NFL Team Report - St. Louis Rams - INSIDE SLANT
It was supposed to be a relatively quiet night for Rams tackle Rodger Saffold.
He had practiced sparingly prior to Saturday's game against the Broncos after returning from the dislocated shoulder he suffered in the preseason opener against Cleveland on Aug. 8.
But then tackle Joe Barksdale was unable to travel with the team because of an infection on his hand, and Saffold ended up starting at right tackle.
With little depth at tackle, the Rams planned to keep quarterback Sam Bradford on the field only as long as Saffold could play. It turned out to be the entire first half, although the Rams had the ball for only 24 plays thanks to a fumble return for a touchdown by linebacker Alec Ogletree and a one-play touchdown possession set up by Tavon Austin's 81-yard punt return.
Said coach Jeff Fisher, "Our approach was to tie Sam to Rodger, and our anticipation was that Rodger would only be able to play a couple series. He surprised us and himself and played the whole first half, so that allowed Sam to stay in. We tipped towards the pass, as opposed to the run in the game. That's why we really didn't get the run game going.
"Rodger was fine. Like I said, I think he surprised himself. He was playing with a brace. He's probably a little bit more restricted in the run game than he is in the pass game. He was spot on from an assignment standpoint, spot on. It's good to get the reps, considering he only played two plays since this preseason started. So we needed to get him out there."
Saffold is making the switch from left to right tackle, so he needs as much time as possible adjusting to the change.
Bradford was glad to see Saffold play as long as he did.
"I was hoping that his shoulder felt really good, and I think it held up well," he said. "He probably exceeded the amount of plays that we were really expecting to get with him, but he did a great job coming back and battling."
Saffold told the Post-Dispatch afterward, "It went well. I'm definitely sore. But I know that's just part of the job. I wanted to be able to stay out there as long as I did - staying as long as the ones were in there - it's just another hurdle that I was able to pass. I definitely think I'm a step closer to being where I want to be by the first game."
NFL Team Report - St. Louis Rams - NOTES, QUOTES
--Coach Jeff Fisher said things are starting to slow down for rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree. Against Denver Saturday night, Ogltree stripped running back Ronnie Hillman and ran the ball in for a touchdown. Later, he had a deflection in the end zone off quarterback Peyton Manning that was nearly an interception, then had an interception of Manning on a deep drop in coverage.
Said Fisher, "He's doing better. As a young player in the defense against offenses in the National Football League, it takes a while to be in a position where you can say you've seen everything once. So, he's seeing things for the first time.
"Alec's plays were the kind of plays we expect him to make. That's why we drafted him. We just need to keep him on track so he can continue to do that."
Manning said Ogletree "made a pretty athletic play. He obviously has a pretty wide wingspan; I was surprised he was even able to get his hands on that ball. So, if we play the Rams again, I will remember that."
--Prior to the third preseason game, coach Jeff Fisher said he planned to play the team's starters into the third quarter in the final preseason game against Baltimore. That might not be the case.
Said Fisher, "We're evaluating it right now. We're going to play the guys that need to play. We're going to let them play, and then if we feel guys have had adequate snaps throughout the preseason, we may back down a little bit."
Fisher noted that the Ravens begin the regular season on Thursday. He said, "Obviously, our opponent's looking at it a little differently than we are because they play a week from Thursday. I think it's reasonable to assume that they're probably going to rest some key players because they play seven days from then."
--The Rams are wearing a decal on their helmet this season with the No. 75 in memory of defensive end Deacon Jones, who passed away in June.
Jones was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980 and his number was retired by the Rams in 2009.
Jones played 11 seasons for the Rams from 1961-1971 and was celebrated for inventing the word "sack," which didn't become an official league statistic until 1982. League historians credit Jones with 173.5 career sacks and 159.5 with the Rams. He had 26 in 1967 and two other 20-sack seasons.
The NFL announced after Jones' death that the sack elader each season will received the Deacon Jones Award.
He will be honored at the Rams' season opener Sept. 8, and several members of his family will be present.
The Jones family issued a statement that said, "David Jones joined the Rams in 1961 and was reborn Deacon Jones - the best, most intimidating and tenacious defensive player ever to play in the NFL. From that first day in training camp to this day, more than five decades later, our family and the Rams' family - all of the players, owners, employees and, of course, our fellow fans - have been one and the same.
"We deeply appreciate this dedicated season, a fitting tribute to a man whose efforts on and off the field helped make the Rams what they are today and forever changed the way the game is played. Thank you, all."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've already started the process. We'll have a list for you whenever we're required to have a list for you, or you guys can hang out in the parking lot and look around and see who's here. It's not easy. You've got guys that have been in here since the rookie minicamp, through the OTAs in the summer, and the whole bit busting their rear ends and they're all better football players now than they were when they got there, but they understand the reality of it. It's not an easy process." - Coach Jeff Fisher on Sunday talking about the job of reducing the roster.
NFL Team Report - St. Louis Rams - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Rams announced the release of 11 players Monday, leaving them two short of the 75-player limit that has to be reached by 3 pm Central Tuesday. They were at 88 players for Satuirday's game against Denver.
