ST. LOUIS — Penalties remain an issue for the St. Louis Rams as the opener looms. They're 0-3 in the preseason after hurting themselves yet again.
The Rams were undone in the first half of a 24-14 loss to Indianapolis Colts on Saturday by three offensive penalties and a defensive holding call that wiped out an interception by Janoris Jenkins that was returned 36 yards to the Indianapolis 15 in the second quarter.
"That's one thing that beats us," safety T.J. McDonald said. "We just have play disciplined and stay on top of everything."
St. Louis was penalized seven times for 60 yards in the half while the Colts had no flags, and finished with 10 penalties for 83 yards plus two more calls that were not accessed — one that was declined and one play that had multiple fouls. On the preseason the Rams have 229 yards in penalties, nearly twice as much as their opponents (115).
Coach Jeff Fisher said Sunday that he disagreed with "70 percent" of the calls, but then amended that to "four or five."
His top complaint was offensive pass interference against Tavon Austin, who had his hands up when he lightly bounced off a defender before making a 25-yard reception that was wiped out.
"They could have called illegal contact because the defensive player initiated the contact," Fisher said. "In order to completely avoid it you've got to keep your hands down, so it's a good learning experience."
Fisher said Foles could help matters by getting the ball out quicker. Foles was 10 for 11 for 128 yards and his first touchdown of the preseason, a 44-yard strike to Chris Givens, and often threw on the run.
"Not that I'm blaming Nick," Fisher quickly added.
Last year the Rams led the NFC with 1,139 yards in penalties and were third overall in the NFL.
The Rams were "a little surprised," that the Colts used an onside kick to jump-start their offense in the first quarter. Fisher said he didn't discuss it with Colts coach Chuck Pagano.
"Well, the cons are there was a lot of collision on that play," Fisher said. "I was a little confused about that, but that's Chuck. There must have been a reason for it."
Fisher said he hadn't decided how he'd use his roster in the preseason finale against the Chiefs on Thursday. Starters didn't play last year but did in 2013.
"Every camp's different," the coach said. "Some starters will play more than others and some starters probably won't get a snap."
Running back Tre Mason, the likely starter while Todd Gurley rehabs from knee surgery, has been ruled out of the preseason finale with a right hamstring injury. Fisher also said Mason probably would be questionable for the opener, but added optimistically, "He's a quick healer."
Mason was the primary starter last year as a rookie and if he can't go that would probably leave all-purpose Benny Cunningham in that role. Gurley was cleared for practice last week but is unlikely to play the first few weeks of the season.
Fisher said rookie guard Jamon Brown, who injured his right ankle against Indianapolis, probably would be held out of the preseason finale against the Chiefs as a precaution. Brown was moved to left guard for the Colts game after playing the right side throughout camp next to rookie tackle Rob Havenstein.
"I have no problem with them side by side," Fisher said. "I just feel for the entire offensive line communication standpoint, we're probably better that way."