Rams may open it up a little against the Broncos

News-DemocratAugust 24, 2013 

— After being bland on both sides of the ball in their first two preseason games, the St. Louis Rams may spice it up a little in what traditionally has been their dress rehearsal contest.

The Rams (0-2) will play the Denver Broncos (1-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

"I would imagine so," Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said of the game being a dress rehearsal for the team's Sept. 8 season opener against the Arizona Cardinals. "To be honest, we haven't been told the amount of snaps we're going to play, but I would assume that we'd play the whole first half, if not some of the third quarter.

"I'm excited to get out there and play a little bit more, get some more snaps. We still have a lot of work to do, and I think this is a great opportunity for us to improve."

The Rams' starting offense failed to put any points on the scoreboard last week during a 19-7 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher admitted that the Rams' game plans have been more vanilla than their opponents in the preseason so far, but it's not something he's concerned about.

"It bothers you guys. It doesn't bother me," Fisher told reporters. "We've got a regular season we're concerned about."

Fisher scoffed at the notion that it's harder to evaluate players with such bland game plans.

"We're throwing it and we're handing it off," Fisher said. "I'd like to think we'd be a little bit more creative when the season starts."

Fisher's goal for the game against the Broncos includes minimizing the drive-killing penalties on offense that have plagued them in their first two preseason games and tackling better on defense.

"Those penalties that have nothing to do with the play, the pre-snap penalties and so on," Fisher said. "We need to tackle better. We've got to get our return game going. We've got to get the ball in the end zone. We've got to get used to doing that."

The Broncos, who finished the regular season with 11 consecutive victories and advanced into the second round of the AFC playoffs last year before falling to eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore.

The Broncos ranked No. 2 in the NFL behind Pittsburgh in total defense last season.

Broncos linebacker Von Miller, who has been suspended for six regular-season games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, is expected to play against the Rams.

Denver was No. 4 in total offense last season as it piled up nearly 6,400 yards in quarterback Peyton Manning's first season with the team.

The addition of wide receiver Wes Welker as a free agent from the New England Patriots and running back Montee Ball during the second round of the 2013 NFL draft could make the Broncos even more explosive this season.

Fisher said the Rams will be doing some game-planning for Manning and Co., but not nearly as much as a regular-season game.

"It's going to be a great challenge for us," Fisher said. "This is kind of a matchup game for us. We'll do a few things, but you don't fool (Manning). He knows where to go with the football. I've faced him a lot of times, and he's very, very competitive whether it's the third preseason game or whether it's the AFC championship game."

The Rams' final three opponents of the preseason -- the Packers, the Browns and the Ravens -- posted a combined 34-14 record and all advanced to the playoffs last season.

"You want to face someone that's going to make you better," Bradford said. " I feel like all of the defenses that we've seen have made us better, and we're just looking to improve each week to go out and play a clean game, execute what's in the game plan and really try to limit the penalties."

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

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