Waived were wide receivers Andrew Helmick, Demetrius Fields and Raymond Radway, quarterback Tim Jenkins, linebacker Joseph Lebeau, cornerback Robert Steeples, tight end Colby Prince, defensive tackle Al Lapuaho, kicker/punter Brett Baer and long snapper Jorgen Hus. Offensive lineman Graham Pocic was waived/injured and will be revert to injured reserve after clearing waivers. Guard Ryan Lee is also expected to be end up on injured reserve because of a knee injury suffered against Denver.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: It appears Chris Williams will be the starting left guard, but it's not official yet. Williams has been competing with Shelley Smith throughout the summer. Williams also played right tackle with the second unit against Denver Saturday night. Coach Jeff Fisher said of Williams, "He's been moving around, too, which is good. The flexibility at the left guard spot and then a little bit of right tackle here and there for us. It's been good. Shelley's moving around a little bit and playing left guard, right guard. We've got depth there. We'll have some hard decisions." As for the starter at left guard, Fisher said, "We may be ready to make an announcement this week at some point."
BIGGEST QUESTION TO BE ANSWERED: Will the running game be effective as well as the blitz pickup? Starter Daryl Richardson missed a protection against the Broncos that led to a sack. Richardson may only be good for 15-20 touches a game, so the next question is how the rotation will work with Isaiah Pead, Zac Stacy and Ben Cunningham competing for playing time. The passing attack won't be as effective if thr ground game sputters.
--TE Cory Harkey sufferer a minor fracture to his lower leg against Denver and is expected to be out ofr about a month. With Lance Kendricks having been out of practice all summer, Harkey had been playing with the first unit when the Rams utilized two tight ends.
--T Joe Barskdale returned to practice Monday after not making the trip to Denver because of an infection in his hand.
--TE Lance Kendricks practiced on a limited basis in some team drills Monday. Kendricks won't play Thursday, but he hopes to be ready for the regular-season opener.
--DT Jermelle Cudjo participated in drills for the first time since suffering a foot injury in OTAs.
--OL Graham Pocic (shoulder) was waived/injured and will be placed on injured reserve if he clears waivers Tuesday.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYERS: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--LB Mario Haggan (not tendered as UFA).
--DT Trevor Laws (not tendered as UFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED (all picks signed)
--WR Tavon Austin (1/8): $12,751,002/4 yrs, all guaranteed; $6,653,456 SB.
--LB Alec Ogletree (1/30): $7,030,024/4 yrs, $3,492,748 SB/$5,666,386 guaranteed/$688,638 roster/report bonus 2016.
--S T.J. McDonald (3/71): $2,926,278/4 yrs, $648,000 SB.
--WR Stedman Bailey (3/92): $2,736,102/4 yrs, $527, 400 SB.
--C Barrett Jones (4/113): $2,605,200/4 yrs, $445, 200 SB.
--CB Brandon McGee (5/149): $2,351,160/4 yrs, $191,160 SB.
--RB Zac Stacy (5/160): $2,336,500/4 yrs, $176,500 SB.
--C Tim Barnes: ERFA; $480,000/1 yr.
--QB Kellen Clemens: UFA; $870,000/1 yr, $30,000 SB.
--DT Jermelle Cudjo: Potential RFA; $1.805M/2 yrs, $350,000 SB.
--DE William Hayes: UFA; $10.25M/3 yrs, $3.75M SB/$5.75M guaranteed.
--TE Mike McNeill: ERFA; $555,000/1 yr.
--S Darian Stewart: RFA tendered at $1.323M with no compensation; $1.323M/1 yr.
--G/T Chris Williams: UFA; terms unknown.
--TE Jared Cook: UFA Titans; $35.1M/5 yrs, $5M SB/$19M guaranteed.
--S Matt Giordano: Not tendered as UFA by Raiders; $840,000/1 yr.
--T Jake Long: UFA Dolphins; $34M/4 yrs, $5M SB/$20M potentially guaranteed/$12M fully guaranteed).
--TE Zach Potter: Not tendered as RFA by Jaguars; $630,000/1 yr.
--LB Will Witherspoon: Not tendered as UFA by Titans; $940,000/1 yr.
--WR Danny Amendola: UFA Patriots; $31M/5 yrs, $6M SB/$10M SB.
--LB Justin Cole: Not tendered as RFA/Browns; terms unknown.
--S Craig Dahl: UFA 49ers; $5.25M/3 yrs, $700,000 SB.
--CB Bradley Fletcher: UFA Eagles; $5.25M/2 yrs, $1.6M SB/$2.35M guaranteed.
--RB Terrance Ganaway (released/left squad).
--WR Brandon Gibson: UFA Dolphins; $9.78M/3 yrs, $3M SB/$3.75M guaranteed.
--T Wayne Hunter (released).
--RB Steven Jackson: UFA Falcons; $12M/3 yrs, $3.5M SB/$4M guaranteed.
--LB Rocky McIntosh: Not tendered as UFA/Lions; terms unknown.
--S Quintin Mikell (released).
--TE Matthew Mulligan (released).
--T Barry Richardson: Not tendered as UFA/Titans; terms unknown.
--WR Steve Smith: UFA Buccaneers; $715,000/1 yr.
--G/C Robert Turner: UFA Titans; $1.5M/1 yr, $250,000 SB/$250,000 RB.
--G Rokevious Watkins (released).