Jim Thomas Live
Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Jim McParland: The Rams, at the moment, are looking OK injury wise. However, after last years injury problems I was wondering do you think that they should look at their conditioning program and possibly make some modifications to help prevent the injuries?

Jim Thomas: The Rams did make some changes to their conditioning program during this past offseason. They emphasized more core lifting (working on the torso from the waist up). The Rams have done more running and conditioning during camp and the preseason. They also installed a sand pit at Rams Park. (Players did drills in it during the offseason to strengthen the ankles.)

But there also is a train of thought by some at Rams Park _ coaches I'm speaking of _ that the turf at the Edward Jones Dome is causing some problems. It currently is replaced every year because the technology isn't there to remove Field Turf and store it after every season. Because of that the turf never really gets broken in before it's replaced.

(There simply aren't that many football games played in the dome over a year's time.) And becuase of that extra friction because the turf isn't broken in, it could lead to more turf injuries. I believe the vast majority of ankle, foot, and leg injuries to the Rams occurred at the dome last year, not on the road.
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ctramsfan: Jim I was happy that the Rams signed Ricky Manning Jr. and Brannon Condren. Manning Jr. is a reliable corner who adds depth to a thin position and has big play capability as we saw in the 2004 playoffs and condren is a good special teams player who adds depth to the secondary. Now that those two positions have been addressed, do you see the Rams addressing the linebacker and offensive tackle positions. I would like to see them sign someone at both of those spots who would be a quality backup and add depth to the position.

At linebacker two interesting guys are Victor Hobson and Dontarrius Thomas, have you heard anything about those two players or anyone else for that matter? For the tackle position the two players that interest me are Willie Anderson and Fred Miller. Have you heard anything about those two, or anyone else? I would like the Rams to add some more depth and talent to those positions.

Jim Thomas: The Rams have added a linebacker in Gary Stills. Although he's mainly a special teamer, and still a very good one, he also has some value as a pass rusher. Tim McGarigle, by the way, was released Tuesday to make room for Stills on the 53-man roster. The Rams are looking into Willie Anderson; they've discussed Miller and are aware of Todd Wade, too. Although I'm not sure if it will lead anywhere.
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Jeff D.: Any news on LeCharles Bentley being a post week 1 signing? And where do you see Ricky Manning Jr. fitting in with our team?

Jim Thomas: Manning is a nice pickup. Let's put it this way: If you include his postseason interceptions, he has more interceptions over his career than any DB on the Rams roster _ and that includes veterans Chavous and Brown. He has excelled in the nickel in the past, but can also play outside at corner. Right now, he's the fourth corner. But that could change with injury, or if Fakhir Brown is unable to go Sunday because of his shoulder problems.

As for Bentley, the latest I'm told is that the Rams have some concerns about Bentley's knee.
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dtravis64: Hey Jim:
I see the Rams cut tackle Mark LeVoir and he is immediately picked up by the New England Patriots. I never even heard of the guy. Do the Patriots know something that the Rams missed?

Also, do you think Lance Ball will come back to haunt us? He looked like a player to me.

Jim Thomas: When the Patriots pick up a guy, you always have to take notice, simply because of their track record. But they also picked up a Rams reject earlier in camp, OT Stephen Sene, only to release him. LeVoir did OK in the preseason games, but didn't show much on the practice field.

Lance Ball is on the Rams' practice squad, so he's still drawing a paycheck from 1 Rams Way.
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Jim: Jim

Is there any word on Avery’s injury? Is he injury prone or just two freak things? Who should start (in your opinion) opposite of Holt on opening day?

Jim Thomas: Avery was the only player on the 53-man roster who didn't dress for Monday's practice. He did somme running on the side. So unless he makes a miraculous recovery between now (no practice today, players are off) and Tuesday, I'd say he doesn't play in Philly. Like it or not, Bennett starts opposite Holt, at least at the start of the season. But Bennett got only limited work in team periods Monday with his groin injury.

Burton is behind Bennett on the depth chart, but he got sick Monday and missed part of practice (I don't know if it was heat or stomach flu). I'm not sure if Burton is ready to start anyway. So Looker could have a larger role in Week 1.
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Gabriel 2 Snow: Hello Jim, I am encouraged by several things. My best case scenario is 4-4 after 8 games. Unlikely with the brutal early schedule, but a worthy goal. My biggest concern is that the last, or at least the most noticable FOSL, special teams coach Roberts, will cost us some close games. I just don't see evidence of well coached special teams. Which brings me to the first of my questions.

1.) Do you have a sense of the players confidence in coach Roberts? As they make error upon error, do they believe coach Roberts is not to blame?
2.) How good was the Manning signing? Will he vie for playing time, or is this strictly a depth move?
3.) I applaud Brock Berlins tenacity. He has finally landed a job. A job he WON in a legitimate battle. He also looks extremely calm & confident. No happy feet. How do the players feel about him?
4.) Watching Chris Chamberlain closely, I am very impressed. Where does he stand on the depth chart? Is he the primary back-up to Pisa?

Jim Thomas: Got to tell you, 4-4 seems awfully optimistic given that brutal opening seven games. We'll see.

1.) The players do seem to like and respect Roberts. The problems after all have persisted through some pretty good coaches over the years, including Bobby April. So I have to think it's more personnel than anything. Don't underestimate the signing of Gary Stills. He will bring intensity and leadership to the coverage units.
2.) As I mentioned before, I like the Manning signing. See my earlier post.
3.) I've got to say, Berlin surprised me. He looks significantly improved, and won the job fair and square. I think the players respect him.
4.) Chamberlain's off to a surprisingly good start, but let's not put him in Canton just yet. Right now, Chamberlain's the No. 5 linebacker and backs up Pisa on the weakside.
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Mitch from San Diego: HI Jim,

Thanks so much for your time! A little history for your readers; Correct me if I am wrong, but did not the Rams cut their only Super Bowl winning QB, the only league and Super Bowl MVP they ever had for the "good of the team?" They took a huge cap hit to do it. How did that turn out? Warner was the highest rated QB in the league the last few weeks of the the season last year and was just named the starter for the Grid Birds again this year over highly regarded 2007 draft pick Matt Linert. And let's remember that Warner flamed the Rams for 48 points at the end of 2007. This year they cut Issac Bruce for the good of the team and no doubt we'll get to watch him flame us this year with the *****.

My point is that If Warner can be cut with a huge cap hit and an aging Bruce can be dut because of jis salary then why not cut Drew Bennett now for the good of the team? His cap hit would be much less than Warner's. Bennett is terrible. He runs wrong routes, has a bad case of alligator arms (check out the Charger preseason game!) and the only thing he can be counted on is to drop passes. There was poster that called Bennett "Dane Looker in heels." It was a great line but was actually an insult to Looker as looker is now a much better reciever than Bennett ever will be.

I never make criticizms without offering a viable solution. My solution is CUT BENNETT FOR THE GOOD OF THE TEAM, start Looker and bring back Reche Caldwell to fill Looker's spot. Show some guts Billy Devaney! Just cut Bennett and let's move on.

Jim Thomas: With all respect to Warner, how many playoff games has he been in since he left St. Louis. And how many seasons has he made it through _ start to finish _ as the starter with the New York Giants and Arizona.
The answers are: Zero. And Zero.

As for Bruce, there was no cap hit since he was entering the final year of his contract, and because of the way the contract was structured. (I myself would've kept Bruce around for another year.)
I'm not sure Bennett is the answer, but it's way too early to give up on him.

As for Reche Caldwell, he showed very little in the preseason. He looked kind of slow and didn't have the best of hands. I haven't seen teams banging down his door to sign him since he was cut by St. Louis.
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Fred Wied: Jim,
Long time Ram fan from Jersey & the late 60's. As much as I hate to admit it, I see us going no better than 8-8 or maybe 9-7 at best and that may be optimistic. Especially with our first half schedule. Why not go with a youth movement by dumping Bennett and keeping Stanley for instance. Or keeping Ball instead of Minor? I feel we are on the right track draft wise but Scott Ls lame duck status is going to hurt long term. You agree?

