Thu, Nov 28, 2013 at 3:26 AM

Rams DT Brockers making plays in middle

Officials are so vigilant about protecting the quarterback,n
Michael Brockers made a textbook hit - and still got flagged.n
St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher praised his defensive tacklen
right after a 42-21 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, andn
the next day, too. Fisher thought Brockers was penalized becausen
the hit was so good.n
Going forward, he wouldn't have the Rams' first-round pick inn
2012 change a thing. Brockers has been a force in the middle with 3n
1/2 sacks for the Rams (5-6), who play at San Francisco (7-4) thisn
''Hopefully it doesn't get called the next time,'' Brockers saidn
Wednesday. ''I'm a big human being, so hits are going to look liken
that. Just playing ball, you know.''n
Brockers was called for roughing the passer after bulling up then
middle and leveling Josh McCown in the second half. Referee Jeromen
Boger said it was the correct call because the defender led withn
his helmet into the quarterback's body.n
Brockers stayed low and sent McCown flying without makingn
anything close to helmet-to-helmet contact.n
''I think that's an example of how to hit the quarterback withn
the ball in his hand, in my opinion,'' Fisher said. ''It should notn
have been called. It was a great effort and it was unfortunate itn
took a sack away from `Brock.'n
''Head was off to the side, just probably looked like it was toon
hard of a hit.''n
Instead of a 9-yard sack and forced fumble that was returned forn
a touchdown by middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, the Bears hadn
first-and-goal at the 1. Two plays later, Michael Bush punched itn
in to cut the Rams' lead to 27-21 with 7:20 to go.n
''They crushed my dreams,'' Laurinaitis joked. ''About the 35n
yard-line I heard the whistle. I don't want to look at the playn
Fisher's was livid on the sideline, yelling at the officials,n
and waved both arms down dismissively. Teammates were angry.n
''I thought that was a perfect form tackle,'' end Chris Longn
said. ''I'm not really sure what they want us to do. We all known
what that call looked like.''n
It could have been a game changer, except the offense respondedn
with a seven-play, 80-yard drive capped by rookie Bennyn
Cunningham's 9-yard run plus a 2-point conversion pass from Kellenn
Clemens to Isaiah Pead that made it a 14-point gap with just overn
three minutes to go.n
Defensive end Robert Quinn added another late score when hen
sacked and striped McCown, then scooped up the ball on a fumblen
return. The 21-point margin made it easier to be philosophical.n
''You've got great athletes playing this game and you expect then
referees to catch everything,'' Brockers said. ''Stuff happens son
fast. You can't really blame them.''n
Brockers was the 14th pick in 2012 after two seasons at LSU.n
Defensive tackles typically don't accumulate a lot of impactn
statistics, clogging up the middle while others make the stop, butn
that's not the case with the 6-foot-5, 322-pounder.n
''He's playing the run good, he's getting good pressure on then
quarterback, he's healthy and finishing plays,'' Fisher said.n
''Obviously, if you don't have the inside push, you're not going ton
get the effectiveness on the edge.''n
Brockers missed most of the first month of his rookie seasonn
with a high right ankle sprain, but then got immediately pluggedn
into the lineup and finished with four sacks and led St. Louisn
linemen with 63 total tackles. He has 43 total tackles this year,n
with two forced fumbles.n
None of the three players sidelined with concussion-liken
symptoms against the Bears practiced Wednesday. Fisher wasn
noncommittal about running back Zac Stacy, guard Chris Williams andn
cornerback Trumaine Johnson's availability this week.n
''All three of them are doing well,'' Fisher said. ''They're alln
going through the process right now and they're all doingn
Safety T.J. McDonald also was held out after returning last weekn
from a broken leg with what the Rams called a shin issue.n
Laurinaitis needed 11 stitches to close a cut on his right earn
first injured on a helmet-to-helmet hit with Colts quarterbackn
Andrew Luck before the bye week. The ear was reinjured on a hitn
with Bush.n
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.orgn

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