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    Post Jim Thomas Live 4/7/09

    thomasme55: Jim, thanks for the forum.
    Here is my reason for drafting Curry with our second pick in the draft. Jim I don't know the exact number, but numerous times in the last two seasons we were ahead or within a few points of a victory if only our defense could make a stop late in the game. Too many times have we allowed another team to either score late or run the clock out. Maybe by adding Curry we will be able to win a few of the close ones. What do you think?
    Thanks M.Thomas
    Jim Thomas: I still can't help looking over the offensive line and seeing only one full-time tackle under contract in Alex Barron, whose contract expires after the 2009 season. Plus, I thought Spagnuolo's comments were very telling at the NFL owners' meetings coaches breakfast, when he said teams were built from the lines out. But we'll see. I guess there's still a scenario where if the Rams stay at No. 2 and have such a high grade on Curry that the take him, and go for a tackle in Round 2.

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    bfulton: Do you have any reason why the Rams signed Boller over Leftwich, the latter of which has always had better statistics?
    Jim Thomas: I really don't.

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    bfulton: As always, thanks for your reporting and insight.

    Devaney has been quoted as saying that the Rams probably should've signed Ron Bartell the summer before he hit free agency, because then it would've been cheaper. He has also recently been quoted as calling LOT Alex Barron a "core player." Should we soon expect a new contract for Barron who is now entering his last year before free agency?
    Jim Thomas: I haven't heard that "core" statement.

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    Dan Lum: Aaron Curry is a trained OLB. Why does everyone think he can transition into the middle of a 4-3 and be a dominant force? Are the Rams considering 3-4? Say Curry is taken by the Lions, the Rams go OT at #2, and Maualuga, Cushing, and Luaranitis are gone? Who then in Rd2? PLease not WR!
    Jim Thomas: Don't understand why you say "please not WR." As I pointed out in my P-D story today, other than Avery the Rams had only 24 NFL regular-season catches on their ENTIRE roster at wide receiver before the Laurent Robinson trade. That's a gaping hole on the depth chart.

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    Steve B.: Jim: Thanks, as always, for these terrific chats.
    My question regards the Rams' apparent interest in Mark Sanchez.
    Which of the following scenarios seem most plausible to you?
    A) They really are seriously thinking of drafting him second overall.
    B) They are thinking of drafting him if and only if they trade down in the first round.
    C) It's all a smaokescreen to try and convince another team that wants him to trade up to get him.

    My own guess is that it is either B or C.
    Jim Thomas: My guess is C.

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    emty: while everyone debates the rams first pick the real intrigue is with their round 2 & 3 picks. the rams are taking a tackle with their first pick & that's all there is to it. fans need to get over it.
    i saw a mock draft that says the rams take wr harvin with pick #2 & some olb i never heard of with 3rd round pick. yeah, a 3 round mock draft, can you believe it?
    my question for you, jim, is who would you take in round 2 if harvin & ilb laurenitis are still avaiable or would you fill another need?
    Jim Thomas: I think there's a greater need for WR.

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    James in San Jose: Jim,

    Did you get a chance to see Jacob Bell during the minicamp? I was curious whether he looked heavier or more muscular compared to last year. In my opinion, it doesn't matter where he plays, he needs to get bigger and stronger at the point of attack to help justify that huge contract he signed.
    Jim Thomas: Practices were closed to the media except for that 20-minute window on Thursday afternoon, so I did not get a good look at Bell.

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    Dave: Hey Mr Thomas,
    Thanks for doing these questions. I've got just a couple of questions.

    1) Now that Kyle Boller has been signed does that mean we wont draft a QB this year and pick up other needs?
    2)Any possible trades that the rams could get into on draft day? Possibly Braylon Edwards or maybe trade our pick and another pick for the broncos 2 first rounders?
    3) Any more free agent signing on the horizon? Before or after the draft?
    Thanks Dave
    Jim Thomas: 1.) Boller only signed a one-year contract (there was some confusion early whether it was a one_ or two-year deal). So I would say, yes, a QB still is a possibility in the draft.
    2.) As Devaney mentioned at the end of the minicamp, the Rams are willing to listen to any and all offers about trading down from the No. 1 spot. It does look like the Rams want to stockpile some picks this year. Don't know if they're interested in Edwards.
    3.) Although most of the moves could be made after the draft, I think it's still possible for the Rams to add depth at DT, LB, and WR via free agency. For example, it's possible free agent Dane Looker could be re-signed after the draft.

