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Rams-Chargers: Coaches, Shaun Hill Talk Preparation After Wednesday Practice

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Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher, Special Teams Coach John Fassel and QB Shaun Hill all addressed the media after Wednesday's practice.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher – Post-Practice – November 19, 2014

(On they practiced inside because of the weather)
"Yes, it was a little windy outside. We wanted to handle the ball appropriately."

(On if some players rested today)
"A couple guys, yeah. We’ll get some guys back tomorrow. Couple guys needed a day off, yeah."

(On if it’s the time of the season where players need more rest)
"It’s been helping. (LB) James (Laurinaitis) took last Wednesday off. He felt much better game time, so those kind of things. You have to deal with them all individually."

"We’ve been somewhat consistent. We’re playing very hard. We’ve been efficient against the run, some turnovers, pressuring the passer. We’ve been tackling pretty well. We have to keep doing that. You can’t afford at this time of the year to have an off day defensively." - Rams HC Jeff Fisher (optional)
(On what can be expected from QB Shaun Hill this week coming off a solid game)
"Again, he had another good day today. He’ll have his teammates prepared, as he’ll have himself prepared to play. Going up against a very talented defense. Different style defense, pressure oriented defense. Defense that we have to become familiar with, but it’s a big play defense that played well."

(On how a player gets ready to play an uncommon foe)
"You have to spend the extra time with the individual matchups across the board, whether it’s offense, defense, or special teams. They’re not familiar with the individuals so that takes more time in the classroom, extra time on your own."

(On what stood out about Hill that caused the Rams to sign him)
"He played in the preseason. He’s played in games before. He’s won games before. He’s that ideal veteran backup that you have that can come in without a lot of preparation, a lot of practice time. Obviously, clearly, the intention was to have him backup (QB) Sam (Bradford). His experience, I think you saw what he’s capable of doing last week, accurate throws, convert third downs, doing those important things. He’s done a lot of good stuff as I’ve said, in our run game, optimize the position as far as the defense is concerned."

(On the fact that he didn’t make any mistakes is testament to him being a veteran being able to be prepared without playing)
"He prepared last week and he had all the starting reps last week. Yeah, that’s the Shaun Hill that we expected to see. We’re going to ride him now. He’s got a different challenge every week. This one, like I said, is a big challenge for us."

(On based on what he’s seen in the last three weeks if he considers his defense a given rather than a variable at this point)
"We’ve been somewhat consistent. We’re playing very hard. We’ve been efficient against the run, some turnovers, pressuring the passer. We’ve been tackling pretty well. We have to keep doing that. You can’t afford at this time of the year to have an off day defensively."

(On the consistency since the Seattle game and the improvements that have been made)
"We’re getting outstanding play from our safeties right now. Outstanding play in run support, pressure, tackling. ‘Tree’ (LB Alec Ogletree) is really playing well, in addition to the rotation and things we have up front. Again, we can’t dwell on the past. We have to repeat that again this week. We certainly understand we have a different type of challenge this week, a different type of running game. We’ve got talented receivers, a potential Hall of Fame tight end and a quarterback that can really throw the ball. Again, it’s a weekly challenge for the defense."

(On the difference between QBs Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning and if Rivers play calls from the line of scrimmage)
"He will. There’s time when there will be some things that are called from the sideline, they stay with them. He’s high tempo. He’s going to change things. Change protections, change the run game. He does a really good job attacking the defense."

(On if K Greg Zuerlein changed any of his behaviors to account for his performance Sunday)
"No. What, he’s missed two or three kicks all year? One was a short one that he let go right I think, and then he missed a long one. No, I thought he kicked really well. He kicked off very well. Did some different things with the kickoff and hit five great balls."

(On as a coach if it’s tough to tell his kicker to go kick an over 50-yard field goal because he’s playing a talented quarterback like Manning)
"No it’s easy. As I said, if you worry about field position when you’re playing Peyton and then say you punt the ball and you get a touchback and the ball’s on the 20. He’s going to be on the 40 in just a few plays, so why not take a shot at the points?"

(On if the defensive stops occurred mostly at the 40-yard line)
"Yeah, that’s where it all happened, which we were fortunate. No, that’s kind of the philosophy with it. I didn’t have any issues. Going in we expected to try to get points whenever we could."

(On CBs Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins playing together for the first time and what improvements can be made)
"The position’s hard to play. They’re playing well. I think we’re very fortunate that (CB) E.J. (Gaines) has the flexibility to move inside. He hadn’t played a lot of the inside corner spot, the nickel spot. With his ability to go in there and be efficient and productive there, we’re able to do some things at the corner spot."

