For those who think Sam Bradford isn’t passionate enough on the football field, you should have seen him on the field before Sunday’s game with Jacksonville at the Edward Jones Dome.
At the end of pregame warmups, just before the team heads into the locker room for the last time before kickoff, the players gather as a team in one big huddle. Normally, defensive end Chris Long stands in the middle of the group and gives a brief impassioned pep talk to get the team fired up.
This time it was Bradford. He was as animated as he has ever been, shouting words of encouragement with the rest of the team bobbing up and down around him and shouting themselves. So much for Silent Sam.
“I talked to Chris earlier,” Bradford said. “He kind of came up to me and was like, ‘Hey, we need you today.’ I thought it was the right thing. I thought that it was time for me, because I usually don’t say a whole lot. I’m pretty reserved.
“But I think today was a good time for me to get fired up. To let the guys know that it was time to roll. Hopefully, it worked. I think everyone was pretty fired up when I got in there.”
Judging by the result, a 34-20 Rams victory, maybe Bradford should replace Long in the pregame team huddle.
“I don’t know, he’s pretty good at it,” Bradford said. “And I realized afterwards it’s a lot of yelling. I was pretty tired after I got done with it. If that’s what it takes, I have no problem jumping in there doing it. But Chris is the one who usually gets everyone fired up, too.”
TWO FOR PETTIS
After touchdown grabs of 4 and 31 yards Sunday, wide receiver Austin Pettis has a team-high four TD receptions this season. Dating back to the end of the 2012 season, Pettis has six touchdown catches in his past seven games.
Pettis’ second touchdown catch Sunday came on a “go” route down the right sideline against tight coverage by Jaguars cornerback Will Blackmon.
“If I didn’t catch that I probably would’ve been hearing it tomorrow,” Pettis said with a chuckle. “So I’m glad we were able to come down with it.”
With safety T.J. McDonald out for the next two months with a fractured leg and cornerback Cortland Finnegan on the pregame inactive list with a hamstring injury, the Rams had a different look on the back end.
Darian Stewart started in place of McDonald at strong safety. Trumaine Johnson, normally the Rams’ third cornerback, started in place of Finnegan. When the Rams went to their nickel package they brought in another safety — Matt Giordano — off the bench.
That made it an unusual configuration of three safeties and just two cornerbacks in the nickel. When Giordano came in, starting free safety Rodney McLeod slid down to cover the slot receiver — playing in a cornerback-like role.
The Jaguars lost left tackle Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft, for the season with an ankle injury late in the first quarter. Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the University of Missouri and Parkway West High product, left midway through the third quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return.
The Rams didn’t appear to have any serious injuries. Giordano left briefly in the fourth quarter with leg cramps; running back Zac Stacy didn’t finish the game after taking a shot to the ribs.
SITTING IT OUT
Besides Finnegan, the Rams’ inactives were DE Williams Hayes (knee), RT Rodger Saffold (knee), DT Matt Conrath (concussion), G-C Barrett Jones, G Brandon Washington and OT Mike Person.