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    BDH: Thanks for your excellent work, Jim.
    I like Boller's signing, partly because his youth and past expectations of his potential will encourage the staff to see how much they can coach out of him, relieving the urgency to draft a development QB this year. It makes me suspect the Ram's draft picks will fall something like this by round:

    1-OT: Smith or Monroe
    2-WR: best available big over-the-middle type playmaker
    3-Best available DT or ILB
    4-Best available CB, RB, or position left unfilled in round 3
    5 and beyond-Best available in remaining positions above or a DE

    Does this come close to your read of the situation?
    Jim Thomas: Looks like a pretty good plan to me.

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    Dejan: Hi Jim,

    I understand that Rams are very much sold on OT as 2nd overall pick and I support that choice but what I want to ask you is this: Wich player will bring the most for Rams regardless of position or our need? Wich player will bring up teams performance the most, who will be the biggest upgrade out of J Smith, Monroe, Curry, Crabtree, Maclin or maybe Stafford and Sanchez?

    Thanks for the answers BIG salute from Serbia!
    Vlade Divac RULES!
    Jim Thomas: If you pose the question that way, I would have to say a Michael Crabtree _ IF _ his foot was healthy.

    And a BIG salute to you, Dejan, from Earth City.

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    Lawarence Marmie: Hey Jim,

    Since the Bears got Cutler and our own Orlando Pace, everyone seems to think they are automatically Superbowl favorites. Haven't they forgotten that besides for Matt Forte and possibly the TE Olson, they are pretty much devoid of any offensive weapons? Besides, everyone knows that the defense is what made them the dominant team that made a Superbowl appearance three yrs ago. Since then, lovie smith has cut the real genius behind that defense (Ron Rivera) go and him and his laptop Babich have taken the reigns- only to see themselves finish 21st and 28th in total defense the past two seasons. Without any offensive weapons and a defense that no longer creates shortfields through turnovers, but rather follows a timid "Bend, but don't break" philosophy- how could anyone actually consider them favorites to make the big show? Can a QB without any weapons and a once great, but recently oft injured LT really put them that far above everyone else?
    Jim Thomas: Coach Marmie, They were bold moves, particularly Cutler. How Cutler does in '09 could make or break Lovie Smith. There really isn't a dominant team in the NFC North, so a healthy Pace and a reasonably effective Cutler could bring the Bears a division title, although I agree with you that Chicago doesn't have enough skill position players for a deep playoff run.

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    JRH: Jim, Thanks for your coverage and sharing your time with so many dedicated fans. Last week you listed the players invited to the Rams pro-day. What is most interesting here is that the only two O-lineman invited to the pro-day were J. Smith and E. Monroe. This might indicate that the Rams will take a O-lineman with 1.2. Is that a correct assumption unless the Rams invite other O-lineman for a visit? Or, is Curry still in the running? I know these are assumptions, but it is interesting to note what does not happen is sometimes as important as what does.
    Jim Thomas: A couple of things. No. 1, it's not a pro day. The Rams can't work out any of the players brought into St. Louis for pre-draft visits. They can talk with them, I believe they can give them physicals, but that's it.
    In today's P-D, I reported that OTs Michael Oher of Ole Miss and William Beatty of Connecticut also are on the Rams' guest list. So that makes 4 OTs that we know of, and I'm still about a dozen player's short of a full visit list.

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    Mark in NY: Jim, call me sentimental, but why do we have to get rid of all the good guys? It was written that Orlando Pace gave up 2 sacks last year, third best in the league. On the other hand, we read that the new front office thinks his skills "are diminishing". Which is it? And we've all seen great tackles play well right in to their mid-late 30's. I hope we didn't get rid of Pace too quickly. I shudder at the thought of drafting someone at #2 and getting an overpaid, underachieving tackle to replace him. Curry #1, Offensive tackle #2.
    Jim Thomas: I too, would've liked to have seen Pace stay. I think even Orlando would be the first to admit that he isn't the player he was, say, five years ago. So he may not be the lockdown left tackle, but I think he's still pretty good. The problem the Rams ran into is that in order to have any money to do anything in free agency, they needed the $6 million from Pace and $8 million from Holt that they got by releasing them. Why not restructure, you say? The strong impression I got is that neither the Rams or Pace wanted to restructure. I think the Rams felt that keeping Holt and Pace wouldn't have been the difference between last year's 2-14 and say, making the playoff in '09.

