The first-string doesn’t stay in for long when the games don’t count. That’s just a general rule of thumb throughout the NFL when it comes to the preseason, but the St. Louis Rams are likely to buck that trend a bit in their second tune-up game.
Head coach Jeff Fisher told ESPN:
“We’ll add plays, a number. Some guys are going to play significantly more. As a general rule they’re probably playing anywhere from six to 12, 14 plays more than they did last week.”
Obviously the injury factor is what coaches are trying to avoid when it comes to the irrelevant games of the season. Stars aren’t going to see much action when the outcome of the game is really secondary to what the true objective is. Still, the coaching staff wants to give the players enough time on the field together to jell as a cohesive unit so that there isn’t any rust when the games do actually matter.
Starters saw one series of action in the Rams’ first preseason tilt against the Cleveland Browns, but hopefully Fisher’s hint means that they will see a little more of the field against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night. The offense in particular needs to get things squared away as there are several new pieces to fit together at a number of critical positions on the field.
Quarterback Sam Bradford has new playmakers galore coming into the 2013 campaign, but that won’t really matter unless he has enough work in with them to have success when the lights shine the brightest. The offensive line features some new pieces with Jake Long being chief among them. Tight end Jared Cook and do-it-all playmaker Tavon Austin failed to touch the ball in the opening preseason game, but hopefully that changes in game number two.
One change on offense will be Shelley Smith starting at left guard instead of Chris Williams who started last week. This switch really doesn’t mean much in terms of who’s ahead of who on the depth chart as Fisher explained, saying:
“We’ll look at different people. As I’ve said in the past, you want to give someone an opportunity to maybe run behind the starting offensive line or run against their starting defense and work, so we’re going to adjust all that stuff.”
With players always just one play away from becoming starters, Fisher’s philosophy makes a lot of sense in the grand scheme of things. There are elevated expectations for the Rams after their 7-8-1 record a year ago to follow up a dreadful 2-14 the year before that. This team needs to continue building in the right direction in 2013, and Fisher is going to leave no stone unturned in his effort to accomplish just that.