EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The Rams will get back to work this afternoon as they begin preparations for the third preseason game Saturday in Denver.
Before we look ahead, let’s do a little cleanup work and empty the notebook from the weekend loss to Green Bay and yesterday’s news conference with coach Jeff Fisher.
Fisher was pleased with how Joe Barksdale filled in at right tackle against the Packers. That Barksdale played well came as no surprise to Fisher, who made it clear he was comfortable with the third-year tackle soon after presumed starter Rodger Saffold left the preseason opener with a dislocated left shoulder. “I thought Joe was good,” Fisher said. “He hung in there and played well. He played well against the Packers last year in the regular season. I thought he hung in there and played pretty well.”
With that said, Fisher said he and the Rams are hopeful that Saffold could return to action as soon as this week. While the additional work has been good for Barksdale considering the Rams’ lack of experience with their offensive line depth, Saffold needs the reps at his new position on the right side. Gaining some continuity with the other projected starters would be a plus, too.
It appears that nothing has been fully resolved in the competition for the left guard job at the halfway point of the preseason. Chris Williams started the opener in Cleveland and Shelley Smith got his chance against Green Bay. If that pattern continues, Williams will get the work with the first team offense this week in Denver. The Rams had some success running behind Williams in the opener but Fisher said Smith was “OK” against Green Bay.
Tight end Lance Kendricks (knee) and defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo (foot) came off the physically unable to perform list last week so they could get up to speed in terms of the team walk throughs each day. Both players said they were hopeful that they could get back in time for this week’s game in Denver. Fisher said the pair was “closer” to a return but it remains to be seen if either will be ready to go in time to play the Broncos.
Asked about the team’s struggles to get much going in the running game (22 carries for 52 yards), Fisher pointed out that Green Bay loaded the run box with extra defenders for most of the night. It’s an area Fisher said he’s not concerned about, particularly with the first team. Otherwise, he felt like the Packers were doing more with their backups than the Rams were with theirs. “We really didn’t commit to the run,” Fisher said. “It was hard because of what they were doing and what we were trying to do. I’m not concerned about it. We’ve got to get better at it but we didn’t have enough carries in the ball game, as many as we’d like and they kind of forced us out of it from a line of scrimmage standpoint. We wanted to look at the passing game as well. We’ll get back to it this week but the first group I thought did a good job.”
The Packers’ game planning and the Rams’ vanilla approach made for some serious struggles for the Rams backup offensive units. Green Bay regularly brought blitzes and the backup group struggled to pick those up. It made life particularly difficult for Kellen Clemens and, to a slightly lesser extent, Austin Davis.
Speaking of Clemens and Davis, nothing seems to be settled in the team’s competition for the backup duties behind starter Sam Bradford. Clemens struggled mightily against Green Bay and Davis did the same until a final drive resulted in a touchdown pass with about a minute to go. Like with left guard, the Rams have been alternating between Davis and Clemens behind Bradford. That will continue this week. “We will go back to Austin this week as a two and Kellen will be a three and we’ll continue to evaluate them,” Fisher said.