One of the most challenging aspects of the modern day NFL schedule is the adjustment to the short-week turnaround. For the St. Louis Rams, that challenge arrives at a time when the team is filled with optimism following their second win of the season. Even though the Rams have already equaled last season’s win total at the year’s quarter pole, don’t expect head coach Jeff Fisher to take his foot off the gas as this team has bigger goals in 2012.
The Thursday night tilt with the Arizona Cardinals will be the Rams’ second divisional game of the season. Not many expected either of these teams to be all that good this year, much less both of them. The Cards are undefeated while the Rams are a respectable 2-2 and even though the San Francisco 49ers still appear to be the frontrunners in the division, anything can happen in a 16-game season.
Perhaps the one silver lining in the four days between games on the Rams side is that both games are at home. Following their big win over the Seattle Seahawks, the team is looking to run its divisional record to 2-0 and get a leg up on the competition in terms of tiebreakers.
For the players, getting beyond the aches and pains following a Sunday game in preparation for a game the next weekend is difficult enough, but doing so in just four days is another challenge altogether. Defensive end Chris Long said: “Short weeks are less than ideal, but both teams are dealing with it. It’s just going to be about who prepares better and who takes care of their bodies better and who adapts better. I’d like to think that we’ve got a lot of hard workers and smart guys in here, even though we have young guys, guys who are willing to make those sacrifices that will get you back to your equilibrium by Thursday.”
While the adjustment is tough, every team will have to jump that hurdle at some point this season because all 32 clubs will be featured on Thursday night football. The Rams are a young team with plenty to prove and Fisher believes this will serve them well as he said: “The guys, they worked the soreness out and they’re ready to go. By Thursday night, they’re excited to be able to play. It’s prime time and we hope things work out well for us.”
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