Bradford completed 7 of 11 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown, a perfectly thrown fade route to Lance Kendricks, and the Rams beat the Jaguars 24-17 in their preseason finale Thursday night. St. Louis finished the preseason with a perfect, 4-0 record for the first time since 1979.
"You put in a lot of work in camp and that work stays, but the record doesn't," Rams defensive end Chris Long said. "The slate is wiped clean, good or bad. Now it's time to focus on the real games. Our team looks awesome. We've made a lot of good acquisitions. The young guys have continued to progress. We're just going to try to ride that wave into the season."
Garrard and the Jaguars (1-3) are trying to get on track. Garrard was hit repeatedly in two series and pleaded with his offensive linemen for protection on the sideline. Garrard completed 1 of 5 passes for 11 yards before turning things over to Luke McCown.
Yes, McCown. He passed rookie Blaine Gabbert on the depth chart this week. It appears that Gabbert, the 10th overall pick, will start the season as the third-stringer.
"It's a bigger deal to the people on the outside," said Gabbert, who completed 8 of 19 passes for 132 yards in the second half. "We look at it as we're quarterbacks, and if Dave goes down for some horrible reason, that we have to be ready to play. We haven't gone over who's ranked on the depth chart. We just know Dave's the starter. We all take reps in practice, all trying to get better day in and day out."
McCown completed 4 of 9 passes for 47 yards, including a 17-yard TD pass to rookie Cecil Shorts in the third quarter.
Both played about 10 snaps. Jones-Drew, coming off offseason knee surgery, had a 14-yard run off the left edge. But he finished with 14 yards on five carries.
"It was great having them back," coach Jack Del Rio said. "We have been watching them work in practice so we know they're back. It was great to see Maurice rip off a run and bring a little energy to the sideline. He's a special young man."
Without Britton, the line played well last week at Buffalo. But it looked overmatched against the Rams. Left tackle Eugene Monroe, rookie guard Will Rackley and right tackle Guy Whimper all got beaten in the first two series.
"We just have to be firmer in the pocket and do what we're supposed to do, make the plays we are supposed to make," Garrard said. "That is stuff we are going to get corrected and fixed so when opening day comes we are ready to roll."
Del Rio downplayed his team's preseason struggles. The Jaguars got rolled at New England, played considerably better against Atlanta, but then fell behind 17-0 at Buffalo.
"Right now we are working through camp," Del Rio said. "You can get too caught up celebrating what you have done in the preseason or the disappointments. I'm not going to get caught up in that. We have a good football team and we're going to be a good football team. We can't wait to get started."
The Rams can't wait, either.
Bradford found Steven Jackson in the flat on a screen pass for a 27-yard gain on St. Louis' opening drive. Bradford took a helmet-to-helmet hit on the play, picking up an extra 15 yards. The drive ended with a punt, but Bradford found the end zone on his next possession. On third-and-1 at the Jacksonville 44, Bradford fooled the defense with play-action and hit Kendricks alone in the secondary for a 44-yard score.
Bradford had the Rams on the move again before turning things over to A.J. Feeley to start the second quarter. Feeley's second pass was intercepted by Terrence Wheatley. That did little to dampen St. Louis' spirits.
"The confidence level is up," linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "It's been there for a while. We know these preseason games don't count, so 4-0 in preseason doesn't mean anything. We just want to keep this momentum going and have it carry over into the regular season."
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