With a young team working hard and believing it will get better, the Rams also decided against putting in a waiver claim for wide receiver Randy Moss even though their pass-catching corps has been affected by season-ending knee injuries to Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton. The Rams had a light practice Wednesday before the team was given four days off until Monday.
Said coach Steve Spagnuolo, "I told the team that they ought to feel good about where they're at, 4-4, especially after being 3-4. We got a long way to go. We got a tough road ahead. We all realize that, and the main focus will be getting some things reassessed, re-evaluated during the bye week. The coaches will do that. We'll do some improvement things on Wednesday, and then the whole focus will be on San Francisco."
The Rams travel to play the 49ers in the first game after the bye, and they have yet to win a road game this season. The 49ers, meanwhile, have won two of their last three games, and despite being 2-6, would pull within one game of the Rams with a victory in Week 10.
In their Wednesday practice, the Rams worked on most of the self-scouting areas coaches identified, while also doing some 49ers red-zone preparation.
Players obviously know what is at stake. In the NFC West, and in NFC, for that matter, things are wide open.
"It's very exciting," running back Steven Jackson said of the second-half opportunities that exist. "We always look to a challenge. We're always setting goals for ourselves, so this next month of football is going to be very important for us to get ourselves in a great position to be able to play in the postseason. It's very exciting for me, myself. It's been a long time."
-- Running back Steven Jackson likes the personality that the team is developing. He said, "I think this team is a tough, resilient team. I think quote-unquote we may not have recognizable names, but I've learned just in this season that if you have guys that are willing to execute, being coached and listening to the details of the week, that you can play at a high level. It has been very impressive for us to come together like we have."
Talking about the leadership of coach Steve Spagnuolo, Jackson said, "We've learned how to deal with adversity in a manner that we don't panic. We kind of embrace it. We accept that things are going to happen, but we also know that it's also about the 53 guys with Rams helmets on who's going to change it. I think guys have really embraced that thought and philosophy."
-- In the locker room Wednesday, someone put a piece of white paper where the name would be over an empty locker situated between receivers Brandon Gibson and Donnie Avery. In black magic marker, it said, "Moss."
Of course, the Rams did not put in a claim for the wayward receiver. Had they done so, Randy Moss would have been a Ram because Tennessee was the only team to claim him.
Asked about the prospect of getting Moss, before the 3 p.m. Central deadline, Steven Jackson said, "If you could add a talent like that, it would definitely help us, but if it doesn't happen, we're not going to lose any sleep about it. I think our young guys have done a great job of rallying as a receiver corps. They've allowed Sam (Bradford) to make plays down the field, they've been very influential in run-blocking for me. If he comes here, I think everyone will be excited, and if it doesn't happen, we're going to go as business as usual and get ready for San Francisco."
Added linebacker James Laurinaitis, "I don't even think about those things. If Billy (general manager Billy Devaney) or Spags bring him in, we would support them. If not, we would still support them."
As for the Moss name above one of the lockers, Laurinaitis said, "That's just guys being silly."
BY THE NUMBERS: 3-21 -- The Rams' combined record after eight games over the previous three seasons.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've got to put those things behind us that we could have done better and look to the future. We've enjoyed some breaks just like some other teams have enjoyed some breaks, so it is what it is. You earn your record. We're 4-4, and that's what it is. We're in the race still, and that's where we want to be. We can be better." -- DE Chris Long, on the Rams at the halfway mark.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
-- S James Butler had an MRI on his injured ankle, which showed it not to be a high ankle sprain. Butler did not participate in the team's Wednesday practice, the only one of the bye week.
-- TE Michael Hoomanawanui had further tests on his back, which were negative. He participated in practice Wednesday.
-- TE Daniel Fells had a CT scan of his injured back, and it was negative. Fells did not practice Wednesday, but he is expected to be OK when the team returns from its bye.
-- OT Jason Smith passed his exertion test Tuesday after suffering a concussion in practice last Thursday. He did not practice Wednesday but was on the sideline.
-- S Darian Stewart, who has missed the last two games because of a hamstring injury, returned to practice Wednesday.
INJURY IMPACT: Only two of the team's four tight ends practiced Wednesday because of back injuries affecting Daniel Fells and Fendi Onobun. There were only four healthy wide receivers practicing, and that includes Greg Mathews, who is on the practice squad.