Packers vs. Rams preseason 2013: Starters to see more work this week

Matt Sullivan

Head coach Jeff Fisher plans to play his starters a little more this week.

Don't expect to see anything from the top secret chapters in the back of the St. Louis Rams offensive and defensive playbooks. Head coach Jeff Fisher and his staff reiterated at practice this week that the team plans to stick to the basics. The one plus is that the starters will see a little more work this week, albeit with some more players rotating into the mix.

Well executed

"Overall, we want to continue to minimize mistakes and eliminate the penalties," Fisher said Friday. "We had too many penalties last week that were pre-snap penalties - we don't need those. So, those are the things we're looking for - just execution. We're looking for touchdowns and not field goals."

It's not the Rams aren't working on the installing of the playbook. In fact, it's already installed. Preseason games are about execution, not the fancy stuff -- exotic blitzes and end-arounds -- they'll use once the real games begin.

"Build on last week," Brian Schottenheimer said when asked about his goal for the next game. "Obviously we've got to take care of the football better. I think some of the pre-snap penalties, playing at home we can improve that."

The same goes for the defense.

"We've just got to play better fundamentally," defensive coordinator Tim Walton said. "We've got to make sure we tackle better and just play technique. We pretty much try to let the guys play pretty simple, not doing a whole lot. We just want to see guys fly around and communicate and be good in the gap responsibility in the run game."


Stick to the basics

"They're base plays, simple plays, but you see a guy pick up a blitz, you learn from that," Schottenheimer explained. "You see a guy miss a blitz, you learn from it. Vanilla is a good thing. We'll be teeing them up for real here before too long."

The same goes for the defense. Missed tackles were a huge problem last week.

More time for the starters

"Some guys are going to play significantly more," Fisher said. "As a general rule they're probably playing anywhere from six to 12, 14 plays more than they did last week."

Fisher acknowledged that last week's game got off script because of the Isaiah Pead fumble. The starting offense ended up playing a little more than planned, and the starting defense couldn't get off the field against the Browns mighty preseason machine.


"We'll look at different people," Fisher said. "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 and work, so we're going to adjust all that stuff tonight and tomorrow."

There are a few spots where there's an open competition: left guard, running back (kind of), and now nickel corner. Fisher wants to make sure guys competing for those jobs get a shot to play alongside the starters. And it's also a good way to get the backups more exposure, more preparedness for when the regular season starts and all they have are practice reps.

Dome field advantage

Saturday's game marks the preseason home opener for the Rams. Winning starts at home, a point Fisher made clear this week.

"At the Dome, I think they got a taste of it a couple weeks ago at the Fan Fest," Fisher said. "It's going to be - we're talking about how important it is to play well at home, play at a consistent high level at home."

The Rams were 4-3 at the Dome last year (technically they were 4-4 at home, but that includes the London game). That includes a loss to the Packers. Of those home losses, the Jets game was the one they really should have had in the bag. Better tackling and play recognition could have helped beat the Vikings. And they did play the Packers fairly close, at times.

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