Rams starters set for more snaps

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Earlier this week, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher made it clear that his team won’t change much in terms of how they play their preseason contests. That doesn’t mean they won’t do different things when it comes to who is playing.

After what amounted to about three series in the preseason opener against Cleveland, the Rams starters will likely get a bit more work Saturday night against Green Bay.

“We’ll add plays, a number,” Fisher said. “Some guys are going to play significantly more. As a general rule they’re probably playing anywhere from six to 12, 14 plays more than they did last week.”

In Cleveland, the bulk of the starting offense played 14 snaps or fewer. Quarterback Sam Bradford, left tackle Jake Long, center Scott Wells and right guard Harvey Dahl handled that workload before calling it a night. Other key players such as receivers Chris Givens and Tavon Austin and tight end Jared Cook played 12, nine and 12 plays, respectively.

Fisher would have like for that number to be a bit higher and it would have if not for a fumble on the opening drive by running back Isaiah Pead and a quick three and out on the group’s second possession.

The Rams generally do not hold to a hard and fast snap count in the preseason but Fisher prefers to use overall numbers.

“Last week got skewed particularly because of the turnover,” Fisher said. “We gave up a turnover and then because we had a good drive going, so then we had to play longer in the game because the defense had some difficulty getting off the field.”

Those troubles getting off the field left the defense with a bigger workload than their offensive counterparts.

Aside from the defensive line, which regularly works in a rotation, the majority of the Rams defenders played 23 snaps against Cleveland.

While the starters may end up on the field a bit longer against the Packers, Fisher also wants to take the opportunity to get some of the backups a chance to work with the first team.

Fisher said Shelley Smith would get the start at left guard after Chris Williams handled those duties last week. Likewise, the Rams expect to work in other non-starters with the first group, specifically at running back and wide receiver.

“We’ll look at different people,” Fisher said. “As I’ve said in the past, you want to give someone an opportunity to maybe run behind the starting offensive line or run against their starting defense and work, so we’re going to adjust all that stuff.”

On the whole, the Rams will again keep things simple in terms of the game plan. Fisher and coordinators Brian Schottenheimer (offense), Tim Walton (defense) and John Fassel (special teams) hope to see an offense that eliminates turnovers and pre-snap penalties and finishes drives with touchdowns rather than field goals. They want to see a defense that tackles better, recognizes splits and improves communication on shifts and motions. They want a special teams that irons out many of the basics, particularly on punt coverage after allowing a 90-yard touchdown last week.