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Posted: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 8:45 am | Updated: 11:31 am, Wed Jan 2, 2013.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jeff Fisher’s comeback was a rousing success. Coming off the worst five-year stretch in NFL history, the St. Louis Rams shattered their sad-sack image.

Players from the NFL’s youngest roster cleaned out lockers Monday energized about a future of playoff contention after barely missing out on the franchise’s first winning record since 2003 — and feeling that this seven-win season will not be a mirage.

“I was on a team that was 7-9, came back and didn’t do well,” middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “That’s not this group. The postseason, that’s on everyone’s mind, and it’s not just a far-fetched hope, it’s an expectation.”

Quarterback Sam Bradford was the NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year after the Rams went 7-9 in 2010, then hobbled through a humbling two-win season that ushered in a rebuilding effort under Fisher and general manager Les Snead.

In retrospect, Bradford believes the wins came too easily his rookie year, and that the Rams (7-8-1) got what they deserved this season while moving past the bad old days from 2007-11 when they totaled a measly 15 wins.

St. Louis was strong in one of the NFL’s toughest divisions, going 4-1-1 in the NFC West. Two of the victories came over division champions and a third came against a wild-card playoff team. In the finale they went to the wire at Seattle, which had blown out its previous three opponents and was unbeaten at home.

“I don’t know if earned is the right word, but it felt like this team just had a little toughness,” Bradford said. “We were able to go out and get some wins that some people thought we wouldn’t be able to do.”

The 54-year-old Fisher led the way, refreshed after taking a year off following a 17-year run in Tennessee.

“I had a blast, and I can’t wait to get started again,” Fisher said. “I really enjoy it. It was a great group.”

There’ll be no burnout this January. Unlike last season, when about two-thirds of the roster was replaced, Fisher and Snead aren’t facing a massive roster overhaul, either.

Fisher wasn’t certain how active the Rams would be in free agency. Last season, they picked up several starters, including cornerback Cortland Finnegan, defensive tackle Kendall Langford and center Scott Wells, all difference makers.

“It’s awful early right now, you know,” Fisher said. “We’re going to do whatever it takes. We’ve got some of our own we want back.”

Running back Steven Jackson, who became just the sixth player in NFL history with eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and also reached 10,000 yards rushing, is at the top of the list. Jackson can opt out of a contract that has one year to go at $7 million and Fisher reiterated that he wanted the 240-pound Jackson back.

Jackson wants to return, too, and believed the parties would meet soon. But he also said the Rams need to do “due diligence in deciding where they want to go with the roster.”

“We’re definitely going to sit down,” said Jackson, wearing a red sweat shirt given to him by rookie running back Terrance Ganaway to commemorate the 10,000-yard milestone. “I would hate to watch this organization go on and be successful, which I believe they will, without me.

“I want to be part of that, yes.”

The Rams head into the offseason with no glaring physical issues. Last year, Bradford’s troublesome high left ankle sprain was a question mark, but the quarterback said he’s had no problems for months.

Bradford had been sacked in 30 consecutive games, the longest streak in the NFL, before the line kept him clean the last two games, and said the ankle felt “good, really good.”

“During the spring I could still feel it, but as time went along it just kind of went away,” Bradford said. “It’s something that was a really positive thing, the fact that it didn’t bother me the whole year.”

The Rams stayed the course with Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, and reaped a bounty of premium draft picks when they dealt the No. 2 overall pick and the rights to Robert Griffin III to Washington in March. The Redskins made the playoffs while the Rams ended up with three rookie starters, including playmaking cornerback Janoris Jenkins, plus have Washington’s first-round picks in 2013 and 2014.

Bradford believes the Rams are clear winners in the deal.

“I think we did, for sure, just with all the picks that we have and what we’re going to be able to build, what we’ve already started to build here,” Bradford said. “I think this team is on the fast track and I really look forward to the future, and to next year.”

Plus, next season should be his first time as a pro in which he doesn’t have to switch offensive systems.

Sticking with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer should help the Rams score more down the road. This season, they were among six teams scoring 300 or fewer points.

The defense was a plus, tying for the NFL lead with 52 sacks behind big seasons from ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, without a coordinator. Fisher said the future of Gregg Williams, suspended for his role in the NFL bounty scandal, would be “something I’ll address over the next couple weeks.”

