ST. LOUIS — On second thought, Jeff Fisher says he is not that concerned about all the penalties the Rams committed during the preseason.
Asked Friday if he believed this weekend’s roster reduction would lead to a reduction of penalties, the Rams coach answered, “Yep. I do. … Really, I’m not that concerned. We’ll get it corrected.”
After the Rams were flagged nine times in the second quarter of Thursday night’s exhibition finale, Fisher was bothered enough to have what he termed a “nice little candid discussion” with his players at halftime.
The coach’s halftime chat could be deemed a moderate success since the Rams reduced their penalties in the second half. Still, they committed six to finish the game with 17 at a cost of 123 yards. Six in one half equates to 12 in a game, and that would be a problem.
Quarterback Sam Bradford, who did not play in Thursday’s 24-21 victory over the Ravens, raised a red flag over all the yellow flags.
“Eleven (in the first half), that’s inexcusable,” he said. “If we want to be the team we think we can be, penalties are the quickest way to shoot yourself in the foot. They’re things we just can’t have.”
He would know. The Rams were penalized more than every team in the NFL but one last year, averaging more than eight a game. They were No. 1 in pre-snap penalties, with an average of 3.75 per game.
Fisher has two solid reasons for believing that the flags won’t fly at such a high rate when the games begin to count.
First, he will continue to address with the guilty parties the really senseless penalties such as taunting.
More important, as he pointed out after the game, the majority of the penalties were called on players who won’t be on the field starting Sept. 8. Only four first- or second-teamers, in fact, were among the penalized. One of those, an offensive pass interference on receiver Austin Pettis, “was not his fault.”
“We had very few penalties by players that are going to play for us,” Fisher added.
The coach wasn’t so forgiving of some penalties, such as the taunting called on Ray Ray Armstrong when he was on the kick return team. Armstrong initially was whistled for another taunting but after the officials consulted, they picked up the flag and said there was no penalty.
No matter who was on the field for the Rams, one cause for concern has to be that the number of penalties increased in each of their exhibitions, from six to nine to 11 to 17. The 43 flags cost the Rams 293 yards. If you don’t think that’s a lot of yards, consider the team rushed for a total of 365 in the four preseason games.
While penalties certainly are to be avoided, they don’t always prove that costly. The Falcons were the only one of the five least-penalized teams to reach the playoffs in 2012. And the most penalized team? That would have been the Super Bowl champion Ravens. NEWS AND NOTES
+ The team will practice Sunday and take off Monday and Tuesday. Final roster cuts have to be announced by 4 p.m. CDT Saturday. According to espn.com, backup quarterback Austin Davis will be among the players cut. Davis, however, will be eligible to return to the practice squad.
+ Fisher sounded like he still is behind running back Isaiah Pead, who endured an up-and-down training camp and will serve a league-mandated suspension in the opener. After fumbling on his first carry of the preseason, Pead fumbled the opening kickoff Thursday night, though the Rams recovered.
“Hopefully we’ll get it behind him, but I’m not going to be hesitant to play him because he’s put two balls on the ground in preseason,” Fisher said.
Pead rushed for 86 yards on 26 carries in the preaseason, second on the team to undrafted rookie Benny Cunninham, who finished with 123 on 20 carries. Daryl Richardson, the announced starter, carried only nine times in the four exhibitions, picking up 34 yards.
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