(On if this is the defense that he wanted to see at the start of the season or if he’s at that point now)
"The production that we got out of our defense last week was very good. We have to continue that. It’s not an assumption. You have to go out there and do it every week."


Rams Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel – Post-Practice – November 19, 2014

(On how happy he was with K Greg Zuerlein’s performance Sunday)
"Yeah, it was great. In pregame warm-ups he was crushing it, so you just had to make sure he kind of stayed in that groove. He had a kick a quarter, so it kind of kept him going. It’s great to have him have a good day in a crucial game. After the game I thought he made four, then I was like, ‘Oh my gosh that’s right. I forgot he kicked the fifth one.’ It was a good job by him. It was great."

More from Wednesday's practice

(On if there is any preparation with Zuerlein regarding 50 plus field goals)
"Nope. Greg just knows if we get basically across the 50 to be ready for a field goal. It’s not given to him whether we’re going punt or field goal until it’s fourth-down. He just knows if I’m hollering field goal, that means I got the word from Coach to go field goal or if we go punt. But, he’s always ready to kick the field goal, regardless of whether we do kick it or if we got to go punt."

(On in pregame if he watches Zuerlein to gauge his readiness for longer field goal attempts)
"About every game he’s been really grooving it in pregame. Just like really in practice. I think he’s missed three and two of them that he missed, he hit great balls, straight balls, good contact. He just started it a little left. One he toed, one bad hit that was right, but all the other ones have been really good hits. All his warm ups have been good. All his practices have been great. That’s why I’m real happy for him that he had a big day, because it was coming at some point."

(On what he thinks Zuerlein’s kicking range is)
"The 55 yarder, I thought was good from 66/67. A 55 yarder for him is just a normal kick. He doesn’t have to add anything to it. In that range, a 35 yard field goal or a 55 yard field goal is the same kick for him."

(On if by normal kick he means normal swing)
"Normal swing. He doesn’t have to put any more into it until he gets probably over the 62/63 range. Probably over 60, but anything under 60’s a normal swing for him."

(On how he decides which way to go with kickoffs)
"We try to go some directional kickoffs. The two they returned, he just miss hit them. We’re trying to go deep left or deep right, wherever the call was and he just miss hit those. He hit five great balls. He just missed them, there was no strategy to placing it shorter."

(On how he can get the punt return game going)
"Really we haven’t changed anything as far as really our drills in practice. We’ve tweaked the scheme just a little bit, just like we normally would. Denver’s punter didn’t give us a chance because he hit the high short kicks, the rugby type kicks. So, it’s a combination of blocking and then getting the right ball. We’ve got a few of them, but we didn’t capitalize. Hopefully, in these next six games we’ll get a few chances."

(On if he thinks WR Tavon Austin should just go on some of the returns instead of hesitating)
"No. There’s a little bit of strategy based on the type of punter that we’re facing, whether he’s going to catch-and-go or catch-and-set. Different things we work on based on the return call and the type of punter we’re getting. Yeah, and I’d like to get more out of it, but I’m very optimistic that we’re going to get better these next couple weeks."

(On if it’s up to Austin to fair catch or if he is told to fair catch)
"There’s certain calls and alignments we’ll be in where he knows he’s probably going to fair catch it, unless the punter just screams one at him. We’re never telling him, ‘Fair catch it or don’t fair catch it.’ It’s really a judgment call that in my opinion he’s been very good at making the right decisions."

(On how good it was to see Zuerlein get the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award)
"Yeah, it was great. We didn’t know about it until this morning. I thought he might have a chance. Again, like we talked about earlier, very well earned for a kid that works very hard and really has been very good all season long."

(On how it feels about playing San Diego)
"I love going back to San Diego, obviously played there quite a few times. It’s a great place to play. I know it’s an old stadium, but the guys who haven’t played there, we’re getting them excited for playing in that kind of environment."

(On how S Maurice Alexander played vs. Denver)
"I’m glad you brought that up. That one kickoff he made a great tackle. I mean he just, no hesitation, shot the returner. It was a great play. Then we had him out there at gunner where he hasn’t had as much training, because we actually had him playing inside on punt, but we needed him out there. He’s a fast, long, aggressive guy and he made a tackle on punt. He blocked really well on the return game which went unseen, but not by the coaches. Hopefully, there’s more to come with Maurice. I’m proud of him."

(On if Alexander was anxious to play)
"Yeah. He’s been chomping at it because, he’s unfortunately been inactive through no other reason than You’ve got to dress 46 guys and he’s kind of the odd man out a couple weeks. He’s worked very, very hard in practice. He knew his time was coming. There’s no surprise on his performance because of how he’s practiced."

