By Jeff Gordon
Monday, July 21, 2008 01:00 PM CDT

Tackleberry: Gordo,

I am sorry to be the umpteenth person this spring/summer to raise this topic in your chat; but can you please explain why seemingly no effort was made by the Rams to identify a replacement or even a player to create competition for Corey Chavous? What free safety, who has pretty much stopped tackling, can retain his job coming off of a season where he also failed to record a single interception? Why are Rams fans to believe the '08 (older) version of Chavous won't be even worse than the '07? When a team is coming off of a 3-13 season, you just don't overlook such a glaring weakness. Any Haslett or Linehan quotes/insight at all you can share on the matter?
Jeff Gordon: Haslett's assessment of Chavous is obviously different. He still views him as a "plus" back there. I share your concern about the organization's lack of proven depth there, since my view of Corey isn't as optimistic as the company line.

BTW, Scouts Inc. ranked the Rams secondary 24th in the NFL, which is not good. Here is the breakdown:

"The Rams return all four starters from last season. Safeties Cory Chavous and Oshiomogho Atogwe provide range and experience. Chavous is a versatile and a instinctive player, who reacts quickly and is very effective near the line of scrimmage, while Atogwe is better-suited to playing deep and is developing confidence in his ability to read quarterbacks and make good breaks on the ball. Tye Hill starts at LCB and has very good speed and recovery skills, and he excels in man coverage along with starting RCB Fakhir Brown. Johnathan Wade and Ron Bartell provide good depth with Wade possibly pushing for starting playtime during training camp." Hey gordo! How are you doing? I got a question. I was just wondering do you think if the Rams had drafted Glen Dorsey instead of Chris Long do you think that they would of tried too persue in a similiar trade that the Washington Redskins did too get Jason Taylor? And if the trade was sucessful do you think the Rams would have a better team then what they have now?
Jeff Gordon: I'm not sure the Rams would have gone for a one-year solution at defensive end, given the other veterans at the position. And I'm not sure Taylor would have wanted to come to a 3-13 team, even if he liked Linehan. That was the sort of move that a playoff contender makes.

tim: Ive heard rumors on Michael Huff coming to the Rams. Any truth to that?
Jeff Gordon: There were lots of trade rumors surrounding Huff around the NFL draft. But figuring out what the Raiders are doing is NOT easy. Rams fans are eager to add another athlete at this position. They are promoting this Huff rumor on Rams forums. Given the team's lack of quality depth at safety, I would expect the team to be open to an addition as camp grinds on.

tim: Could the Rams make a run at Takeo Spikes or Lacharles Bently?
Jeff Gordon: Does Spikes have much mobility left? I'm not sure. He could still be a leader type, but the Rams have a couple of those. They need the kids to come along.

As for Bentley, the Rams already have two starting center for one spot. Why add one more? Either Romberg or Incognito would be fine there and the other guy would be a great back-up. Setterstrom backs up there as well.

Rambunctious: A while back there was a brief blurb announcing that the Rams were going to invite FB Dan Kreider (formerly with the Steelers) to training camp. Presumably the Rams would have to pay him for his attendance .. have you heard anything regarding this situation? He appears to have been a very good lead blocker for the Steelers, do you think he has a future as a Ram? If he were to sign and stick, who would he replace .. Richard Owens ?? Thanks in advance!
Jeff Gordon: Given his age and injury issues, he would have to play his way onto the roster. If he IS healthy, that should be no problem. But that is a big if.

Faris: Is Dante Hall going to be cut possibly? Because you were talking about it a couple months ago, and you made it seem like he is. I really hope that doesn't happen. Hall really helped us last season and he did better on kick returns than we expected. His punt return abilities are still great as always and he should be top 5 in that next season. Also, is Burton or Avery a punt returner or kick returner. If not who will be the kick/punt returner if Hall leaves? And lastly, which receivers do you see making the team and in what order? Thanks a lot and I hope you answer back.
Jeff Gordon: There are a LOT of potential kick returners on this team. Why not just give Stanley the job, IF he picks up where he left off in the OTAs?

