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Starters may get more playing time in finale

St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (39) runs during an NFL preseason football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Friday, Aug. 26, 2011, in Kansas City, MO.

St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (39) runs during an NFL preseason football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Friday, Aug. 26, 2011, in Kansas City, MO. Photo by The Associated Press.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The third preseason game was a nice bounceback for the St. Louis Rams. Coach Steve Spagnuolo wants to see more like that, and plans on using starters in the final tuneup.

Normally, most first-stringers play sparingly if at all in the last preseason game. Because of the lockout, the Rams have plenty to iron out before the regular season.

Even if they’re 3-0.

“We all know the speed of the game changes,” Spagnuolo said Saturday. “I don’t get caught up too much in the scores of preseason games other than I think it’s a confidence builder.”

On Thursday night at Jacksonville, the Rams go for their first perfect preseason since moving to the Midwest in 1995. Spagnuolo’s not impressed with the record, and wants his starters to get another shot of game-day anxiety before the season opener Sept. 11 at home against Philadelphia.

“The intriguing thing with the situation I think every team is in, and I don’t know how you judge this, but we haven’t played a full game,” Spagnuolo said. “It’s hard to simulate that in practice and obviously in these preseason games guys don’t play for 60 minutes, so that is one concern.”

Spagnuolo also would like to establish more momentum.

“This week we came out, at least in the first half, and did some good things,” Spagnuolo said. “It would be nice to string another series of quarters together where we play well.”

A quick start on offense was a key to the 14-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night in the Governor’s Cup game, with Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson starring in a pair of touchdown drives the first two possessions. In the first quarter, the Rams outgained the Chiefs 148-16 and were 5-for-5 on third down.

“We wanted to come out hard, come out fast and play uptempo,” Jackson said. “Last we had some up and down possessions but this week we wanted to re-establish ourselves.”

Jackson had an extensive workout, gaining 72 yards on 15 carries and backup Cadillac Williams had 53 yards on 12 carries. The Rams totaled 170 yards rushing, a major improvement after being held to 44 yards by the Titans.

“Steven was all for it,” Spagnuolo said. “I thought he looked really good.”

The defense stepped up, too, moving past a weak effort against the Titans. Defensive end Robert Quinn, the team’s first-round pick, had a sack and blocked a field goal at the end of the game.

“I thought he played a little bit faster, which just means he’s probably thinking less and reacting more,” Spagnuolo said. “I really thought the blocked field goal was exceptions, there was a big smile on his face.”

Spagnuolo wasn’t overly concerned about giving up passing yards to the Chiefs in the second half because the defense had been simplified.

“We just wanted to let the guys play, kind of kept it basic,” Spagnuolo said. “I didn’t read too much into it.”

Spagnuolo said Ben Leber and Brady Poppinga, the new starting outside linebackers, had solid games.

The injury list is not extensive. Cornerback Dionte Dinkins will miss 2-4 weeks because of a high ankle sprain and running back Keith Toston has a quad strain.

Spagnuolo said the Rams may make some roster moves today, ahead of the Tuesday deadline.

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