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    Alex Alvidrez: I read recently that the Reverend may not make the final cuts in San Franciso. If he is cut, do you believe the Rams may pursue him for one more year or so?
    Jim Thomas: Interesting question, because right or wrong there are some in the personnel department who feel Bruce has more left at this stage of his career than Holt. But it sure seems like the new regime here at Rams Park is intent on turning the page on the holdovers from the Greatest Show, and starting fresh with a younger roster.

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    Tony: I was very happy the Rams picked up Boller instead of Gus. While I hope Bulger returns to pro bowl form, hypothetically speaking, If Boller was to have a great camp and pre season, while bulger struggles, Do you think there is any chance Boller is opening day starter?
    Jim Thomas: I would doubt that would happen on opening day. But I'd say it's certainly in the realm of possibility once the season starts.

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    soly: Thanks as always for the chats, and all of the Rams info you and the P-D provide. I check the web cite daily, as it is a rare source of information on the Rams- esp. being out here in Hawaii. Well, on to the important stuff- uniforms. Uniforms are worn to convey a sense of purpose, promote unity, and to look good. Our Ram's unis fail on at least two of these. The blue top/white pants, and white top/blue pants combinations are hideous. Reminds me of my 3-year-old when he dressess himself. I understand that the owner does not like the "disco" gold pants, but they do go with the blue jerseys the best. If the gold pants are out, I think that they should just use the same color top and bottom- white on white, or blue on blue. Moreover, I think that it may be time for a whole new uniform. How much time does the league need to be notified of a uniform change? I'd like to see the Rams in a more Earthy, brownish yellow with just a little blue for the #s, etc... I guess you could call this pre-draft boredom. Thanks again,
    Sol
    Jim Thomas: The league needs at least a year of lead time on any uniforms changes, in terms of color and design, etc. But in terms of the existing approved jerseys and pants, I believe the Rams can change that on a week-to-week basis at their whim, but of course in communication with each week's opposing team.

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    4thandJuan: Hello again, Jim.

    Can the coaches really assess players that well in mini-camps, without the contact work? Could you give us a picture of what goes on at these camps, please?

    Thnx.
    Jim Thomas: For the most part, the players do just about the same things in the minicamps as they do in training camp. Minus the contact.
    Most practices start with individual or position specific drills. The wide receivers may catch passes on one part of the field. While the o-linemen are hitting bags. The linebackers are doing drills, the DBs are working on back-pedals, etc.
    Then, they gradually move on to unit work, where the defense works together on one side of the field, while the offense works on the other. Then there's 11-on-11 work, with the offense going against the defense. Interspersed are special teams periods.

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    Soeren Lindberg, Denmark: Hey Jim
    I am a huge Rams fan from Denmark. Thank for answering me.
    I have 2 questions:

    1: I keep reading, that A. Barron's natural position is LT. When he played there when Pace was hurt he did a solid job. Why not give him a shot? I figure thats why they tried him there during the minicamp, to see how he would handle him self there.
    I think the Rams should focus on drafting a RT who can start from day one. That should be possible in the 2. or 3. round. That would give them the oppurtunity to draft A. curry with the 2.pick. What do you think?

    2: We need a number 1 WR. Why not offer Arizona a 1. round 2010 pick for Boldin or Browns a 2. round 2010 pick for Edwards? I think it is better to pay 1. round money for a proven player like Boldin instead of a rookie.
    Jim Thomas: 1.) This could very well happen.
    2.) The thing with Boldin is, he's going to want a restructured contract _ and a boatload of money _ if he's traded.


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    RamFanInCA: Hi Jim,

    Can you tell us any details about when you're going to be on 101 ESPN?

    Thanks,
    Jim Thomas: I did my first stint with Bernie today just before the chat started.

