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Thread: Faulk Farewell?
By Jason Powell
Senior Editor for fanball.com
July 15, 2006 1:00 AM ET
Leading up to the start of Training Camps in July, we are taking a team-by-team tour with fantasy previews for each NFL squad. We'll detail the key offseason moves, position battles to watch, and other things to keep an eye on as the clubs prepare for the season ahead.
Notable Offseason Moves: The Rams finally parted ways with head coach Mike Martz back in January. For the next several weeks, observers speculated that the team was going to go in a different direction by hiring a defensive-minded head coach. When the smoke cleared, another offensive guru, Scott Linehan, was hired to serve as Martz's replacement. Linehan quickly addressed the defensive concerns by naming former Saints head coach Jim Haslett defensive coordinator. There were rumors that Linehan would clean house and overhaul the roster. Instead, he kept the key pieces of the offense in place by releasing and then re-signing wide receiver Isaac Bruce and adding defensive players through free agency. The most notable defensive additions are all starters: linebacker Will Witherspoon, defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, and safety Corey Chavous. Meanwhile, offensive additions such as Gus Frerotte, Dave Ragone, and Tony Fisher are depth players who will not compete for starting jobs.
Position Battles: Despite the coaching change, it's pretty much business as usual in St. Louis. Marc Bulger is back from his second shoulder injury in two seasons and once again has a talented wideout corps that includes Bruce, Torry Holt, and Kevin Curtis. Frerotte has worked under Linehan in Minnesota, Miami, and now St. Louis. Their relationship is starting to make us a little uncomfortable, but Gus wouldn't have come to St. Louis unless he was assured the No. 2 role behind Bulger. That leaves Ragone to battle Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jeff Smoker for the final signal caller role. The Rams were so light on pass-catching tight ends that Linehan actually selected two of them at the draft. Second-round pick Joe Klopfenstein will battle third-round pick Dominique Byrd for the starting job. All signs point to Klopfenstein winning the job, but Byrd could also see playing time when the team uses two tight end sets.
Keep an Eye On: Future Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk is mulling over his possible retirement and a decision could come as early as next week. Either way, Steven Jackson will start and take the bulk of the carries. However, if Faulk retires, the Rams will have to count on Fisher to play the role of Jackson's primary backup. Jackson missed three games and portions of others due to injuries in his first two seasons, so Fisher would warrant handcuff consideration if Faulk hangs up the cleats.