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  1. #1
    RamFan_Til_I_Die's Avatar
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    Do Rams have depth? We'll find out tonight

    By Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    08/28/2008

    Yeah, the Governor’s Cup “showdown” is mostly a farce.

    The Rams’ final preseason game tonight at Kansas City holds no special importance to most of the veterans on the roster. It won’t settle any scores between the two cities or franchises. A turf war this is not.

    But the team does carry some important goals into this game:

    1. Get through the game without suffering any more significant injuries.

    The Rams have enough to worry about with guard Mark Setterstrom and cornerback Justin King out for the season and cornerback Fakhir Brown (shoulder), Orlando Pace (shoulder), O.J. Atogwe (hamstring), Drew Bennett (groin), Dante Hall (ankle) and tight end Anthony Becht (hamstring) nicked up.


    2. Sort out the remaining roster battles.

    Particularly, at quarterback (Brock Berlin vs. Bruce Gradkowski), wide receiver (Derek Stanley, Marques Hagans, Brandon Williams, Reche Caldwell) and secondary (Jerome Carter, Eric Bassey, David Macklin, Darius Vinnett).


    3. Get Trent Green ready to back up Marc Bulger.

    Green looked fine during his brief relief stint earlier in the preseason, but he could still use a little work with his new team. It’ll be fun to see what he can do going back to Arrowhead for an extended outing.


    4. Get the less-experienced players some much-needed playing time.


    The latter point is critical. Coach Scott Linehan doesn’t need to give veterans like Marc Bulger, Torry Holt, Leonard Little or Will Witherspoon any more work during this preseason. Steven Jackson, back from his holdout, may not even make a cameo appearance.

    But the Rams will count on players with limited experience this season. Preseason games only approximate real NFL action, but they give younger players an opportunity to mature.

    Linebacker Quinton Culberson is a great example. He has been especially impressive during training camp and preseason play.

    He appears capable of replacing the departed Brandon Chillar in the starting lineup. But he started just one game last season as a rookie, so he needs all the snaps he can get in preseason play.

    Similarly, Tim McGarigle and rookies Chris Chamberlain and David Vobora must show enough at linebacker to justify employment as special teamers. Are they viable depth guys or should the Rams look for veteran help?

    Rookie defensive end Chris Long is an interesting case. The Rams need him to make an impact this season, but he faces a steep learning curve while jumping from a 3-4 college defense to a 4-3 pro defensive scheme.

    Now he is lining up outside of 330-pound NFL offensive tackles. Can he create pass pressure? Can he hold up against the run? Every game, even meaningless preseason tilts, help him grow.

    Rookie receivers Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton are working to earn big offensive roles. They are learning Al Saunders’ scheme on the fly and adapting to this level of play. Preseason games allow them to progress.

    As we saw in Week 3 of the preseason, the Rams would be far more explosive with Avery and Burton catching passes than with Bennett and Hall filling the No. 2 and No. 3 receiver slot.

    Running back Antonio Pittman was a late addition to the Rams last season, so he had much catching up to do as a rookie. He got just 38 carries in 11 games last season.

    After a full offseason in the offense, he moved to the top of the depth chart in Steven Jackson’s absence. Exhibition games have given him the chance to get established as an NFL feature back.

    Cornerback Jonathan Wade is another case. He played plenty as a rookie last season and took his lumps. His cover skills were raw.

    This summer has gone well, though, and preseason games have given him a stage to demonstrate his improvement. With Brown hurting and King gone, Wade is VERY important to this defense.

    Setterstrom’s injury put more focus on rookie linemen John Greco and Roy Schuening. The Rams need both to live up to their glowing draft assessments.

    If they don’t hold up in combat, the Rams may have to comb the waiver wire for line help when other teams make their final cuts.

    Even an older player like Adam Goldberg can gain plenty in preseason play. Forced into the left tackle role by Pace’s nagging shoulder problems, he has been surprisingly effective in the exhibitions to date.

    The more he plays out there during the preseason, the more likely he will be able to hold up in the real games.

    So there will be plenty to watch tonight as the Rams “battle” for the Cup. This exhibition won’t prove how good the Rams are, but it will speak to the team’s depth -– and we saw how critical that was last season.


  2. #2
    TekeRam's Avatar
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    Re: Do Rams have depth? We'll find out tonight

    Very good, and very true article, especially on the part of the young players and rookies. You don't want any of them to get hurt, but I think it would be a very good idea for all the rookies, even Long, to get extended playing time tonight for the simple fact that it will continue their growth, and lord knows we need them to grow and fast.

    Culberson's another interesting candidate, as he's pretty much locked up the starting role, but he also needs all the time he can get on the field. For the offense, I'd say it should completely be 2nd teamers, but on defense, Long and Culberson, and even Carriker could use this time very well.

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    Re: Do Rams have depth? We'll find out tonight

    This scares me greatly...

    This summer has gone well, though, and preseason games have given him a stage to demonstrate his improvement. With Brown hurting and King gone, Wade is VERY important to this defense.

  4. #4
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Do Rams have depth? We'll find out tonight

    Quote Originally Posted by moloch41 View Post
    With Brown hurting and King gone, Wade is VERY important to this defense.

    Yes, I agree. This ought to be Wade's year to shine -- at least to build good DB depth.


    PS: Wraith, I think you just placed this thread duplicate.

  5. #5
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Re: Do Rams have depth? We'll find out tonight

    "Rookie receivers Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton are working to earn big offensive roles. They are learning Al Saunders’ scheme on the fly and adapting to this level of play. Preseason games allow them to progress."

    I know they need some work just hoping we can get through this without any injuries.
    :ramlogo:

  6. #6
    moloch41's Avatar
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    Re: Do Rams have depth? We'll find out tonight

    The defensive depth is looking quite stellar. Maybe Haslett nears to pull them into a huddle on the sidelines and get fiery on their arses.

  7. #7
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    Re: Do Rams have depth? We'll find out tonight

    [quote=eldfan;240500]"Rookie receivers Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton are working to earn big offensive roles. They are learning Al Saunders’ scheme on the fly and adapting to this level of play. Preseason games allow them to progress."

    RAMFANS BEWARE: I watched the game in which we chewed up the ravens the other night 24-10 and let me be the first to tell you in case you guys dont already know. Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton looked VERY SMOOTH in that game, they are both fast and they seem to have good YAC ability ( yards after catch for you rookies; Im from the Bahamas by the way.

  8. #8
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    Re: Do Rams have depth? We'll find out tonight

    C.J. Ah You stepped up today.

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