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Rams awaken against ’Skins

Steven Jackson ran for 125 yards to lead St. Louis to victory.
Monday, August 30, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:12 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Perhaps it took an embarrassing outing to get the St. Louis Rams’ attention. With one preseason game left for them, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Four days after a 24-7 loss at Kansas City, the Rams rolled out offensive firepower befitting the nickname “Greatest Show on Turf,” bowling past the Washington Redskins 28-3 on Friday night.

Veterans and rookies did their part.

Torry Holt had seven catches for 143 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown that was the first touchdown by the Rams’ starting offense in three games this preseason. In its previous two outings, St. Louis mustered 13 points.

Holt’s numbers would have been even better had officials not disallowed a long sideline catch, ruling that Holt didn’t get both feet in bounds.

Steven Jackson, four months after becoming the first running back chosen in April’s draft, rolled up 125 yards on 25 carries, scoring on a 5-yard run. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound rookie out of Oregon State punished the Redskins as the game went on, gaining 103 yards in the second half.

St. Louis’ first-string defense finally got into the act, forcing its first turnover of the preseason in the second quarter when cornerback Kevin Garrett stripped the ball from Taylor Jacobs after a long completion and Aeneas Williams recovered. Two plays later, Rams backup quarterback Chris Chandler hooked up with Holt on a 58-yard pass that set up Chandler’s 1-yard touchdown sneak.

The Rams’ patchwork offensive line held its own. Days after Rams quarterbacks were sacked four times and pressured relentlessly against the Chiefs, the Redskins sacked Marc Bulger only once and found their blitzes stifled by an offensive line that gave Jackson room to roam.

“Those guys looked really good,” Jackson said of his blockers. “They took a pretty good beating on Monday (against Kansas City), and I think they answered pretty well.”

With the Rams’ final tune-up before their Sept. 12 regular-season opener against the visiting Arizona Cardinals coming Thursday at Oakland, Sunday was the kind of balanced showing St. Louis coach Mike Martz had hoped to see.

“I feel good about that performance in all three phases — special teams, offense, defense,” he said. “We just needed a good win, and they got excited about playing.

“This was really a week for this team to come together.”

CHIEFS:

Marc Boerigter will undergo knee surgery today and possibly be lost for the year, throwing Kansas City’s tattered wide receiver corps into even greater disarray.

Boerigter, who seemed ready to rebound from a subpar 2003 season, twisted his right knee early in the Chiefs’ 21-19 exhibition loss Saturday night to Cleveland.

Coach Dick Vermeil said Sunday that doctors believe Boerigter, in a noncontact play, might have suffered ligament damage.

“I’ll know more tomorrow after they operate as to what the projections are,” Vermeil said. “Personally, I don’t believe (Boerigter will return) this season. That hurt me more than losing the game.”

Boerigter totaled 420 yards and eight touchdowns on just 20 catches in 2002, his first year in the NFL. He slumped last season but had looked sharp all through camp, catching four passes for 50 yards Aug. 23 against St. Louis.

Johnny Morton, slated to start alongside Eddie Kennison at wide receiver, has missed virtually the entire training camp with a sore Achilles tendon. Kennison, also slowed by injury, made his first start of the preseason against the Browns.

The enfeebled wide receiver group, which has never been a strength in Vermeil’s four seasons, might wind up weakening one of the Chiefs’ most potent weapons: the electrifying return game of Dante Hall.

A pro bowler who returned five kicks for touchdowns last year, Hall is also a backup wide receiver. Should he have to shoulder a greater load as a pass-catcher, Hall would almost certainly be relieved of some of his return duties.

“We’ll have to have someone else take maybe a punt return from time to time and/or a (kickoff),” Vermeil said.

“He’s not a 210-pound back. He’s a physically strong, gifted athlete. But we don’t want to wear him out either. It will be a factor.”

Vermeil said the Chiefs will be shopping for a wide receiver but will not be interested in talking with Keenan McCardell, who is holding out for a contract extension with Tampa Bay.

“If they can’t sign him, how could we?” Vermeil said. “I’ve always had better luck coaching the people I have and trying to help them get better. We’re not rebuilding a team any more.”

WARNER WILL START:

Eli Manning remains the New York Giants’ quarterback of the future. The present belongs to Kurt Warner.

Briefly citing Warner’s experience and recent play, coach Tom Coughlin announced Sunday that the two-time MVP had beaten out the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft for the starting job in the season opener at Philadelphia on Sept. 12.

“We give Kurt the ball and say, ‘Kurt, let’s go win,’ ” Coughlin said, ending a competition that has dominated training camp.

The choice wasn’t surprising in the wake of Friday’s 17-10 loss to the Jets. Warner played well and Manning did not during his worst day on the field since signing a $45 million contract in late July.

Warner hit 9-of-11 passes for 104 yards, leading the Giants to their only touchdown against the Jets. Manning was 4-of-14 for 20 yards, with two interceptions and a fumble that was returned for a Jets touchdown.


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