A St. Louis Rams first-team offense that had struggled throughout the preseason finally awakened a bit Saturday night against Indianapolis at the Edward Jones Dome.
The Rams still lost 24-14 to the Indianapolis Colts as they fell to 0-3 in the preseason, but there were a few positive developments before a sparse crowd announced at 37,460 tickets distributed.
Rams quarterback Nick Foles was sharp throughout the first half, completing 10-of-11 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown.
That came on a 44-yard TD pass to Chris Givens as Foles faked two handoffs before heaving the ball downfield and hitting his target perfectly.
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“He’s one of those guys who’s just gifted with extreme speed,” Foles said of Givens. “He can go track the ball, so he did a great job getting out there and going to track down that ball and getting it.”
Foles and former Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, now with the Eagles, each completed their first 10 passes Saturday. Bradford was 10-for-10 for 121 yards and three TDs against Green Bay.
In his first two preseason games, Foles had completed only 6 of 12 passes for 87 yards and no touchdowns with one interception.
“I think we’re improving,” Foles said. “We still have a long ways to go, but I was really proud of the guys. We were moving the ball. We had a couple of good drives. We have to stop getting penalties on ourselves, but I think we’re stepping in the right direction.
“We need to put more points on the board and help the defense out. Baby steps right now, but proud of the guys for the effort they’re having.”
It took them nine preseason possessions, but the Rams’ first-team offense finally collected a touchdown on Foles’ deep pass to Givens. Before Saturday, the first-team offense had contributed only a field goal in its first six possessions.
Givens continues to enjoy a strong training camp that has him pushing for more time and targets at wide receiver. He has six receptions for 160 yards and two TDs in three games.
“I’m staying positive and most importantly, staying consistent ... just coming to work every day and blocking out all of the distractions,” Givens said. “I’m just really at a point where I’m just trying to show the world what I can do and I’m just excited to get the opportunity to do that.”
The Rams’ running attack stayed stuck in neutral with 29 carries for 72 yards, averaging 2.5 yards per carry.
An already inexperienced offensive line lost a starter in the first half when rookie guard Jamon Brown, switched from right guard to left guard Saturday, went down with an apparent ankle injury. Brown was injured on the same play that Givens caught the TD pass with 10 minutes, 18 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Brown stayed down for a while and tried to get up once. He eventually was helped to his feet and walked off the field on his own.
“I’ll be fine,” Brown said. “I know somebody rolled up on me from behind, but other than that I’m not really sure what happened.”
Brown’s main concern was the result of the play.
“That was the first question, did we score a touchdown?” he said. “That’s all that mattered. Although I did sustain an injury. I was glad we got a touchdown out of it.”
With Brown moved to left guard, Demetrius Rhaney — who had been working at center — started the game at right guard next to rookie right tackle Rob Havenstein. Havenstein was victimized for a first-half sack.
Rams running back Tre Mason also left the game, apparently aggravating a previous hamstring injury. He had 12 yards on four carries.
“It’s not too bad,” Mason said. “It’s just tight. I got a little sore, so I took the protocol and got out of there.”
The Colts built a 13-7 halftime lead on two Adam Vinatieri field goals and a 32-yard TD pass from Andrew Luck to Andre Johnson.
There were no Rams safeties in the vicinity of the wide-open Johnson on the play. He hauled in the pass over the middle, then ran through the tackle attempt of Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins on the way to the end zone.
Rams defensive end Robert Quinn talked about the importance of getting things together quickly with the defense.
“We had some good stops,” Quinn said. “We had a couple busted plays also, so we have to get those fixed. But there are some negatives and positives that we can take from it. We’re slowly getting to where we need to, but we still have a lot of work to do. We have to put our foot on the pedal and make sure we get ourselves right before the first game of the regular season.”
Another persistent problem for the Rams has been penalties and they were flagged for seven in the first half for 60 yards. A defensive holding penalty wiped out an interception by Jenkins as the Rams were penalized nine times overall for 73 yards.
A bright spot for the defense in the first half was the dominant play on the defensive line of reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Aaron Donald, as well as a pair of big hits by linebacker Alec Ogletree.
Luck, one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, completed 12-of-21 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown.
Linebacker Bryce Hager recovered a fumble early in the third quarter that set up a 3-yard TD run by Trey Watts to give the Rams a 14-13 lead. That gave the Rams their first lead since their first series of the preseason against the Oakland Raiders, when they led 3-0.
Backup quarterbacks Case Keenum and Austin Davis each got a series early in the second half and were followed by rookie Sean Mannion. Mannion, 14-for-20 in his first two preseason games for 146 yards and a touchdown, tossed his first NFL interception late in the third quarter.
Rams to practice at Scott AFB
The Rams will make their annual trek to Scott Air Force Base for a walk-through practice at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. As part of the team’s appreciation for those in military service, 22 military personnel will be chosen to be on the field and participate in practice.
After practice, the Rams will sign autographs for those in attendance.
The Rams held a similar event at the Point Mugu Naval Base during their scrimmages with the Dallas Cowboys earlier this month in California.