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Rams get extra day to address mistakes

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ST. LOUIS (AP)

A half-dozen of Sam Bradford's passes were dropped and the quarterback himself took quite a pounding. The defense beat itself all too often.

The St. Louis Rams say they are over the opening-day jitters that cost them in a 31-13 loss to the Eagles. On Monday night at the New York Giants, they promise a much better show.

There were problems galore against Philadelphia, yet the game was up for grabs late in the third quarter.

Minus crucial first-half mistakes like rookie tight end Lance Kendrick's dropped catch on what would have been a touchdown and Billy Bajema's false start on first-and-goal at the 1 that led to the Rams settling for a field goal, at least they'd have had a chance.

''Everything that happened in the game is fixable, that's the encouraging thing,'' linebacker James Laurinaitis said. ''It wasn't guys getting manhandled. Stuff you can correct easily, so we'll look to do that. We'll be extremely detailed.''

Coach Steve Spagnuolo blamed the Eagles' five sacks on breakdowns across the line, including tight end, while pointing out the Rams did a good job with the running game. Steven Jackson had 56 yards on only two carries with a touchdown before leaving with an injured right leg and backup Cadillac Williams had 91 yards on 19 carries.

Jackson didn't practice Thursday but left the door ajar, saying the injury had improved.

''Definitely shooting to have an outside chance to be able to go on Monday,'' Jackson said. ''But we want to be smart, we know it's early in the season.''

Offensive tackle Jason Smith was on the field Thursday a day after getting treatment for a left ankle sprain, a positive sign.

Bradford has looked sharp passing the last two days, shaking off a sprained index finger in the fourth quarter, but days like Sunday when the Eagles got in hits after the throw more than a half-dozen times tend to have a cumulative effect.

''To say we're going to keep Sam upright all year long is not realistic, but we have to do a great job of making sure he stays upright most of the time,'' center Jason Brown said. ''Was Sam on the ground too many times last week? Yes, he was.

''It's better there were breakdowns vs. guys just getting physically beaten.''

Defenders were admonished after the loss that if they had stayed in their gaps, they would have had better containment on Michael Vick. Pass catchers were also reminded sternly to secure the ball first.

''Face to face, look them in the eye, 'That can't happen and that's your job,''' Spagnuolo said. ''It comes simply back to the little things, catch the point, put it away and become a runner.''

Half of the drops were by rookies, two by Kendricks and one by Greg Salas. Kendricks said he was thinking too much, his brain overloaded with a full game's worth of plays to execute.

''There was so much going through my head, and I've just got to calm down,'' Kendricks said. ''I don't think the speed was too much different, I think it was more the mental side, just having to know more.''

Veterans dropped three passes, too, two by Brandon Gibson and another by Danny Amendola. Gibson said it wasn't because he'd been trying to go too fast.

''There's things that go along with it as far as focus and concentration,'' he said. ''Plays that I can make, I'll make them.''

Mike Sims-Walker didn't have any drops, but caught only one pass for 5 yards. Not good for the most experienced wide receiver on the field.

''I just wasn't me,'' Sims-Walker said. ''I'm still kicking myself in a way, even though the game is over. I don't know what it was but I think I've got it out of my system and I'm ready to step up and be that guy, lead these guys.''

Gibson and Sims-Walker stayed after practice Thursday to work on their hands.

Vick got sacked three times, two of them off blitzes by safety Quintin Mikell and cornerback Justin King. He got away plenty, too, rushing for 98 yards.

Overpursuit left clear sailing for many of the Eagles' big gains. DeSean Jackson's 46-yarder came on a simple dump-off pass and the Eagles had 237 yards rushing with a 6.1-yard average.

''The disappointment is a lot of the big plays were mental errors,'' Mikell said. ''You can't have that against teams like that.''

Mikell loves the scheme, and thinks it might take a little time to take hold. He's new to the lineup and so are outside linebackers Ben Leber and Brady Poppinga and tackle Justin Bannan.

''There's teams like us that go after you and be aggressive and that's what I like to do,'' Mikell said. ''Forcing the issue is fun. Not every blitz is designed necessarily to get a sack, but is designed to send a message that we're coming after you no matter what.

''There's promise here and once we get all the little things ironed out, we'll be all right.''

The Giants promise more of a straightforward test.

''They're not going to try to trick you or anything like that,'' end Chris Long said. ''They're going to run the ball at you and say, 'Stop it if you can.'''

Tagged: Eagles, Quintin Mikell, Steven Jackson, Mike Sims-Walker, DeSean Jackson, Chris Long, Justin King, Brandon Gibson, Sam Bradford, Rams

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