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The St. Louis Rams' 31-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs was basically enjoyable all the way around, but the most encouraging thing about it was just how good the starters were. Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson and company ran the score up to 31-17 almost immediately, with the help of a healthy Danny Amendola, a preseason Pro Bowler in Lance Kendricks, and—most surprisingly—a working offensive line.
Bradford topped 100 yards on just nine attempts in addition to his two touchdowns, and Steven Jackson averaged seven yards a carry, allaying for the evening fears of his impending 30th birthday. From there the second team took over—and as good as they were, there isn't really much they could have done to make Rams fans feel better or worse in the afterglow of their two stars performing, for a night, exactly as once advertised.
The Rams improve to 1-1 with the win; they lost 38-3 to Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in Pretend Week 1. For more about the two players you probably came here looking for, check out our Sam Bradford update and Steven Jackson recap.
The St. Louis Rams pounded the Kansas City Chiefs from their first two offensive series of the game Saturday night, winning the Governor's Cup handily and getting banner performances from offensive anchors Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson to win by a final score of 31-17. Bradford threw for two touchdowns and Jackson picked up 49 yards on seven carries in the victory.
Robert Quinn picked up a sack, but Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles, and the Chiefs' first team saw some success before getting pulled; Cassel was 13-for-18 for 142 yards, while Charles picked up 17 yards on three carries and added two receptions for 18 more, allaying some fears that he'd be unable to recover his burst speed after an ACL tear.
But the night belonged to Bradford and Jackson, who perked up the Edward Jones Dome sort-of-faithful by doing some of the things Rams fans have wanted to see for two years. Bradford was 6-for-9 for 102 yards and two touchdowns, to long-time target Danny Amendola and last year's preseason star, Lance Kendricks; Jackson averaged seven yards a cary, even as some fantasy watchers remain convinced he's done at 29 years old.
We've written more on Steven Jackson's big game and more still on Sam Bradford's solid night, if you can't get enough. And why should you? We're still a long way from the 2012 NFL season, but for one night, at least, the St. Louis Rams came all the way back from their ugly torpor.
The St. Louis Rams put up 17 encouraging points in the first half of their Governor's Cup pregame contest vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, but the 14 points their second team added in the second half of the game were perhaps even more surprising. Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead, their two 2012 NFL draft running backs, are responsible for the two backup touchdowns, with Kellen Clemens going 8-for-10 for 50 yards and Austin Davis picking up 5-for-7 for 70 as Sam Bradford's understudies.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, haven't been able to get on board against the Rams' defensive backups. Peyton Hillis picked up their lone touchdown but was otherwise unimpressive, rushing five times for 11 yards. Hey: At least Jamaal Charles, rushing three times for 17 yards, appears to be okay.
For more St. Louis Rams vs. Kansas City Chiefs updates, stay tuned to this storystream. If you were looking for what the first time did, we did updates on Steven Jackson's stellar performance and Sam Bradford's touchdown-filled stint after those stars (or, sure, that star and that near-star) left the game.
Steven Jackson will face doubts about his future for the rest of his career, but Saturday night against the Kansas City Chiefs the St. Louis Rams' veteran star showed off the same surprising youthfulness he flashed in his brief appearance vs. the Indianapolis Colts. Jackson ran the ball seven times for 49 yards against touted rookie Dontari Poe and the Chiefs defense, a performance that combined with Sam Bradford's huge day to give the Rams a 14-0 lead on two quick scores. They took a 17-10 lead into halftime, with Jackson stowed safely on the bench, where he can't find any gruesome injuries.
Jackson is well-positioned to confound doubters in 2012; after putting up the worst numbers of his career in 2010 he responded strongly to a slightly lighter workload last year, and between Jeff Fisher's vaunted attention to the run and the chance for rookie Isaiah Pead to take a few more carries off his back he'll get every chance to repeat the formula in 2012. Steven Jackson may be 29, and that may be old, terrifyingly, in NFL years, but he's far from done if Saturday night is any indication.
For in-game updates on Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson, and the rest of the Rams as they take on the Chiefs, click through to our SB Nation St. Louis storystream.
Sam Bradford stated there should be no concern about his ankle, and after a strong first half against the Chiefs, he proved just that. He went 6-of-9 for 102 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.
The Rams would take advantage of an early miscue by the Chiefs, going up 14-0 just minutes into the game after a Jon Baldwin fumble gave St. Louis a short field with which to work following a Bradford touchdown pass on the Rams first possession of the game.
Steven Jackson was equally sharp, rushing seven times for 49 yards while Danny Amendola led the Rams with three receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown. Kellen Clemens would come in for Bradford in the second quarter, going 5-for-7 for 34 yards.
