Around the NFC West: Rams lose top pick

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams rookie Jason Smith appeared to suffer meniscus damage in his knee. Thomas: "If it's a torn cartilage and Smith needs surgery, he could be sidelined for about a month. Adam Goldberg took over for Smith at right tackle against Washington." Center Jason Brown also left the game, though he returned.

Also from Thomas: says the Rams have "a long way to go" in coach Steve Spagnuolo's estimation. Donnie Avery was "disconsolate" after another rough game. Brown: "We definitely did a lot better this week than we did last week. ... We're going to get better. It's still early in the season. It's still early with our offense, and there's tons of room for improvement."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gives Marc Bulger a C-minus grade against the Redskins in Week 2. The receivers drew a D-plus. Coats: "A week after being shut out in Seattle, the Rams at least scored. While not producing big numbers, Marc Bulger was considerably more efficient running the Rams’ new offense. He put a nice touch on a 2-yard fade pass that WR Laurent Robinson hauled down in the end zone. Bulger wasn’t intercepted, but threw for a meager 125 yards, with a mediocre passer rating of 77.2."

Also from Coats: Brown apologized to the Redskins' Albert Haynesworth for previously suggesting the defensive tackle would wear down during games. Coats: "Brown and Haynesworth met at midfield after the final whistle." Brown: "I apologized. He and I have played against each other several times, and he knows that no matter what I say, I respect him. And I know that he respects me. We shook hands."

More from Coats: The Rams' defense appears to be making progress. Coats: "The last time an opponent failed to reach the end zone against the Rams was Nov. 18, 2007, in a 13-9 victory at San Francisco."

Chris Lee of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides a photo slide show from the Rams' 9-7 defeat.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch questions the Rams' game management after Bulger is forced to burn timeouts. Also: "The Rams defense kept the Redskins out of the end zone, and Steven Jackson rushed for 104 yards. But the bottom line is the 12th consecutive loss for the franchise. Disappointing. The Rams have played two games and have scored 7 points. That’s inexcusable."

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says the Rams' performance was "a step in the right direction."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are tough and passionate, but not very resourceful. Burwell: "The dropped passes could have been forgiven if only Avery had just held on to the ball when the Rams needed him the most."

Tim Klutsarits of examiner.com singles out positives and negatives from the Rams' performance against the Redskins. Among the negatives: "You can't be out of timeouts early in the fourth quarter in a one score game. You just can't. Everyone jumped all over Mike Martz for the timeout thing but there were many times it was justified and he never was caught short at the end of a game because he didn't have any. That is a major flaw in time management."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says the Rams' defeat came down to a few plays. Wagoner: "All told, it was a valiant effort by the Rams that just came up short. In the aftermath of a difficult loss, it can be hard to remain optimistic but you wouldn’t know it from talking to those who populate the Rams locker room." Bulger: "It's a different locker room this year. We know we are getting better. This thing is going to turn whether it’s next week, the week after, three weeks from now. It’s going to turn. I promise you that."