Rams will be looking to dial it up a bit against Green Bay

News-DemocratAugust 17, 2013 

— Playing time for the St. Louis Rams' starters will be ramped up a little bit in their second preseason game.

The Rams will play the Green Bay Packers at 7 p.m. today at the Edward Jones Dome.

The team's starters played slightly more than a quarter in a 27-19 loss to the Cleveland Browns in their preseason opener.

"We'll add plays, a number,'' Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "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. So, 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.''

Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer wants his offense to avoid the turnovers and penalties that plagued them against the Browns.

The Rams had three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble) and were penalized six times for 45 yards in the game.

"Obviously we've got to take care of the football better,'' Scottenheimer said. "Obviously one interception late, Hail Mary, it's going to happen. You get a tipped ball interception. We get the fumble early in the game, kind of slowed down the first group.

"Obviously that's a big emphasis for us. I think some of the pre-snap penalties, playing at home we can improve that.''

Another area that could use improvement is kick coverage.

In the second quarter last week, Cleveland's Travis Benjamin had a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Benjamin caught the punt on the right, broke to his left and raced untouched for the score.

"It was obviously a huge bust in coverage,'' Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel said. "I mean, get the edge that easy, there's a problem. So, that's what we've been focusing on fixing.

"Young guys have just got to get to their spots and leverage the football, and that's what we didn't do. That's what we just keep talking about."

While Fassel said that Johnny Heckker's 65-yard punt didn't have the kind of hang time he'd prefer, he admitted ordering the second-year punter to put the ball in play because he wanted to see how his coverage units would respond.

"I knew we have guys that haven't covered punts that need practice covering punts,'' Fassel said. "We don't want to punt it out of bounds and we don't want to throw a hang time where they're going to fair catch it. You don't really get to evaluate and see what's actually going to happen.

"Sure enough, we saw what can really happen if we don't do the right thing.''

The game also gives the Rams' younger players an opportunity to get a feel for playing under actual game conditions at the Edward Jones Dome.

"I think they got a taste of it a couple weeks ago at the Fan Fest,'' Fisher said. "We're talking about how important it is to play well at home, play at a consistent high level at home."

The Rams went 4-4 at home last season, and Fisher would like to see them defend the home turf a little better during the upcoming campaign.

The Packers were shut out 17-0 last week by the Arizona Cardinals.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed three of his five pass attempts for 65 yards before making an early exit.

He engineered a 86-yard drive that stalled at the Cardinals' 1-yard line.

The Packers are working to patch their offensive line together after left tackle Bryan Bulaga was lost for the season because of a torn ACL in his team's intrasquad scrimmage.

Rookie David Bakhtiari, a fourth-round draft choice out of Colorado, has moved from right tackle to left tackle.

Don Barclay and Marshall Newhouse are battling at right tackle.

Rookie running back Eddie Lacy is expected to return from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the Packers' preseason opener. Lacy rushed for 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns last season for national champion Alabama.

There are changes to the NFL's bag policy that fans coming to the Edward Jones Dome should note.

Only bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches, one gallon clear plastic freezer bags or small clutch bags that are no larger than 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches are permissible.

Purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, diaper bags, backpacks, seat cushions, camera bags, computer bags and fanny packs will be prohibited

An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection.

Fans also should know that Broadway between Cole Street and Convention Plaza will be closed 2 1/2 hours before the game and one hour after the game.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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