August 30, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Austin Pettis (18) flips into the end zone after catching a 14 yard touchdown pass during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason Week 4: Thoughts On The First Team

If the Rams plan on performing in the regular season the way they have in the preseason, we can look forward to a solid 8-8 turnout. In a fitting pattern, the Rams first team followed their first half blowout by the Cowboys with a first half domination of the Ravens. Granted, there was not a starter in sight on the Ravens defense or offensive backfield, but that doesn’t completely take away from what they were able to accomplish. Some things we saw in the game:

Bradford responded well to the Cowboys sack-fest

Bradford looked really strong in the pocket, and did not seem to be effected by “ghosts” as one might have predicted after getting consistently hit by the Cowboys defenses last weekend. The game started off a little slow, with a couple of incompletions resulting from miscommunication with the wide receiver. On one play, Pettis ran a 7-yard curl, but planted and turned to his inside, facing the receiver. Bradford put the ball on his outside shoulder, as he should, but because Pettis turned to the inside, the ball flew past him to open field. After that, it was all positives, starting with a 46 yard bomb to Steve Smith, who made a diving , circus catch for the first down. Overall Bradford went 11 for 16 for 175 and 3 touchdowns. More importantly, he used the great field position handed to him by the defense to finish his night for a 100% scoring efficiency in the red zone. He also made some good pocket reads, on one play stepping up through a crumbling pocket and zipping a ball to the tight end, who dropped the perfectly thrown ball.

Jenkins is learning from his mistakes

Jenkins was torn apart by Tony Romo last week, most notably on a blown Cover-2 assignment that allowed the go-ahead first touchdown for the Cowboys. He had trouble in the zone and had some visible communication trouble with the safeties when “handing off” receivers. However, he clearly learned from those mistakes, matching up well in coverage, which contributed to only a handful of targets by Ravens QB Tyrod Taylor. Jenkins also started the second half by taking a Curtis Painter pass to the to house after a tip drill in the secondary. He showed why he is dangerous, breaking a couple of tackles to full earn the 76 return, ending with a diving flip into the end one and a hard, two-handed spike.

Pead and Richardson both impress

Les Snead is a man of his word when he claims that he wants the best performers on the field during the game by surprisingly subbing in Daryl Richardson before Isaiah Pead. Richarson continued to put up the numbers, which got Faulk drooling over his ability to spot the opening on the outside and work through arm tackles for extra yards. However, unlike the first three games, Isaiah Pead came out with something to prove, ending the game with a 5.8 yard per carry average. Both players looked like viable back-ups for Jackson who made a brief, celebrity appearance on the opening drive. I don’t know what to make of the depth charts at this points, but it would be nice to finally have some flexibility with substitutions at the running back spots.

Bradford is money on the quick crossing route

All three of Bradford’s touchdowns came on quick slants or crossing routes across the middle of the field. The first to Pettis led him wide into the flat, and hit him in stride as he bolted up the field for the first flipping touchdown of the night. He followed those up with a perfectly placed quick slant to Amendola and a final one to his one-time favorite, Michael Hoomanawanui. You would like to see the offense get a couple of touchdowns off the long ball, but no one is going to complain about points, in any way, shape, or form.

Coach Fisher has finally “unleased the Leg”

Young GZ was, of course, perfect again on extra points during the game. However, unlike previous games, Fisher let Zuerlein take some kicks from long distance. His first attempt, which was a 62 yarder, fell a couple of yards short of the goal post. However, Zuerlein was anticipating pressure, so instead of taking the typical 5-step wind up, he booted it on a quick, 2-step kick. He did not make the same mistake when give a shot at a 59 yarder, easily clearing the uprights for this fourth 50+ yard field goal of the preseason (the other three at 52, 52, and 55).

Robert Quinn might be the biggest “playmaker” on the St. Louis Rams

Typically the “playmaker” title is reserved for a speedy receiver, breakaway running back, or ball hawking corner. Quinn breaks that mold through his consistent pressure from the outside and, more importantly, contributions on the punt return unit. He leads the Rams with 3 sacks so far in the preseason, including one tonight against Tyrod Taylor. Quinn completed the defensive end triple play, recording the sack-forced fumble-fumble recovery trio, which would lead to the go ahead touchdown strike from Bradford. He also was inches away from blocking two of Ravens’ punter Sam Koch’s kicks. Last season, Quinn made a couple of special teams highlight reels, blocking a field goal and a punt, in addition to the his 5 sacks on defense. With Chris Long demanding a double team on every play, Quinn will be left alone one on one with the left tackle in open space. I would be willing to bet the house and kids that Quinn will make it into double digit sacks in his first full year as a starter.

Brockers down for the count?

There are no reports yet from the locker room on how Brockers’ ankle is doing after having it twisted up. During an interview in the booth, Les Snead did not seem too confident in a quick return for Brockers, suggesting that it will have to be evaluated in the morning.

Not too serious is football speak for “we don’t have any clue, but at least it isn’t broken.” Hopefully, the injury will not set Brockers back, since he has been playing lights out this preseason on a defense that is dominating the run game!

Go Rams…

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