Rams Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo's Conference Call to Nashville Media

HEAD COACH STEVE SPAGNUOLO

(on comparing Steven Jackson and Chris Johnson)

**

You hit the nail on the head, two good backs. Both have been very, very productive for their football teams. I think it will be exciting for people to watch, two of the premier backs in the league. I know we're defending one and I'm feeling comfortable that we have one that we're working with. You're right on that.

(on if Steven Jackson has been one of the steady players on offense)

**

Yeah, no question and that's just not on the field. In the locker room, around the building, he's just been terrific. I'm very appreciative that we have him, especially when you're an elite player in the league and you carry yourself that way like a pro. It's not easy what we're going through, but he's been terrific.

(on Jacob Bell)

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Jacob's been great. He battled a—oh, my memory bank—I think it was a concussion back early in the year. I think he missed one or two games. Jacob's a good man. He's part of bunch of offensive linemen that I think have grown together over this period. They feel confident in blocking for Steven (Jackson). I know Steven's confident in them. He's one of the key cogs in the group of five, six, seven offensive linemen that have worked for us this year.

(on the spirit of the team)

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From my perspective they've been terrific. I just came out of a meeting and a walk-thru and I always keep my fingers crossed on Wednesday after what we're going through. The guys get away for a day and a half or whatever, we have Tuesday off. You just never know how they're going to come back, what kind of spirits. But to a man, every week—I guess we're in week 13 now—they've been great. Their spirits are up. They're battling through. It's not easy. I think in a lot of ways it's harder for them than the coaching staff. As coaches—you guys know, you've been around in this league—we bury ourselves in the building here. Very rarely do we venture outside to get involved in what people are saying or what's going on and our players do it every day yet they come back here and they work at it. So, I'm proud of them that way.

(on what have been the biggest difficulties in stopping the run)

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Our issues in stopping the run are no different than any other defense. We haven't invented anything here and certainly we've fallen to the same mistakes that other people do. You get a guy out of the gap. You know the other thing I'm going to do is give people some credit on the other side of the ball, we've played some pretty good offenses. We're going to face another good one this week. People get off the ball and block you and you don't get off the blocks, that's usually what it comes down to. It's usually an angle, it's a leverage, it's not setting the edge, it's not being disciplined backside. When you draw things on paper, every offensive play runs for 15-20 yards, every defense stops it for a zero gain. That's where it is on paper, but you need guys to go out there and execute it. We've got to do things as coaches and change it up a little bit. We're kind of chipping away at it, but we certainly want to get better at it.

(on keeping Steven Jackson motivated)

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It comes back to the people that you have on your team. We feel like we have a lot of character in the locker room. Steven's just an example of it. Steven's a pro, loves the game of football, enjoys his teammates, very loyal and he is all about team. As a head coach, I can't tell him enough how much I appreciate it because when you're a premier player and leads that way, it helps everybody else. He's a key reason why, for the most part, we've kind of hung together. We've got a little ways to go here, but we're hoping something positive will happen.

(on handling Steven Jackson after last season's contract dispute)

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Never went back there. When we got together, whatever that first day was in January or February, it was right from that day on, all we did was look forward. Presented a vision, just like we did with the whole team and moved forward. Never went backwards.

(on if they challenged Steven Jackson)

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Well, we do that with all of our players. I think that's part of coaching. Part of coaching is motivating. Coaching is all about teaching. So, we teach fundamentals and we did it with every running back, quarterback, offensive linemen, defense. We didn't do anything differently with Steven then we didn't do with the rest of the football team.

(on Donnie Avery and Kenny Britt being involved in the offense early)

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Part of it is the individual and I'm sure Kenny Britt's the same. Now, I wasn't here a year ago when Donnie was here, but I know him now. He's a worker. He takes a lot of pride in a lot of things. Since I've been here he's had a couple of injuries he's had to battle through. We always got to pull him back from going out there. I would venture to say guys that have that burn, that desire at any position, have a better chance of jumping in as a rookie and playing. I don't know Kenny Britt. I've seen him on film. I think he's a quality, quality player and I'm sure he has some of those characteristics too.

(on Leonard Little)

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He's another guy. We talked a lot about Steven, but on the defensive side of the ball Leonard has been a true leader. He's got great personality and I enjoy having him on the football team for his leadership and the way he handles himself. It's not easy as many years as he's played in the league, and he's been on some pretty good football teams, it's not easy for him to go through this much lack of success. But yet he comes to work every day and he's always pulling the rest of the guys with him.

(on Kyle Boller)

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I think Kyle's one of those athletic quarterbacks that's fiery. He's kind of pulling our guys together. I know he'd like to have some better results in the win-loss column, but that's what we're working at again this week. We have a lot of confidence in him. We'll continue to have confidence in him. He gets a little banged up like any quarterback in this league, you take your bumps and bruises, but he just fights right back.

(on the frustration level of the offense)

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Well, you can go back—I don't like to go back—we've had spurts we've moved the ball pretty good. We've played against some pretty good defenses. Now, last week our offensive guys would say they would have liked to have done a lot better. The bottom line is scoring points. We haven't done so well there, but we're executing the offense. We just need a little bit more of that, need to finish it when we get in the red zone. I think this thing will get going a little bit.

(on his impressions of Vince Young)

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Very scary. He's an elite guy. People talk about him running around, I think he throws the ball outstanding. I'm watching film the other day and he just kind of flicks it out there and before you know it's down 45, 60-70 yards down field. We always knew he was a great football player and he's surfacing now. I'm happy for him. I don't know him personally, but I am happy for him. I am happy for the team. I hope they don't do well this week, but I'm impressed with what the football team did going from the start of the season to what they've been able to put together. That says a lot about the staff and a lot about their players.

(on if he's surprised at Vince Young's deep-ball accuracy)

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I didn't have any preconceived opinions either way. I'm just very impressed with him as a quarterback and he's obviously a great leader. He steps in there and they win a bunch of ballgames. It looks like the teams rallying around him and what more could you ask for in a quarterback.

(on Sean Walker)

He's very steady. I'll tell you what, Sean's a good man and we're glad we got him here. He gives us a good days work every day and he's a pleasure to be around. So, we're glad we got him.

(on if Sean Walker could be added to the roster from the practice squad)

I don't know that. That's a hard call right now. Certainly, knock on wood, as long as we don't have any sudden injuries here in practice that wouldn't happen.

(on LaJuan Ramsey)

LaJuan was with me in Philadelphia for a short period, I think his rookie year and so I knew a little about him. He's battling a little bit of a wrist injury, but he's fighting back from that. We keep him in the rotation, he's giving us some quality reps.

(on what stands out most when watching Chris Johnson on film)

All great backs, and I consider him a great one, have tremendous vision. He appears to have the same thing. Sometimes there's guys unblocked and he finds a way to get around them or through them. He's very, very quick. I think the cuts he makes at the line of scrimmage are just outstanding. He just has a knack and of course his offensive line is playing really well too. The combination of those two things make it tough to defend.

(on James Laurinaitis)

James has been very steady and he's been battling injuries just like any Mike linebacker would. It's tough as a rookie to step in the NFL and be a Mike linebacker, make the calls and make the adjustments. He does that and has done a nice job of it too.

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