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3 things we learned about the Rams

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ST. LOUIS — Right guard Rodger Saffold and the rest of the St. Louis Rams’ offensive line heard all the bad reviews before Sunday’s season opener.

For at least one week, Saffold and his inexperienced mates didn’t look like the NFL’s worst line, as some experts rated them.

Providing solid protection for new quarterback Nick Foles, the line helped St. Louis’ offense look anything like the unit that struggled to score points for several years in a 34-31 upset of the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.

“That’s definitely big for us,” Saffold said of the offense’s production. “We had some small setbacks, but at the end of the day, we’re trying to make the offense as efficient as possible. We’re learning all the time.”

Aside from Safford, the Rams’ line owned a grand total of 12 NFL starts before Sunday. Fourth-year pro Tim Barnes was starting his first career game at center, and rookies Jamon Brown and Rob Havenstein won jobs at left guard and right tackle, respectively.

That quartet, teamed with second-year left tackle Greg Robinson, played well after a rocky first quarter. Foles was sacked just twice, completing 18 of 27 passes for 297 yards, and the offense pieced together three touchdown drives of 80 or more yards.

That included the tying 84-yard march late in the fourth quarter, capped by Foles’ 37-yard touchdown pass to tight end Lance Kendricks with 53 seconds remaining as strong safety Dion Bailey slipped in coverage and left Kendricks all alone.

“You saw what those guys did today,” Foles said of the line. “They’re the heart and soul of this team. They heard all the criticism. They did a great job today. They fought for us.”

What we learned about the Rams:

1. If QB Nick Foles has the time he had for most of Sunday’s game, they could have a sneaky good passing attack. Foles averaged 16.5 yards per completion, hitting on seven passes of more than 20 yards and helping them score 34 points, a mark they reached only once last year. There is reason to think this offense has promise, especially when RBs Tre Mason and Todd Gurley are both healthy.

2. For at least one week, WR Tavon Austin appears to be ready to deliver on the big-play promise he has not always provided, even though it has not always been his fault. St. Louis gave him plenty of looks in the passing game and touches as a running back, along with his normal work as a punt returner, and was rewarded with two TDs. New offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti did a better job of getting Austin into open spaces.

3. The Rams’ pass rush could be absolutely terrifying in 2015. Russell Wilson is one of the NFL’s most mobile quarterbacks and he was hit time after time, taking six sacks and being knocked down nine other times. DT Aaron Donald had three tackles for loss and two sacks, while DE Robert Quinn also notched two sacks. They could easily lead the league in sacks this year.

Etc.

–CB Trumaine Johnson (concussion) left the game late in the first half and didn’t return. He’ll have to go through the league’s concussion protocol in order to be able to play next week at Washington. He had a great interception in the second quarter that set up a field goal.

–DE Eugene Sims (knee) limped off the field with one second left in regulation after sacking QB Russell Wilson and didn’t return. It’s not known if Sims, who finished with two tackles and a QB hurry, can play next week.

–RB Chase Reynolds (knee), who’s one of the team’s best special teams players, left in the first quarter and didn’t return. It isn’t known if Reynolds will be able to suit up for next week’s game in Washington.


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