Rams set to finish season on West Coast
ST. LOUIS (AP) Earlier this month, the Rams played what could be their final home game in St. Louis.
Now, they may be done with those practice fields, too.
The Rams (6-8) are staying on the West Coast for the final two games, traveling to Seattle on Christmas night for Sunday's game, and then heading to Napa, California, where they'll prepare for the season finale at San Francisco.
It's the first time in the franchise's 21 seasons in St. Louis that it won't be practicing at home for a regular-season game, although counting the preseason it's the second time this year. The Rams stayed in Oxnard, California, between consecutive road games in August as well.
The backdrop is just a bit unusual, given owner Stan Kroenke wants to move the team back to Los Angeles.
After the last full-squad practice in St. Louis - there will be a walkthrough on Friday - coach Jeff Fisher said the extended trip was simply good strategy.
''Rather than going all of the way to Seattle, coming back and then going back out to San Francisco, we started making those plans months ago,'' Fisher said. ''We're prepared to go out there and have a good week of practice.''
Just as he had before the home finale, Fisher maintained it was just another day at Rams Park. As usual, loud music played, the better to prepare players for a noisy road game day experience.
Players like the idea of staying on the West Coast.
''You ever hear of jet lag?'' defensive back Lamarcus Joyner said. ''I think they want to make sure the guys physically and mentally are ready.''
Pro Bowl punter Johnny Hekker thought the idea was sound ''from a logistical standpoint, plus it might be a little easier on us.'' He thought of a fringe benefit, too.
''I'm not sure any of us have been to Napa,'' Hekker added. ''Looking forward to a couple glasses of wine.''
The Rams will fly to Oakland after Sunday's game and will be using the Raiders' training facility next week with practices set for Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. They'll bus to San Jose on Saturday.
When the Rams entered November with a winning record for the first time since 2006, reasoning for the trip seemed sound because they'd be seeking every possible edge to contend for a playoff spot. Then they lost five in a row, but decided not to alter the plan.
''You can appreciate how difficult it is for support staff and an organization to get things set up and prepared so we can come in there and just hit the ground running on Monday,'' Fisher said. ''Everybody's been through it before and we're prepared.''
Arizona and Baltimore tried this idea earlier in the season.
The Cardinals stayed at Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia and practiced at the Saints' training camp facility between games at Detroit on Oct. 11 and Pittsburgh Oct. 18. Though they lost to the Steelers, they were happy with the way it worked out, and haven't lost since.
Two years ago, the Cardinals practiced in Tampa between games against the Saints and Buccaneers, and then beat Tampa Bay.
The Ravens did it at the start of the season. Between games at Denver and Oakland, they practiced at San Jose State, then lost to the Raiders in Week 2.
Though the Rams won their final two home games of the season, last weekend they were eliminated from playoff consideration for the 12th consecutive season. Now, the impetus is simply on finishing strong.
''I haven't done this before so I couldn't tell you if it's a good idea or not,'' tight end Jared Cook said. ''It might be lighter on your legs with less travel, but I have no idea. I guess we'll see.''
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