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Rams' Spagnuolo ready to turn attention to division opponents

ST. LOUIS -- With his team's final minicamp wrapped up and only a handful of organized team activities remaining, first-year St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo is ready to start focusing on the NFC West.

"Starting on Wednesday, Thursday and going into the following week, it will be concentrating on the NFC West teams," Spagnuolo said Saturday after the team's final practice of its second minicamp. "We'll take a team a day and probably two on Seattle since that's the opener, and we'll go from there."

Until now, Spagnuolo said he and his staff have been looking at more big-picture issues.

"Right now, our primary focus is on those things you really can't measure. I'm talking about that a lot, the team chemistry, the unity and I'm always pounding that."

Under Spagnuolo, St. Louis has installed new offensive and defensive schemes. Both coordinators feel good about the progress, but as offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur noted, hope springs eternal in the spring.

"We get excited in the spring, but as coaches, you always hold judgment until the pads go on," Shurmur said. "We're anticipating that their effort and performance will carry over."

In addition to getting starting quarterback Marc Bulger back on track, the Rams face major challenges at wide receiver and on the offensive line after the offseason losses of longtime stars Torry Holt and Orlando Pace.

While the Rams essentially have no veteran presence at the receiving positions, Shurmur likes what he has seen so far.

"I like the guys we have," he said. "I think they're playing hard and they're working hard to get open, and they're really working hard at catching the football. I think they're all trying to think of themselves as playmakers, and that's what you want."

New defensive coordinator Ken Flajole also is optimistic.

"We've got about 70 to 75 percent of what we do installed," he said. "Haven't had a lot of reps at it, but I think we've been encouraged."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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