Linehan not worried about sluggish offense

Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Rams coach Scott Lineham watched a replay on the scoreboard during Friday's preseason game against the Raiders in Oakland, Calif. (TONY AVELAR ~ Associated Press)

The first team offense has scored just three points through three preseason games.

ST. LOUIS -- Rams coach Scott Linehan likes what he sees from his second-team offense. It helps make up for what he hasn't gotten from his starters.

The first-team offense scored its first points of the preseason Friday on a 26-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins in a 20-10 loss to the Raiders. The starters have 20 first downs, 302 yards and three points in 11 series with one game left before the start of the regular season.

"I know it's frustrating not to be averaging about 50 points a game right now and moving it up and down the field," Linehan said. "We feel we're going to be really good on offense. I'm 100 percent more comfortable on offense, believe it or not, than we were a year ago.

"Our depth is better. I feel much more comfortable with who we would be able to put in there [in case of injury] and how effective they would be."

That represents the biggest difference from last year, Linehan's first season with the Rams. Other than the added depth with such offseason pickups as receiver Drew Bennett, tight end Randy McMichael and running back Brian Leonard, the similarities between last year's offensive struggles and this year's are striking as St. Louis heads into its final preseason game Thursday against Kansas City.

Through the first three preseason games in 2006, the starters had 11 offensive series during which they managed 15 first downs, 272 yards and nine points -- all coming on field goals.

Linehan and offensive coordinator Greg Olson lamented the lack of scoring from their first-teamers, but noted their concerns are muted because it is the preseason.

"There's frustration, but at the same time we realize whether we go 4-0 or 0-4, when the season starts we're 0-0," Olson said.

"I just try to see the big picture and try to understand that we have quite a few weeks; it's getting closer, but we still have time to prepare and get ready for the regular season."

The Rams open the regular season Sept. 9 at home against Carolina.

The offense has been limited in part because Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson plays sparingly in the preseason. He played one down in each of the past two preseason games, getting no carries or receptions in either game.

Without Jackson, the Rams have shown a more basic offense than they will use when the season starts. But Linehan said the limited offensive arsenal isn't why the starters haven't been scoring.

"The reason we haven't is more basic: We have to execute better," Linehan said. "We haven't played as well as we'd like to play. Right now, that will be the topic. I'd rather that be the discussion now rather than three weeks into the season."

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