- Associated Press - Thursday, September 15, 2011

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A half-dozen of Sam Bradford’s passes were dropped and the quarterback himself took quite a pounding. The defense beat itself all too often.

The St. Louis Rams say they are over the opening-day jitters that cost them in a 31-13 loss to the Eagles. On Monday night at the New York Giants, they promise a much better show.

There were problems galore against Philadelphia, yet the game was up for grabs late in the third quarter.

Minus crucial first-half mistakes like rookie tight end Lance Kendrick’s dropped catch on what would have been a touchdown and Billy Bajema’s false start on first-and-goal at the 1 that led to the Rams settling for a field goal, at least they’d have had a chance.

“Everything that happened in the game is fixable, that’s the encouraging thing,” linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “It wasn’t guys getting manhandled. Stuff you can correct easily, so we’ll look to do that. We’ll be extremely detailed.”

Coach Steve Spagnuolo blamed the Eagles’ five sacks on breakdowns across the line, including tight end, while pointing out the Rams did a good job with the running game. Steven Jackson had 56 yards on only two carries with a touchdown before leaving with an injured right leg and backup Cadillac Williams had 91 yards on 19 carries.

Jackson didn’t practice Thursday but left the door ajar, saying the injury had improved.

“Definitely shooting to have an outside chance to be able to go on Monday,” Jackson said. “But we want to be smart, we know it’s early in the season.”

Offensive tackle Jason Smith was on the field Thursday a day after getting treatment for a left ankle sprain, a positive sign.

Bradford has looked sharp passing the last two days, shaking off a sprained index finger in the fourth quarter, but days like Sunday when the Eagles got in hits after the throw more than a half-dozen times tend to have a cumulative effect.

“To say we’re going to keep Sam upright all year long is not realistic, but we have to do a great job of making sure he stays upright most of the time,” center Jason Brown said. “Was Sam on the ground too many times last week? Yes, he was.

“It’s better there were breakdowns vs. guys just getting physically beaten.”

Defenders were admonished after the loss that if they had stayed in their gaps, they would have had better containment on Michael Vick. Pass catchers were also reminded sternly to secure the ball first.

“Face to face, look them in the eye, ‘That can’t happen and that’s your job,’” Spagnuolo said. “It comes simply back to the little things, catch the point, put it away and become a runner.”

Half of the drops were by rookies, two by Kendricks and one by Greg Salas. Kendricks said he was thinking too much, his brain overloaded with a full game’s worth of plays to execute.

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