Ready or not, it's time for the St. Louis Rams to take their game overseas.
The team was flying to London on Monday in preparation for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots. The Rams (3-4) might have an edge in game preparation, given they'll be training at Arsenal's soccer facilities, which coach Jeff Fisher described as completely self-contained.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke also owns Arsenal, so it was a natural that he was interested in the London option. The Rams had planned on playing in London for three straight years but backed off earlier this year and decided on playing just one game amid fan concerns that Kroenke might move the franchise after the 2014 season.
Fisher said the Rams will practice in the early afternoon London time as they adjust to the six-hour time change, and will get plenty of free time. The team has been preparing for this for a few weeks.
"They're excited," Fisher said. "They know the challenges associated with going across the pond, as they say, and they're looking forward to it."
Speaking into a microphone that had feedback issues when he met reporters, Fisher joked that it was the only glitch during preparations for the trip.
"The organization has done a great job with all the logistics, everybody's prepared and ready to go," Fisher said. "If this is all we have, we're in good shape."
Fisher believes the team progressed even in the 30-20 loss to Green Bay on Sunday, the Rams' first defeat at home after a 3-0 start. He said quarterback Sam Bradford might have played his best game, and cited improvement on the offensive line with solid debuts for newcomers Joe Barksdale and Shelley Smith.
"Nobody played good enough because we didn't win, but Sam made the throws, he bought time, he did a really good job on the line of scrimmage getting in and out of things," Fisher said.
Bradford was 21 for 34 for 255 yards with an interception and a touchdown pass in the final minute to Austin Pettis. After the game, he appeared optimistic.
"Our mentality is that we can play with anyone on any Sunday," Bradford said. "And we're going to take that same mentality into the game next week."
The Rams have added more help for a line decimated by injuries by signing Chris Williams, a 2008 first-round pick out of Vanderbilt whose contract was terminated by the Bears last week. Williams started 20 games at left guard, 11 at right tackle and seven at left tackle with Chicago, but failed to live up to his perceived potential in Chicago.
"We just think he can help us," Fisher said. "Now, he's got a lot to learn and I don't know how soon or where we'll plug him in, but we think he has a future here with us."
Fisher said most but not all injured players would be accompanying the team, but did not specify.
"I think you could assume that if they don't make the trip, they're going to be out this week," he said.
Center Scott Wells (foot) can resume practicing as the Rams' designated-to-return injured reserve player, but Fisher said he's not ready yet. Tackle Rodger Saffold (knee) is likely to miss his fifth game.
The Rams had been holding opponents to 14.7 points at home before running into the Packers, who have won four straight in the series and seven of 10. They sacked Aaron Rodgers three times in the first quarter, but that was it.
The offense is 28th in the NFL. Danny Amendola leads the team with 32 receptions even though he's missed the last three games with a collarbone injury, and Steven Jackson scored his first touchdown of the year on a 6-yard run against Green Bay.
"We've still got a lot of work to do," Jackson said. "We're slowly coming together as an offense and a unit. We've got to help our defense out by putting points on the board."
The Packers surprised the Rams with a successful onside kick in the first quarter that set up a field goal. They took control in the third quarter, grabbing a 17-6 lead, while the Rams ran only seven plays and Bradford threw an interception that led to another field goal.
The Rams' defense faces another formidable challenge. The Patriots have had at least 350 total yards in 16 consecutive games, tying the record set by the Rams from 1999-2000 for the longest streak in NFL history, and they lead the NFL with an average of 436 yards.
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