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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Countdown to camp: The running backs

    The Rams open training camp on July 25 at Concordia University in Mequoin, Wis.
    Here’s the second installment in a position-by-position analysis heading into training camp:

    Running backs
    Starting tailback: Steven Jackson
    Starting fullback: Brian Leonard
    Backup tailback: Antonio Pittman, Travis Minor, Lance Ball
    Backup fullback: Richard Owens, Russ Weil

    When the Rams’ offense is clicking, Jackson is one of the Top 5 running backs in the NFL.
    Unfortunately, the Rams’ offense spent much of last season in a deep funk.

    Look for new offensive coordinator Al Saunders to make Jackson the focal point of his offense as he did with Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson in Kansas City and Ladell Betts and Clinton Portis in Washington.

    Jackson ran for 1,002 yards last season despite missing four games due to injuries. He averaged a respectable 4.2 yards per carry, but he scored only five touchdowns.

    Jackson needs to run hard all the time — an area where he showed a lot of improvement last season when there were few running lanes opened by the Rams’ patchwork offensive line — and he needs to become a major factor in the passing game once again.

    Jackson caught only 38 passes for 271 yards and one touchdown last season, a dramatic decline from the 90 catches for 806 yards and three touchdowns that he had in 2006.

    Jackson is the Rams’ most irreplaceable player. If he is sidelined for an extended period of time, they’re in trouble.

    Leonard has bulked up a little to handle more of the lead blocking duties this season, but his real value, and the reason he was graded as second-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, was his versatility.

    The Rams need to find more ways of utilizing that versatility even if it means lining him up as a wide receiver on occasion.

    The Rams liked what they saw from Pittman in limited action (38 carries, 139 yards), but it’s somewhat surprising that they didn’t add another workhorse-type running back in either the draft or free agency.

    Minor is more of a third-down back whose greatest contribution last season came on special teams. He tied for second on the team with 17 special teams tackles.

    Owens failed to fill Madison Hedgecock’s cleats as a lead blocker last season.

    Ball (5-9, 223) rushed for 2,487 and 26 touchdowns during his career at Maryland, while Weil (6-0, 258) paved the way for Rashard Mendenhall to rush for 1,681 yards last season at Illinois.


  2. #2
    RAMarkable is online now Registered User
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    Re: Countdown to camp: The running backs

    Here's hoping that recent pick-up Dan Kreider can stay healthy and claim the starting fullback job. With his history of clearing traffic for the Bus in Pittsburgh, he will be a much welcomed addition to the Rams running game.
    Granted this would kick B. Leonard to the curb as a back-up at FB as well as 3rd string at RB; but, oh well, its all about celebrating his diversity, right?

    WHAT SAY YE?

  3. #3
    itsguud's Avatar
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    Re: Countdown to camp: The running backs

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMarkable View Post
    Here's hoping that recent pick-up Dan Kreider can stay healthy and claim the starting fullback job. With his history of clearing traffic for the Bus in Pittsburgh, he will be a much welcomed addition to the Rams running game.
    Granted this would kick B. Leonard to the curb as a back-up at FB as well as 3rd string at RB; but, oh well, its all about celebrating his diversity, right?

    WHAT SAY YE?
    Ey say, out with the old and in with the new. Hopefully the opposite of what you just said happens and B. Leonard becomes a weapon as a FB, blocking, running and receiving. Be a lot more of a benefit to us to have youth at the position then some ol' man.

    What I say!

  4. #4
    RamOfDenmark Guest

    Re: Countdown to camp: The running backs

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    Leonard has bulked up a little to handle more of the lead blocking duties this season, but his real value, and the reason he was graded as second-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, was his versatility.

    The Rams need to find more ways of utilizing that versatility even if it means lining him up as a wide receiver on occasion.
    Ok, Leonard is alright catching the ball coming out of the backfield occasionally but lining him up as a wide receiver? I'd say that's going too far, I don't see that as something that suits his skills very well. I'd rather put our best players on the field than struggle to fit a square peg through a round hole just to utilize some of that sweet 'versatility'. While versatility in general is good as it can make your team more unpredictable if you don't have a single area that you excel at you'll often end up as a jack of all trades, master of none. That type of player is ok as a backup because he can cover more positions but it's not a player that you alter your playbook to get on the field.