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    RamFan in 49erLand: Rams seemed so high on Grecco when he was initially drafted as a tackle out of college. Then they stuck him at guard claiming he had slow feet! He seemed to play fairly well when given a chance. If he really had such slow feet, why draft him so high last year? Given how effective he was in college and in limited time in the pros, doesn't he deserve a chance at right tackle, at least during minicamp? It's not as if Adam Goldberg is being seriously considered as a starting candidate for RT. If Bell is again going to be handed the L guard position, why not give Grecco a chance at RT in minicamp?
    Jim Thomas: You make good points. We'll see what happens at the next minicamp. I do wonder if the new regime is wedded to keeping Greco at guard.

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    Greg Weis: Jim...I just wanted you to know that many of us here in Falcon-land think the Rams just got an amazing steal. They gave up a switch in positions in the fifth and sixth rounds to get WR Laurent Robinson. If you don't know him, wait till you see this guy (who was injured practically all of last year). He is the smoothest, sneakiest-fast, soft-handed, great route-runner you have ever seen. WHAT A COUP FOR THE RAMS!!! He is going to be a great, great receiver. I'll be honest: a lot of people who follow the Falcons would rather have seen Roddy White go rather than Laurent. (Seemingly amazing, but true.) I have looked at various boards, and Falcons fans are MYSTIFIED.

    Greg
    Jim Thomas: Interesting. But the Falcons did make the playoffs last year with very little contribution from Robinson.

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    RamFanInCA: Hi Jim,

    I'm curious to know how you process and sort through the info that you get from the team about the draft this time of year. How much is a smokescreen and do you feel that you are ever used to float misinformation? Or do you get useful information that are unable to report? How do you know what is good and what is just...."stuff"?

    Thanks.
    Jim Thomas: It's hard to quantify. For one, irrespective of what anyone tells you, you have to look logically at the roster, what the team needs are, and what the possibilities are of taking certain players at various points in the draft. It's also getting to know who you're talking to, and quite frankly, it's not like I've known Devaney and certainly Spagnuolo forever. So I'm still getting to know them. And yes, there is some information that I'm made aware of, but am told in confidence. And if your to build a relationship with a source, you have to build trust.

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    Fresno Ram Fan: Hey JT,

    Do you know the date when the 2009 NFL Schedule is released? Trying to plan my yearly trip to the STL?
    Jim Thomas: I'm told it will be released either April 15 or April 16. The Page Ranking savvy NFL always waits till the baskeball Final Four is over, and the first week of baseball has come and gone.

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    Lawarence Marmie: Hey Jim,

    I'm still a little confused about the hiring of Pat Shurmur as our OC. An Andy Reid disciple just doesn't seem like a natural fit for the conservative offense that a Steve Spagnoulo would like to run. Has he said anything about type of offense he would like to run? Living in Philly, I've heard Andy Reid say a million times that he wants to run the ball more, but as soon as they run it once and it doesn't work, he goes right back to throwing the ball despite the situation. It's just hard to believe that someone who was taught by that cheesesteak devouring meglomaniac would be any different.
    Jim Thomas: I think a lot of fans, and some of us in the media, are wondering how the West Coast offense and power football will mesh. Spags has been very careful not to reveal too much in detail about the type of offense he wants to run. For one, I think that's his style (as learned from Reid, mainly) not to give much information. For another, I think it's all being put together still. He doesn't want to be pinned down precisely because it's all still evolving. One last thing to keep in mind If the early attempts at running aren't successful, Andy Reid won't be on the sidelines advising Shurmur in St. Louis.

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    Ramero: Hi Jim, hope you are enjoying as much as I these off-season. I will like to know your opinion on how wild or crazy it was my decision of betting 30 dollars by internet choosing the rams to win the 2010 superbowl. They are paying 100 to 1.

    I did it having in mind that the rams are going to beat SF and Seattle, and split with the Cards. They will make the playoffs and from there we never know.

    Thanks for your opinion.
    Jim Thomas: If you want to throw away $30, why don't you just send it to me in care of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sports Department, 900 N. Tucker, St. Louis, Mo. 63101

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    Brian from KC: What can you tell us about new acquisition WR Laurent Robinson from Atlanta?
    Jim Thomas: Please see my updated blog on the trade in Around the Horns, as well as my story on the trade in today's P-D (it's also on-line). That's about all I know on the guy at this point.