Jim Thomas: Stanley made some flashy plays on the practice field, but what exactly did he do in the preseason to merit a spot on the varsity? One catch for six yards. An 18.4-yard average on 10 kickoff returns. Show-time he was not. Ball fumbled once against Baltimore and got creamed as the protector on the punt team leading to a blocked punt in Kansas City. At this stage, Minor is still a better special teams player.
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Joe Stafford: Hello Jim, Here we go with another season. How do you think the Rams defense will do this year with the additions, and do you think Ricky Manning Jr. will contribute right away in the Defensive backfield. Also why didn't the Rams pick up another linebacker off the waiver wire? Wasn't they interested in Roosevelt Colvin at one time? Is he done or would he be a good one year stopgap player? Thanks for your time and coverage on the Rams.

Jim Thomas: I'm not aware of the Rams ever being interested in Colvin. He hasn't done much of anything for several years now.
The Rams did pick up LB Gary Stills, who was cut by Baltimore. He's a Pro Bowl special teams player, who had 26 special teams stops for the Ravens last year. Backup LBs are supposed to be good special teams players. So I think Stills fills that role.

As for the defense as a whole, the starters played pretty well in the preseason. We'll see how they fare against McNabb and Westbrook. It's a big challenge right out of the box.
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a russelll: Do the Rams have any interest in Willie Anderson? Does he have anything left?

Jim Thomas: The Rams have discussed Anderson, and are still considering adding another OT. We'll see.
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Chip: Is there a O. Pace 'dead pool' among the Rams media? Kidding.

Shouldn't we be looking for offensive tackle help as much as we are dbacks and special teams? How much confidence do you have in Goldberg and even Nick Lechey for that matter? I did see them last year and it wasn't pretty.

Jim Thomas: As I've mentioned in earlier posts, OT help is being discussed. Goldberg played in only four games last year because of a knee injury. Leckey played out of position at guard. He's now playing at his natural position, center.
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bjsgolf: Jim,
When your 2nd round pick last year (Leonard) and 3rd round pick last year (Wade) are barely contributing, isn't that a complete indictment of the teams scouts and front office? Who should get fired?

Jim Thomas: Fire them all!!!! Are you paying attention? Billy Devaney now heads the personnel department. Not Tony Softli. Not Charley Armey.
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bfulton: I get that Manning brings man-to-man coverage skills and Stills brings special teams coverage skills but what do the Rams hope to get out of Brannon Condren?

Jim Thomas: They view Condren as an up-and-coming safety who is an upgrade over Bassey. He can help on special teams and has some ball skill. For now, in theory, he improves their depth at safety.
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Ram Dass: Hi Jim,

Looking forward to the Rams 2008 season. My question is about halftime adjustments. I believe that one of the major reasons the Rams struggled last season in the second half of games was their inability to make halftime adjustments, while seeming to simultaneously be highly susceptible to other teams adjustments.

I am interested in your comments about this. Maybe I'm imaging the problem and maybe it's more of an issue with conditioning? If you agree that this was an issue, do you see any signs of improvement in 08?

Jim Thomas: I don't know if it was halftime adjustments, or conditioning, or just superior talent eventually rising to the top.

One thing the preseason doesn't foreshadow is how a team might fare in the second half, because the starters are almost always out at halftime. So I'm as much in the dark on this one as the next guy, although in Al Saunders the Rams' have a veteran, established offensive coordinator.
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DAVID PRYOR: do you think the RAMS could a player like LB- BRANDON MOORE who was released by the *****.seems like the

Jim Thomas: I thought he might be able to help. He's got some size and some pass-rush skills, although he's more of a 3-4 'backer. But I noticed that Arizona (which signed him after his ***** release) also released him. So maybe there's a problem there.
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dave: Hey Jim, What sort of game time and impact do you see avery and burton getting in the opener?

Also, are the rams comfortable with their depth at LB (mcGarigle, Vobora, Draft, Chamberlain) and with only 3 True DT? Also, there appears to be only one backup T? Would Bell or Greco be the 4th T?

