The Rams lightened up a bit Saturday, donning only shells and shorts for the first time in five practices.
"We got bumped up a little bit yesterday, so we kind of adjusted," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "We know we got the scrimmage, so we wanted to get the most out of them we could."
For the third consecutive year, the Rams will host a free scrimmage at 11 a.m. Sunday at Lindenwood University. The event has proven popular, drawing overflow crowds estimated at 8,000.
In addition to keeping everybody healthy, Spagnuolo said he was "looking for execution. Hopefully, there will be a lot of people there. It's always been well-attended. We'll try to make it exciting, and see how guys are in that kind of atmosphere."
Gates open at 9:30 a.m. Though admission and parking are free, the Rams have encouraged fans to contribute to KidSmart, which provides school supplies to more than 90,000 students in St. Louis. Those who donate will be entered into a raffle for tickets and pregame field passes to a 2011 home game and autographed items.
The scrimmage is expected to last about two hours and follow a format similar to the past two years. After a game-day warmup and 10-minute walk-through, the team will scrimmage through 16 plays, then move to a segment in which they will focus on situations such as third downs and the red zone.
Some portions will be full-contact; others will be thud, in which contact is allowed but not full tackling.
No touchdown challenges
NFL officials visited Rams Park on Saturday to review with players and coaches the rules changes and points of emphasis for the season. The change creating the most buzz was that coaches can no longer challenge scoring plays. Instead, all scoring plays will be reviewed by the replay official. So, expect a little more standing around between a touchdown and the extra-point attempt.
"We're going to be waiting until, as a referee, I get the signal from the official that the call on the field stands," said Walt Anderson, a referee in the league for 16 years. Anderson added that the league expected the reviews after scoring plays to add no more than a couple of minutes to each game.
As usual, though, the bulk of the changes are designed to enhance player safety. Among them:
• Teams will kick off from the 35-yard line, and no member of the kicking team other than the kicker can line up behind the 30.
• The designation of a defenseless player was expanded to include a receiver who has completed a catch, until he has time to protect himself or has become a runner; a kicker or quarterback who is out of the play on a change of possession; and any player who receives a blindside block to the head when the blocker is moving toward his own end zone.
On the other hand, hits to the passer's head will not be fouls unless they are forcible, as opposed to glancing, blows. So, as in the past, the official's judgment plays a key part in the equation.
"Other than the stripes on our shirts, things in football aren't black and white," Anderson said.
COMINGS AND GOINGS
In addition to offensive lineman Adam Goldberg, the Rams added offensive tackle Quinn Ojinnaka, who spent last year with the New England Patriots after four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.
To make room, the Rams released a pair of rookie free agents, guards Bryant Browning and Tyler Donahue.
Cornerback Jerome Murphy suffered a broken ankle Friday, will have surgery this week and could miss the entire season. Murphy slipped on a divot while defending against Danario Alexander and left Rams Park on crutches late Friday.
Wide receiver Dominique Curry had surgery on his hand Saturday. No timetable has been set for his return.
Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui and linebacker David Vobora (concussions) did not practice. Defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo (back), tight end Fendi Onobun (groin), wide receivers Alexander (fluid on the knee), Greg Salas (knee) and Donnie Avery (hamstring) participated in conditioning drills only. Safety Al Harris suffered cramps and left the field but should be OK on Sunday.