By Howard Balzer for KSDK Sports
(KSDK Sports) -- The Rams have had an alarming number of special teams penalties in the first five games of the season, with basically half of their overall penalties coming there, mostly on punt returns. As a team, the Rams have 33 penalties for 288 yards, and 17 for 145 have been on special teams. Of the 17, 11 have come on punt returns, and that doesn't include one called penalty that was declined.
Punt returner Tavon Austin has had several long returns called back. Including one that would have been an 84-yard touchdown against Dallas.
Thus, it was a frustrated special teams coordinator John Fassel that talked to the media Thursday, but for a different reason that one might suspect.
Fassel started by saying, "I'd love to tell you exactly how I really feel; I just don't want to get in trouble because a couple times we've had as good of blocks I've ever coached in my career that have been called. That's not an excuse. There's been some times where we have committed penalties like most teams in the league - the block in the backs, holdings on the line of scrimmage. A couple of them got me a little pissed off Monday morning."
We'd hate to hear what Fassel might say if he told us exactly how he felt.
He continued, "Some people might not want to hear this, but we're not going to change the way we play because the way those guys have been playing - (Daren) Bates and (Ray Ray) Armstrong and (Chase) Reynolds and (Stedman) Bailey and (Brandon) McGee; I get the privilege of watching the tape and the effort and really the execution, I couldn't ask for more. I'm not going to have our guys change it. There's some things we've got to do to be smarter, but there's always some that you look at it and you just say, 'Damn, that's not a penalty.'"
Tackle Rodger Saffold, who has been out since injuring his left knee against Atlanta in the second game of the season, returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday with his leg heavily taped and wearing a large brace. Saffold wouldn't put a timetable on when he will play, but it seems unlikely it will be this week.
Saffold said he worked hard early in the week on lateral movement and change of direction and said of the team's training staff, "They tried to break me, but I was able to stay strong. I've been just rolling since Monday, shaking a bunch of rust off and getting in a groove. It's amazing how far I've come along. I had to keep showing them I can still do the job."
Running back Zac Stacy, who did not practice Wednesday because of a chest injury, returned Thursday and worked on a limited basis.
Howard Balzer will be contributing to KSDK Sports throughout the 2013 season. Howard hosts PrimeTime Monday-Friday from 6-8 pm on CBS Sports 920. He is also a host on SiriusXM NFL Radio adn one of 44 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.