ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Steve Spagnuolo's first preseason game as St. Louis Rams coach was a definite step in the right direction.
The franchise known for beating itself in recent years was whistled for five penalties and had no turnovers in a 23-20 victory over the New York Jets on Friday night. The Rams exceeded 20 points only once in the previous three preseasons under Scott Linehan.
Spagnuolo had quibbles about big plays allowed on defense and sacks surrendered on offense. Mostly, no complaints.
"This wasn't a final exam," Spagnuolo said Saturday. "I'm not going to say a pop quiz because we knew it was coming, but we'll take whatever we can out of it, good and bad, and hopefully get better at it.
"We've been kind of pushing that all the way through."
The Rams were 2-14 last year and totaled five wins the last two seasons. There's hunger for success, even if it's August.
"We'll take it," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "After the last couple of years, it feels good."
Spagnuolo was interested in how the team interacted on the sideline as much as how it fared on the field, and that, too, was a positive.
"I thought the guys responded to each other," he said. "Certainly, we've got to clean some things up. But that's what these preseason games are for."
It's a shakedown cruise for Spagnuolo, as well, and he did his best to let coordinators Pat Shurmur (offense) and Ken Flajole (defense) call the signals.
"I'm going to try not to step on toes," he said. "You hire people to do their job, and I think both of them did a good job. I just chime in when I see it's needed, but thought they handled it pretty good."
Second-round pick James Laurinaitis started at outside linebacker and first-rounder Jason Smith, the second overall pick of the draft, was a backup at offensive tackle behind veteran Adam Goldberg. Smith didn't debut until late in the first half. Both got fairly high marks from the coach.
"James, for being tossed in there as a starter in the first preseason game, I thought he did a nice job," Spagnuolo said. "Jason, he played physical and aggressive, which is what we saw when we drafted him."
Samkon Gado took the early lead in the competition at backup running back behind Steven Jackson, rushing for 93 yards on six carries with a 77-yard touchdown run. Kenneth Darby might have hurt his chances with a missed blitz pickup that led to a sack. Overall, the Rams outrushed the Jets 193-102 and averaged 6.7 yards despite little from Jackson, who had two carries for 15 yards.
"They're all still hacking away, and we've got some ways to go," Spagnuolo said. "Nothing's going to happen right away."
Guard Jacob Bell sustained a mild concussion early in the game after taking a blow to the head, and is day to day. Backup quarterback Brock Berlin has a mild MCL knee sprain, and wide receivers Brooks Foster (ankle) and Tim Carter (groin) will undergo MRI exams.
Foster, a fifth-round draft pick, recovered a muffed punt by the Jets in the fourth quarter to set up the go-ahead touchdown.
Spagnuolo said defensive tackle Adam Carriker, who missed the preseason opener with an ankle injury, also would be out for Friday's home game against the Falcons. Fullback Mike Karney (ankle) could be available after dressing but not playing in the opener.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)