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  1. #1
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    Gordon: 10 players to track

    Finally, football! Here are 10 players to track at Rams camp
    By Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    07/26/2007

    Columnist Jeff Gordon
    (E-mail a "Letter to Gordo")

    At last! Rams training camp is upon us and St. Louisans can head out to Rams Park to watch big fellas swelter in the unbearable July/August heat.

    Given the sad state of the defending World Champion Cardinals, sports fans are more than ready for some football. It’s time to break out the coaching shorts, don the Jacoby Shepherd replica jerseys and head out to watch your heroes grunt and groan.

    From this corner of cyberspace, here are the 10 most interesting players to track during training camp:


    1. Adam Carriker, DT: During my most recent chat, Question No. 1 was the Rams’ reliance on this first-round pick to anchor the defensive line. He comes to camp atop the depth chat at the DT/nose tackle position, despite playing defensive end at Nebraska.

    Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett wants strength and toughness at this position, obviously, but a high-motor guy, too. The since-departed Jimmy Kennedy couldn’t make a consistent impact at this position during his frustrating tenure in St. Louis.


    2. Ron Bartell, CB: The suspension of Fakhir Brown moves Bartell to No. 1 on the depth chart heading into camp. This is a big step from opening up in the nickel spot or backing up at safety. Bartell has been a handy guy during his Rams tenure, but now the team needs him to get out on the island and become a solid cover back.

    The first quarter of that Rams schedule is challenging. Can the Rams get Bartell ready for this challenge?


    3. Brian Leonard, RB: Not only should he give the Rams an upgrade at back-up running back, but he should also become the new third-down receiving back. He could play some fullback in two-back sets and move around like an H-Back.

    Along with veterans Randy McMichael at tight end and Drew Bennett at receiver, he will be give Scott Linehan another skill player capable of creating match-up problems for opposing defenses.


    4. Claude Wroten, DT: He comes to camp sharing the other DT slot with veteran La’Roi Glover. The Rams are banking heavily on a breakthrough season for Wroten, because right now they have mostly kids providing depth at this position.


    5. Andy McCollum, C: Brett Romberg did a solid job filling in at this position last season. And big Dustin Fry could become another late-round steal for this football staff; he is another huge kid with lots of power-blocking potential.

    But a healthy McCollum could provide this offensive line tremendous leadership. He has performed at a consistently high level, when able, and he could be a nice fit between youngsters Richie Incognito and either ClaudeTerrell or Mark Setterstrom.


    6. Claude Terrell, G: His wrist injury was just one of the issues that forced the Rams to scramble for offensive linemen last season. Now he comes back to a unit that evolved into a solid power-blocking group with Richie Incognito, Alex Barron and Mark Setterstrom making great strides.


    7. Jon Alston, LB/S: Jim Haslett wants to get more creative with this defense. If this unit can force more tough down-and-distance situations -– and if the offense makes foes consistently play catch-up -– Haslett will be able to put his players into attack mode. Alston could become an interesting weapon in some blitz packages.


    8. Victor Adeyanju, DE: The Rams are banking heavily on newcomer James Hall to provide steady pass pressure from this position. But can he stay healthy? And can he stop the run? Adeyanju followed a solid rookie season with a terrific offseason of work. He is one of the handful of returning players capable of making this “D” more stout against the rush.


    9. Jonathan Wade, CB: Brown’s suspension also puts more stress on Wade’s development. He brings great speed to camp, but plenty of rough edges. He figures to see extensive action during the preseason schedule as the coaching staff attempts to mold him into at least a dime-package contributor.


    10. Donnie Jones, P: Linehan is a huge fan. In this corner of cyberspace, reliable Matt Turk was one of our favorites. Why did the Rams have to move one of their few reliable players on special teams?

    We didn’t get it, but Linehan insists that Jones will be just as good and fans will appreciate that he is locked into a long-term deal. We’ll all get to judge that for ourselves as Jones settles in with his new team.

    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  2. #2
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    Re: Gordon: 10 players to track

    All of these I agree to keep an eye on as players of great importance and expectation to help the Rams be successful in 2007.

    The only '?' is the new punter, "DJ". I trust he'll at least be decent in replacing Turk.

  3. #3
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    Re: Gordon: 10 players to track

    I would like to add 1 to the 10 listed. Dante' Hall

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    Re: Gordon: 10 players to track

    I agree with most of the list except wade, even with the suspension i don't see him being much of a factor. I see him having an Atogwe or Alston type rookie year

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    Re: Gordon: 10 players to track

    I think Wade will be a pleasant surprise for the Rams.

    Because of his track background, he will always be considered "raw", but the reality is he is a good football player who is a lot more ready than some think.

    You guys got yourself a player there.

  6. #6
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    Re: Gordon: 10 players to track

    Quote Originally Posted by Laram0 View Post
    I would like to add 1 to the 10 listed. Dante' Hall

    Yes, agreed. I would then replace punter DJ with Dante' Hall as our biggest expectation on ST.

  7. #7
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    Re: Gordon: 10 players to track

    I would add Benett to the list, I can't wait to see him in the mix.

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