Jim Thomas: I'm not sure Avery plays. And I'm not sure if Burton is ready for more than just spot duty at the moment. McGarigle was cut today to make room for Gary Stills, the new linebacker-special teamer. The Rams like Chamberlain. Vobora still has a ways to go.

They're fine with 3 DTs, because Hall, Adeyanju and even Long can all slip inside based on the situation. At the moment, it looks like Greco is the fourth OT.
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Alex (Mesa, AZ): The fact that the all the Rams draft class this year made the active roster is an excellent sign and will lead to a Rams resurgence in the near future. If they stay realtively healthy this year, I can realistically see a 11-5/10-6 record for the RAMS this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jim Thomas: Yeah, the early signs on the draft class are encouraging. It's a shame that CB Justin King went down with that toe injury. But in this age of the salary cap and free agency, most draft picks make the 53-man around the league as rookies.
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Wes: Hey Jim.

I really like the addition of Ricky Manning Jr. He sounds like a pretty good CB and we all know that the Rams need depth there. He's a ball hawking CB that can intercept a lot of passes, so that's good to hear - but I was just wondiering if he is a physical CB that likes to hit? We could use a guy like that and I think I've heard Manning Jr. described as that type, but I just want to make sure.

I think the guy could really help. Where to you expect him to play though - as the nickel back? Will he be in front of Wade on the depth chart? And if Brown can't play on Sunday, do you think we will see Manning start?

Jim Thomas: That's my impression of Manning. He's a stout guy at 5-9, 193. (He looks taller than 5-9, more like 5-10 or 5-11.) I think Haslett's scheme, which demands more man skills and more aggressive play from the corners is a better fit for Manning's skill set than Chicago's Cover 2.

Even before they handed him the playbook, Manning was ahead of Wade on the depth chart. If Brown can't go, you could see Bartell and Hill start, with Manning in the slot. If that's the case, don't be surprised if Manning wears the coach-to-defense helmet so secondary coach Ron Milus can get him lined up right, and Haslett signals in the plays by hand.
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Ron: I was just wondering - who do you think will be the other starter besides Little at DE on Sunday when the Rams open the season in Philadelphia - Chris Long or James Hall?

Personally, I'd go with Hall. He's a good vet that can apply more pressure on the QB, IMO, and Long just has a lot to learn. He looked overmatched in the preseason and it will take time before he makes an impact.

Jim Thomas: Everything I've seen and heard points to Long starting at right end, but Hall will be rotated in a lot, and there are some packages where Long and Hall could both be on the field at the same time.
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Ron: Jim, what should we expect from Steven Jackson on Sunday?

Is he ready to go and will he handle the full load? How many carries do you see him getting in our first game?

Jim Thomas: Boy that's the question of the hour. I just see no way that Jackson gets 25 to 30 touches. I think Pittman gets worked in there a fair amount.
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sean: i'm sure it's going to be a popular question, but how does ricky manning jr. fit into the rams defense when all players are healthy? if hill and brown start, then is ricky the nickle, or bartell? this move seems to add depth for sure, but it adds allot of questions about the players we do have...

Jim Thomas: The Rams are very happy with Bartell. They like Brown a lot, but are frustrated by his injury to some degree. Hill has a lot of potential but has yet to reach it with consistent play. You can never have enough corners. If everybody's healthy, I say that's a great problem to have. I mention this in an earlier post, but it bears repeating. Manning has more career INTs (if you included posteason with regular season) than any DB _ corner or safety _ on the Rams roster.

He has played in two Super Bowls and three conference championship games. Other than Chavous, he's the only DB on the roster who's ever played in a postseason game. He's proven himself to be a big-game player. That's why, assuming Manning is a good teammate, etc., that this move should only help the team.
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Dennis: Hey Jim,

Love the chats.. one question..how healthy is Pisa right now and how do you see him doing this year. thanks..my bad that was two

Jim Thomas: Pisa's very healthy. When he's on the field, the LB corps has a whole different feel to it. He and Witherspoon have a certain chemistry when they're both out there. It's a fast chemistry.
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Youclay: Hi Jim,
What do you think of signing Terrence Holt? I recall he did a pretty good job covering Tory Holt. It might keep the Holts in STL.