Long and Quinn are the Rams’ first duo with double-digit sack totals since 2000.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

/sports

Area Scoreboard

Football

Friday, Sept. 12

*Ft. Zumwalt North 49, Washington 0

*Borgia 35, St. Dominic 0

*Union 27, Pacific 19

*Sullivan 47, St. Clair 21

Hermann 65, Wentzville Liberty 7

*Owensville 29, St. James 28 (OT)

Cuba 22, Windsor 6

*Warrenton 14, St. Charles 6

*Bowling Green 55, Wright City 0

Friday, Sept. 5

Warrenton 14, Washington 6

Borgia 13, Maplewood-Richmond Heights 0 (forfeit)

*Union 32, Sullivan 19

*Pacific 20, St. Clair 18

*Hermann 52, St. James 20

Owensville 35, Cuba 8

*Wright City 36, Montgomery Co. 0

Friday, Aug. 29

Sullivan 30, Washington 8

Borgia 56, Union 13

Ozark 41, St. Clair 0

Potosi 34, Pacific 13

Hermann 54, Cuba 12

Blair Oaks 42, Owensville 0

St. James 36, Houston 18

Warrenton 28, Troy 0

Orchard Farm 36, Wright City 18

Friday, Aug. 22

Washington 26, St. Clair 21

Borgia 48, Owensville 12

Parkway West 49, Union 39

Pacific 28, De Soto 20

Park Hills Central 34, Sullivan 27

St. James 12, Cuba 6

Hermann 61, Montgomery Co 12

Warrenton 26, St. Dominic 23

Trinity 28, Wright City 24

Softball

Monday, Sept. 8

O’Fallon Christian at Borgia    4:30 p.m.

St. Clair at Windsor    4:30 p.m.

Hermann at Van-Far    4:30 p.m.

*Union at New Haven, 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 9

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt E    4:30 p.m.

*St. James at Union    4:30 p.m.

*St. Clair at Hermann    4:30 p.m.

*Pacific at Owensville    4:30 p.m.

*New Haven at Sullivan    4:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 10

Borgia at Trinity    4:30 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 11

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt S    4:30 p.m.

*Union at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

*Sullivan at Pacific    4:30 p.m.

*New Haven at St. James    4:30 p.m.

*Owensville at Hermann    4:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 12

Washington at Howell C Tny    TBA

Saturday, Sept. 13

Cuba Tournament    TBA

Washington at Howell C Tny    TBA

Pacific at Seckman Tny    TBA

Monday, Sept. 15

Silex at Union    4:30 p.m.

Potosi at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

Wellsville at Hermann    4:30 p.m.

Newburg at Owensville    5 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 16

*Borgia at Notre Dame    4:30 p.m.

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt N    4:30 p.m.

*Union at Owensville    4:30 p.m.

*Pacific at New Haven    4:30 p.m.

*St. James at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

*Hermann at Sullivan    4:30 p.m.

Volleyball

Saturday, Sept. 6

Borgia Tournament

Blue Pool

Parkway West def. Hickman, 25-8, 25-12

Borgia def. Washington, 25-6, 25-15

Parkway West def. Washington, 25-19, 25-16

Borgia def. Hickman, 25-21, 25-10

Washington def. Hickman, 25-19, 25-11

Parkway West tied Borgia, 25-15, 22-25

Gold Pool

St. Dominic def. Francis Howell North, 25-14, 25-16

Lutheran South tied Jefferson City, 25-9, 22-25

St. Dominic def. Jefferson City, 25-7, 26-24

Lutheran South tied Francis Howell North, 24-26, 25-18

Jefferson City def. Francis Howell North, 25-9, 25-17

St. Dominic tied Lutheran South, 25-20, 22-25

Seventh Place - Francis Howell North def. Hickman, 25-15, 25-23

Fifth Place - Jefferson City def. Washington, 25-12, 25-20

Semifinal 1 - Lutheran South def. Parkway West, 25-22, 25-20

Semifinal 2 - Borgia def. St. Dominic, 26-24, 23-25, 25-22

Third Place - Parkway West def. St. Dominic, 25-17, 25-9

Championship - Borgia def. Lutheran South, 25-20, 23-25, 25-15

Owensville at Fulton Tny    8:30 a.m.

#ECC vs. Independence    9 a.m.

#ECC vs. Southeast    1 p.m.

