Rams' offense healthier heading into 2nd half

Rams' offense healthier heading into 2nd half

ST. LOUIS (AP) Rodger Saffold was pleased to be part of the St. Louis Rams' traveling party to London - until the game began.

``I was like so happy that Coach (Jeff Fisher) let me come even though I was injured,'' Saffold said Wednesday. ``And then afterward I'm like `Why did he do this?' Standing out there on that field in the rain.''

And watching the Rams get whipped 45-7 by the Patriots.

Earlier in his rehab, Saffold was hobbling around on crutches.

``I think I burned those crutches,'' Saffold joked. ``I burned them to the ground.''

Maybe this week, the offensive tackle can be more than a spectator.

``It's always been my goal to get back on the field as fast as possible,'' Saffold said. ``I'm just hoping this is the week.''

The Rams (3-5) are getting a lot healthier on offense heading into the second half of the season, with wide receiver Danny Amendola also expected back from injury and center Scott Wells returning to practice for the first time since the opener.

That's good news for a unit returning from its bye week anxious to top its seven-point output in a wipeout loss to the Patriots at Wembley - and just in time for a stiff test at San Francisco, which is allowing an NFL-low 12.9 points a game and is No. 2 in total defense at 271 yards per game.

``I don't know if I would say anxious,'' quarterback Sam Bradford said. ``Anytime you get to play a defense like this, it really kind of allows yourself to see where you're at.

``We know we need a great week of preparation if we're going to go out and succeed on Sunday.''

The Rams, who have lost three in a row, realize they've got to minimize mistakes and maximize opportunities.

``You've just got to make the plays,'' Fisher said. ``You've got to make individual efforts, you've got to win individual battles.

``We have to attack their defense with a team concept, but it comes down to individual players have to make plays.''

Amendola remains the team leader with 32 receptions and 395 yards even after missing three games with a collarbone injury sustained while attempting a diving catch Sept. 30 against Seattle. Saffold has missed six games with a third-degree right MCL strain and Wells broke his left foot in the opener.

Amendola stayed in St. Louis during the players' four-day break to continue rehab. He ``absolutely'' expects to be available for punt return duty as well.

``I'm practicing full-go and we'll see how it goes,'' Amendola said. ``I'm feeling great. It's just a matter of being able to withstand a hit and blocking and stuff, but I'm feeling stronger every day.''

Saffold anticipated an increase in workload throughout the practice week and more testing on game day before he'd get the go-ahead. He wore a brace before the injury, which protected him from ACL damage.

``It just reminds you how violent this game is. You get hit, you get hit hard,'' Saffold said. ``You want to give out the hit, you don't want to take it.''

Wells has barely seen the field since signing a four-year, $24 million free agent deal in the offseason, missing time with a right knee injury and then requiring surgery for a broken left foot sustained in the opener. The Rams have a three-week roster exemption for Wells, who is eligible to play immediately under the new injured reserve role that allows teams to activate one player for Week 9.

``It's the longest I've ever had to wait and sit out, so it's exciting to be able to go out there and take a step in the right direction,'' Wells said.

Robert Turner, envisioned as a utilityman on the line when he signed, has played well as the stand-in center.

But Fisher pulled no punches when asked what he could realistically hope to get from Wells after he's been sidelined so long. Wells missed the first two preseason games recovering from the knee injury.

Fisher anticipated Wells would ``step in and be our starter. He'd be the guy we brought in here to take over and control everything up front.''


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Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Following their seventh loss in 11 games and another lackluster performance in key areas, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks reverted back to a critique that characterized many defeats months ago. He called into question the effort of his team, more specifically their urgency. How they could overlook the stakes at this point of the season and with so much on the line had escaped him.

Brooks wasn't pleased following Washington's 108-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. He didn't like their three-point defense, their inability to force turnovers and their lack of zip on offense. But overall, it was the apparent lack of realization that time is running out in the regular season and off-nights cannot be afforded.

"We have to play with more spirit [and] we have to take some pride in our home court," Brooks said. "We’re building our habits going into the playoffs and these are moments where we need to take advantage because it’s playoff implications in every game."


Pride is something Brooks has referenced after the Wizards' worst defeats since he took over. This one didn't qualify, as they only lost by eight points and had opportunities late to write a different ending. But they were playing a team fighting for their own playoff position in the opposite conference and for the most part did not match their intensity.

The Nuggets, to put it plainly, are among the worst defensive teams in basketball. They were missing their leading scorer, Gary Harris. And they tightened their rotation to just eight players.

Yet the Wizards only managed 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers. Aside from their 33-point third quarter, the Wizards' offense was effectively stalled. 

"We can’t have guys that are not going to participate with hard cuts and hard setups and good screens. We need everybody. It’s not one person, it’s all," Brooks said.


The Wizards only forced 10 turnovers on the Nuggets and only three in the first half. That held back their offense in the sense they had few opportunities for fastbreak buckets.

"That’s where we get most of our offense from anyways, getting stops, getting out in transition," forward Otto Porter said.

The Wizards have lost two straight games. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers and Pacers both won on Friday night.

The Wizards are sixth place in the East and just 1 1/2 games out of fourth, but there is a huge difference in those spots. Sixth could mean meeting the Cavs in the first round and they have won three straight since Kevin Love returned from injury.


The Cavaliers could quickly become the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Their record is deceiving due to Love's injury and they still boast LeBron James, the best player on the planet. No one can control a playoff series quite like he can.

An argument could be made the Wizards would be better off moving down than up, as the seventh spot would match them up with the injury-riddled Boston Celtics. The Wizards are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the seventh-seed Miami Heat.

The Wizards, though, would prefer to move up and they still have a chance to get into fourth, which would mean home court advantage.

John Wall will return at some point, likely soon. In the short-term, Brooks would like to some urgency and for his team to get back to the trademark ball movement that allowed them to go 10-3 in their first 13 games when Wall went down.

"We can get it back, but it’s not going to come back. We have to go get it. It’s time to do it; it’s time," Brooks said.

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.


The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime


You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.