Jeff Fisher knew he had a major rebuilding project on his hands. Sunday’s preseason opener underscored how massive the job is.
The starting O-line inspired zero confidence. Barry Richardson started at right tackle ahead of Jason Smith, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft. Richardson’s false start helped kill the Rams’ second series. When Smith came in, things got worse. Jerry Hughes beat him badly for two sacks of Kellen Clemens.
Robert Turner started at center in place of Pro Bowler Scott Wells, who's nearly ready to return following knee surgery. Quinn Ojinnaka started ahead of Bryan Mattison at right guard. This unit is far from settled.
The O-line did open running room for Steven Jackson (4 carries, 17 yards) on the first series, but was unable to give Sam Bradford the time he needed. Bradford was 7 of 9 for 57 yards but had to dump off the ball under pressure.
WR battle: With Brandon Gibson and Danario Alexander inactive, Austin Pettis made the biggest impression in the battle for roster spots, catching three balls for 25 yards. Steve Smith got open deep but Bradford missed him. Rookie Brian Quick used his 6-3 frame to haul in a 9-yard slant, and rookie Chris Givens drew a 54-yard pass interference flag.
Special teams: Two rookie specialists moved closer to cementing their jobs. Greg Zuerlein booted a 37-yard field goal and Johnny Hekker nailed a 67-yard punt that went out of bounds at the Colts’ 2. Fellow rookies Isaiah Pead and Chris Givens turned in solid kickoff returns, Pead a 30-yarder and Givens a 28-yarder.
Pead’s day: Pead, the running back who’s expected to be a major contributor, got off to a rough start. He mustered 13 yards on his first six carries, botched a handoff with Bradford and fumbled after catching a screen pass. But the explosive rookie gained 20 yards on his last four carries.
It’s clear the Rams have big plans for Pead, who caught three balls for nine yards. He got more than twice as many carries as any other back.
Get more Rams updates and analysis from Larry Hartstein @CBSSportsNFLSTL.