St. Clair, Pacific, Sullivan at North County Tny    TBA

Monday, Sept. 8

Warrenton at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

Fox at Pacific    5:30 p.m.

Hillsboro at Sullivan    5:30 p.m.

Tolton at New Haven    6 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 9

Pacific at Rockwood Summit    4:15 p.m.

Crosspoint at Rivers of Life    5 p.m.

Washington at Owensville    5:30 p.m.

Montgomery Co at Union    5:30 p.m.

Rock Bridge at Hermann    5:30 p.m.

Sullivan at Belle    5:30 p.m.

St. Clair at Kingston    6 p.m.

Crosspoint vs. Community Christian    6 p.m.

*Duchesne at Borgia    6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 10

*ECC at Mineral Area    6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 11

Cuba at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

*Holt at Washington    5 p.m.

New Haven at Centralia    5 p.m.

Park Hills Central at Sullivan    5:30 p.m.

Owensville at Fatima    5:30 p.m.

*Rosati-Kain at Borgia    6:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 12

Liberty Christian at Crosspoint    5 p.m.

Rivers of Life at Crosspoint    7 p.m.

Hermann at Crossroads Inv    TBA

New Haven at SEMO Classic    TBA

Saturday, Sept. 13

Missouri Baptist JV at ECC    10 a.m.

Indian Hills at ECC    2 p.m.

Borgia at Springfield Classic    TBA

Union at Rockwood Summit Tny    TBA

Hermann at Crossroads Inv    TBA

New Haven at SEMO Classic    TBA

St. James at Cuba Tny    TBA

Monday, Sept. 15

Union at Cuba    5:30 p.m.

Hickman at Hermann    5:30 p.m.

Sullivan at Potosi    5:30 p.m.

Montgomery Co at Owensville    5:30 p.m.

St. James at Licking    6 p.m.

ECC at Missouri Baptist JV    6 p.m.

New Haven at Borgia    6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 16

*Sullivan at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt E    5 p.m.

*New Haven at Union    5:30 p.m.

*Pacific at Hermann    5:30 p.m.

*Owensville at St. James    5:30 p.m.

Boys Soccer

Saturday, Sept. 6

St. Charles at Washington    11 a.m.

Borgia at St. Dominic Tny    TBA

Pacific Tournament    TBA

Sunday, Sept. 7

Blue River 3, East Central 1

Monday, Sept. 8

Christian Academy at Fulton SA    4:30 p.m.

Pacific at Washington    5 p.m.

*Sullivan at St. James    5 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 9

Sullivan at Valley Park    4 p.m.

*ECC at St. Charles    4 p.m.

Crosspoint at St. Louis United A    4:30 p.m.

*St. James at Union    5 p.m.

St. Clair at Belle    5 p.m.

Mehlville at Pacific    5 p.m.

*Borgia at Duchesne    6:15 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 10

Washington at Warrenton    5 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 11

*Washington at Holt    4 p.m.

Windsor at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

Sullivan at Festus    4:30 p.m.

St. James at Calvery Lutheran    5 p.m.

Borgia at Pacific    6:30 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 12

ECC at Oakton    4 p.m.

*Fulton SA at Eagle Ridge    4:30 p.m.

Dixon at St. James    5 p.m.

Crosspoint at Jefferson City Lightning    5 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 13

Washington at Helias    11 a.m.

Cape Central at Union    11 a.m.

ECC at Lake Co    3 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 15

*Sullivan at St. Clair    4:30 p.m.

Affton at Pacific    5 p.m.

St. James at Richland    5 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 16

Crosspoint at Fulton St. Albans    4:30 p.m.

Tolton Catholic at Borgia    5:30 p.m.

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt E    6 p.m.

Cross Country

Tuesday, Sept. 9

Sullivan Invitational    4 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 11

Pacific, Sullivan at Steelville Inv    4 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 13

Forest Park Inv    9 a.m.

New Haven, Hermann, Owensville at Linn Inv    9 a.m.

Monday, Sept. 15

St. James at Bourbon    4 p.m.

Girls Golf

Monday, Sept. 8

Washington at Timberland    3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 9

*O’Fallon Christian at Borgia    3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 10

Washington at Troy    3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 16

*Borgia at St. Dominic    3:30 p.m.

Boys Swimming

Friday, Sept. 5

Washington at Oakville/CBC    4:15 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 10

Washington at Kennedy    5:30 p.m.

*Conference Games

Racing News