Rams QB Shaun Hill – Post-Practice – November 19, 2014

(On how it felt to practice coming off of a victory)
"Yeah, it’s good to get the week going again. I felt like everybody came in with the right mindset, put that last one behind us and we’re on to the Chargers."

(On how he was able to play as well as he did despite having not played since Week 1)
"It just goes back to preparation throughout the years, not just this year. Just trying to make every practice rep seem like a game and using all the reps that I could get in practice."

(On if he was surprised that he seemed to play with no rust)
"Maybe to you guys. There was a few things that I saw on film that I’d like to correct. No, to be honest with you. My first game ever starting in the NFL I had a broken right index finger that required surgery. Two guys went down and I had to play. I couldn’t throw a ball over 30 yards. Hadn’t taken an NFL snap other than from two knees. This is the end of my sixth year and had to come in and had to perform. If I was ever going to be rusty that was the time be it."

(On if he had the broken right index finger prior to coming into the game)
"Yeah. That was a long time ago, let’s make that clear. There’s nothing right now."

(On if people should expect a performance like that every week)
"Every game’s different. Every game plays out different. Getting ready for this opponent, they’re really good on defense. Can’t find any holes in their defense, so we’re going to have to come with our A-game for sure."

(On what challenges the Chargers present)
"This team, they’re disciplined in what they do. Like I said, there’s no holes. They play their scheme very, very well."

(On after making the big plays last week if defenses will try to take those plays away)
"Obviously, sometimes the defense dictates some of those deep plays and sometimes guys are just making plays. Obviously, every defense wants to shut down the big play and make you earn it and things like that. You’ve got to find ways to take advantage of when they slip up. Like I said, just watching this defense this week, they’re very disciplined in what they do."

(On if the Chargers defense will bring a lot of pressure)
"Yeah, they do. They bring more pressure than we saw this last week, but it’s kind of similar to some of the teams we’ve seen in the previous few weeks. We’ll certainly be ready for it."

(On if he feels comfortable getting ready to start his second straight game)
"Comfortable? Comfortable is not something that I’ve had the luxury of having in the NFL just in general. That’s just kind of the way my career’s gone. Same excitement level for sure and all of those things. I think I’m probably best in that role, not exactly comfortable, if I’m being honest."

(On Head Coach Jeff Fisher saying they’re going to ride him the rest of the season)
"Yeah, alright. (laughing)"

(On preparing for an uncommon opponent like the Chargers)
"That’s exactly right, this is a team we face every four years. Obviously, you have to put in the extra work to know the players as well as the scheme. A lot of times when you’re playing opponents that you’re familiar with you know the players and you know the scheme. This one we’re not familiar with either. We’ve got to certainly work hard this week to get to know them."

(On if WR Kenny Britt is on the verge of being a star in the NFL)
"Yeah, Kenny’s done a great job, he really has. He’s come to work every single day since he got here. He’s done a wonderful job for us and some of that works starting to pay off. Hopefully it can continue."

(On the performance of the offensive line and if he recognized OL Davin Joseph today)
"The offensive line played wonderful, absolutely wonderful. They were what allowed us to have success on offense. To answer the question about Davin, I did recognize him, caught me a little off guard though. Looks good, looks young."

(On if he likes Joseph with the haircut)
"I don’t know. Either way, he pulls it off either way."

(On if his celebration after the 63-yard touchdown throw to Britt was a different reaction than he normally has after a touchdown pass)
"A little bit. I came off to the sidelines and told the guys, ‘Look, I understand you’re supposed to act like you’ve been there before, but it’s been a long time.’ Yeah, I did get a little excited on that one. Most of the times it stays relatively even-keeled, but man touchdowns, they’re just fun."

(On how keeps everyone calm in the huddle)
"It just depends on the situation. Sometimes you do have to say something, but sometimes it’s just a little quick look. There’s a lot of ways you can handle things. You have to know the guys and they kind of have to know you. Sometimes the things are too intense, sometimes a little joke, something to lighten it up too."

(On if that was the best game of his career)
"Best game of my career? That’s hard to say. Gosh, I don’t know. That’s really hard to say."

(On if a lot of people contacted him after the game)
"Yeah, it took a long time before I got all of the text messages answered. Yeah, it was good."

(On what was the best message he received)
"Gosh, I don’t know. I have no idea to be honest with you."

(On when he has time to tell a joke to the offense to lighten the mood)
"Most of the time on a break. There’s always time for a little jab here and there too."