The Rams defense would eventually give way to Matt Cassel and the Chiefs, allowing Kansas City to pull to within 17-10 just before the half.
After a week spent worrying about his injured ankle and wondering whether he'd ever be the star they wanted, St. Louis Rams fans were greeted in Saturday night's first half vs. the Kansas City Chiefs with a glimpse at the Sam Bradford they always wanted. Bradford was dominant in two series out of three with the first unit, throwing for two touchdowns on a 6-for-9, 102-yard performance. The usual targets starred—Danny Amendola caught three balls for 58 yards and a touchdown, Lance Kendricks added one more, and Steve Smith picked up a first down—but if Bradford can play like that it doesn't much matter who he's throwing to.
Of course, it helps that he didn't get sacked—Rodger Saffold and the Rams' offensive line, much maligned for more than a year, now, did a great job of giving Bradford time to throw, and he made the most of it.
Bradford was replaced in the offense by Kellen Clemens, who emerged as the Rams' backup quarterback in the midst of the scrambling to replace both Bradford and A.J. Feeley last year. He finished the half off going 5-for-7 with 34 yards and running the ball once for 22 more.
The St. Louis Rams' 2011 first-rounder Robert Quinn picked up a sack to generate a 12-yard loss, and then Matt Cassel found a receiver for a 17-yard gain. That exchange characterized the Kansas City Chiefs' first touchdown of the Governor's Cup game, which cut the score to 14-7 after Sam Bradford and the Rams' first-team offense ran up two early scores.
Bradford finished his stint in the game 6-for-9 for 102 yards and two touchdowns, a major improvement from an efficient-but-listless first preseason appearance; Kellen Clemens went in to replace him, the third New York Jets quarterback to make news Saturday night. Steven Jackson's out as well; he was similarly strong, providing seven carries for 49 yards.
Such was the feel of the Rams' first half—extremely promising, like a Quinn sack or a Bradford bomb, but with enough adversity to prove the Rams, under new head coach Jeff Fisher, have a ways still to go. Jamaal Charles, who also appears to be done, took three carries for 17 yards and picked up two receptions for 18 more, showing that in small doses he still has some of his MVP-caliber 2010 form.
The St. Louis Rams and Sam Bradford have continued to look impossibly sharp in the first quarter of their preseason matchup vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, scoring a second touchdown in the first five minutes to go up 14-0. Yes: This is the same Rams team from last year. Yes: It's the preseason. But it's hard not to be encouraged, or at least entertained, by this few-minute glimpse at everything the Rams hoped to be back in 2011. Bradford is 5-for-6 for 91 yards and two touchdowns a week after getting outperformed by Andrew Luck.
And Steven Jackson has three carries for 25 yards—in most Rams games, that sort of start would be a lone bright spot, not something that's just good enough to get mentioned under the lede. Danny Amendola has three carries for 58 yards, a distinctly un-Amendolian ratio; Lance Kendricks caught the other touchdown, on a 23-yard reception, and Steve Smith also has a catch for 10 yards. Austin Pettis, solid in last week's loss to the Colts, is the only other receiver targeted.
Jamaal Charles—speaking of running backs with a lot to prove—has two carries for 10 yards for the Chiefs, who appear blindsided by the Rams' performance both on offense and defense.
The Governor's Cup game between the St. Louis Rams and the Kansas Chiefs hasn't yet gone 10 minutes, but you'll have to excuse Rams fans for all the premature high-fiving—for the first time since somewhere in the middle of the last year, their offense looked outstanding. Even if it was just the preseason—it's hard not to enjoy Sam Bradford throwing the deep ball, Steven Jackson breaking a long run, and Lance Kendricks, preseason hero Lance Kendricks, catching a ball and getting through with it for the touchdown.
Bradford is the most exciting news, of course—everybody was terrified about his ankle injury during the week, which only served to distract us from the approaching specter of his potential mediocrity.
Which is all to say: It's been a bad couple of years, so Rams fans will take anything they can get, even if it's a first-drive preseason touchdown against the 7-9 Kansas City Chiefs. That Sam Bradford looked like the superstar we all hoped he would be when he was drafted made it all even better. (And that Steven Jackson isn't broken-down and depressed about having played for the Rams is even, uh, better-er.)
I have a personal investment in the place Jamaal Charles ends up on 2012 fantasy football rankings, even though I'm covering the St. Louis side of Saturday night's Rams vs. Chiefs showdown: I drafted him with a Top 5 pick last year. So as little as I care about the Kansas City Chiefs' running game as a whole—I didn't vote for Peyton Hillis in that Madden contest—I do need to know, out of morbid curiosity, where Charles goes in fantasy football in 2012.