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    R @ / / !: 1.I think the Rams may have a better year if they draft Curry they now need help at MLB it has been a bad place for them since London Fletcher left + Curry can also play strong side so if someone gets hurt he can provide depth
    2.With the signing of Kyle Boller will they focus more or less at the QB position in the draft
    3.With the trade forAtlanta WR Laurent Robinson will they need a veteran or should they draft someone
    4. Anyone you think can be the next defensive star? I think Clifton Ryan will some day be great

    THANKS FOR YOUR TIME
    Jim Thomas: 1.) There's no doubt the Rams could use another linebacker, and another playmaker on defense.
    2.) As I mentioned before, I still think the Rams will strongly consider taking a QB at some point in the draft. Boller signed a one-year deal, so it's not like he's a long-term solution.
    3.) I still think the Rams will look at all possibilities _ draft and vets _ for help at wide receiver.
    4.) The Rams have a lot of young veterans on their defense--Atogwe, Bartell, Hill, Witherspoon, Tinoisamoa, Butler, Ryan, Carriker, Long are all under 30. Some of them, maybe several of them, need to have breakout years in '09 for this defense to improve.

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    Jon in Kentucky: Jim, if you were to choose with your own gut feeling between the two who would you pick? Crabtree or Curry?
    Jim Thomas: Right now, barring any medical update on Crabtree, I'd say Curry. But if I knew Crabtree were healthy, well, playmakers are very hard to find. . . .

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    iceplumber: Howdy JT and thanks for answering our questions. I sense from writers covering the Rams they are mostly not happy with the closed mini-camp and limited access at Rams Park. Do you think its best for the new coaching staff and players to not have the distractions of media? Will it help the players concentrate? Will the next mini-camps be closed also? I can understand closing the first mini-camp, but I want to know how things are progressing with the team, and I want to hear it from the HC. thanks
    Jim Thomas: I think it is ridiculous, no make it comical, that minicamp is closed. Most of the players don't even notice if media are on hand at practices. There were never more than about nine of us at any practice. I think the whole "distraction" thing is an excuse.
    Let me just say this: the franchise that has won the most Super Bowls of any in NFL history _ Pittsburgh _ has always had open practices, open everything.
    In St. Louis, Dick Vermeil ran the most open shop around, and somehow managed to win a Super Bowl.
    Whether minicamps or practices are open has absolutely nothing to do with winning or losing. And the NFL is the only major league sport, where practices are closed. Somehow, the NBA, major league baseball, and the NHL manage to put up with the "distraction."

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    Mr.Troupe: Hey Jim Thanks 1st off let me say thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this!

    With the recent additions of (C)Brown,(S)Butler,(FB)Karney,(WR)Robinson,(QB)Boller, it seems as if Devaney has really given himself some extra flexiblity going towards the draft by adding some decent players to fill depth on the roster where it was much needed. the 3 questions I have are:

    1.With the stockpile of unknown talent that Devaney has accumulated from last year and this year has anyone in your opinion stood out thus far in minicamp that seem to have a decent chance to make the roster or practice squad after the draft.(Especially in the WR department with Filani,Lucas,Jones,Brown)

    2.Also what is the perecent that u think the rams if given the opportunity to trade down would actually trade down and who are some reasonable canidates to keep an eye on come draft day to watch for a trade.

    3.Towards the end of the season it seemed Devaney had some serious interest in the Mizzou wideout Maclin. Is there any update as to his injury and draft status and if Devaney still has as much interest as he had before.

    Thanks Again

    P.S.
    Whatever happened to Denzel Washington son and Moorehouse RB John David Washington is he even in the league anymore?
    Jim Thomas: 1.) The only "no-name" receiver whom I heard made some things happen at the minicamp was Chad Lucas.
    2.) As Devaney mentioned in today's P-D article, the Rams haven't decided how far down they're willing to trade. Obviously, players such as Maclin and Maualuga would only make sense taking in a trade-down scenario.
    3.) Maclin is fine. He looked good and ran well at his Mizzou Pro Day, as I reported in the March 20 editions of the P-D.

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    tonyde: Thanks for the chat Jim. What do Devaney and Spags think of Incognito? At the end of the year it looked like he was done. Now he's back lining up as a starter? There are even reports that Spags loves the way he plays? He certainly has upside as a player, but the sideshow is tiring? Whats the word at Rams Park? Thanks
    Jim Thomas: Yeah, interesting how Incognito's fortunes have seemed to rebound. By the end of last season, particularly with what happened in Atlanta, Haslett was ready to wash his hands of the guy.
    I'm sure Spags loves Incognito's physical blocking style, but I don't think he's been around the guy enough to form any strong opinion of him, one way or the other.

