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Gil Brandt sees plenty he likes in 2013 Rams
4 hours ago • By Jim Thomas
Gil Brandt’s training camp tour made a stop at Rams Park over the weekend, and Brandt liked what he saw.
“This could be a playoff team,” he said. “Yeah I think they can. They’re better in all phases of the game. I think they’ve got more depth than they had a year ago.”
A longtime former NFL executive, Brandt helped establish the Dallas Cowboys’ brand as “America’s Team” as the team’s vice president of player personnel from 1960-89. At age 80, his eye for talent remains sharp serving as a football analyst for NFL.com and Sirius XM radio.
Brandt has always been big on quarterback Sam Bradford, and was impressed with what he saw on the practice field Saturday.
“I don’t know how you felt about his performance (Saturday); I thought he cut ‘em up pretty good,” Brandt said. “I think Bradford is better, more confident, more relaxed, than ever before.”
Brandt said the offensive line will be better than most people think even with Rodger Saffold currently sidelined after suffering a dislocated left shoulder Thursday against Cleveland.
“Jake Long, I’ve never seen him look better,” Brandt said.
As for Saffold’s replacement, Joe Barksdale, Brandt said: “He’s a pretty good swing tackle. I don’t think he’s that bad at all.”
On defense, Brandt likes the selections of linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Tim McDonald in the 2013 draft, thinks defensive tackle Michael Brockers could have a breakout year, and remains a big proponent of middle linebacker James Laurinaitis.
“In Laurinaitis you’ve got one heck of a person that’s gonna lead your defense,” Brandt said. “He’s gonna work hard. The guy is so smart _ he understands everything. It’s hard for me to see Laurinaitis not be a Pro Bowler because I think he has that kind of ability.
“I know he can’t run as fast as you would like him to run, but I’ll tell you the guy makes plays. He makes plays. And I think he’s highly respected.”
If there’s one area of concern for Brandt, it’s running back, where a host of youngsters are trying to fill the void left by the departure of Pro Bowler Steven Jackson to Atlanta.
“I guess you would like to keep Jackson, but you can’t do everything in today’s world,” Brandt said. “And when a guy’s been around that length of time, when does he all of a sudden slow down? History tells us he’s pretty close to hitting the wall.”
Brandt sees the running back position as a possible problem area, simply because there are no proven commodities in the backfield. So who steps in?
“I’m not sure if it’s the guy from Middle Tennessee (Benny Cunningham), or the guy from Vanderbilt (Zac Stacy),” he said.
Or Daryl Richardson. “I think Richardson’s a pretty good back,” he said. “But I think every team in this league, they have an Achilles’ heel.”
At wide receiver, Brandt said, “I’m still not convinced about (Brian) Quick, but do think Quick has improved also from a year ago.”
Overall, Brandt likes the attitude of the players and the cohesion between the coaching staff and the front office, a working relationship that has helped overhaul a bad roster that they inherited two years ago.
“It was a terrible roster,” Brandt said. “The (Jimmy) Kennedy’s that they drafted. That guy from LSU (Claude Wroten). Dominique Byrd. Joe Klopfenstein. Those are all guys that should be on your team as your five-, your six-, your eight-year guys. They don’t have those guys.”
Re: Gil Brandt sees plenty he likes in 2013 Rams
Did he say PLAYOFFS? Playoffs? Who's talking about Playoffs?
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