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Preseason roundup: Handling distractions


Last night the NFL treated hungry football fans to a pair of preseason games. I know what you're thinking, "preseason football is f@#&ing awesome." No, it's really not all that great, but last night's games did feature more than a couple story lines relevant to the St. Louis Rams...besides just Steve Spagnuolo and Josh McDaniels' former teams turning in a couple disparate performances. 

Implications and thoughts after the jump. 

Pittsburgh 24, Philadelphia 14

The Rams play both teams this season, opening things up with a match against "the dream team." That team looked anything but dreamy last night as Michael Vick threw 3 interceptions and Vince Young tacked on another one for good measure. Mike Kafka, recently metamorphed back into a human after a strange summer in Prague, looked the sharpest of the bunch with 2 TD passes in 19 attempts. The linebackers were terrible, and the Steelers ran at will (attention Steven Jackson, week 1 awaits). Granted, Philly was without their starting defensive tackles, but the linebacker play is already leading to talk of roster shuffling. It's only preseason; remember how terrible the Patriots' starters played against the Rams last year? There are two more preseason games to play, so keep an eye on Philly to see if they can put it together by week 1 or will still be feeling their way through it. It's also fair to ask whether or not Michael Vick had other things on his mind. Another question to answer: Will the Eagles crack under the weight of media attention lumped onto them?

As for the Steelers, yeah, that's going to be a tough game for the Rams. Troy Polamalu looks to be in fine form. 

New England 31, Tampa Bay 14

The Patriots' starters pitched a shut out through quarters, ending the half at 28-0. Sam Bradford has been compared to Tom Brady before, though he has a little further to go before he's playing like Tom Brady at the peak of his career, and I hope that the Rams offense can be 75 percent as effective as the Patriots' offense. 

Neither of these teams are on the Rams' schedule this year; I'm just mandated by internet content laws to mention the Patriots because of Josh McDaniels' connection there. Duty served, I can move on to the big story from this game: the 4-3 defense is officially in again. Belichick's new defensive front dominated the Buccaneers. This will be the third year for the Rams in Spagnuolo's 4-3 front, with most of the front seven holdovers from the year before, if not longer in the case of DT Fred Robbins. I expect big things from that group.