John: What should Rams fans expect to see from Saunders? Any 5-WR sets? Twin TE's? Please let me know what we should see more of. Also, will there be more passing plays to Steven Jackson? And will we run the ball more or less with Jackson?
Jeff Gordon: Expect more passes to the TE, lots of rushes by Jackson -- but also more 3 and 4 WR sets than Linehan used. He can run a power offense AND get more creative in the passing game.

Kyle: Can you please let me know who you think will start, Chris Draft or Quinton Culberson? Also, what are their pros and cons and who do YOU think should start. Thanks.
Jeff Gordon: Culberson is a great run defender. The staff loves his potential. He was hugely productive at the college level. So he could work into the starting role, freeing Draft to play all three spots and/or play in passing downs.

Curt: Dear Jeff,

Who at the P-D gets the cooshy assignment and gets to cover the Rams at camp in Wisconsin?

Also, has Al Saunders figured out what he's going to do with WR Drew Bennett? Last I read in the P-D was Saunders didn't know as Bennett is not his type of receiver...?
Jeff Gordon: Jim Thomas will be on the job. Bill Coats will be involved. I'll get up there late in camp. Others will get into the mix, too.

Jeff in Iowa: When Coach Linehan came in, there was a lot of talk about learning a new offense. I know he kept some things in, such as some of the terminology, with what Bulger and the players were used to. I haven't heard much yet about the offense Sanders runs and if there will be a lot new stuff to learn all over again? I know some of it it probably similiar to what the veterans knew with Martz. I really like our offensive weapons and even the line (fingers crossed for a healthy year)...just wondering your opinion on how long you think it will take them to adapt to what Saunders wants to do and how complex it might be. Thanks for the forum!
- Jeff
Jeff Gordon: The new offense will be easy for Bulger and Holt, since they have worked with Saunders. Green knows it inside and out. Burton and Avery have to learn NFL offenses, period, so there are in the same boat with Bennett and Co. But the offense shouldn't be all that challenging for the skilled guys.

Rambunctious: 1) With only Avery, King and Vobora not signed, do you forsee any delays in getting them signed before camp?

2) Recently there was a spirited debate on "Rams' Talk" regarding Al Saunders apparent reluctance to play rookie wideouts in the past. Is it safe to assume that Saunders had a good deal of influence regarding the selections of Avery and Burton? If true, would he not give them every chance to earn playing time in their rookie seasons? The naysayers put forth the argument that Al's offense is too complicated for rookies to grasp in their first year, and that it is impossible for Al to "dumb it down" a bit without compromising the whole shooting match. What is your take on this issue?
Jeff Gordon: Why would there be any holdup in getting signed? The scale is set. The agents just have to get it done. If they don't, bad on them.

As for Saunders, he liked what he saw from the kids in OTAs. And when you look at the veteran competition, it is especially easy to see them playing a LOT.

Jimmy: Do you yourself think O.J. Atogwe is overrated. I was reading an article and the guy said that all the quarterbacks threw to him and that is how he got his interceptions. Please tell me you don't think this is true because we really need him this year.
Jeff Gordon: I think he is greatly improved. He is still learning, but he is a good athlete with nice instincts. I think he is a legit near-Pro Bowl guy now. This season offers him a chance to take that next step.

Kinsey: Will Richie Incognito be starting center? Is this the starting line?
Pace Bell Incognito Setterstorm Barron
Correct me if I'm wrong.
Jeff Gordon: That sounds right. Setterstrom's power blocking at guard makes that configuration make sense.

Matt: Hi Jeff,

Are the Rams concerned at all about depth at both safety spots? If they are consider if OJ or Chavous go down, our defense is in serious trouble. So why did they not pick at least a reserve in the draft? Are they waiting for a more viable veteran option at the positions? Thanks
Jeff Gordon: I'm not sold on Carter, but he has been around. Bartell can play safety. The Rams have depth, just not awesome depth.

Glenn: Hey Gordo, what's the latest on any free agents, or trades the Rams might be considering? Thanks..... I'm in Virginia and I never here about any rumors etc.. Please help...Thanks again
Jeff Gordon: We just had Howard Balzer on KFNS and he didn't see anything coming. Spikes just visited Detroit. Bentley hasn't played and he wants to start -- and there is no job here for him.

See you next week!