Jim Thomas Live

Rams writer Jim Thomas goes one-on-one with readers at 1 p.m. Tuesday in a live chat.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mike: Money aside, which running back would you rather have as a compliment to SJ39: Darren Sproles or Reggie Bush (assuming he is released)?

Thanks
Jim Thomas: Good question and a tough call. I guess I'd say Bush is potentially more explosive. But I think Sproles is more well-rounded (as a blocker, etc.), probably more durable, and probably would be a better fit.

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Sean Holland: Jim love the chats. Glad to see the Rams practicing together. While we know the downside of the lockout, no playbooks or OTA's or weight training programs. But do you think that these player organized practices can be helpful to the team? I personally think the fact Bradford and Laurinitis organized them will help their status as budding team leaders.
Jim Thomas: Hey, these practices can't hurt. I think it's especially helpful for the rookies, regardless of position, and the tight ends and wide receivers (and Bradford) getting at least some acclimation to the new system. As for your other point, you should throw Bartell in there as well. He's spearheaded these practices as much as anybody, and with Atogwe gone, will be the leader of the secondary.

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Brendan Marks: Jim,

As a Rams fan, it's very encouraging to see such a strong turnout for the player-organized workouts at Lindenwood. It sounds like Bradford has already grasped a good amount of McDaniels' playbook and taken an even bigger leadership role in teaching his teammates. What's your take based on what you saw?
Jim Thomas: I don't want to make any sweeping generalizations based on a few workouts. And keep in mind, on Monday for example, at least half of the practice was in the form of individual or position specific work. But there's no doubt that Bradford is solidifying his leadership role on the team. The turnout is all the more impressive when you consider that the offensive linemen and defensive linemen basically weren't invited, and that only about 60-65 players are under contract, tendered as restricted free agents, or draft picks.

WR Danario Alexander, third-round draft pick WR Austin Pettis, WR Laurent Robinson, seventh-round draft pick CB Mikail Baker, and G/T Adam Goldberg were added to the mix Tuesday, bringing the total to 35 players.

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SamNJ: Jim,

Can James Hall play inside so that he and Quinn could play at the same time
(assuming Long plays opposite DE)? I believe Hall was a linebacker in
college.
Jim Thomas: Sure Hall can play inside, and he has done it a lot under Spags, moreso in 2009 (when Little and Long would play end in passing situations and Hall would slide inside), but he also did so in 2010. I'm sure we'll see some of that in 2011.

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Eric: Jim, Who would be the Rams hottest dream free agent after the lockout ? And what is the biggest area of need that would help this team most ?
Jim Thomas: Former super model and SI swimsuit star Elle MacPherson. (Well, you did say "hottest.") As far as players, this might be a free-agent "all-star" team at least as far as affordability and how they may fit the Rams: RB Darren Sproles (San Diego), DT Barry Cofield (NY Giants), OLB Ben Leber (Minnesota), OG/C David Baas (San Francisco) and safety Quintin Mikell. Sproles, Leber Baas, and Mikell will be available under either 4-year or 6-year free agency systems. Technically, Cofield is available only under a 4-year system, but may be available either way. And I throw these names not knowing how the Rams scouting department really feels about each guy.

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HomeRunHomer: Jim,

Please explain to me how the owners and players are ever going to agree on a new CBA if the two sides are not even sitting down together for some meaningful negotiations. I do not see how this problem will be solved through litigation or court-supervised mediation.

Thanks.
Jim Thomas: Whichever side wins the lockout ruling (in June) will have a significant momentum swing in its favor. Seemingly, it would behoove the "loser" of the lockout decision to get back to the negotiating table and get a new deal worked out. That's especially true if the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of the owners. If that's the case, the lockout will continue, and the start of the season could be doubt. If the players win and the lockout ends, then the "league year" has to begin _ meaning trades, free agency, minicamps, OTAs, and....games. But that doesn't necessarily mean there's a new CBA. If the players association so desires, they could wait until the accompanying anti-trust suit winds its way through the courts before actually agreeing on a new CBA _ and that could take a few years.


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NoCal Rams Fan: Jim,

I love the Rams corps of young guys. If you look at it we have a young stud at a lot of key positions, QB, LT, RT, MLB, CB, RDE, LDE. What do the Rams need to do in the next couple of years to become a perennial playoff contender and super bowl participant. Thanks
Jim Thomas: Well, they need more playmakers _ or at least plays being made consistently in the receiving game. And you know the needs on both sides of the ball. Complementary running back, weakside linebacker, interior offensive lineman, etc.

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Jim S.: Jim, Thanks for the chats! This mess is just getting worse, isn't it?! A few days ago i read a quote from one of the super-agents that because each player has his own individual conntract with their respective teams, that, in addition to the class acton lawsuit, each player could bring suit for violation of contract-true or not, it just points out that this mud puddle could turn into a real quagmire My question is a simple one: Do the participants in the Hall of Fame game have 5 pre-season games because of it? If 4 is too many, isn't 5 kinda dumb? Why wouldn't that game just be 1 of the teams involved 4 pre-season games? Thanks for being a beacon of light in this fog
Jim Thomas: No, it's a fifth game. Always has been. Maybe that will be changed in the future, but for now it's five preseason games.

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RAMBLE: Why aren't the Rams MUCH more agressive in signing undrafted free agents? They never get any of the best. Lists of the best come out and the Rams get none on those lists. No LeGarrette Blount's. Certainly no Pro Bowlers. And there are many that are UFDA's. (Remember a guy named Kurt Warner?)

The solution is simple. Outbid everyone. Easy to do as top free agents only get a $30-$50K bonus. So, the Rams could get 10 of the best UFDA's for only a quarter to a half million dollars max! That's nothing in the cap or as a cash outlay.
Jim Thomas: For a few of the last few years of the Zygmunt/Shaw regime, the Rams were fairly passive when it came to signing rookie free agents. By that I mean, they gave very little signing bonus money to rookie free agents. And one year, they spent zero dollars in signing bonus money. Now, these bonuses don't allow to much _ less than you're talking about. (Maaybe $10K, $15K, or $25K). And when you're talking about signing 10-12 undrafted rookies, maybe you're talking about $100,000. But it frequently means the difference between getting a free agent and not. But that has changed under Devaney/Demoff, and the Rams have been getting better undrafted rookies. Last year, they had five undrafted rookies on the opening day roster. Even so, the Rams have passed on some good ones either when they originally came out in college or when they were cut out of training camp or early in the season.

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LMU93: Jim, whenever free agency begins let's assume the Rams would be able to address three positions. Which of these- OG, RB, DT, OLB, FS- do you think they would prioritize?
Jim Thomas: I would hope RB is at the top of the list given the fact there's no one really behind Steven Jackson at the moment. As to how they prioritize, it might depend to a large degree on who's finally available at each position when free agency gets here.

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6yrs$165mil2#5: Hello Jim,

Thank you for taking my questions.

1)T. Holt as a permanent WR coach?
2)Rams win 5 games +/-? Pretty tough schedule!
3)Would you give Plaxico Burress a shot?
4)Who would you rather sign, R. Bush or D. Sproles?

Long Live Joplin.
Jim Thomas: 1.) I am writing about Holt for Wednesday, but I'll tell you this _ he's only interested at this point in being kind of a wide receiver consultant _ maybe working with a team throughout training camp like Isaac Bruce did with Chicago last summer.
2.) My over under right now (subject to change in the future) is six victories. Based in part on the tough schedule and in part on the current holes on the depth chart.
3.) Might bring him in for a workout and an interview. Just to see where he's at physically and mentally. But if memory serves, he's not supposed to be out until June, so that won't give him much time to get in shape. (Remember Vick's first year out?)
4.) Talked about this more in depth in an earlier post. I'll say slight edge Sproles.

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Encino: We haven't heard anything about signing any of the draft choices. Any movement that you can tell us about?
Jim Thomas: No negotiations can take place during the lockout. (And even if there wasn't a lockout, no draft picks usually are signed until July.)

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AzRamsFan: I read Torry Holt was helping the WRs at the 'informal' gathering. Any chance he might be hired as a full time coach or assistant? Any idea where they might work out in the Phoenix area? Thanks!
Jim Thomas: See earlier post on Holt. And please read the story scheduled for Wednesday's Post-Dispatch and Stltoday.com. I think the Phoenix area workouts will be in the Scottsdale area, but I'm not sure where.

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osully5040: Jim;

What's the deal with the Rams canning all these long time employees? How is it Spagnoulo seems to the one orchestrating these moves? Unless there is some impropriety on the part of the Operations Vice President or the Equipment Manager why would you fire these people? Another thing, why is Spagnoulo even involved with the equipment manager? How many former Rams coaches did the guy successfully work for? Does Spagnoulo think he has all the player problems solved and now he has to address any perceived problems with the office personnel? Who is next? The gal who answers the phones? Spagnoulo sounds like he has a Napoleonic Complex!

Thanks!
Jim Thomas: In my opinion, it's not a good situation. A lot of the rank-and-file here at Rams Park feel if they worked with the team in LA, or were part of the move to St. Louis, etc., that there's a bulls' eye on their back. It's not good for morale. And what if Spagnuolo and/or Devaney do not have long runs in St. Louis? Does the next head coach or general manager sweep the place clean, bring in as many of their own hires as they can, and repeat the cycle? To me, that can't be good for continuity. How many people are left in the building who have a real feel for St. Louis as a market, a community, and a sports town? Or who have a sense of the herculean effort that went into luring the team to St. Louis, getting the dome built, getting Rams Park built _ and all the trials and tribulations and public money that went into making it happen _ including the PSL money? This city and its football fans made this move happen and it created a special bond between the community and the team that is (was?) pretty unique in sports. There may not be a dozen people left in the building _ a building that was built exclusively with fan and public money _ who have a real sense of this.

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willywawa: Thanks for the chats Jim.

I am %100 on board with the idea of getting a running back to compliment SJ39 and still can't believe we did not address that in the draft unless we think we will end up with a quality free agent ie Sproles/Reggie Bush etc. However, I was wondering your thoughts on the Randy Moss speculation. We already have more receivers than we can keep and an old Moss, presumably with a bad attitude doesn't make any sense to me except for the McDaniels connection.

One other WR question...I'm a Mizzou guy and love DX, We know the knee will always be an issue but do you think his job is in jeopardy in any way as long as he is healthy?

Thanks.
Jim Thomas: With Josh McDaniels here, you can't ignore the possibility of Moss. But he's no longer the difference maker he was a few years ago, and has shown on more than one occasion that he can be a cancer in the locker room and will quit on teams when things aren't going his way. Why would you want that?
As for DX, we'll see. The competition should be interesting at WR once this gets going for real. But if Danario was truly healthy it's hard to imagine him not having a meaningful role.

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Ben Spann: Jim,
Were you able to interview Torry Holt and Cory Chavous to get their opinions of the player workouts and their overall prespective of the direction of the team. If not, if you get a chance can you question them on those things. Thanks.
Jim Thomas: As I've mentioned earlier I did catch up with Holt today. I hope to catch up with Chavous before the end of the week.

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Justin Brase: JT,

Is there a reason why SJ39 hasn't been at these player workouts? Is he planning on showing up?

Thanks,
Justin Brase
Jim Thomas: Don't know. Don't think he'll be here this week.

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jmcm1997: Jim,
With Roger Goodell stating the NFL will contribute to the building of a new stadium for the Vikings, how does this directly or indirectly affect the Rams current Dome lease and the team remaining in St. Louis?
It appears the NFL wants the Viking to stay in Minnesota. Removing them from list of teams to potentially relocate to Los Angeles. Does Goodell and the League feel the same way about the Rams?
Jim Thomas: We'll find out over the next couple of years, won't we.

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bobmag: Jimbo,

With Bradford being coy about who he has consulted about the new offense, any thoughts on who that might have been? I'm wondering if it was McDaniels' brother? That would be perfect, working with a non-employed coach from the McDaniels' system.
Jim Thomas: I still wouldn't be shocked if I showed up at training camp and saw Ben McDaniels on the field in some capacity.

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Dylan: Hello Jim,

Big Rams fan out here in Sacramento, CA. I was wondering if you expect the Rams to make a play for any of the FA WR's, or do you see us standing pat and letting our young guys develop? I am fine with that, as long as they stay healthy - which seems like a huge if to me. I would love to see Sam throwing to Sidney Rice for the next 5+ seasons. Thanks for your time.
Jim Thomas: After seeing the Rams take bigger possession receivers in back-to-back rounds in the draft, I guess we should be ready for anything, including the Rams possibly looking at free agent receivers.

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Paceram: Hey Jim, As always - Thanks for taking time to answer all these questions!
Can you tell us which players you are surprised showed up at the informal meetings that began yesterday and which players you are surprised are not there? Also, can you give me your opinion on which FA RB's the Rams might be targeting once the Lockout is lifted and FA begins?
Jim Thomas: I guess, I'd say the veteran players that aren't under contract _ such as G/T Adam Goldberg and TE Daniel Fells.

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ramsfan008: Where is Robert Quinn shouldn't he be at these player practices?
Jim Thomas: A fair question, but as I explained in today's article, the defensive linemen and offensive linemen really weren't invited because there's not a lot for them to do in this setting.

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Playmaker: With the Rams drafting Robert Quinn, the Rams have 6 DE's vying for 4 roster spots. Any chance George Selvie can do what Mathias Kiwanuka did under Spags in New York? Move to SLB and then play with his hand in the dirt on passing situations?
Jim Thomas: Not sure if Selvie has the frame to make that switch.

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Steve A: Hey Jim,

In a couple articles I've read it mentions Bradford's got a good handle on the new playbook. It also mentions Bradford won't give up the names of who's been helping him learn it. Any chance that person's first name is Ben and his last name rhymes with McSpaniels?
Jim Thomas: This is one rare occasion where I wouldn't necessarily dispute the conspiracy theorists.

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Tom B: Another fine move by the 2 midgets in charge. 28 years and now "moving in another direction."They are classless and gutless and I am now a Bears fan. 4 loyal employees cut loose. Why?
Jim Thomas: Well, it's been more than four. Those are just the ones that I mentioned in Tuesday's story. Lory Fabian, a longtimer executive assistant and more recently the team's alumni relations coordinator, also was let go after 32 years in the league. She was part of the original "St. Louis" Rams staff in 1995. Oswald is a classy guy, and was good at his job.

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YoMurphy: Hi Jim,
You have been pretty consistent and clear on your take about the recent firings at Rams Park. Do you consider the firing of John Oswald part of what many (including Bernie M) have called Spags' micromanaging ego?
On the other hand, could Stan Kroenke's new majority ownership (which correlates time-wise with these changes be more of a factor in the "rash" of firings?

Football Question: This guy has been easy to pick on since he stumbled in training camp and pre-season last year, but why on earth was the only missing WR at this Bradford-led minicamp named Mardy Gilyard? Did he miss it to go crabbing?

You mentioned on the radio that Lance Kendricks looks bigger in person. What other TE on the roster does he seem to resemble on the field?
Jim Thomas: I don't think Kroenke had anything to do with these dismissals. Some were in the works before Kroenke took over. And I don't think they have anything to do with the lockout, either.
As for Gilyard, don't know what to say. It's possible he had a conflict he couldn't get out of of. But you'd think every chance he had to learn the new offense he would take advantage of that opportunity.

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Reggie: RB: Which potential Free agent do you see being the best backup/3rd down option/schematic fit for the Rams? Darren Sproles, Reggie Bush, Cadillac Williams, or Jerome Harrison?

WR: I think due to Josh McDaniels wide open offense and lack of need for a FB he will keep 7 WRs (Avery, Clayton, DX, Amendola, Gilyard, Salas, Pettis) on the roster to mix and match to create mismatches against different opponents. Can u see this happening?

TE: Do u see Fells being resigned no that we have Illinois Mike, Kendricks and the atheltic project (Onobun)?

OL: Do you think the Rams are viewing Joh Greco as the in-house replacement for the RG job or they'll pursue a Free agent?

DT: Which potential free agent do u think will be the best to play alongside Robbins? Cullen Jenkins, Tommie Harris, Barry Cofield, or Mebane (SEA)?

LB: Do u think the young Safety from Ohio State can be converte to LB given his prior experience there in college and lack of coverage speed? If not which free agent do u think would the Rams pursue for WLB? Rocky McIntosh, Thomas Davis, James Anderson, or Ben Leber?

S: Could you see a defensive backfield of Darien Stewart and Jonathan Nelson? If not what free agent would the Rams pursue? Donte Whitner, Quinten Mikell, Brodney Pool, or Micheal Huff?
Jim Thomas: RB: To me, the three that make the most sense are Sproles, Bush, and Williams. Remember, though, Bush is under contract at the moment with the Saints.

WR: I don't know about seven, but I think six is all but a certainty.

TE: We'll see. Fells was tendered as a potential restricted free agent.

OL: Don't know on Greco.

DT: Cofield makes the most sense if he checks out medically based on his past association with Spags.

LB: Not as a full-tiome safety.

S: As starters, no? As for FA safeties, I mentioned Mikell in an earlier post just because of past association with Spags. But he is 31, or will be by mid September. And I don't know how the Rams feel about the other safeties.


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Dylan_James77: Hey Jim thanks for the chats. It's time to play your favorite game: Give us Percentages!!!

With the news that the rookie symposium has been cancelled how likely do you think it is that the season will not start on time?

Don't think the symposium has much effect either way on the season starting on time. Right now, I say it's 60-40 that season starts on time. But if the owners win the appeal and the lockout continues, I say it's 65-35 that the season does NOT start on time.

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Canucks win again/blues and blackhawks continue to lose: With Cadillac being the most recent rumoured Running back whom the Rams might have interest in, when and if Free Agency begins it seems that most have been covered off as possibilities......is there any others that you feel the Rams might have interest in that others might not be aware of? Also is Sam excited about the Canucks heading to the Stanley Cup? Tell him to talk to Mike Gillis as I am sure he will snag hiom a ticket for the finals.
Jim Thomas: Could be wrong, but I think some of the reports on Rams interest in Williams are overplayed.
Bradford is rooting hard for the OKC Thunder in the NBA playoffs.

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Tackleberry: Jim,

When the media is assessing the Rams wide receiver outlook for 2011, I keep reading that "the Rams get Avery back." But I am not sure that has the same meaning to everyone across the board. As a fan, based on his time here, that is pretty much the same as reading in 2010 that "the Rams get Laurent Robinson back." I feel like Avery is being afforded this play-making ability credit, that frankly he hasn't earned. Does he still possess potential? Sure. But seeing is believing and right now Avery is one step above just being a "guy."
Jim Thomas: Avery caught 100 passes for 1,263 yards and 8 TDs in his first TWO NFL seasons. Robinson has 89 catches for 1,000 yards and 6 TDs in FOUR NFL seasons. So Avery has more catches, more yards, more TDs in HALF the time as Robinson. So I don't think it's fair to Avery to compare him to Robinson _ not that Avery has been Crazylegs Hirsch with the Rams.

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ramfanoncapecod: Hi Jim, Should i cancel my flight to St Louis on Sept 11th for the game?
Jim Thomas: Hang onto it for a while.

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David: Fan in Sweden here, how big would you say are the chances that the Rams will be able to sign Nnamdi Asomugha? Is there any interest from the Rams to sign him?

Thanks!
Jim Thomas: Slim and none. He's going to look for a h-u-g-e payday. I would guess, maybe eight figures a year.

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Zak: would you expect Clayton to show up to the workouts even though he's not under contract?
Jim Thomas: Clayton hasn't been at these workouts so far. With that I've got to go. Enjoyed the time.

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