A couple more notes on Rams' opener

Leftover thoughts and observations from the St. Louis Rams' exhibition opener against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday night:

  • Chris Long was effective at left defensive end. He plays hard whether it's preseason or regular season. That consistently high effort level might pay off even more this time of year.

  • Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis stood out with a big hit early. Defensive tackle Clifton Ryan caught my attention with a 4-yard tackle for loss.

  • Rookie cornerback Jerome Murphy broke up a pass on third down. He appeared aggressive on the play. Murphy suffered a lateral ankle sprain during the game, however, and he will not be available this coming week.

  • Linebacker Chris Chamberlain appeared vulnerable in coverage when forced to defend well downfield.

  • Rookie defensive end George Selvie gave the Vikings' backups trouble. He drove back Chris Clark, an undrafted free agent in 2008, with a strong rush late in the first half. Selvie later forced a fumble with a sack. The idea that these are "only" exhibition games applies to some players, but not to rookies. "This is a real big deal, getting in uniform and playing another NFL team," Selvie said.

  • The Rams' issues in pass protection, specifically at right tackle, will be a focus heading into the next game. Jason Smith was likely rusty. I'll be interested in monitoring him during practices beginning Monday. The Rams need him to become a Pro Bowl-caliber player.

  • With Sam Bradford making his debut and Smith attracting attention, I didn't get an extended look at left tackle Rodger Saffold. Most of the pressure seemed to be coming from the other side.

I'll be driving back to St. Louis from Indianapolis after the San Francisco 49ers finish their exhibition opener Sunday. I'll be attending Rams practices Monday through Thursday morning. Let me know if there are areas you'd like me to monitor in particular.