Rams' head coach Jeff Fisher believes there's no need for chip-shot field goals in the preseason.
By ASSOCIATED PRESSFS Midwest
ST. LOUIS (AP) Jeff Fisher can afford to gamble a bit in August. Of course, right now he's playing with Monopoly money.
The Rams were 2 for 3 on fourth down in Week 2 of the preseason, scoring one touchdown and setting up a second from the 1-yard line in a victory over Kansas City. They're 3 for 6 overall the first two games of the preseason.
In September, the Rams will cherish the points, but Fisher believes there's no need to trot out rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein for chip-shot field goals in the preseason.
Zuerlein, a sixth-round pick talented enough that the Rams released incumbent Josh Brown immediately after making the selection, scraped the right goal post on a 60-yarder Wednesday.
"Why not try to make plays on offense? That's basically it," Fisher said. "Obviously, the philosophy changes in the regular season. But I don't think we need to kick 35-yard field goals in the preseason, especially when it's fourth and less than 4."
Another possible benefit is it might help keep opponents honest in the regular season as Fisher rebuilds a franchise that's gone 15-65 over the last five years. The Rams (1-1) play at Dallas on Saturday night.
"It helps from the standpoint when someone picks up your stat sheet from the preseason and they look and see what you're doing on fourth down, they've got to be ready for fourth-down stops," Fisher said.
Everything is starting to change already.
Training camp ended Wednesday, marking the final public workout of the preseason. The inflatable archway with team logo was deflated for the last time and fences, picnic tables, bleachers and portable toilets were hauled off.
"That's your first kind of realization that you're getting close," said Fisher, who said his first camp in St. Louis was "ideal." That included the goofy ending, a rookie relay involving players spinning themselves dizzy around baseball bats while teammates dunked ice and water on them. And with nobody getting hurt.
"We've done it as long as I can remember," Fisher said.
Fisher gave several veterans permission to de-camp a week or so ago.
"Camp is over," defensive end Chris Long said. "But we'll continue to grind. We've got a long way to go."
Practice continues Thursday on the same fields, minus the trappings, as the Rams make final preparations for Saturday's preseason game at Dallas. Wide receiver Danny Amendola noted that "hours don't change for us."
"Technically, I guess for the CBA, camp ended," Amendola said. "But we're good."
Center Scott Wells, safety Darian Stewart and wide receiver Brandon Gibson are expected to make their preseason debuts against the Cowboys. Wells is coming off right knee surgery and Stewart and Gibson have rehabbed from hamstring injuries.
Fisher said earlier in the week that playing time will probably increase a handful of plays for the starters in Week 3 and in Week 4 he plans on playing the first stringers into the second half to experience the halftime break.
"Whatever Fish wants me to do," Long said. "Fish is the boss and I can use all the reps I can get. Certainly, the way to try to stay healthy and get all you can out of the preseason is to play hard."
The biggest position battle is at right offensive tackle. Barry Richardson, a free agent who played for Kansas City last year, will start for the third straight game ahead of Jason Smith, the No. 2 overall pick in 2009 dogged by concussion-related problems.
"It's back and forth, it's a competition," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "It's one of those competitions that'll be fun to watch coming down the wire."