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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Improved 'D' is the Rams' goal

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Tuesday, May. 01 2007

    PRACTICAL DRAFT • Team's choices make sense, add strength where it was needed
    most.

    BUYING POWER • Free-agency purchases help round out Rams' other needs in
    several areas.


    With the draft completed, and free agency now entering the garage sale phase,
    the Rams roster is 90 percent complete. But the question remains: Did they do
    enough to improve the defense, particularly the run defense?

    "We can't help but improve," coach Scott Linehan said.

    For starters, Linehan said, the Rams kept two of their top defenders out of
    free agency by re-signing them during the 2006 season: end Leonard Little and
    outside linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa.

    On the first day of the free agency-trading period, they acquired end James
    Hall of Detroit for a fifth-round draft pick. Hall will start at right end
    opposite Little.

    In free agency, they signed linebacker Chris Draft, strong safety Todd Johnson,
    and cornerbacks Mike Rumph and Lenny Walls. Draft led Carolina's seventh-ranked
    defense with 111 tackles last season, and if he doesn't start next season
    should play a lot anyway. Johnson started six games for the NFC champion Bears
    last season and will provide depth at safety. Rumph and Walls will compete for
    backup spots at cornerback.

    In the draft, the Rams added three defensive tackles, headed by first-round
    pick Adam Carriker of Nebraska, plus more cornerback depth in Jonathan Wade of
    Tennessee.

    "We know we've still got a long ways to go as a team," Linehan said. "Not just
    defense. We're working on our special teams. Working on some new looks on our
    offense. We're doing it, and we're doing it at the right pace."

    That's "pace" as in patience. The Rams looked at the crop of defensive linemen
    in free agency, but there wasn't much to chose from. So instead of "grabbing at
    need" as Linehan put it, the Rams traded for Hall but continued working the
    entire roster, while exploring other options on the defensive line,
    particularly in the draft.

    There was a discussion with Carolina about acquiring defensive tackle Kris
    Jenkins, but that trade never materialized. As a result, it was imperative for
    the Rams to draft someone who could play right away up front.

    That turned out to be Carriker at No. 13 overall. Linehan called Carriker
    "probably the best run defender ... coming out in this year's draft." Having
    Carriker play inside is a bit of a projection, but he has some experience doing
    so in college, and he certainly has the requisite size and strength.

    Carriker's selection typified the entire draft for the Rams. It was short on
    sizzle, but solid. Every pick made sense. There were no quarterbacks drafted to
    play wide receiver (Eric Crouch) or safety (Steve Bellisari). No obvious
    reaches (Jacoby Shepherd). No players that no one had ever heard of (Travis
    Scott).

    As is the case with Carriker, the addition of second-rounder Brian Leonard of
    Rutgers won't sell many tickets. There was some second-guessing as to why the
    Rams didn't take Ohio State's Antonio Pittman instead. But Leonard looks like a
    good fit for Linehan's offense — and a fitting backup for Steven Jackson.
    Leonard can play running back and fullback, can block and catch passes and can
    spell Jackson as a ball carrier.

    Everything else in the draft was about depth. Defensive tackles Clifton Ray
    (Michigan State) and Keith Jackson (Arkansas) will compete for spots in the
    rotation. Both are slated for work as nose tackles. Throw in Carriker, who
    could very well start, and if Jimmy Kennedy doesn't hear the wake-up call, his
    alarm clock is unplugged.

    "There is no greater motivator than competition, and I think only positive can
    come out of it," Linehan said. "I don't think there's any competitor worth his
    salt that doesn't welcome it and elevate his game because of it. We'll have a
    tough decision to make when we get down to our roster cuts, especially when it
    comes to the defensive line."

    Despite all the offseason work, one of the things the Rams haven't accomplished
    is to add an edge rusher, particularly the 'tweener to man the "buck end" spot
    in coordinator Jim Haslett's scheme.

    "Those are hard guys to find in the draft and are harder to find in free
    agency," Linehan said.

    The Rams brought one such edge rusher in for a free-agent visit — Tully
    Banta-Cain — but he ended up with San Francisco instead. Even so, Linehan said
    that any discussion of the Rams' pass rush should not overlook Hall.

