St. Louis Rams coach Fisher not afraid to go for it in preseason

Thursday, August 23, 2012
Rams coach Jeff Fisher stands on the sidelines during the second quarter Saturday in St. Louis. (SETH PERLMAN ~ Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS -- Jeff Fisher can afford to gamble a bit in August. Of course he's playing with Monopoly money right now.

The Rams were 2 for 3 on fourth down in Week 2 of the preseason. They scored one touchdown and set up a second from the 1-yard line in a victory over Kansas City. They're 3 for 6 overall during the first two games of the preseason.

The Rams will cherish the points in September, but Fisher believes there's no need to trot out rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein for chip-shot field goals in the preseason.

Zuerlein, a sixth-round pick talented enough that the Rams released incumbent Josh Brown after making the selection, scraped the right goal post on a 60-yarder Wednesday.

"Why not try to make plays on offense? That's basically it," Fisher said. "Obviously the philosophy changes in the regular season. But I don't think we need to kick 35-yard field goals in the preseason, especially when it's fourth and less than 4."

Another possible benefit is it might help keep opponents honest in the regular season while Fisher rebuilds a franchise that's gone 15-65 over the last five years. The Rams (1-1) play at Dallas on Saturday night.

"It helps from the standpoint when someone picks up your stat sheet from the preseason and they look and see what you're doing on fourth down, they've got to be ready for fourth-down stops," Fisher said.

Everything already is starting to change.

Training camp ended Wednesday, which marked the final public workout of the preseason. The inflatable archway with team logo was deflated for the last time, and fences, picnic tables, bleachers and portable toilets were hauled off.

"That's your first kind of realization that you're getting close," said Fisher, who said his first camp in St. Louis was "ideal." That included the goofy ending -- a rookie relay involving players spinning themselves dizzy around baseball bats while teammates dumped ice and water on them. And with nobody getting hurt.

"We've done it as long as I can remember," Fisher said.

Fisher gave several veterans permission to de-camp a week or so ago.

"Camp is over," defensive end Chris Long said. "But we'll continue to grind. We've got a long way to go."

Practice continues today on the same fields, minus the trappings, as the Rams make final preparations for Saturday's preseason game at Dallas. Wide receiver Danny Amendola noted that "hours don't change for us."

"Technically, I guess for the CBA, camp ended," Amendola said. "But we're good."

Center Scott Wells, safety Darian Stewart and wide receiver Brandon Gibson are expected to make their preseason debuts against the Cowboys. Wells is coming off right knee surgery, while Stewart and Gibson have rehabbed from hamstring injuries.

Fisher said earlier in the week that playing time probably will increase a handful of plays for the starters in Week 3, and he plans on playing the first stringers into the second half to experience the halftime break in Week 4.

"Whatever Fish wants me to do," Long said. "Fish is the boss, and I can use all the reps I can get. Certainly the way to try to stay healthy and get all you can out of the preseason is to play hard."

The biggest position battle is at right offensive tackle. Barry Richardson, a free agent who played for Kansas City last year, will start for the third straight game ahead of Jason Smith, the No. 2 overall pick in 2009 who has been dogged by concussion-related problems.

"It's back and forth, it's a competition," Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "It's one of those competitions that'll be fun to watch coming down the wire."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: