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How Will Rams Moves and Non Moves Pan Out?
How will the Rams' moves (and non-moves) play out?
By Jeff Gordon
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
Tuesday, Sep. 04 2007
The Rams viewed defensive end Simeon Rice as an interesting No. 3 defensive end
at this point in his career, an extra pass rusher to mix in with Leonard Little
and James Hall.
The Broncos, on the other hand, still view him as a legitimate sackmaster. That
is why Rice works in Denver today, not Rams Nation.
“He is going to really make a lot of plays for us,” Broncos safety John Lynch
told the Denver Post. “Simeon is a playmaker who makes his plays count. Rod
Marinelli used a baseball analogy in describing Simeon to me once. He said that
Simeon doesn't hit his home runs with the bases empty. He hits them with the
bases loaded, when it counts.”
Yeah, well, we’ll see. The Broncos were thrilled to acquire Jimmy Kennedy from
the Rams, only to find out what the Rams already knew: The kid couldn’t play.
Kennedy failed to make the cut in Denver, exiting without fanfare on Saturday
after running No. 2 on the depth chart through the preseason.
This is the beauty of the NFL. Teams put time and effort into player
evaluation. Fans, sportswriters and broadcasters join in the fun.
Then the actual games are played and we find out who was right. In this corner
of cyberspace, we’re eager to see how the Rams moves (and non-moves) play out.
Does the New Regime have a winning plan for the Rams? Can the New Regime
execute that plan?
The answers will come during the weeks ahead. Here are just some of the areas
* The Front Four. The Rams coaching staff wasn’t satisfied with the unit after
the preseason, which is why the team pursued Rice. Nobody will be shocked if
the team keeps looking, too, because the defensive front could use another pass
As for Rice, he is coming back from a shoulder injury. He is playable, as Tony
La Russa would say, but he is NOT 100 percent healthy. The Broncos were still
willing to make him a starter, guarantee his $3 million contract for this
season and throw in incentives worth $1 million.
“What's important for me is to put (the injury) behind me and do what I do
naturally,” Rice said. “And that's dominate.”
Should the Rams have made a bigger push for Rice? That question will answer
itself as the season progresses.
* Tackle. The Rams hope that Adam Goldberg or Milford Brown could fill in
should Orlando Pace or Alex Barron get hurt during the next eight weeks, while
Todd Steussie recovers from his broken foot. At first glance, there didn’t
appear to be much outside help available on the waiver wire.
But things change quickly in this league.
* Running back. Rams fans are understandably excited about getting Antonio
Pittman, since the team had targeted him in the NFL Draft. The former Ohio
State star is a potential playmaker. The Saints drafted him instead, only to
cut him in favor of Pierre Thomas -– the former Illinois star that came to camp
as a street free agent.
The Rams cut a good special teams player (Rich Alexis) to add Pittman. But he
gives the team further insurance behind Steven Jackson. And maybe, just maybe,
Pittman could develop into something special down the road.
Coach Scott Linehan could not pass up this long-term potential. Unlike the
Saints, the Rams don’t need Pittman to return kicks or to quickly master the
pass protection schemes as a third-down back. This team wants him to provide
* Linebacker. Jon Alston is a great athlete and a potential special teams
weapon. But the Rams must become stronger at the point of attack. Alston failed
in that department -– missing key gap assignments during the preseason -– so
the team kept middle linebacker prospect Quinton Culberson instead.
This is another spot that could undergo further change as the season progresses.
* Quarterback. By getting Brock Berlin on the practice squad, the Rams covered
themselves. They can get by with two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster because
Berlin is on stand-by. He knows the offense and is certainly good enough to
back up in the NFL should either Marc Bulger or Gus Frerotte get hurt.
Linehan is trading some security (a third quarterback available on game day, in
case of a dire emergency) for roster flexibility.
The Fitzpatrick trade was interesting. The team couldn’t keep him in the No. 3
role forever, of course, but Rams fans hated to see a young quarterback with so
much potential depart. Now the Rams are almost certain to draft a quarterback
* Special teams. In this corner of cyberspace, we were glad to see hustling
Darius Vinnett land on the practice squad after failing to make the 53-man
roster. He may not be able to help this team at cornerback any time soon, but
he could add some energy to the kick coverage unit if the Rams encounter
trouble this season.
The Rams took a look at free-agent safety Hanik Milligan for the same reason.
* Our overall assessment: The Rams are loaded at the skill positions, with
Pittman only adding to that party. Their lack of depth at tackle is
disconcerting. Their defense appears to be much too young to get excited about,
yet. Their kickers are fine, their kick returner is fine and their kick
coverage is . . . to be determined.
We’ll know so much more once the real games begin.
Re: How Will Rams Moves and Non Moves Pan Out?* Tackle. The Rams hope that Adam Goldberg or Milford Brown could fill in
should Orlando Pace or Alex Barron get hurt during the next eight weeks
We need help for 16 weeks plus, the playoffs.