JASON L. YOUNG
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher doesn't let glaring problems such as third down conversions during the preseason bother him all that much.
After all, it's just the preseason.
But does it not concern him that his offense converted just 15 of 56 third downs in four exhibition games?
"They don't," he said Friday. "You're doing so much more on the practice field. We're intentionally not doing things on the field from a scheme standpoint, so that would naturally create some problems for you on third down."
The Rams finished their preseason schedule Thursday with a 24-21 victory against the Baltimore Ravens. St. Louis converted six of 16 third downs against Baltimore, not bad considering starting quarterback Sam Bradford didn't play.
But in its four games, St. Louis lost four of five fumbles -- including two against Baltimore -- and committed 43 penalties for 294 yards. Fisher said he made it clear to his team at halftime Thursday that the penalties were unacceptable. The Rams were flagged 17 times for 123 yards against the Ravens.
The halftime rant might have been out of mere frustration, though. Fisher told news media both Thursday and Friday that many of the penalties came against players who would not make the final roster. He said, looking over the four preseason games, he could say the same about most of the penalties his team took.
As for the fumbles and third-down efficiency, Fisher sees a difference between what his players had available to them in the preseason and how things will look when the Rams open the regular season Sept. 8 against the Arizona Cardinals.
"We'd like to think we'd be carrying more things into the regular season," he said. "We'll be game-planning, we really haven't game-planned much. We're just kind of keeping things basic."
Bradford wasn't thrilled about the penalties and he didn't want to excuse them because of players' inexperience, a lack of focus or trying too hard to make a good impression. However, he said while the preseason provided some good work, nobody should put much stock in it.
The real work begins Sunday when the team starts its preparation for the season opener.
"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "I thought we had a really good training camp. I thought we did some really good things during the preseason when we were on the field, and now it's full steam ahead getting ready for Arizona next week."
Fisher gave the players Friday and Saturday off to rest and get treatment in preparation for Sunday's practice. In the meantime, the coaching staff will continue planning for the Cardinals and informing those who didn't make the team.
That includes many of the players who contributed Thursday. That game served mostly as a scrimmage for backups and players who were on the verge of being cut ahead of Saturday's deadline to reach a 53-man roster.
Fisher believes the final group of players won't be making the same mistakes the Rams dealt with this preseason.
"We'll get three or four weeks into the season," he said, "and we'll have to identify some areas which we'll have to emphasis."
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