Jim Thomas: Terrence lacks speed.
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Apstl187: Hey Jim,
I just want to say I love the Manning move, I know hes had a few problems with the law in the past, but I think this is going to be our best option. I think this gives us much needed depth and now we dont have to rely on Wade if we have a corner out, we have a proven MAN TO MAN Vet. He fits our d with our scheme.

Now all we need is Abdul Hodge, (I heard he was relesed) for some much needed depth at LB and I think we have a I cant believe Im gonna say this about the Rams a very good and Respectable D.

Mark My Words we Will Beat Philly!!!! This game could be HUGE for the Rams and there season if they win.

Thanks for the time Jim keep up the good work!!!!

Jim Thomas: Haven't heard Abul Hodge's name come up.
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mnrlgry: Jim, as everyone says, thanks for these chats. I have a few questions.

Do you think Manning Jr. will play against the Eagles? I have heard he's given McNabb trouble over the years with interceptions. Do you think he'll be a nickle back until he learns the system? Do you think he can/has the talent to challenge for a starting job later on in the year?

It seemed to me that last year the Eagles were just a slightly above average team on offense and defense, but lots of people talk like they're still the dominant team they were a few years ago. I think this is a winnable game for the Rams, do you agree?

Where does this safety from Indianapolis fit in?

Jim Thomas: See several earlier posts on Manning.

Philly didn't play as well as its numbers last year in finishing 8-8. The Eagles were No. 6 in total offense and No. 10 in defense. I think it all depends on McNabb. Do I think this is a winnable game for St. Louis? Sure. Do I think the Rams will win the game? No, not at Philly.
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mnrlgry: Another question Jim, or maybe more of a request.

I noticed that 103.3 is having a voting on their website of what to play in the stadium during warm up.

Maybe you could ask Steven or some other guys what they would want sometime so we could e-mail in and request it or try to get them to add it to a future voting? I could care less what I'm listening to while sitting inside the Dome before kick off. I don't like most of it anyway, so why not get something that would pump the players up?

Jim Thomas: E-mail any requests to me, and I'll pass them along to Rams officials who deal with game day stuff.
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signed s. j.: Jim,With all said & what you know now.Would you take Long over Dorsey,and do you think Hasslet would rather have Dorsey instead of Long after watching them both in camps ?Who do you think will have the better rookie season?

Jim Thomas: Interesting question. Too early to tell. Dorsey has been nicked up in KC, and barely played in the preseason.
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bwc_28: What do you see as the most important match up in week one against Philadelphia (positional or individual - wise)?

Jim Thomas: Brian Westbrook vs. Rams back seven. They'll have LBs on him at times, safeties at times. Maybe even a nickel back. The Rams have to keep him contained. They won't stop him. They just need to prevent him from dominating the game.
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Rich: Hey Jim,

Just how bad is Fakhir Brown's shoulder? I am getting the impression he could be unavailable for more than just one or two games.

Jim Thomas: Well, as I reported for the P-D a week or so ago, it's not the rotator cuff that's bothering him now. He had a hole in a tendon in the shoulder area. Brown saw Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham last Friday, and was cleared to at least practice. But I've been told that Brown will have to deal with some soreness in the shoulder at least early in the season. In practice Monday, Brown took some team reps but had next to no contact with anyone. I don't know what happens if he has to tackle somebody. I'm thinking Fakhir's not sure either.
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Jerome Cox: Hi Jim,

Avery is too injury pron to be backing up Holt. Move this guy down on the chart and see if he has the fight it takes to make it every day in the NFL.
Maybe he is just physicaly unable to play at this level?

Jim Thomas: It's been a tough camp and preseason for Avery, for sure, but I don't think you can call a guy injury prone after two injuries.
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Murat from Pitt, PA: Hello Jim;

How confident are the coaches about the receivers behind T. Holt? Has the void that Bruce left behind been filled? What do you think?

