Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 12/18/11
======================================================== Cincinnati Bengals (6-5) at St. Louis Rams (2-11) ========================================================GAME SNAPSHOT KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET GAMEDATE: 121811 SURFACE: FieldTurf PREDICTION: Rams 21-20 KEYS TO THE GAME: Rams QB Sam Bradford (ankle) went 10-of-29 passing last week and struggled to step into his throws, but options are limited with A.J. Feeley (thumb) unlikely to be available. They want to lean on the running game, but without the fear of vertical passing from the Rams, Cincinnati's cling-wrap run defense won't let RB Steven Jackson get loose. If QB Andy Dalton takes care of the ball, the Bengals have to like their chances. St. Louis has a depleted secondary with no readymade cover men to keep the ball out of rookie WR A.J. Green's hands. FAST FACTS: The Rams are 15-62 since the start of the 2007 season. ... The Bengals are on pace for 44 sacks, but are 0-3 when they have five in a game. INSIDE THE CAMPSBengals Besides having to deal with a new right side of the offensive line, the Bengals' running game might be further behind the eight ball if Chris Pressley and Brian Leonard can't play Sunday at St. Louis. Both have knee injuries. Pressley, who has started at fullback in all 13 games, has been one of the reasons why the running game has slightly improved this season. It has meant that Cedric Benson is averaging a half a yard better per carry. Leonard did not play in last week's loss to Houston due to a bruised knee. His presence was especially felt on third downs as the Bengals were just 5-of-13. Leonard played with the Rams for two seasons before being traded to the Bengals in 2009. If Pressley can't play, there is a good chance that Cedric Peerman would see time at fullback. Peerman has not taken a snap in the backfield this year but is a physical player. He leads the team in special teams tackles with 12. The running game will be a huge factor going into the Rams game. St. Louis is last in the league in run defense. Benson is a physical back that gets stronger as the game goes along but has only one game this season where he has 25 or more carries. Of Benson's 16 career 100-yard games, five have been in December. Rams On Monday against Seattle, Bryan Mattison started at right guard after being with the team for 16 days and seven practices. It was his first NFL start after entering the league in 2008 as a defensive lineman. Sunday against Cincinnati, there's a chance Kellen Clemens could be the starting quarterback after being with the team for 10 days and five practices. That's the type of season it's been for the Rams. "I've been putting in a lot of extra time," Clemens said in an understatement. I get here when it's dark and leave when it's dark. But if I play I'll be prepared. "I get more and more comfortable with each practice, with each rep. But it has been a challenge." Said offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, "He's shown some maturity, a lot of leadership for just being here a short time. He knows the best way for him to go out there and give us an opportunity to play good football is to show his teammates he knows what to do. He's responsible for his job and I think that generally that's what he's done, which is impressive. Smart kid, going to get us in the right play. Hopefully we'll have an opportunity here to see what it's like on Sunday if that's the way it ends up going. I think everybody's got confidence in him at practice. He's built the respect of the teammates over the last week here and we'll carry it through on Sunday if that's the way we go." Asked about Clemens, running back Steven Jackson said, "He's done a great job. He calls the plays pretty much flawless, does a good job of getting the ball out of his hands in a three-step drop in our passing scheme. He has a greater concept and understanding of the protections. For him to only be in practice and only in the system in a week, he's done an unbelievable job." McDaniels seemed to hint that Sam Bradford is unlikely to play when he was asked if it make sense to play Bradford when he is affected on the field by his ankle injury and isn't able to practice during the week. He said, "No matter what player it is, it could be at any position, that if you're not out there practicing and getting the live reps with your teammates or if you have an injury that won't enable you to do what you think you need to do to be effective, there's a lot of things that could hamper somebody's performance. I think that all those factors go into it. I think everybody's dealing with something at this time of the year. I think the quarterback position just gets a lot of attention. I do think the best thing for us is to have him healthy. If he's not healthy and he can't really perform at the level that he wants to and that we know that he can, then I know coach (Steve Spagnuolo) will make a great decision about that." As for Mattison, he is expected to start again this week. Spagnuolo said of Mattison, "We thought Bryan could line up there at guard and give us some efficient plays. We think he did that. There were a couple places where he struggled, but going forward he's just going to get better and better." Admitting to being "definitely nervous" before the game started, he said, "I was always told growing up that nerves are a good thing. That means you care about it. I think everybody was excited to get out there and my first play I was just hoping I wouldn't jump offsides and after that I was good to go." He's still learning offensive line play as well as the Rams' offense. "There's a lot of learning," he said. "There's a lot of messing up in practice and getting corrected. I think the best thing I can do is just be coachable. There's going to be some mess ups and stuff like that but it was difficult. I think if you ask anybody in here, NFL football is difficult, it doesn't matter what you are playing. It's my job to learn it and get after it." As for whether he thinks about the potential of showing the rams what he can do to possibly solidify a spot on the line for next season, he smiled and said, "I'm just trying to do better for next week. I have way too much to do. I just try to improve for next week. If I get the start next week, make the most of the opportunity for that game. I don't have enough time to think about down the road or the next 10 years of my life. I am just trying to make it through practice tomorrow." PERSONNEL NEWSBengals --OT Andre Smith (ankle) did not practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. With Smith suffering a slight setback, it appears as if Anthony Collins will get his second straight start. --DE Carlos Dunlap (hamstring) was limited in practice for a second straight day. All indications are he will play for the first time in four games. --LB Dontay Moch (illness) continues to deal with migraine issues and has not practiced for the last four weeks. --DE Frostee Rucker (hamstring) showed up on the practice report as limited, but all indications are he will play. --LB Manny Lawson has 4.5 sacks against the Rams (when he was with the 49ers), which is his most against any opponent. Rams --QB Sam Bradford is in a boot to protect his injured left ankle, and missed practice again Thursday. It seems unlikely that Bradford will play this week. --CB Justin King was added to the injury report and did not practice Thursday after injuring his shoulder in practice Wednesday. --LT Mark LeVoir missed another day of practice Thursday with a groin injury, which could mean the return of Adam Goldberg to the starting lineup, --CB Josh Gordy, who didn't practice Wednesday because of an abdominaloblique injury, was able to practice on a limited basis Thursday. It is hoped he will be able to play Sunday. --TE Stephen Spach hasn't been cleared for contact after missing practice Wednesday because of a concussion, but he was able to do some limited work Thursday. It is hoped he will do more Friday and be available to play Sunday. --S Craig Dahl (ankle) was limited Thursday after not practicing Wednesday and is hopefully making progress to be able to play Sunday.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Kyrie Irving reportedly considered requesting trade after Cavs won title in 2016

