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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Bernie: Rams Get Ready To Move When Labor Peace Arrives In The NFL

    Rams get ready to move when labor peace arrives in the NFL

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    Are you ready for some football?

    It appears that the NFL owners and players are on the verge of settling their labor dispute. Barring a last-minute blow-up, which is highly unexpected, the two sides should have a deal in place next week.

    There is an outside chance that the Rams could report to camp as scheduled on Friday, July 22 or soon thereafter. But we're just about there. It won't be long before fans will make the drive to Rams Park to check on their favorite players and new additions to the roster.

    "As soon as there's a labor agreement, we're ready to go," said Kevin Demoff, the Rams' chief operating officer. "And we're in pretty good shape."

    As a business enterprise, the Rams have made it through the lockout without suffering much damage. The franchise made the obviously smart decision to accept partial payments on season tickets rather than demand full payment during a labor conflict.

    The Rams have season-ticket renewal rate of 94 percent —assuming that fans follow through on their deposits, which is a fairly safe bet. According to Demoff, this will be the Rams' highest season-ticket renewal rate in more than a decade.

    The Rams already have sold 4,000 new season tickets, which doubles what they sold in new season tickets a year ago. And the Rams figure to get another boost from the end of the lockout and the start of camp.

    "Some fans have wanted to wait for a resolution on the labor front, which is understandable," Demoff said. "But from what we can tell, everyone is excited to jump on board once football is back."

    I thought the Rams could be hit hard by the repercussions of the labor imbroglio. Sure, the 2010 Rams made significant progress, winning seven games after installing a popular franchise quarterback in rookie Sam Bradford. A 7-9 season isn't much for say, the New England Patriots. But that 7-9 was handsome considering the three-year record of 6-42 between 2007-2009.

    The Rams organization made positive headway in reviving fan interest in 2010, only to have the gains threatened by the lengthy, frustrating and potentially alienating labor battle. But the fans haven't bailed on the Rams.

    "It's a real credit to the fans and their passion for football," Demoff said. "And we believe it tells us that they're feeling good about the direction of the team. We've started to get some glimpses of what we can become in the future. But it's up to us to do a great job, grow the fan base and give more fans a reason to be excited."

    And that brings us to the football part.

    The fun stuff.

    We can actually start talking about football again instead of wasting time worrying about labor lawyers, judges, posturing union bosses and sanctimonious owners. All of that junk will soon be moved to the side.

    And now we can zero in on more important matters:

    What will the Rams do to improve from 2010, win more games, and capture the NFC West title?

    Will new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have the time to put in his diverse, ambitious offense? Or will the McDaniels' extensive playbook be pared down because of the truncated offseason? Answer: Bradford and the players have had the book for the last two, three months. So they should be well-versed on the material. Bradford and mates haven't had the on-field work, but should know the Xs and Os.

    How much better will Bradford be in his second season? Answer: He should make a jump to a more elite level. And this should be comforting: heading into camp, the Rams are the only NFC West team that can identify their starting quarterback. And he's a good one.

    Will GM Billy Devaney find a legitimate No. 2 running back to keep Steven Jackson fresh? Does Devaney go for a power back, or a change-of-space specialist to give the defense a different look? Answer: Devaney will get it done. I just don't know if it will be a bigger back that can block, pick up blitzes and catch the ball (say, Jason Snelling). Or a smaller, swifter back that can elude tacklers (say, Reggie Bush or Darren Sproles).

    What is the free-agent priority list? Answer: we don't know. There's a wide range of opinion. Some say the Rams still need to bring in a true No. 1 receiver to give Bradford and the young receivers a veteran touchstone. Others believe a No. 2 back is the primary need. You can make a case that there are urgent needs at defensive tackle, safety, outside linebacker and guard.

    The Rams won't be going crazy in free-agent spending. Owner Stan Kroenke already has stated his philosophy that a team should be built primarily through the draft and the development of young players.

    That said, the Rams will do some shopping.

    "We have a plan of attack," Demoff said. "And we've been planning for months. Our focus will be supplementing the nucleus we have. We've made it clear that this will be a home-grown team with a core nucleus of talented young players to take us forward. And we'll make a few additions there to supplement that group.

    "Billy and the scouts and coaches have been working hard. They've focused on a few targets. But to think that we're going to go out and sign seven or eight starters in free agency is misguided."

    Understood. But it also would be misguided to waste an opportunity to win a relatively weak NFC West by being cheap or overly conservative in free agency. And the early-season 2011 schedule is rough. The Rams require reinforcements.

    This free-agent pool will flood the market. Under the new system, there will be a surplus of free agents, and many will be desperate to find a job on short notice. So the Rams should be able to find good buys at a value price. They'll have to strike quickly to sign a top wideout or back. But after that, a little patience could work in the Rams' favor. They'll find some bargains and players willing to accept one-year deals.

    "Free agency will be a pretty wild ride," Demoff said.

    Let the ride begin.

    It's fun to be talking about football again.

  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie: Rams Get Ready To Move When Labor Peace Arrives In The NFL

    Well this has the football juices flowing again!!!! Let's Go RAMS!

  3. #3
    MACD is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bernie: Rams Get Ready To Move When Labor Peace Arrives In The NFL

    Is Rolla still a possible training camp site, or is it just too late to prepare for that big of a move?

  4. #4
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    Re: Bernie: Rams Get Ready To Move When Labor Peace Arrives In The NFL

    Quote Originally Posted by MACD View Post
    Is Rolla still a possible training camp site, or is it just too late to prepare for that big of a move?
    By Nate Davis, USA TODAY
    The St. Louis Rams won't be leaving their Earth City, Mo., headquarters for training camp this summer.

    Unlike the Ravens, Jets and Giants -- all those teams have announced they will not be training in their normal off-site destinations due to the logistical quandaries posed by the lockout -- the Rams have held their camp at home since coach Steve Spagnuolo was hired prior to the 2009 season.

    The franchise was mulling Rolla, Mo., and Carbondale, Ill., as sites, but such considerations will be tabled for at least a year.

    With their scheduled appearance in the jeopardized Aug. 7 Hall of Fame Game, the Rams had even less incentive to make their camp plans more complex than need be in this already atypical NFL summer.

  5. #5
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    Re: Bernie: Rams Get Ready To Move When Labor Peace Arrives In The NFL

    I understand that the logistics can be somewhat strained, but I agree with some experts and writers' opinions that this year above all, an away training camp is needed. The players need the working "vacation" where all they have to do is to bond and study up on their materials. Oh well, at least we were preparing to stay home anyway...
    I believe!

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