    "One of the best things he does is rush the passer from that other (end) spot,"
    Linehan said. "We've got high hopes, as he does, to get back to his true form."

    Hall had 11 sacks in 2004 but only five in 2005. He had five sacks in just
    seven games in 2006 before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.

    Linehan thinks Carriker can provide inside pressure on the pass rush. Raonall
    Smith, who manned the "buck" end position last season, was re-signed to a
    one-year deal as a free agent. And Eric Moore, who spent the final games of
    2006 on the active roster, could compete for the "buck" position as well.


  2. #2
    txramsfan's Avatar
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    Re: Improved 'D' is the Rams' goal

    Well, at least I like Linehan's quick wit. He's right. How can the Rams D from 2006 not improve? If this defense gets worse this upcoming season, then can we say Linehan was worse than Marmie? Why not if it happens?

  3. #3
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    Re: Improved 'D' is the Rams' goal

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    Well, at least I like Linehan's quick wit. He's right. How can the Rams D from 2006 not improve? If this defense gets worse this upcoming season, then can we say Linehan was worse than Marmie? Why not if it happens?
    It won't ..... I know -- rookie DTs rarely make an impact, but there is one glaring difference between JK and Adam Carriker (hereafter referred to as AC) and that difference is: AC will take it personally when teams try to run on him.(You can't say the same for JK). That combined with Hall and an improved Wroten will make a difference.

  4. #4
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    Re: Improved 'D' is the Rams' goal

    i agree with that... this cat keith jackson seems like a player as well...

  5. #5
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    Re: Improved 'D' is the Rams' goal

    Maybe Hall will be the balance we were missing for Little since Grant left, freeing one of them to increase their sack numbers? Just a thought....

  6. #6
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    Re: Improved 'D' is the Rams' goal

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    Well, at least I like Linehan's quick wit. He's right. How can the Rams D from 2006 not improve? If this defense gets worse this upcoming season, then can we say Linehan was worse than Marmie? Why not if it happens?
    Linehan worse that Marmie? Wouldn't it be more appropriate to compare Haslett to Marmie? Sure Linehan has a say in personnel and direction, but Haslett is the defensive mind responsible for putting an effective unit on the field. He is the Defensive Coordinator.

  7. #7
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    Re: Improved 'D' is the Rams' goal

    I think this might be my favorite off season of all time. I think that Scott and the guys did a great job from the begining of free agency, all the way threw the draft. I especially like the much needed size and mean streaks that many of our younger players will bring. Hopefully all this will translate as well to the ball Field as it does on paper. And it if does, NFC watch out.
    Last edited by mikhal5569; -05-01-2007 at 04:59 PM.

  8. #8
    txramsfan's Avatar
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    Re: Improved 'D' is the Rams' goal

    sorry mike, thanks for the correction.

    Haslett and Marmie.

  9. #9
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    Re: Improved 'D' is the Rams' goal

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    sorry mike, thanks for the correction.

    Haslett and Marmie.
    No problem my friend!

  10. #10
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    Re: Improved 'D' is the Rams' goal

    One difference I see between Haslett and Marmie is that Haslett has actually had success in the past. I think that with one full season under their belt, the vet defensive players and the 2nd year guys know what to expect. Hopefully they can bring the rookies up to speed.
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

  11. #11
    Krames41 Guest

    Re: Improved 'D' is the Rams' goal

    Quote Originally Posted by mikhal5569 View Post
    I think this might be my favorite off season of all time. I think that Scott and the guys did a great job from the begining of free agency, all the way threw the draft. I especially like the much needed size and mean streaks that many of our younger players will bring. Hopefully all this will translate as well to the ball Field as it does on paper. And it if does, NFC watch out.

    I agree with you 100%.

  12. #12
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Improved 'D' is the Rams' goal

    My early wishful thinking for the Rams 'D': turn it into a C+!

    Adeyanju. Carriker. Carter. Draft. Hall. Hill. Kennedy (for crying out loud, get with the program man!). Little. Ryan... "Et al."

    The entire gang. Let's give it a go!
    Last edited by RealRam; -05-02-2007 at 01:13 AM. Reason: Spelling

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