St. Louis Rams vs. Indianapolis Colts: Rams starters shine

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 13: Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams looks on before the NFL preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts at Edward Jones Dome on August 13, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The St. Louis Rams took the field for the first time since January. Quarterback Sam Bradford talked about the let down of losing that week 17. Obviously that loss motivated him and the rest of the team. The starters played sharp, on both sides of the ball. Key players stood tall, and the starters jumped out to an easy 17-3 lead after a quarter and then some of play.  

Executive summary

Both the starting offense and the starting defense moved well as a unit. Free agent addition S Quintin Mikell ended the Colts' first drive almost as quickly as it started with an interception. That pick was largely the result of pressure up front and tight coverage by the rest of the defensive backs, exactly what you wanted to see. That INT was easily converted into a touchdown by Sam Bradford and the offense. He connected with rookie TE Lance Kendricks, who ran a beauty route over the middle and hit two defenders to get into the end zone. The defense got burned just once on a 41-pass with Justin King in coverage, but other than that, the defense just didn't get beat much. 

They weren't perfect; there was plenty of preseason rust and butterflies for some of the rookies. You should be really pleased with what the Rams first team did tonight. 

Lots more, including the individual performances that stood out, after the jump.

Bullet points...ka-pow!

  • Hard not to lead off with Lance Kendricks. He was Bradford's favorite target, finding him three times for 29 yards and a TD. The rookie played like promised, tough, fast and versatile. He runs a nice seam route. 
  • The offense line looked really good. Bradford had oodles of time in the pocket to find his players. Rams fans had to pinch themselves to see a running back actually picking up yardage. 
  • Speaking of running back, Cadillac Williams looked great, 40 yards on 11 carries. 
  • Austin Pettis missed some prime balls from Bradford, who tried to feed it to him on third down a couple times. More than butterfingers, he looked nervous. Expect him to settle down in the future. 
  • Justin Bannan stood out to me on defense. He got some penetration, but more importantly, his bulk in the middle of the line was a real asset in keeping the Colts from doing much in the middle of the field. 
  • Justin King did fine. He was step for step with Pierre Garcon when Curtis Painter found him for a 41-yard completion. It was a beauty of a pass, thrown to his outside shoulder. A good throw can beat the best cornerback, and that's what burned King on that play. 
  • The safeties, Craig Dahl and Quintin Mikell play an interesting role in Spagnuolo's defense, much more oriented to the left and right as opposed to deep and close. That allowed them to take advantage of good coverage and pressure up front. 
  • Our second team looked much better than their second team. The Colts looked terrible overall, so take this performance with a  grain of salt for the Rams. 
  • Robert Quinn got some pressure, coming in with the second team. I'm really anxious to see more from him. 

Wrapping it up

Take preseason, any and all, with a heavy dose of skepticism. The Colts wouldn't have been so terrible with Peyton Manning in there at QB. That said, the Rams looked pretty good, players and parts never looked out of place. Guys got beat here and there, but that's to be expected. There were very few egregious mistakes. 

Much work remains. On offense, you saw more 3 and 4 receiver sets than last year, but this was a mere fraction of McDaniels' playbook. Bradford showed command of the field, and those play actions should be really effective with Steven Jackson in the game. 

Celebrate Rams fans, this team looks to be exactly where you wanted them to be, maybe even a step ahead. 

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