As it turns out, that could have a lot to do with his performance in Saturday's preseason game. Charles got just four touches in last week's Chiefs preseason opener, and while he looked great in them we're reaching the point in August when fantasy leagues start to schedule their drafts and casual fans start to frantically search the internet for fantasy football draft cheat sheets.
Right now WalterFootball, for example, has Charles ranked ninth overall. A sluggish game vs. the Rams could knock him down the list in favor of someone with two fresh ACLs. As for the Rams, their lone fantasy football option, Steven Jackson, could also benefit from a strong performance—he's well outside the Top 10 in their list, thanks mostly to worries that he's about to fall off a cliff.
The St. Louis Rams' offense and defense were both equally terrible in 2011, but the 2012 offseason was devoted primarily to renovation of the defense. To young stars James Laurinaitis and Chris Long, and 2011 first-rounder Robert Quinn, they added a big free agent acquisition, Cortland Finnegan, and two top draft picks, Michael Brockers and Janoris Jenkins. They also added Jeff Fisher, a famously cloud-of-dusty head coach.
So the defense has a lot to live up to, but also a lot of positive momentum heading into the 2012 season. The offense—well, it has to show us something before analysts are willing to assume the Rams will score any points at all. The picks the Rams made on that side of the ball were mostly looking to 2013, so most of that burden falls on third-year quarterback Sam Bradford's shoulders, and right now everyone's mostly just worrying about whether he's hurt.
But if he puts together a big preseason series or two fans might be able to resume expecting great things from the former No. 1 for the first time since that big first half against the New York Giants last year.
The Kansas City Chiefs' offense lost 150 points between 2010 and 2011, accounting for the entirety of their drop in the standings to the bottom of the AFC West. And accounting for a lot of that was Jamaal Charles's Week 2 knee injury, which sucked the air out of the Chiefs' stalwart running game. In 2010 he'd run for an incredibly 1467 yards on just 230 carries, a YPC of 6.4, while also grabbing three touchdowns on 45 receptions as a receiver; in 2011 the Chiefs split carries between a completely ineffective Thomas Jones, a marginally effective Jackie Battle, and the not-quite-a-running-back Dexter McCluster.
Charles is back in the Chiefs' offense in the 2012 preseason, and he comes into their Pretend Week 2 game vs. the St. Louis Rams with a lot still to prove. In his return to action in their preseason win vs. the Arizona Cardinals last week, Charles took three carries for 12 yards and added a reception for 11 more.
The Chiefs have another potential comeback star in the backfield as a hedge against Charles's knee—Peyton Hillis, who ran for nearly 1200 yards in 2010 with the Cleveland Browns, earning a fan-voted Madden cover before falling back to earth in 2011.
More Rams vs. Chiefs coverage from SB Nation St. Louis:
The St. Louis Rams' Pretend Week 2 preseason game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs is interesting for a number of reasons—there's the usual interstate rivalry, the return of Chiefs star Jamaal Charles, Jeff Fisher's second game in charge of the Rams' spiraling reputation—but the most interesting question, after a full week of speculation, is just how healthy Sam Bradford's injured ankle is after a half-season of recovery time.
To recap, this is where things stand—
It's easy to understand how tired Bradford must be of talking about it, but his failure to deny it in a satisfying way has combined with the Rams' offensive line's inability to protect him in Week 1 any better than they did last year to make Rams fans more than a little gunshy about their erstwhile franchise savior's health going into his crucial third season.
Bradford's struggled enough to match up with fans' expectations when he's healthy; if he's hobbling around behind the imperfect wall anchored by Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold, this could be a long, long season at the Edward Jones Dome. His performance against the Chiefs will be dissected for exactly that reason.
With rumors swirling about his health, all of which he has denied, Bradford is looking to show that he is 100 percent healthy when he comes out on the field at quarterback. It is unknown just how much Bradford would play, but it seems as if the team may want to keep his reps to a minimum until it is fully known what his status is.
Here is all the information you need to enjoy the game.
Time: 7:00 p.m. CT
Location: Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, MI
TV: KTVI 2
A question about whether Bradford might need ankle surgery after the season if his severely sprained left ankle from last season continues to be problematic set off the third-year quarterback to some extent.
Bradford said he was "tired of talking about the ankle" and until it causes him to miss snaps or games, it is a non-issue, he said in this story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Bradford missed six games last season. In other games, he tried to play through the injury, but in the end could not.
Bradford elected not to have surgery and instead rehabilitated the ankle naturally. He has looked strong and healthy in Rams training camp and in their lone preseason game, which could explain why the question about surgery perturbed him.
Sam Bradford injury talk continues to swirl around St. Louis Rams camp, but the team's inability to banish last year's high ankle sprain from the conversation seems more contingent on their trouble managing the conversation than Sam Bradford's ankle. Bradford, in particular, seems unable to avoid pouring implicit gasoline on everything—in the offseason he seemed to meet every chance to deny his ankle sprain was a problem with a near-denial that only got people more concerned.