Jim Thomas: Burton has shown more than Avery so far in large part because Avery has been hurt. I think if you put the truth serum in the coaches, they would say they have an average to slightly above average receiver corps at the moment.
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Josh otto: In regards to two players, Abdul Hodge and Dominique Foxworth.

Hodge was just cut by Green Bay and has Packer fans every where baffled, could you see the Rams siging this run stopping beast? I mean, in all honesty we could use a Linebacker like him, he's also got great potential. Only knock is the injury he suffered but this preseason was a strong one for him, showing he can still play.

Also, I read that the Rams are possibly interested in Dominique Foxworth. Have you heard anything, he's "going to be traded in one or two days". Good Cornerback, be nice to have him.

Jim Thomas: Foxworth has been traded to Atlanta for an undisclosed '09 draft pick. Haven't heard anything on Abdul Hodge.
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Scott in Sprld, Mo: Hello Jim,

Do you think that Pittman having a great game against San Diego contributed to SJ having a sense of urgency to come to camp? I noticed that the St Louis journalists really made a big deal about Pittman after this game...I bet this was done on purpose to spur Jackson on...

Jim Thomas: I don't think Steven Jackson is worried about Antonio Pittman. I don't think anyone in the St. Louis media built up Pittman to "spur Jackson on."
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Justin: How long do you think it would be before Drew Bennett gets benched if he keep struggling (hope he rebounds). Also, do you think that Keenan can fill in at the #2 spot if that were to happen or are him and Donnie Avery better suited to stay in the slot for their rookie seasons.

Also, I would like to know if there is any chance of James Hall maybe taking the starting job away from Chris Long because of season play. I love the pick of Long and think he will be great with a little expeirience but I think James Hall is ready to be a game changer again.

Thanks for answering the question. Im from Texas and dont get much if any coverage if any at all on St. Louis so thanks for all you guys do.

Jim Thomas: Sure, if Bennett continues to struggle, look for Burton out there. Burton backs up Bennett's spot. But Burton isn't ready to start right now.

As for Long and Hall, I'm sure Hall will be worked into the rotation. Although everything I've seen and heard points to Long starting on opening day. And if Hall plays well and Long struggles, it's only natural that we'll see more Hall, less Long.
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Melvin: IS THERE HOME OPENER A SELLOUT YET?

Jim Thomas: Nothing official, but the last I checked, I think both of the first two home games _ Sept. 14 (NY Giants) and Sept. 28 (Buffalo) _ have a chance to be sellouts.
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Melvin: How does Fakhir Brown look in practice since his injury?

Jim Thomas: Got some work in team periods Monday. Next to no contact with anyone. No practice today. We'll see what happens Wednesday.
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Luiz: Greetings!

There are many people pessimist because last season. If bruises doesn´t make damage enough, what can we expect?

Luiz - a RAMS fan from Brazil

Jim Thomas: I'm not sure what to expect. I don't even think the coaches and players know for sure. Too many question marks. Is Pace OK? Brown OK? Will the Rams have a viable WR to complement Holt. Will Holt's knee hold up? Will Little's toe holdup? Will Bulger return to form? Will Chris Long have any kind of impact?
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Curt: Hey Jim,

Thanks for taking my qestion. Does, in your opinion and through your observations at Rams Park, Al Saunders have more say-so than usual, kind of like "successor's rights", over Linehan?

Jim Thomas: Curt--sorry I didn't get to your e-mail. I wouldn't call it "successor rights" but Saunders has a lot of say over the offense, over game-planning, over play-calling, over offensive personnel. But at the end of the day, he still answers to the head coach.
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UCityDave: Jim -

First: I SWEAR I won't say a word about Drew Bennett.

Second: Thanks for the chats. They're a great way to get good information and an informed opinion without the low signal-to-noise ratio of sports talk radio. I'm a great fan of Isaac Bruce, both the player and the person, and my question is about his chances to get into the Hall of Fame. Do you think it's reasonable that Ike could have a year about like this: 58 catches, 870 yards, 3 TD's?

