got in the locker room it was 2:59, and he wasn’t that far off. At 3:15 it became Wednesday yesterday afternoon. Everybody has got less time for recovery. Arizona has got less time for recovery. But you have got to turn the page, get over the negatives, build on the positives, build off what we learned from the film and get ready to go for Thursday.”

Indeed, the Rams coaching staff returned to training facility on Sunday afternoon, watched the tape of the win against Seattle and immediately began working on a game play for Thursday night’s game against Arizona at the Edward Jones Dome.

Following any game, win or lose, most coaches including Fisher operate under a standard 24-hour rule. That unwritten tenet allows players one full day to either enjoy a victory or lick wounds from a loss.

It’s fair to say after the Rams knocked off the Seahawks, the rule was significantly altered.

“Yeah this one was like the 20 minute rule,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “So I think I’ve enjoyed it enough now that once I go home it’s on to Arizona.”

In a perfect world, the opportunity to savor the flavor of a win against a hated NFC West Division rival such as Seattle would be accepted with delight, especially for the few remaining Rams who have been with the team for an extended period of time.

Going into Sunday’s game, the Rams had beaten Seattle just once in the past 14 meetings, dating to Oct. 9, 2005. Of course, running back Steven Jackson is the only player still on the roster who has experienced all of those lumps but there are more who have been a part of the recent trend.

End Chris Long, who was drafted in 2008, has only been a part of one victory against Seattle and hasn’t been a part of many victories in the division at all.

“Division wins are so hard to come by,” Long said. “For guys that haven’t been here, maybe they don’t appreciate it as much as the guys that have been here. I tell people I don’t know what the exact statistic is but I’m not sure we have won more than five, six games (in the West). This is really special. They are a good football team. They came in here and gave us their best shot, we took the punch and now we are 1-0 in the division.”

Even for players who haven’t been around as long as Jackson or Long, beating Seattle carries a satisfying taste. Bradford still had a bitter taste in his mouth from his rookie season when the Rams lost in Seattle in the 2010 season’s final game to deny the Rams the division crown and a playoff birth.

Beating the Seahawks doesn’t erase that memory but it at least allows Bradford a chance to extract a minute measure of revenge.

“It feels good, especially going back to two years ago and the loss in Seattle,” Bradford said. “Obviously, ending our season and not getting into the playoffs. Then really last year they got after us pretty good, so it feels really good to win that game. A division game, those are extremely important. We knew it was a big one, so it definitely feels good to get a win.”

With little time to enjoy that unblemished division record, the Rams had to quickly turn their attention to what figures to be the next in a series of six heavyweight fights that will make up the division slate in 2012.

Arizona will come calling Thursday night also on short rest but riding high with a perfect 4-0 record and a chance to go to 2-0 in the division. In the past 13 games dating to last season, the Cardinals hold the best record in the league at 11-2.

“We definitely have to take it one game at a time,” Jackson said. “Arizona, right now, they’re red hot. They’re definitely making noise in the NFL and for us to get a second win in the division; it would be huge for us. But we have to continue to establish what we are doing and that’s making home field advantage tough.”

The Rams got back to work with a rare Monday practice late in the afternoon. They had meetings for most of the day and began work on Arizona with little time to dwell on the good or bad from the Seattle game.

On Tuesday – Friday, in Rams time – the Rams will go through another practice and that will be the extent of their full on practice time for the week. On Wednesday, a.k.a. Saturday, the Rams will go through their usual day before the game routine with a walk through and final rounds of meetings before Thursday night’s game.

“We came in yesterday afternoon and watched the entire game,” Fisher said. “They had gotten a head start on Arizona so we are actually in good shape right now. The players came in and we gave them the opportunity to look at yesterday’s game on their own while the coaches were working so here we are.”
For the players, the biggest transition is making a recovery from a physical standpoint. Many of the players haven’t played on such a short turnaround. In fact, the Rams have only played on Thursday night once – back in 2007 against Pittsburgh – and have not had the short turnaround for a regular season game since.

According to Fisher Monday’s practice was run like a Wednesday practice with a lot of game plan installation. Along with that, Fisher took it easier on his players with the workout going little more than an hour as opposed to the usual two.

But that time not spent on the field will be more than made up for in the film room.

“Yesterday after the game it was immediately let’s watch some film on Arizona,” cornerback Cortland Finnegan said. “I got in three games just real quick to myself, made sure I watched film at home. The family is in there and they knew I was about business. Even today, we will stay after and watch film and do some things we need to do as a team and as a secondary.”

The short work week certainly presents a daunting challenge but it’s balanced by the fact that Arizona is going through a similar situation. The Rams have the good fortune of not having to take a three-hour or so flight the day before the game only a couple days removed from playing on Sunday.

“Everybody is going to get a chance to do it,” Fisher said. “You deal with it. Fortunately for us we got through the game actually in really good shape injury wise. The guys work the soreness out and they’re ready to go. By Thursday night, it’s their time to be able to play. It’s primetime. You hope things work out well for us.”

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