Seattle Seahawks (2-1) at St. Louis Rams (1-2)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, Ron Pitts, John Lynch, Nischelle Turner
PREDICTION: Seahawks 34-24
KEYS TO THE GAME: With RB Steven Jackson (groin) day-to-day and the Seahawks allowing just 67.7 rushing yards per game, the Rams' offense will likely fall on the arm of rookie QB Sam Bradford. He has developed quick chemistry with WRs Mark Clayton (17 catches) and Danny Amendola (16), and Seattle's secondary will be extremely thin if CB Marcus Trufant (ankle) can't play. Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck is struggling with his accuracy. But Seattle is compensating with an aggressive defense (five turnovers last week) and strong special teams.
FAST FACTS: The Seahawks have won the past 10 meetings. ... The Rams have lost 15 consecutive games in the division and 11 consecutive division games at home.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Hampered by signing two young linemen with good potential but a lack of understanding of the team's offensive scheme, the Seattle Seahawks released veteran offensive lineman Chester Pitts on Thursday.
The former Houston Texan signed with Seattle just before training camp started in July and was placed on the active physically unable to perform list.
Pitts had season-ending microfracture knee surgery in September last year, and appeared to be on track to play in the first part of the regular season.
Seattle activated the 31 year old off the PUP list Aug. 24 in anticipation of Pitts being ready for the season opener against San Francisco Sept. 12.
But similar to former Seahawks Walter Jones' struggles after his microfracture surgery, Pitts never fully recovered in time to get on the field, and ultimately the Seahawks needed his roster spot to field enough linemen for Sunday's game at St. Louis.
Carroll said Pitts was slow to recover after a full-fledged practice on Wednesday.
"He was a little sore today after yesterday's workout and he wasn't going to be able to practice today," Carroll said. "So that's the message - that we weren't going to get him back in time. We've been trying and he's been working hard at it.
"He's been a diligent worker to get it right, and it just hasn't been enough time for him yet. So as soon as it does we'll try to get him back out here."
Part of the reason Seattle's hamstrung is they signed Breno Giacomini and Allen Barbre to the active roster this week, two players general manager John Schneider is familiar with from his time in Green Bay.
But neither player is familiar with Seattle's blocking scheme and do not have enough time to get up to speed before Sunday.
"What they called an apple we called an orange, and you've got to sort through that," Seahawks offensive line coach Art Valero said. "We're speaking English and he's speaking French, so we've just got to get the translation part right and they'll be able to go play faster."
St. Louis Rams:
Last season, the Rams were one of the worst teams in the NFL in the red zone. Whether it was on offense or defense, the team struggled mightily.
On offense, they reached the red zone just 34 times and scored 11 touchdowns, a 32.4 percentage that was fourth-worst in the league. They added 10 field goals for an overall scoring percentage of 61.8.
On defense, the Rams also ranked fourth from the bottom in the league, allowing 36 touchdowns on the 59 red-zone trips by opponents (61.0 percent). Add in 15 field goals, and opponents scored 86.4 percent of the time.
It's only been three games so far this season, but the improvement is significant. That has led to the Rams allowing only 49 points, fourth-fewest in the NFL, and no team has more than the 17 points Arizona scored in the season opener.
In last Sunday's 30-16 win over Washington, the Rams held the Redskins to three field goals in their three trips to the red zone.
Said middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, "I think we're jelling. We're very resilient. We have a mentality right now that the next play's the most important - I think that's the one thing you can look at. If a big play happens, OK, forget it about. You can't change it."
There might have been no better example than on the opening drive of the second half against Washington. Prior to halftime, the Rams came away empty after a 16-play drive that reached the Washington 1-yard line when a 21-yard field goal was blocked. The Rams still led 14-13 after having led, 14-0.
On the first play of the second half, a 56-yard pass play from Donovan McNabb to Santana Moss and a horse-collar tackle penalty on Rams safety Darian Stewart put the ball on the 8-yard line.
On third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, running back Clinton Portis was dropped for a one-yard loss. The Redskins kicked a field goal and led for the first time, 16-14, but the Rams answered with scoring drive that ended with ... a red-zone touchdown run by Kenneth Darby.
"Nobody was down," coach Steve Spagnuolo said, when asked about the mood at halftime. "We were up by a point. All I said to them was to be up by a point at halftime, you're in a football game. There's nothing wrong with that. We're going to go out and battle. I never expected when we got up 14 to nothing ... I anticipated that Washington would chip their way back somehow, someway. I just never thought it was going to be easy, and our players understood that. I looked at it a different way at halftime.
"We were up by a point, we had done a lot of good things. It just so happened that at the end of the half we did our worst, but let's not forget about where we were in the first quarter. So the guys came out and ... they had the one big play which could have deflated us but, I'll tell you what, the defense kept them out of the end zone. To me, that was huge. Then the offense answered."
Offensively, the Rams haven't been great in the red zone, but their 12 trips is tied for the second-most in the league and they have scored five touchdowns for 41.7 percent, which ranks 22nd. That and their 75.0 percent overall scoring mark is an improvement from 2009.
On defense, the Rams rank fourth in the NFL, having allowed just three touchdowns in 11 opponent's trips (27.3 percent).
Sunday against Seattle, if they can hold the Seahawks to 17 points or less, it will be the first time a Rams team has opened a season with four such games in a row since 1978. The last time they started a year with three straight was in 1999.
- DE Chris Clemons (ankle) did not practice on Thursday after not appearing on the injury report on Wednesday. Raheem Brock took his spot with the first unit.
- OT Sean Locklear (knee) did not practice on Thursday after being a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. Tyler Polumbus took his spot with the first unit at right tackle.
- OT Russell Okung (ankle) made it through his second straight practice and looks on track to play on Sunday at St. Louis. Okung was a full participant in practice for a second straight day.
- OG Mike Gibson was signed to the team's active roster, taking the place of released veteran lineman Chester Pitts. Gibson split reps with the first unit at left guard along with Ben Hamilton. Gibson had been released earlier this week and then added to the practice squad.
- LB Aaron Curry (hamstring) was a limited participant in practice on Thursday and is hopeful to play on Sunday.
- DT Brandon Mebane (calf) did not practice for a second straight day. Kentwan Balmer and Junior Siavii split reps with the first unit in place of Mebane.
- WR Mike Williams (shoulder) was a full participant in practice for a second straight day but did not take part in contact drills.
St. Louis Rams:
- RB Steven Jackson did not practice Thursday, and said his injured groin still felt "tight." Jackson said whether he plays or not will come down to a decision Sunday morning, but that "we'll be smart about it." He confirmed the injury is a Grade 1 strain unlike three years ago when he suffered a torn groin and missed four games.
- FS Oshiomogho Atogwe did not practice Thursday because of an injured quad, but coach Steve Spagnuolo said Atogwe "feels better." It appears very questionable that he would play Sunday against Seattle.
- S Craig Dahl returned to practice after missing last Sunday's game against Washington because of a concussion. Dahl worked at FS Oshiomogho Atogwe's spot. Atogwe isn't practicing because of a quad injury.
- LB Bryan Kehl, who had a pressure that led to an interception in Sunday's game against Washington, could see more time as the nickel linebacker in passing situations.
- OG John Greco saw some time at right guard Sunday against Washington in a rotation with Adam Goldberg. Greco was in the game for significant time when the Rams were running the ball with the lead in the fourth quarter. The rotation is expected to continue.
- DT Clifton Ryan remained out of practice and not on the field watching as he deals with migraine issues.