I picked those numbers because they'd leave him with 1,000 receptions, more yards than anyone not named Rice, a spot in the top ten for career receiving TD's, and a 15-yard career average. I worry that because he's not psychotic, like many WR's today, that even numbers like these might be overlooked. (And I think he might have a few more TD's if it weren't for sharing them with Faulk and Holt.)

My last pitch: The only active receivers in the top ten for catches, yards and touchdowns right now are Marvin Harrison and Terrell Owens. Ike needs only 3 TD's to join this club. And the only active guys with over 500 catches and a 15-yard average are Ike, Randy Moss and Joey Galloway.

Hope we all see something good on Sunday!

Jim Thomas: If Bruce's legs stay healthy, Mike Martz will find a way to get him the ball and I think 58 catches, 870 yards and 3 TDs happens.
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Gavin from England: Jim,
Which players have been cut (or are likely to be cut) to make room for the new special teams players?

Jim Thomas: LB Tim McGarigle was cut to free the roster spot for Gary Stills.
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Matt: What will happen to Bruce Gradkowski? Any idea where he is headed?

Jim Thomas: I think he lands somewhere eventually. But nothing yet. A lot of teams are in the habit of just carrying two QBs, so that hurts someone like Gradkowski.
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Greg: Hi Jim,

Thanks again for doing this chat.

Is Pace hurt? I keep reading things on the internet that indicate that he is hurt. Linehan's comments seem to indicate that Pace is fine and will play on Sunday.

Jim Thomas: Pace injured the biceps tendon on his right arm trying to make a tackle on an INT against San Diego. It's totally unrelated to the shoulder surgery. He should be fine for Philly, and took a full workload Monday in practice.
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Mike E: Jim - Any surprises with respects to the final cuts, practice squad signings, and additional roster moves/pickups that the Rams made over the past week?

Jim Thomas: Not really. I thought Bassey had a chance to make the final 53 (for more than one day, that is). He's a good teams player. I'm a little surprised Vobora made the final 53. I like the additional roster moves (Manning, Stills, Condren) although I don't know a lot about Condren.
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Greg: Jim,

How is Avery's knee? How are Hall and Bennett?

Jim Thomas: I've addressed Avery and Bennett earlier. Hall looked pretty good in practice Monday, and got a fair amount of work. I don't think there's any doubt he plays against Philly; how the ankle holds up, however, is anybody's guess.
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culs: Jim, Any idea what will happen to Gradkowski, what are his possible next moves. Also, do you know who rejected the trade?

Jim Thomas: I don't think it ever got to the point where there was a serious trading partner for Gradkowski. But the Rams did dangle him out there.
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Brady Hanlen: Jim, How do you see this team playing out this year ie: stout d/ power running, score and score more and hope you have the ball last, watered down greatest show?

I think they will be more of a balanced team that will be in the mix if they can hold there own at the begining of the season, that schedule could be a killer or it could launch them towards a great season

Jim Thomas: I don't think there's any doubt they have to lean more heavily on the running game, particularly early in the season with the hope that the line develops, the young WRs develop, and Bulger gains confidence as the season progresses. The problem with that in Weeks 1 and 2 is whether Steven Jackson is able to carry a full load what with his holdout and limited practice time.

No doubt, if the Rams win one of the first two games _ it could be a nice launching pad for the season. This team needs to gain confidence as much as anything else. Beating Philly or the Giants could do that.
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RamFanNC: Who is most likely to get cut today once all of the new additions show up and sign their new contracts?

Vobora, McCarigle, Bassey or has this already been decided??

Jim Thomas: Bassey was cut yesterday to make room for Manning Jr.
McGarigle was cut today to make room for Stills.

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kkb: Chris Long has been mentioned by Vic Carucci of nfl.com as a player who exemplifies the current rage of having a hybrid defender ala DeMarcus Ware or Mike Vrabel. In your opinion, which combination of front seven defenders, to include Chris Long in this group, provides the greatest flexibility of transpositioning between 3-4, 4-3,zone blitzes or 'fire zones', and cover-2/cover-3 (with MLB 20 yard drop)? Thanks in advance; I always look forward to your responses.