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    Rich: Good morning Jim,

    Do you see the Rams drafting a starter quality CB in this draft?

    I would love to see Tye Hill rebound and play like the guy who looked like the real deal in his rookie season; however, the Rams have been waiting three seasons for that guy to show up.

    Thanks for these chats.
    Jim Thomas:
    I think it's possible. I know they have a confirmed pre-draft visit set up with U. of Cincy CB Mike Mickens. I know they have interest in UConn's Darius Butler. I believe he's on their pre-draft visit list as well, but have been unable to confirm at this point. They've had an individual, or private workout, with Central Florida CB-return man Joe Burnett. And they've shown some interest in CB-S Sherrod Martin of Troy. But I don't think Burnett or Martin project as being taken in the top three rounds.

    By the way, on Hill, he was chosen No. 15 overall in the draft, not No. 5 as was written in my P-D story. True story: The No. 1 on my laptop keyboard gets stuck sometimes and I have to bang it hard to make it stick. It didn't stick on that story _ so 15 became 5. And somehow I missed the typo on my second read. Sorry about that.

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    Rich: Good morning Jim,

    There have been a number of reports of failed drug tests for top players in this drafts including Raji.

    Do you see the Rams taking a chance on a player who failed a drug test in the combine?

    Thanks again for these chats.
    Jim Thomas: Interesting because there have been a lot of strong denials in most instances on these failed drug tests.
    It'll be a nice little test of Spags' Four Pillars approach if they do take a character risk, drug test or otherwise, in the draft.

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    Gman: The addition of Laurent Robinson at WR looks like a very smart move by Devaney. Billy came from the Falcons, so he has some insight on the kid; and from what I can tell, he's got a huge upside (6"2" 4.3 speed, good route runner). He was supposed to start over Jenkins last year, which says a lot about his ability, considering how good Michael Jenkins played last year.

    You know what I'm gonna ask: Does this mean the Rams don't take a receiver early in the draft?
    Does this means it is either Curry or Monroe at number 2?
    Jim Thomas: The short answer: Although intriguing, I don't think Robinson is the caliber of player who should affect what the Rams do in the early rounds.

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    h2o_jd55: Great information in your chats JT. Did the Ram coaches come away from the first minicamp with additional needs and/or were they pleasently surprised by the ability of some players?
    Jim Thomas: I would think the coaches came away with tidbits of info on a lot of players, either way (good or bad). I think Devaney, who has a better overall sense of the roster _ good and bad _ because he's been here longer, came away from the minicamp without much changing in his mind.

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    Robb Treat: How realistic is it for the Rams to trade down from No. 2 to pick up extra draft picks and still be able to fill their needs? What teams seem to want to move up in the draft and might be likely trade partners? Finally, how much impact has the Cutler trade had on teams wanting to move up earlier in the draft to grab "their" quarterback? As always thanks for the great job you do in covering the rams!
    Jim Thomas: Judging by the seeming frenzy to get Cutler, it looks like there's a lot of teams that need QBs. I would think teams that want one of the top two QBs _ Stafford or Sanchez _ would want to get ahead of Seattle (at No. 4 overall) to make sure they get one of the two. (That changes of course should Detroit somehow take a non-QB, or even signs a non-QB before the draft.)

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    Ed Johnson: If we are going to draft an OT in the first round, why not sign UFA Napoleon Harris to MLB 7 year vet (6'3"/255 lbs) and move draft to SLB? Your opinion sir!
    Jim Thomas: I don't know about Harris in particular, but I kind of like the idea of adding a solid veteran with some size to the mix at linebacker. Harris? Morlon Greenwood? Somebody like that, if you can get them relatively cheaply.

