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NFL Preseason Preview - Kansas City (1-0) at St. Louis (0-1)
By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - Jeff Fisher knew he had a difficult task at hand when he agreed to join the St. Louis Rams. Judging by the club's first effort under its new head coach, there seems to be a lot more work that needs to be done.
The Rams have nowhere to go but up when they take the field at the Edward Jones Dome for their initial preseason home game under Fisher, an in-state clash with the Kansas City Chiefs, after being lambasted by the Indianapolis Colts this past Sunday in a battle of two-win teams from the 2011 season. Led by a stellar debut by No. 1 overall draft choice Andrew Luck, the new-look Colts piled up 430 total yards en route to a 38-3 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Luck was razor-sharp against a revamped St. Louis defense that was starting two rookies, first-round defensive tackle Michael Brockers and second-round cornerback Janoris Jenkins, with the young quarterback completing 10-of-16 attempts for 188 yards and two scores while directing Indianapolis to touchdowns on three of its first four possessions. On the Colts' opening play from scrimmage, the Rams allowed running back Donald Brown to turn a short pass into a 63-yard score.
Indianapolis quarterbacks combined for 314 net yards and three touchdowns through the air on the afternoon, with the Colts recording 23 first downs as a group.
St. Louis at least was able to get a healthy Sam Bradford some needed work in the opener. The 2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of Year, coming off a rough sophomore season in which he missed six games due to a high ankle sprain, was under center for the Rams' first two series and went a solid 7-for-9 for 57 yards.
Running back Isaiah Pead, another rookie who'll be counted on to play an important role in the Rams' rebuilding process, finished with a team-high 33 yards on 10 carries and added three receptions out of the backfield.
Veteran wide receiver Steve Smith caught two Bradford passes totaling 14 yards in the loss. The free-agent addition is one of a host of candidates vying for a starting job alongside Danny Amendola, with 2012 second-round pick Brian Quick, fellow rookie Chris Givens, Austin Pettis and Brandon Gibson also in the mix. Gibson may have fallen behind the race, however, due to a hamstring injury that should sideline him for a second straight week.
The Chiefs came away from their opener in much better spirits, as the team delivered a solid overall performance and welcomed the return of four key players in last week's 27-17 home triumph over Arizona.
Running back Jamaal Charles, safety Eric Berry and tight end Tony Moeaki each missed the majority of last year's trying 7-9 campaign with ACL tears suffered within the season's first two weeks, while quarterback Matt Cassel started just nine times before breaking his right hand in November. All saw action against the Cardinals, with Cassel hitting on 5-of-6 throws for 67 yards and capping Kansas City's opening drive with an 11-yard touchdown strike to running back Peyton Hillis.
Charles, the runner-up for the NFL's 2010 rushing title with 1,467 yards, had three carries for 12 yards along with an 11-yard catch in his comeback. Hillis, a former 1,000-yard rusher in Cleveland signed as insurance during the offseason, came through with 41 yards on only four attempts in addition to his touchdown catch.
The Chiefs put up 166 yards on the ground for the game, with the defense contributing seven sacks to the victory.
Kansas City still remains without another of its top offensive weapons, however, with wide receiver Dwayne Bowe yet to sign his franchise tender and report to camp. The Chiefs do enter Saturday's contest with few major injury concerns, though standout cornerback Brandon Flowers may be held out a second straight week as he recovers from a foot bruise.
Bradford threw two touchdown passes to lift the Rams to a 14-10 road win over the Chiefs during last year's preseason. St. Louis also posted a 17-9 decision at the Edward Jones Dome in a 2009 encounter between the two Missouri residents and leads the overall exhibition series by a 13-8 margin.
08/16 12:12:04 ET
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