Report: Cavaliers ‘disturbed’ Kyrie Irving trade request became public

Report: Kyrie Irving asked Cavs to trade him

Landon Collins: Giants will ‘definitely’ topple Cowboys atop NFC East

Are the Cowboys bracing for possible Elliott suspension?

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Simpson parole board member opens up about Chiefs tie

Draymond Green calls out Damian Lillard

Pacman Jones suspended for Week 1 of upcoming season

Stenson had rental home robbed at Open Championship

Report: Carmelo would waive $8M trade kicker for Rockets

Report: Rangers shopping Yu Darvish in trade talks

The 'Pay that man his money' quiz

The National League Wild Card is suddenly relevant again

Kicking It: USMNT struggles to find consistency in Gold Cup as World Cup qualifying nears

Three Up, Three Down: The Dodgers are a complete juggernaut right now

Who won the Open Championship in the year you were born?

Box Score 7/21: Stay cool this weekend sports fans

BIG3 Week 5: Pivotal make-or-break weekend in Chicago

The 'Let's show a little love for James Jones' quiz

Making an NFL GM change in the summer has its benefits

Every NFL team’s biggest question as training camps start

Box Score 7/20: Nothing but Nolan

The 'Yoan Moncada era starts now' quiz

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The National League Wild Card is suddenly relevant again

The 'Pay that man his money' quiz

BIG3 Week 5: Pivotal make-or-break weekend in Chicago

The 'Let's show a little love for James Jones' quiz

Making an NFL GM change in the summer has its benefits

The 'Yoan Moncada era starts now' quiz

The Orioles need to unwind past deals if they are going to rebuild

BIG3 Referee Hotline Bling: Sam Hinkie is calling the shots

The 'No one is betterer than Roger Federer' quiz

The 'Youth in baseball is cyclical' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker