JIM THOMAS | Posted: Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Here is the transcript from Tuesday's "Jim Thomas Live" chat with Rams fans:

virginiatom: I think the Rams are really going to regret not looking for a legitimate wide receiver or back up running back when they had the chance. The lack of impact players on offense is evident.

Jim Thomas: Two games into the preseason, it's hard to argue with your points.


rams2050: Hi, Jim!

Two questions:

1.) How much of the success of the Rams' offensive line vs. the Browns do you think was due to basic improvements made by linesmen since the Vikings' game (along with some line continuity during the intervening time) and how much was due to the fact that in the Browns the Rams were playing last year's 31st ranked defense?

Also, some heated discussions have been developed online about -- what else -- Marc Bulger. Do you know whether the Rams front office asked Marc to stay? Or did the front office drag their feet for such a long time -- with Sam Bradford obviously being a person of interest to them -- that Marc could see the proverbial writing on the wall and simply asked for his release?

Thank you.

Jim Thomas: 1.) Sure, it helps to be playing the 31st ranked defense. But I think the blocking improved. I think more blockers were held in on pass plays to help with protection. And there weren't many downfield throws.

2.) Bulger did not fit in the team's plans for 2010.


david: Jim, Thanks for your time. Do you think that Avery would do better as a slot receiver? You never hear his name called out for anything anymore. I am really worried about the offense. It seems as if there are no downfield plays in the playbook. What is the sense at Ramspark? Do you think that Cujo makes the team? I like him better than Gibson.

Jim Thomas: Yes on Avery. Trouble is, the Rams' best WRs (other than Laurent Robinson) are slot guys - Danny Amendola and Mardy Gilyard.
Even without what I think we all concur has been a conservative appoach in the passing game, it's hard to throw the ball downfield if you can't protect the quarterback. So I think that's contributed to the preseason approach. As did the driving rainstorm in Cleveland.
As for Cujo, at this point, I say he makes it only if there's an injury to the top four DTs. If the Rams keep an extra d-lineman (meaning nine total) I think Spags' history has been to keep an extra DE.


sean: i like the defense this year, but i think pass rush is going to need to be manufactured by scheme. i feel like spags wants to do that with the zone dog, but it only causes slight confusion, but doesnt compensate with enough pressure.

Jim Thomas: It's hard to see the Rams getting consistent pressure without extra rushers. Unless, that is, one of the DEs has a breakout year - be it Long, Hall or one of the rookies.


LaughingLion: Jim:

Although Bradford hasn't been impressive in his first two outings (no surprise and really no negative to him) is he physically that much more impressive than the other quarterbacks the Rams have? I have heard talk about people marveling about the crispness of his passes and so on, but is his arm so much stronger than Feeley, Null or Lewis?

Of course physical gifts mean nothing without composure, game smarts and an o-line that keeps him off his back, but I just wondered if there was an obvious qualitative difference in looking at him over the other QBs the Rams have.


Jim Thomas: I'd say Bradford has a strong arm, but not a cannon. When it comes to heaving a ball as far as you can downfield, I think I'd even say that Null has a stronger arm. But Bradford can make so many other throws accurately, that Null can't. Bradford's overall release and decision-making - to me - seem quicker than Feeley. And I think this will only improve on Bradford's end as he gets more comfortable with the offense and with the speed of the NFL game.


Jumbo J: Hey Jim,

I wanted to get your thoughts on two players that stood out to me against CLE; Marquis Johnson and Dominque Curry.

Curry appeared to make some nice plays on ST, and Johnson appeared to be around the ball a lot. I think his coverage could be better, but he did show he's not afraid to make the tackle.

Where do they fit in with the Rams?

Jim Thomas: Johnson improved markedly in game two as opposed to the Minnesota game. He looks like a pretty sure tackler. But he's got a long way to go, and now he's sidelined with a shoulder injury. He might have a chance for the No. 6 cornerback spot.
I think Curry looks like a practice squad player. There was a catch he might have made and didn't for what would've been a TD against Cleveland. You've got to make those catches if you want to make the varsity.


Go Rams: Hello Jim,

Thanks for the chats. My question regards the receivers. How much of the apparent struggles in the passing game is due to receivers not getting open? Its had to tell on TV if guys are open and the O Line and QB are just not getting enough time or if there is just no one open.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Jim Thomas: Hard to tell so far, especially given the weather conditions in Cleveland. And against Minnesota, Bradford simply had no time. But let's face it, has there been even one Rams receiver who's caught your eye in the preseason games? Amendola, maybe.


Jumbo J: Hey Jim,

I'm not feeling the backup RB position is all that strong right now. I know everyone is saying CO is the backup to SJ, but it doesn't look all that promising. Any chance we see Toston in with the ones?

Or possibly someone from another roster? The Browns appear to be heavily loaded at the RB position (Harrison, Hardesty, Davis, Jennings and Hillis). Anyone there intrigue you?

Jim Thomas: I'm still thinking the No. 2 RB isn't on the roster yet. I don't know where he's coming from, though.


aussie_ramfan: Jim, what would you say is the most likely outcome at TE? Who goes and who stays? Can they keep 4 considering there high involvement in the offense? Cheers

Jim Thomas: Boy, we've been discussing this one at the Park. If it's four TEs - I think it's pretty cut and dried: Bajema, Fells, Hoomanawnui, and Onobun. Fells helped his cause with the TD catch against Cleveland, but hadn't been impressive this camp until then. And now he's got a knee injury, although it doesn't look serious. If it's three TEs, I think the question becomes do the Rams think they can stash Onobun on the practice squad? It's a tough call.


bjf: Why sign Danario Alexander now? If they thought he would make the team why not sign him at the start of camp where the learning curve would have been much easier? Or are they hoping he will land on the practice squad for a six weeks or more before activating him?

Jim Thomas: Having just being cleared at the end of July, the Rams felt Alexander wouldn't have been able to withstand the rigors of two-a-days had he been signed right away. They felt he needed a few more weeks to continue his rehab and get into football shape. He was signed 3 weeks after his Aug. 2 visit and physical to Rams Park.


bjf: Are any of the three rookie de capable of being a pass rushing threat this season?

Are they confident that they have a third quality ot without using Adam Goldberg there?

Jim Thomas: The quality drops off noticeably after Saffold, Smith and Goldberg at tackle. If a tackle gets hurt, I think Goldberg slides out to OT from right guard, and Hank Fraley comes in off the bench. (To play either center or right guard. If Fraley's at center, which clearly is his best position, then Jason Brown plays right guard.)


pdub: I like the Alexander pickup for no other reason that he could, potentially, become a legit #1 type receiver. Obviously there's plenty of question marks, but why not take that gamble when your WR corps is so young and inexperienced. There's no big hurry for him to play either. If he's not ready, couldn't he be put on IR? If/when he is ready, you could have something special. Your thoughts?

Jim Thomas: The only problem with placing Alexander on the IR if he experiences even modest knee issues is that he wouldn't get to practice for the rest of the year. But I do agree that a slow, gradual approach with Alexander could lead to big dividends in a year or so.


Kyle: With Feeley banged up could we see Bradford play the whole game on Thursday? Could we see Gilyard return kickoffs at some point?

Jim Thomas: Don't think so on Bradford. I'm thinking he plays as long as the starting line does on Thursday, which could be into the third quarter. Gilyard returned three kickoffs for 70 yards against Cleveland.


pdub: Supposing that the NFL owners accept Kroenke's ownership bid this week, how long do you see it taking for fans to start seeing signs of Kroenke making his presence felt in the running of the club?

Jim Thomas: Great question. Don't know the answer. I'm not sure how well he knows Spags and Devaney, or what he thinks of them. But certainly there should be an even greater sense of urgency with Kroenke in full control. Because I think it's safe to say he has his own ideas about how to run this club.


virginiatom: Is it too early to start the Bill Cower watch? What a difference this team would be with him standing on the sidelines.

Jim Thomas: Even though he's going on his fourth season out of football, Cowher will be in great demand if he decides to come back. I'm sure he'll have better opportunities than St. Louis.


Alex from Mesa, AZ: Have you been watching L. Grant's play this preseason. This guy is a bona fide stud linebacker. Who was responsible for obtaining this guy?

Jim Thomas: Yeah, I wrote a story about him last week. See our stltoday.com Rams page.


Cousin Vinny: JT,

Any truth to the rumor that Vermeil may join the Rams Front Office?

Also, Any back up RB's on the horizon?


Jim Thomas: When I talked to Vermeil earlier in camp, he said he hasn't heard from Kroenke but would certainly listen. It is a rumor I keep hearing.

As for RBs, stay tuned.


gametightceo: What are the chances of D. Alexander getting on the field in the last two preseason games?
Why don't we see more of Tolston and Darby, especially since Oby is not showing much promise (imo)?
Why doesn't the STL media make more of a stink about what seems to be poor, boring, unimaginative, play calling?
Is there a reason there is no deep passes attempted?

Jim Thomas: I think this week would be tough, but maybe the following week.
Toston did get 13 carries against Cleveland.
In Week 1, the Rams couldn't pass protect. If you can't protect a QB on a 3-step drop, why do you think a 7-step drop (for a deeper ball would work.) In Week 2, the Rams basically played in a monsoon.


ebes112: I've noticed that Smith has had a handful of mental penalties (ex. offsides) so far this preseason. Do you predict that he will grow out of this and turn into a solid National Football League tackle? Or are we looking at another Alex Barron? Also, do you think this OLine is good enough to keep the Rams competitive?