Thursday, at least, Bradford seemed to get better at messaging. After rumors came out that he'd require surgery on that ankle sometime this year, he denied that was a possibility—Jim Thomas quotes him as saying it would be "news to [him] that he needed surgery."
But even then Sam Bradford was unable to avoid finishing things off. Instead of saying it's-fine-and-I-feel-great and shut up, he said "Until it causes me to miss reps or miss time, it's a non-issue."
What that really means is that it is an issue, it's just that he's playing through it. Right?
After a report earlier in the day revealed St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is preparing for the upcoming NFL season on a bum ankle, another report suggests Bradford is working with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to reduce the hits the QB has to endure.
The remedy isn't too complicated for Bradford. He simply needs to get rid of the ball quicker. While he is big enough to take a pounding, the hits certainly wore him down last year and if his ankle continues to be a problem, opposing teams will know where to find him in the pocket.
So while it may take guts to stand in the pocket and deliver a strike just before taking a hit, Schottenheimer is pressing his quarterback to speed up his reads and delivery to avoid the extra contact. That's forced Bradford to adjust how he evaluates his performance.
"Two days ago in camp, I thought I had a really good practice. I'm not sure the ball hit the ground once. And we got in the film room, and he was all over me about getting the ball out of my hands even quicker, to eliminate hits. He's made it a big point. It's part of my job to help the protection and get the ball out of my hands and make sure that, even if it's not a sack, I'm eliminating the unnecessary hits."
Bradford will have another chance to work on his pocket presence and deliver on Saturday night when the Rams host the Kansas City Chiefs.
St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford could need ankle surgery after the 2012 season, reports Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports. A decision on that will depend how he handles the ups and downs of the regular season.
Bradford suffered a high ankle sprain last season in Week 6 against Green Bay. He returned after just two weeks amid criticism that the team was rushing him back into the fold. Sure enough, the injury bothered him all season. He missed four more games after his initial stint on the shelf for a total of six games all season.
The quarterback has not made it a secret that his ankle is still not 100 percent, though he says it is not impacting his play. Head coach Jeff Fisher has also maintained that Bradford's ankle is not a problem for him and will not negatively effect his work this season.
Bradford's ankle will be among the most closely watched body parts in St. Louis, especially since the franchise has its success riding on his ability to rebound.
Here's the good news, if you like Sam Bradford and hope the St. Louis Rams' 2010-vintage savior succeeds (or if you just like the Rams and hope they succeed): Matt Stafford was going into his third season as an unsuccessful No. 1 overall quarterback last year. He was worse—Bradford had his inefficient-but-high-volume rookie season, with his nice counting stats, and he at least played 10 games instead of three.
In his third season, Matt Stafford—with Scott Linehan as his offensive coordinator—went full-on Turf-Show on the NFC, putting up 5038 yards and 41 touchdowns in 663 attempts.
Bradford won't have nearly as many attempts, no matter how good he is, because Jeff Fisher and Brian Schottenheimer are determined to make the Rams' offense boring. But if he could get his yard-per-attempt number up into the range Stafford have last year—7.6—we would stop having the bust conversation in a hurry.
Right now his career number is 6.0, so that's a bit of a leap. But Stafford's, before last season, was 5.9.
The St. Louis Rams made their first roster moves since training camp began on Wednesday, adding two players while cutting one.
In 1st roster moves since start of camp, rams add wrs brandyn harvey and charles gilbert, release te jamie childers.— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) August 15, 2012
The moves are not surprising, as the Rams have injury concerns at the wide receiver position headed into Saturday night's exhibition game against the Kansas City Chiefs. As we wrote on Monday, both Danario Alexander and Brandon Gibson were held out of St. Louis's preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts.
It'll be interesting to see how much, if any, the new wide receivers play on Saturday, and how long they last in camp.
For the latest on the Rams, be sure to head over to Turf Show Times and join the discussion.
Rams wrap up Tuesday practice. CB Trumaine Johnson did not participate today. Joined WR Gibson, CB Fletcher, S Stewart on sidelines.— St. Louis Rams (@STLouisRams) August 14, 2012
As of Tuesday, St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher considered Stewart, along with wide receiver Brandon Gibson and Fletcher, to be day-to-day, and that they could all be back for the next game.
That next game will come on Saturday, August 18 when the Rams host the Kansas City Chiefs for St. Louis' first home game of the 2012 season.
For the latest on the St. Louis Rams, be sure to check out Turf Show Times and join the discussion.
The St. Louis Rams have a long way to go before they're ready to compete. But their fans would probably be content, Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs, with a big play from Sam Bradford.
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