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    George M.: Hi, Jim. A lot of Rams fans here seem to be getting very optomistic about the upcoming season. I think Devaney/Spagnolo are doing the right things to make the Rams a much better team in 2011 or 2012, but I'm not seeing a big improvement this year. They have added Brown and Butler as starters, but subtracted Pace and Holt. There is no doubt that Brown and Butler will be better then Pace and Holt in 3 years, but for this year I see it as about a wash. Once in a while the Rams can get one player in the draft who has a major immediate impact, but it is pretty rare. First rounders often hold out for most of training camp, and if they do it takes them most of the season to come up to speed. The Rams are looking at middle linebacker and offensive tackle for high draft picks, and both those positions have a lot to learn before they can contribute. I see most of the improvement coming from better coaching of players who were here last year, and I am looking at 5-11 as being reasonable, although I would love to be wrong. Can you give me reasons to hope for better?
    Jim Thomas: I think you have a clear-eyed, realistic view of the situation. Keep in mind, the addition of Mike Karney adds another starter at FB, and this was a much-needed pickup.
    The Rams feel Bajema is an update over Becht at blocking tight end. Ditto for Boller over Green (and Frerotte for that matter) at backup QB.
    The trade for WR Robinson is intriguing, but I don't think it's wise to just automatically assume that he'll be a significant contributor in '09.
    Re-signing Bartell and even Goldberg helps. As does retaining Atogwe with the franchise tag.
    But the lack of personnel at OT and WR is appalling. The roster doesn't have many playmakers on either side of the ball. If the Rams could get two, even three instant starters out of the draft that would be huge, but they still have more than two or three holes on the roster.
    There are 2 great unknowns: What kind of therapeutic affect will the new staff and the fresh start at Rams Park have once the games are being played? And can several of the young veterans on both sides of the ball have breakout years? Sometimes it takes 2, 3, 4 years for that to happen.

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    djjr11854: Hi Jim,

    Can you explain to me the reasoning behind swapping trade picks and getting Laurent Robinson? Here's another WR who hasn't done anything in the two years he's been in the league. Yes I understand he had some hamstring issues last year, but wouldn't have been more prudent to get a WR that has a bit more experience? I know it's smart to get younger, but a team still needs veterans around to help in the transition.

    Concerned CT Ram fan.

    Thanks as always
    Jim Thomas: Swapping the picks allows the Rams to acquire Robinson without actually giving up any extra picks.

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    Rich (UK Ram!): Hi Jim,
    Thanks again for your updates. Do you know if the rams have any interest in WR Ramses Barden? I think with his height he would be a great redzone threat and would compliment the speed of Avery.
    Many thanks from the UK!
    Rich
    Jim Thomas: I do not know if they have any interest in him.

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    ramholio: Hey Jim,

    With Spags emphasis on the running game how do you see this teams backup running back situation? We know what we are going to get from SJ but to ask him to carry the entire load may be a bit much. Do you see this team adding a veteran back up like McCallister and others ( for the right price ) or drafting a RB in the later rounds?
    Jim Thomas: Boy, you've hit upon the mystery question. I thought I might get some answers, or at least some hints, in the pre-draft visits. But so far, out of 19 confirmed visits, none are running backs. I do know that in various degrees over the entire pre-draft buildup, starting with the Senior Bowl, etc., the Rams have shown interest in RBs Shonn Greene (Iowa), Andre Brown (NC State), and Rashad Jennings (Liberty).

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Tackleberry: Granted it is only mini-camp, but reading your coverage of the event and seeing Pisa, Draft, and Witherspoon listed as the linbacking corps doesn't inspire the fan base. If the Rams do draft Jason Smith, where do they find a starting linebacker?
    Jim Thomas: There's always the second round of the draft.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    jlaue: Is Rickey Manning Jr. still under contract? I haven't heard anything about him since his injury.
    Jim Thomas: He is an unrestricted free agent. I heard from his agent that his foot is fine. If the Rams aren't able to re-sign Craft, I think they then turn to Manning Jr. as their nickel back. Manning Jr. doesn't run all that well, but you've got to like his toughness and the physical presence he brings to the position.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Barry Hovis: What are the projections for how many wins the Rams will have this year? Also, how are they stacking up in comparison with the other teams in the NFC West?
    Jim Thomas: Well, let's wait till the draft. But I do think Arizona looks like the team to beat. I think the arrow's pointing down on Seattle, and I don't know what to make of SF (Will Singletary's, uh, motivational style have true staying power, or will it eventually grow old to the players.)

