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Thread: Inside Slant
When it came time for the Rams to pick in the second round of the draft, there was a strong feeling their choice would be a wide receiver.
None were taken in the first round, the first time that had happened since 1990. So, with the Rams sitting with the second choice in the second round, they had their pick of any receiver available. When the name Donnie Avery was called, eyebrows raised.
Avery, the first receiver selected, when other names like Devin Thomas, James Hardy, Limas Sweed and Andre Caldwell were available?
"There were some good receivers that were on the board at that point but this is a guy that we obviously pinpointed a while ago and we knew he was going to get strong consideration in the second round," said Billy Devaney, vice president of player personnel.
The Rams love Avery's production in college, having 44 starts in his career, to go with his speed and ability to run after the catch. In addition, he can return kicks.
"Everybody involved kept saying if there is one thing we wanted to do is we wanted to get faster on both sides of the ball," Devaney added. "We wanted to add juice to our offense and defense and this guy is a legitimate speed guy. Better than that, he is not just a pure track-guy, so to speak. This guy is a legitimate wide receiver also. He'll come in and challenge for playing time and challenge to be our kickoff return guy."
While some view Avery strictly as a slot receiver, coach Scott Linehan that Avery he has the size (5-11, 192), to also play outside.
"This kid can legitimately go outside and compete to play full-time as a 'Z' or whatever we are playing," said Linehan. "I think right away, we can really put some thought into him playing slot because of the way he plays and the way he's played on film. I don't want to over-blow the term but it is a perfect fit, it really is, for what we needed. He fit that bill of making our team a lot faster.
"We really noticed when he gets out there and gets behind people on those big posts and those (deep) routes, you can really see his ability to stretch the field."
Asked the importance of that, Linehan said, "It's huge. In our system you have got to have a complement of speed in it or otherwise it seems like you always have to call another play. I think with a guy like this we know he is a threat. You've got to account for him because he can stretch the field on the outside and on the inside. With the receivers we've got coming back, it is something we needed, but it will really help them as well. They know now that there's a guy who can really burn out there."
—Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was an assistant with the Raiders in 1993, the final season of Hall of Famer Howie Long's career.
Now, Haslett will coach Long's son Chris, whom the Rams picked with the second overall selection in the draft.
Said Haslett, "Howie was just like Chris. Practices hard, very intelligent, understands the game, goes a hundred miles an hour."
—So far, the Rams have been unable to sign a free-agent quarterback to the roster. Brock Berlin is currently the third quarterback behind Marc Bulger and Trent Green, but coach Scott Linehan wants a young player to be the fourth arm in camp and compete with Berlin for the No. 3 job.
Right after the draft, before the Rams came up empty, Linehan said, "One of the things working against us was last year, we carried two quarterbacks and this year, we will carry three. I'm sure someone would look at it and say, 'Why would you go to the Rams, they've got their two guys,' so you got those kind of things. So I have got to get back upstairs and convince them that we are taking three quarterbacks. And we are, by the way."
After not getting a quarterback in the first group of undrafted free agents, Linehan said, "We're still looking. We had sort of planned on drafting one, but a couple of guys went ahead of where we were going to take them. ... We're very happy with Brock, but we'd like to go to camp with four."
—One day after the draft, TE Dominique Byrd was placed on waivers. A third-round pick in 2006, Byrd played in just 14 games, catching six passes for 73 yards and a touchdown.
He is scheduled to be tried beginning Monday (May 5) on felony charges of assault and armed criminal action. That resulted from an incident in December, 2006.
Three months later, Byrd was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, for which he eventually pled no contest and was put in probation for three years.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I feel like everybody who has gotten to this point has to have a high motor and has to work hard. I just play the game the way it's supposed to be played, and I think sometimes when people call you 'high motor,' they don't look at you for athletic ability. I think I have some, but I work very hard." — Rookie DE Chris Long, on being referred to as a "high motor" player.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Rams didn't select a safety in the draft or sign one as an undrafted free agent, but they are considering giving CB Eric Bassey a chance at the position. Bassey played well on special teams in 2007 after being signed during the season.
"He is a guy that made a name for himself this year for us on special teams but he has some very good qualities potentially as a safety," said coach Scott Linehan.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
—C/G Andy McCollum started at left guard and center during the '07 season, but hasn't made a decision whether he wants to play another season.
—S Hanik Milligan played mostly on special teams when he was on the field.
—LB Raonall Smith is a solid special teams player and backup linebacker, but ended the '07 season on injured reserve with a knee injury.
—T/G Todd Steussie wants to return for another season, but it's unknown where he fits on the line. Suffered a broken foot at the end of the preseason and came back for the final six games of the season.
—TE Aaron Walker is a decent blocker who saw his season end because of a shoulder injury. Likely not back after addition of Anthony Becht.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
—RB Rich Alexis (not tendered as ERFA) was signed late in the season after being cut in training camp.
—DE Trevor Johnson (not tendered as RFA) was a situational player that is expendable.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
—G Jacob Bell: UFA Titans; $36M/6 yrs, $7M SB/$6M base salaries guaranteed 08-09; 2008 cap: $3.167M.
—TE Anthony Becht: UFA Buccaneers; $2M/2 yrs, $270,000 SB; 2008 cap: $865,000.
—K Josh Brown: UFA Seahawks; $14.2M/5 yrs, $4M SB; 2008 cap: $1.8M.
—WR Reche Caldwell: UFA Redskins; $645,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2008 cap: $485,000.
—QB Trent Green: FA Dolphins; $8.9M/3 yrs, $2.1 SB/$900,000 reporting bonus; 2008 cap: $2.6M.
—CB David Macklin: UFA Redskins; $770,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2008 cap: $485,000.
—S Jerome Carter: Not tendered as RFA; $520,000/1 yr, no SB; 2008 cap: $445,000.
—T/G Adam Goldberg: UFA; $645,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2008 cap: $485,000.
—OT Brandon Gorin: UFA; $645,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2008 cap: $485,000.
—DE James Hall: FA; had been released by Rams; 2 yrs, $3M/2 yrs, $700,000 SB.
—RB Travis Minor: Potential UFA; $755,000/1 yr, $20,000 SB.
—S Oshiomogho Atogwe: RFA; $2.017M/1 yr.
—C Brett Romberg: UFA; $645,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2008 cap: $485,000.
—G Milford Brown: UFA Panthers; $5.5M/2 yrs, $1M SB.
—WR Isaac Bruce (released).
—TE Dominique Byrd (released).
—LB Brandon Chillar: UFA Packers; $5.4M/2 yrs, $550,000 SB/$1M RB.
—QB Gus Frerotte (released).
—PK Jeff Wilkins (retired).
Re: Inside Slant
I am happy to hear Linehan say all the right things. "his [Avery's] ability to strech the field" "on the outside and the inside" Looking for a third QB. That is all very encouraging to hear from our HC. BTW Tampa has about 6-7 QB's, do we take a look at Chris Sims?
Re: Inside Slant
Bassey is nice depth at FS, but what about SS? Trevor Johnson?
Re: Inside Slant
I reallly hope Avery evolves into an Isaac Bruce like player in his career.
Chris Long is probably the best thing to happen to the Rams recently since Steven Jackson's career started here.
Linehan is becoming smart. He knows hes on the hot seat, and he obviously is making himself a better coach. I love it.
Re: Inside Slant
I see Long becoming a second coming of Grant Wistrom.
Re: Inside Slant
Everyone keeps saying that they want Avery to be a second coming of Bruce, but wouldn't he be more like Az Hakim? I never really thought of Bruce as someone that "stretched" the field.This space for rent...
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