Jim Thomas: There are so many variables with Haslett. And I think you'll see them vary depending on the opposition and Long's progress.
If you include practices and the preseason games, they've lined up in three-man fronts, four-man fronts, with Long at right end, left end, standing up, in a stance, and inside.
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Mellouli: Jim

Can we beat philly ?
please say yes

Jim Thomas: Do you believe in miracles. . . . .?

(Just kidding.)

It's possible, not probable.
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RamFanNC: I know that JAX has not had any live action and this always concerns me on holdouts for injury, fumbles and stuff. What kind of practice do they have to help simulate tackling and hits (or do they do this for real) so that JAX is really ready to play Sunday?

Jim Thomas: The Rams have a drill where the running back runs through a "guantlet" and gets hit by blocking pads. The "team run" periods can get pretty physical. But I think the Rams have had only one full pads practice since Jackson signed, so he hasn't gotten jostled around too much. Wednesday will be the last full pad practice of the week.
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David: Hi Jim!

How long do you think it will take for the Rams offense to 'click' with Al Saunders system?

Also, does Randy McMichael have a legitimate shot of making the Pro-Bowl this year (ie Tony Gonzalez, Chris Cooley)?

Jim Thomas: I don't expect it to happen this week, what with Jackson's late start, and the injury situation at wide receiver.
I'm not sure about McMichael being in the Pro Bowl, but I'd be willing to bet that barring injury he will catch 50-plus balls as opposed to the 39 he caught last season.
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Joe: So Manning Jr. is our nickel back now. I like that move, but where does that put Bartell? I guess I dont knwo what a nickel back is. Could you explain the differect between corner, nickel, and dime backs? And who our starters will be at each?

Jim Thomas: It's no guarantee that Manning steps right into the nickel back role. That's to be determined, and it's partly a matter of Brown's health and Manning's ability to have a basic grasp of the defense.
Cornerbacks are the guys who generally line up on the outside, covering the wide receivers in two receiver sets. When teams go to three wide receivers, an extra cornerback comes off the bench.

Generally, this third corner is called the nickel back. Technically, the nickel back is the fifth defensive back (if you include the two safeties_ hence the name "nickel" as in "five." The nickel back covers the slot receiver. The dime back is a fourth corner used in situations where the opposition lines up in four wide receivers. Generally you want a cornerback on the field for every wide receiver on the field.

If everyone was healthy, right now, the starting corners would be Brown and Hill, with Bartell as the nickel back. Don't know yet where Manning fits into this.
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BrotherBri: Football is won in the trenches, and this team leaves one feeling less than certain about its trench warriors. I like what all of the Rams linemen are capable of, but there are questions everywhere. Barron has tools, but has his drive (and attention) improved? Is Incognito calmer and more focused? Is the Big O likely to avoid more injury?

And on the other side, will Glover and Carricker hold up well enough to keep the games close? And will Long's energy and work ethic translate into production -- at least soon enough to avoid an extended oh-fer start?

I like the rookie wideouts, and love the Rams waiver pickups, but if the lines fail, it's a LONG season coming. Can you reassure us?

Jim Thomas: On defense, I think the strength of the unit will be the d-line. Glover still has some juice; Carriker and Ryan will occupy blockers at the nose tackle spot. Little will lead the pass rush. Hall will see plenty of time in the rotation.

Adeyanju had a strong camp and preseason even with his injury. Long's a work in progress. But it's an undersized unit. They will be susceptible to big lines (and Philly's got some maulers) and power running teams. That's why _ and I know we all get sick of hearing it _ the Rams have to maintain gap responsibility and be in the right place and the right time.

On offense, I think the preseason signs were encouraging. Saunders and Loney have emphasized making this a more physical unit. Barron, Goldberg and Leckey all seem to have responded favorably to Loney's coaching style. Bell looks solid. Incognito has improved as camp and the preseason went on. But let's face it, it all begins and ends with Pace. If he can stay on the field and even play at say 80 percent of vintage Pace, the offense has a chance. If not, well. . . . .

And with that I leave you all for this week. See you next Tuesday. By then will you all be happy, sad, mad, or have the red----?