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Petey123: Jim, have you heard anything about the Rams having a draft day party again this year?
    Jim Thomas: Petey, you are the draft party animal. The dome is unavailable because work on the $30 million improvement package will be in full swing by then. I think it will be held at the Rams Park indoor facility, as has been the case most years in the past. If that's the case, it'll be a much smaller affair this year with a much smaller guest list.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    roger1944: How important is the change to a new defensive system to our current players?
    Jim Thomas: Very early impressions: They like the fact that it seems to be a more aggressive style, and less read-and-react.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Greg Dowler: Does anyone blame TLR for what happened opening day? It appeared to me as though he was trying to make a point to DeWitt and Mozeliak. 'You didn't get me a closer and we are going to suffer for it.' To me it was a clearly a managerial loss. Why wuould you ever put a green rookie in that situation without a very short leash? What's your take, did I miss something here?
    Jim Thomas: Yo, Greg. I think you got lost on the way to Birdland.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ed C: Jim,

    I'm guessing many will ask the same question but....doesn't Boller fit better with the supposed theme of getting younger players with a potential upside than Frerotte? So why were the Rams trying to sign Frerotte first. If you go with Frerotte, why get rid of Pace who, if healthy, actually would perform at a much higher level than Frerotte even if Frerotte was forced into a starting due to injury? Thanks for taking our questions
    Jim Thomas: All of what you're saying makes sense to me. And I don't really know why the Rams seemed so interested in Frerotte.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Columbia_Man: Do the positions played in mini camp, such as Barron at RT say a lot about the possible decisions on draft day?
    Jim Thomas: Obviously, the depth chart isn't set in stone in early April. But I think it does provide some hints.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    B-Ball Fan: Amazing how this year's draft appears to have NO teams willing to trade up for either of top picks because no one feels there are players deserving of the top draft pick money this year ?
    Jim Thomas: It's still early, very early.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Mike: Hey Jim,

    Do you think Boller will challenge Bulger for the starting QB? Or is he going to be the fulltime back up? Thanks
    Jim Thomas: The idea going in as that Boller's the No. 2, and there will be no QB competition for the No. 1 spot. But if Bulger struggles once the regular season starts. . . .

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Chris (Ohio): Mr. Thomas:

    Most fans seems to be adamant the Rams draft Aaron Curry at #2 overall. Our biggest priority BY FAR is OT. Don't you think we would get better value out of our first two picks if we go OT in round 1 and MLB or WR in round 2? We need a pure MLB more than an OLB and there is a chance Laurenietis slips to round 2 or one of the solid WRs than a solid OT. Your thoughts?
    Jim Thomas: I like your thinking.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    OT RamFan: Jim, thanks for keeping the draft interesting. Let's assume the 1st pick is Stafford and the Rams don't believe Curry is the franchise MLB and don't draft him. Since this is a great time for speculation, what if the Rams could swing a deal with Denver as follows: Since Denver needs a QB and defensive line help, we give them our #2 and Carriker (since his value is still unknown),we basically played without contibution from him last year, and from Denver we receive their First Round 12,18 and second round 16. We give up a Draftpick Value total of 2600 and receive 2520 in return, we obviously lost a player and his salary also. With their 3 picks and our own 2nd round, we could have (in order of draft) #12-OT(Oher, Britton or Beatty), #18 DT (Jerry, Brace or Hood), Rams 2nd Round (Laurinaitis LB, Nicks WR, Britt WR or Robiskie WR) and Denver 2nd Round (the best available OT, C, RB or DB.) We would be off to a great start...if only!
    Jim Thomas: Wow, I truly appreciate your passionate interest, but my head is spinning.
    Let's just say this, taking a No. 12 and 18 from Denver (and maybe a fourth-rounder) makes more sense than a No. 21 and 28 from Philly

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    St.Young: Hi Jim,
    Question is ,will the Rams be interested in Plaxico Burress IF he clear out his messes with the law ? A WR his caliber will help out big time on Rams forever problem with redzone execution ,and consider the Spags connection with Burress. What's your intake...Would that be possible?
    Thanks Jim,you are the best.
    Jim Thomas: What I'm hearing. . .from inside the walls of Rams Park. . .is that the Rams aren't interested in Plaxico.

    With that I must go for this week. Take care. . .and talk to you all next week.


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    Re: Jim Thomas Live 4/7/09

    Good point by Jim about the 24 total regular season catches on the entire squad. Thats just crazy..

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