Thanks Mr. Thomas

Zach from Oakville

Jim Thomas: I do not think Smith will be as penalty prone as Barron. I think the Rams are doing different things with their hard count this year - I think Bradford has a very good hard count - and the linemen have had a lot of false starts in practice this year. If the starting five can stay healthy, I think this will be a functional offensive line. But the Rams need to make sure they give they young tackles help on the edge.

Go Oakville Tigers!!!!!


paceram: Jim, Thanks for taking these questions! 1) I am a big fan of George Selvie - What are your impressions on him and how soon can we expect him to get back on the field and 2) I know it is early but can you give us your thoughts on Danario Alexander (I think IF he can stay healthy he could be special)?

Jim Thomas: Selvie's not going to play this week. After that I'm not sure. He hasn't been overly impressive on the practice field, but then he shows up in games. (I'm basing this off the Lindenwood scrimmage and the Minnesota game since he didn't play against Clevleand.) Quick first step. Good in lateral pursuit. Maybe he's one of these gamers like Grant Wistrom was _ doesn't show much in practice but shows up in games.
It's all about the knee on Alexander. If healthy, I think he's a bona fide NFL receiver who has good hands and deceptive speed. He looks like a long strider capable of getting up on DBs quickly. It will take some time even if he's healthy because he needs to learn the offense.


steve: hi jim, i must say the rams drafting bradford has made all the difference for me. i can't remember being this interested in the preseason since 2003. a few names i would like you to comment on: josh hull...seems to have his nose in a lot of tackles when he plays; george selvie...didn't see much out of him vs browns; and pat shurmur...even the browns' broadcaster quoted "this playcalling by the rams doesn't make things easier on the quarterback." it was obvious the rams weren't going down the field and the browns d-backs knew it and everything was so crowded 5-8 yards down the field. please tell me this will change!!!

Jim Thomas: I like Josh Hull a lot, and believe me, the coaches here do as well. I think he makes the final 53. Selvie didn't play against the Browns.


Randy: Hello Jim, thanks for doing these chats. I just have couple questions:

1. What is the latest on the Rams' ownership situation?

2. When is the first roster cut down? The rams really need another RB. Who do you think they will target?

3. I have noticed the Rams QBs (especially Bradford) complete more downfield throws during practice/scrimmage than the first two preseason games. Why do you think that is? Our CBs aren't as good as CLE and MIN; or Pat Shurmur call more aggressive plays against our own defense?

4. How did DX look in practice? Any chance he gets a couple plays in the next game against NE?

Thanks for your time.

Jim Thomas: 1.) See my blog and twitter: NFL finance committee has unanimously recommended approval of Kroenke's bid. A very good sign obviously.
2.) First roster cutdown is Aug. 31, but it's only five players (roster trimmed to 75). So I don't think they'll be much out there on the first cut.
3.) See earlier answers. But in short, there is a pass rush in games. And there was a monsoon in Cleveland.


Keith: JT, will the vote happen tomorrow on the sale and will the public be told the results? Thanks

Jim Thomas: Yes, and yes.


lynyrd: Jim, As always thanks for the chats, they're greatly appreciated and I look forward to them every week.

If I'm not mistaken wasn't Donnie Avery clocked as the fastest player in the draft when he came out? If that's the case why don't we find ways to utilize that speed and get him the ball more often? I can't remember the last time we've just thrown him the ball on a straight fly pattern or even on a quick slant and let him play "catch me if you can". I really feel he's been under utilized in this offense so far and I hope that will change now that we've got a strong armed gunslinger that can get him the ball deep. What are your thoughts Jim?

Also, I noticed that Mardy Gilyard averaged 16.3 yds per return on three punts against the Browns. Haven't seen the game myself did he come close to busting any of them for a TD and what are your thoughts on the rookie from Cincy?

Jim Thomas: Gilyard had a 23-yarder on his first punt return, but I wouldn't say he was close to breaking that one. I think Gilyard has some camp legs as well _ tired legs _ and might even show more quickness in the future.


4thandJuan: Jim,

How would you fill in these blanks?

1. The most pleasant surprise of camp is _______
2. The one guy I expected to see more out of is ______
3. One player that could be a surprise cut is ______
4. The last WR to make the roster will be ______


Jim Thomas: 1>) Larry Grant.
2.) Brandon Gibson
3.) Justin King
4.) TBD


David Morgan: What sort of leg injury does George Selvie have? The injury reports seem rather vague.

Jim Thomas: Will try to find out. He's been wearing a boot on the foot. With that I've got to go. Practice is about to start. Talk to you next week.