Rams get their wish in preseason opener

Sunday, August 12, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:39 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ST. LOUIS — Rams coach Scott Linehan got what he wanted from the Rams preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings - a victory and a useful game film.

What caught his eye the most, he said Saturday in a news conference at Rams Park, was the performance of his top three draft picks.

Brian Leonard rushed for a touchdown, Adam Carriker helped stop Minnesota up the middle, and the Rams beat the Vikings 13-10 on Friday night in Minneapolis. Jonathan Wade contributed some tackles in the secondary.

“The top three were highlights for me personally,” Linehan said. “Adam did a tremendous job in his game playing live. He really held his own. Brian brings a lot of versatility to the table. He can be a heck of a player for us. Jonathan Wade is the guy who really showed up. On the first play of the game on the kickoff team, he made a really sure tackle.”

Carriker, the first-round draft pick and new nose tackle from Nebraska, helped anchor a strong interior effort against Vikings rookie running back Adrian Peterson _ who carried 11 times for 33 yards.

Leonard, the second-round choice, scored the Rams’ only touchdown.

Wade, the third-round selection from Tennessee, took a knee to the neck that shook him up. He did return to play. He will undergo an evaluation Sunday and, if cleared, will return to practice.

“He got his bell rung and he was cleared 5 or 10 minutes after he came out,” Linehan said. “He felt fine afterwards. He made a great open field tackle on a reverse.”

The Rams were tough to run on as the Vikings failed to move the chains on five of seven third downs in the first half. Ryan Longwell’s 30-yard field goal was all the starting offense, minus Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson, mustered while playing through most of the second quarter.

The backup to Pro Bowl pick Steven Jackson, Leonard rushed nine times for 36 yards and caught five passes for 30 yards.

“For Brian we couldn’t have scripted it better. We wanted to see him run the ball. We wanted to see him catch it. We wanted to see him protect,” Linehan said. “It’s a good start.”

The Rutgers running back scored on a 10-yard run up the middle with the second unit that gave his team a 7-3 lead. He rushed for 26 yards and caught an 8-yard pass in the 73-yard scoring drive. Leonard sustained a bruise to his lower rib cage but he will be able to practice, albeit with some discomfort, Linehan said.

The Rams came away from the game with only one major injury. Receiver Dominique Thompson has two displaced ribs in his lower right side and it will be a “at least a few weeks” before he can participate in any contact, Linehan said.

“Overall, it was a solid performance and there were a lot more positives than negatives,” Linehan said. “It wasn’t a perfect game by any means. It gives us a good starting point.”

NOTES: The Rams practice for Sunday afternoon is now closed to the public because of the forecast calls for the temperature to be 101 degrees. Linehan said he did not if the club will work outdoors or indoors. ... the Rams won a challenge in the third quarter but Linehan had trouble getting his red flag out of his pocket. “I had to get through five or six things in my pocket to find my red flag,” Linehan joked. “That will never happen again. I threw everything. I’m surprised I didn’t rip my pants off. I don’t know if they have me on film or not but I’d like to burn it if they do. It would be pretty embarrassing.” ... Veteran center Andy McCollum, who did not start Friday after ailing last week with a stomach virus, will start in this Saturday’s preseason home opener against San Diego.

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