NFL: Rams may have Monday Night Football jitters

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 18, 2011

Associated Press
ST. LOUIS — There’s no denying the St. Louis Rams are excited to be making the franchise’s first Monday night appearance in five years, even if coach Steve Spagnuolo says he’s approaching it as just another game.
After a season-opening 31-13 loss to the Eagles at home, that means the focus has to be on getting a win tonight at the New York Giants.
“I think we embrace the fact that we’re playing on Monday night,” Spagnuolo said. “We’re all proud of that and it’s great and everything that goes with it. But I can’t get past the fact that it’s Game 2, we’re 0-1, we need a win. No matter who we played, where we play it, the goal would be the same.
“And when push comes to shove and it’s all said and done, it really is only what happens between the white lines. I firmly believe that and I hope our team is thinking the same way.”
Even so, defensive end Chris Long said he and the Rams are looking forward to being on the prime-time stage, a place they haven’t been since Dec. 11, 2006.
“It’s great. I wouldn’t know what it feels like because so far we haven’t had a lot of opportunities like this,” he said. “You can’t take it for granted. Hopefully, it’ll be a yearly thing but you never know. Everybody’s watching and it’s a great opportunity.”
Running back Steven Jackson hopes to be a part of it. He will be a game-time decision after not practicing again Saturday because of the quadriceps he strained in the first quarter of last week’s loss to Philadelphia.
“You definitely want to be out there, but I’ll be the first one to tell you if it was just a Sunday regular game it would still kill me just as much as it being a Monday night game,” said Jackson, who raced 47 yards for a touchdown on the Rams’ first play last week. “This is a big game. The Giants are going to come out really aggressive. This is their home opener.
“It just kills me to know that my team needs me and I’m not able to be out there and answer the call.”
Playing at night will not be an issue, Spagnuolo said, noting that the Rams’ four preseason games were at night and the routine will be the same.
“It’s a long day and you do two things,” Spagnuolo said. “You try to get them up and off their feet a little bit, but don’t wear them out. You need to relax, don’t play the game before the game, because that can happen. Guys get all geeked up and they’re playing a game at 4 o’clock, but it’s an 8:30 (p.m.) game, right?”
After so many futile seasons, Jackson is savoring the Rams’ return to the national spotlight.
“It means a lot. We’ve come a long way over the years,” he said. “To have a Monday night game, I think we want to put on a performance that … they always say we’re an up-and-coming team, but we’re a team that should be recognized, that should be taken seriously this year.
“Not just because the future looks bright, I think the future is here.”
Notes: TE Billy Bajema will be the emergency quarterback behind Sam Bradford and A.J. Feeley. … RT Jason Smith (ankle) was limited in practice Saturday and his playing status will be a game-time decision.