    Leonard against a typical NFL linebacker in pass coverage is not a clear cut super matchup for us that we want to exploit all day as I see it, it's probably fairly even. Now Steven Jackson, Randy McMichael or one of our receivers against a LB that's a clear advantage that we can use.

    It's a bad idea. We asked Leonard to gain weight this season and work on his blocking so in my opinion let's try to develop him as a blocking fullback and see how it goes. I'm not ecstatic about him as a blocker either, but let's give him a shot and not get too creative with his assignments yet.

  5. #5
    RamsFanSam's Avatar
    RamsFanSam is offline Pro Bowl Ram
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    Re: Countdown to camp: The running backs

    The vidoes I saw of Leonard when he was at Rutgers made him look phenomenal, definitely someone who can have an NFL career. So, he ended up on a team who really didn't need a starting RB. He hasn't shown flashes of being a great blocker. Does that mean he can't be utilized elsewhere?

    We could use him at TE....if we didn't already have 7 or 8 TE's.

    Maybe we could do a Furrey on him. Bulked up, he could make a decent linebacker. We need depth there.

  6. #6
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Re: Countdown to camp: The running backs

    "The Rams liked what they saw from Pittman in limited action (38 carries, 139 yards), but it’s somewhat surprising that they didn’t add another workhorse-type running back in either the draft or free agency."

    I am not confidant we have a back up that can keep our ground game going if Steven Jackson go down.
    :ramlogo:

  7. #7
    jkramsfan Guest

    Re: Countdown to camp: The running backs

    Quote Originally Posted by eldfan View Post
    "The Rams liked what they saw from Pittman in limited action (38 carries, 139 yards), but it’s somewhat surprising that they didn’t add another workhorse-type running back in either the draft or free agency."

    I am not confidant we have a back up that can keep our ground game going if Steven Jackson go down.
    I thought Pittman did well when he played,as for Leonard I think he really needs to have a great camp or else he could be cut, hopefully Saunders has a plan for him because to me the Rams don't really have a spot for him,hes not a fullback and he is not even close to being Jackson's backup,in my opinion.

  8. #8
    bruce4life's Avatar
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    Re: Countdown to camp: The running backs

    no way in hell the rams are going to release leonard

  9. #9
    jkramsfan Guest

    Re: Countdown to camp: The running backs

    Quote Originally Posted by bruce4life View Post
    no way in hell the rams are going to release leonard
    why ? because he was a second round pick or because he's going to really help the team. I think your right that he won't be cut, but what do you do with him ?

  10. #10
    KoaKoi is offline Registered User
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    Re: Countdown to camp: The running backs

    Quote Originally Posted by eldfan View Post
    "The Rams liked what they saw from Pittman in limited action (38 carries, 139 yards), but it’s somewhat surprising that they didn’t add another workhorse-type running back in either the draft or free agency."

    I am not confidant we have a back up that can keep our ground game going if Steven Jackson go down.

    I am. Considering the guy was a rookie, was not at the Rams training camp, and did not play preseason games with the Rams, he played exceptionally well. You can tell by watching his runs from last year that he's got good vision for a young back, plus the requisite speed. Saints just couldn't keep him because they dished out so much dough for McAllister and Bush and needed their few remaining roster slots to be filled with depth in other areas of need. I understand your trepidation, but with a year under his belt and a training camp to learn Saunders system, I think he'll be fine.

  11. #11
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Countdown to camp: The running backs

    I don't know who but somebody has to step up. We are top heavy at the RB position as it stands right now.

    1. Steven Jackson
    2. Steven Jackson
    3. Steven Jackson

    Hopefully Leonard and Pittman will impress.

  12. #12
    Josh Guest

    Re: Countdown to camp: The running backs

    Brian Leonard is Our Quarterback.. we can't release him!!


    Note.. I use orange for sarcasm.

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