NFL

Fisher seeking better basics in Week 3

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ST. LOUIS (AP)

(Eds: With AP Photos.)By R.B. FALLSTROMAP Sports Writer

Jeff Fisher is determined to keep everyone guessing for the rest of the preseason.

So you can expect the St. Louis Rams coach to bring out two more conservative game plans in the last preseason games.

''We've got a regular season we're concerned about,'' Fisher said. ''We're throwing it and we're handing it off.

''It's just I'd like to think we'd be a little more creative when the season starts.''

Quarterback Sam Bradford has raved about his comfort level working with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for the second straight season.

But on game day, rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin has yet to show his breakaway capability. Tight end Jared Cook, the other major skill upgrade on offense, has one big catch.

There's not been a lot of pump-faking and misdirection on offense, nor much blitzing on defense.

''We've got a lot of things we haven't really brought out, and I'm excited for when we do bring it out,'' rookie wide receiver Stedman Bailey said.

''We've got some great plays to get guys the ball, but for right now we're sticking with the script.''

So far, they've been working on their own game and facing teams adding elements at their own pace. Fisher said both opponents thus far have had more in their game plans.

''You go against a defense like Green Bay and you haven't really watched too much of them, you're not really prepared for them, you don't really know what plays are coming,'' middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said.

This week, at least they'll scout Denver. Fisher said it wouldn't be a ''full blown game plan,'' but that coaches would add elements that would ''give them a chance.''

''It will be a better telltale sign,'' Laurinaitis said. ''But they're doing the same stuff, vanilla things.''

Of course, the Rams need to demonstrate they're proficient at the basic strategy.

Last week's 19-7 loss to the Packers was marred by mistakes, blown opportunities and missed tackles, leaving such a sour taste that Fisher scheduled wind sprints after Monday's practice as a ''reward.''

They were 1 for 14 on third down conversions and had nine penalties for 52 yards, many of them for simply lining up incorrectly.

''Every time we have penalties, we run for the penalties,'' said defensive end Chris Long, who was whistled twice. ''And then we do a little conditioning, too.

''It's just accountability. We need to set some sort of a standard.''

Improving the tackling is tougher. The Rams had some spirited hitting minus the finishing touch Tuesday, and Cook lost his helmet in one of the skirmishes.

Fisher thought a bit of heat in what's been a very mild summer may have been a factor. The high temperature was 89 degrees.

''Occasionally in camp, those things happen,'' Fisher said. ''Today it got a little warm and that's what happens and that's good. We need to work through that.''

Austin was an excused absence for the second straight day due to family issues. Bailey, Austin's former teammate at West Virginia, got more first-team snaps.

Offensive tackle Rodger Saffold expects to return to practice soon after missing last week after dislocating his left shoulder on his second snap. He wasn't sure if he'd be ready for this week's game.

Saffold moved to right tackle after the Rams signed free agent Jake Long. He made 35 starts at left tackle over three seasons.

''It was going great to that point,'' Saffold said. ''I was happy the way things had been going.''

Competition remains at left guard, with Shelley Smith and Chris Williams alternating starts. Fisher hasn't decided on a backup quarterback between Austin Davis and Kellen Clemens. Clemens, the backup last season, has thrown two interceptions in both games.

''We've got a lot of really unusual, competitive races for backup spots,'' Fisher said. ''Those are the ones that probably don't get the attention.''

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Tagged: Rams, Chris Long, Rodger Saffold, Austin Davis

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