Sometimes when rumors start around the NFL, there are those who put two and two together and get five.
So it was that when speculation began that the Vikings might trade quarterback Daunte Culpepper, the Rams were mentioned as a possible landing spot, mainly because Culpepper's monster year in 2004 came when new Rams coach Scott Linehan was Minnesota's offensive coordinator.
Never mind that Rams quarterback Marc Bulger has been to the Pro Bowl, and Culpepper is recovering from a knee injury and wants a huge new contract.
One Rams official told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "How could anyone even think that about Marc?"
Linehan has spoke highly of Bulger, and recently met with him to begin the process of implementing the offense.
"I really think he is one of the elite players in the league," Linehan said of Bulger. "What I like about him is he kind of emerged from - I don't want to say nowhere - but the guy really came in and really proved himself in a short period of time.
"I think he's one of the best quarterbacks in the league at anticipation of letting the ball go to open areas, and throwing the ball to the guy extremely accurately. I know he is one of those kind of quiet, calm leaders. And I like that in a quarterback and a leader."
While Linehan has said the offense will still attack, he has also talked about running the ball more and protecting Bulger. That is music to the quarterback's ears.
"There's ways to do that," Bulger said. "I think first and foremost if we can just get the running game going and stop defenses from being able to attack our protections. If we can run the ball and be balanced, then they are not going to be able to attack the protections. They will have to respect that.
"From what I hear so far, we are going to have good running game things going in. We are going to have a nice base of things, but at the same time, we are not going to be less aggressive. It's down the field, if you watched Minnesota, how they did it, (the quarterback) doesn't take as many hits because they were so balanced."
—Joe Baker, the team's new defensive quality control coach, did not attend the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis after undergoing an emergency appendectomy Feb. 20. Baker had been hired the week before after coaching with the Packers last season.
—There had been some question whether linebacker Dexter Coakley would return to the team after a disappointing season that ended in early December when he suffered a fractured fibula against the Redskins.
However, Coakley went to Rams Park soon after Scott Linehan was hired as coach and expressed his interest in continuing to play.
"He was one of the first guys to come in and meet me when I was on the job," Linehan said. "He wanted to know how he fit into the scheme of things, and was very positive. I really like those veterans that have a good attitude. I was very encouraged with where his mind was, and where he felt that he was health-wise."
—The Rams are trying to negotiate a new contract with wide receiver Isaac Bruce, who is entering the final season of the seven-year deal he signed in 2000. Bruce is scheduled to receive a $1.5 million roster bonus and $6 million salary in 2006, figures that bring his cap number to $10.04 million.
"I am confident he has a couple really good years left in him and we are doing whatever we can to have him on the field this year," coach Scott Linehan said. "He is representative of what I'm trying to promote in terms of veteran leadership. And he has a lot of juice left."
The Rams are looking to convert his bonus and salary to guaranteed money, add two more years to his contract, and reduce his cap number to a figure in the $5-$6 million range.
Asked what it will take to sign him, Bruce said, "Not much. You know me; I'm easy."
—New coach Scott Linehan added Todd Downing to the staff as a coach's assistant. Downing comes from the Vikings and was there when Linehan was offensive coordinator.
Downing will assist with special teams, and handle other duties such as scripting practice and charting the quarterbacks during practice.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's like Isaac (Bruce) said: 'Set the table so you can eat.'" - Rams coach Scott Linehan on talking with Rams veterans about not making the offense too complicated.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
TEAM NEEDS/OFF-SEASON STRATEGY
As the March 3 expected start of free agency approaches, the Rams' biggest decision involves nose tackle Ryan Pickett. During the season, there were contract talks, but the Rams considered Pickett's reported asking price of $4 million a year too high.
However, if they lose Pickett and defensive tackle Damione Lewis, even more holes will be created on the inside of the defensive line.
When the season ended, it was believed strong safety Adam Archuleta had played his last game in St. Louis. However, new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett wants Archuleta back. Whether that happens will depend on money.
1. Safety: Even if Archuleta is re-signed, the back line still needs to be upgraded with better tackling.
2. Linebacker: There are questions concerning the future of linebackers Chris Claiborne and Dexter Coakley. The Rams still need a force at middle linebacker, something they haven't had since London Fletcher departed in 2002.
3. Tight end: Brandon Manumaleuna's salary increases to $1.325 million and there is no other proven depth on the roster.