Rams chat: Which WRs are on bubble?

BY JIM THOMAS
Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Here's a transcript of the questions and answers from this week's live chat with Post-Dispatch football writer Jim Thomas:


Insurgent: Adam Goldberg and Hank Fraley were disappointing in their time during the Titans game. Any chance of the RAMS looking at veteran offensive lineman to replace them?



Jim Thomas: There's always that chance. But there are also a couple of veteran options on the roster in Renardo Foster and Quin Ojinnaka.

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Encino: Our defensive line got manhandled in the first half. Our offensive line could not protect Bradford and could not open holes for our runners. I, for one, am extremely concerned. Are you?




Jim Thomas: You can't overreact to one game, particularly a preseason game. But obviously there are some things to work on after Saturday.

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Stuart: Is it too early to say the Rams run defense is something to be concerned about?

Correct me if I'm wrong but Fraley didn't look too good this weekend, does that mean Goldberg is a better alternative or what's your take?




Jim Thomas: I don't know if those parts are really interchangeable. Goldberg is a guard/tackle; Fraley is a center/guard. I did find it very interesting that Quinn Ojinnaka, who can play guard and tackle, played center late in the Tennessee game.

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Viktor Perkins: Being a Fan of ACC Football, i've watched Thaddeus Lewis since his Days at Duke, i know he's Raw, but he has outplayed A.J Feeley the last 2 Seasons in Pre-season, and was on Practice team in 2010, and again it look as if Spags will only carry 2 QB's.
Do you think Lewis will be Assigned to the Practice Team again, traded or released,by keeping him and letting Feeley go would free Cap Space, and give the Rams a change of pace QB, with mobility like Vick and Tebow, harder to Defense.





Jim Thomas: There's no doubt Lewis looked very sharp in the game-winning FG drive against Tennessee,and his mobility is a plus. But Feeley has hardly been chopped liver. Feeley actually has a better passer rating than Lewis (or Bradford for that matter) so far this season. And even though he hasn't thrown a regular-season pass in a while, Feeley does have NFL game experience. Saying all that, I'm not sure Lewis can be stashed on the practice squad this year. I know a certain coach in Cleveland (Pat Shurmur) likes him.

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Tony Velasquez: What's your percentage on which WR's, TE's, LB's make official roster?




Jim Thomas: There are 8 WRs into probably six spots: Alexander, Amendola, Avery, Gibson, Gilyard, Pettis, Salas, Sims-Walker. I can't make a call on this yet.

There are 9 LBs into probably seven spots: Chamberlain, Diggs, Diles, Hull, Kehl, Laurinaitis, Leber, Poppinga, Williams. I'm not sure if you can hide Williams on the practice squad at this point. And I think Chamberlain has to make the club because of his considerable special teams value.

Tight end is a little more cut and dried: It's Bajema, Hoomanawanui, and Kendricks if the Rams keep three. I guess it's Onobun if the keep four.


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DR RAM: Jim, this is roster critical time...do you see Selvie or Sims as more of a lock to make the team...or do you think Ah You makes the team? Two make it and one doesn't, IMO. I take Selvie, because he can kick inside and Sims, more upside than Ah You.

I like Kehl and Leber at the Will and Laurenaitis and Hull at the Mike, then Poppinga over Diggs, at the Sam, who will be cut, IMO.
Diles is struggling to learn the system, but can play the Will or the Sam...and J. Williams...too good to PS. Chamberlain has played very good and is a special teams savant...he will make it based on that. What do you think?




Jim Thomas: I think I agree with you. I like Sims; he seems to have some burst to his game. So it comes down to Selvie or Ah You, and I think the coaches like Selvie. We'll see.

At LB, you're probably not going to keep 8, and if you cut Diggs and keep Chamberlain AND Williams, you're at 8.

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Cousin Vinny: JT, What's with all the negativity surrounding Saturdays win? It's only preseason, no injuries, they're still trying to gel together after a quick mini camp.




Jim Thomas: Granted, you can't overreact, but I guess it's always disconcerting when a team loses the battle in the trenches.

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robbotis: JT- here's how I handicap the WR race:
1. Amendola
2. Sims-Walker
3. Gibson
4. Alexander
5. Avery
6. Salas
7. Pettis
8. Gilyard

Would that be how you'd handiap it at this time?




Jim Thomas: Interesting. I'd move Gilyard ahead of Pettis. Maybe switch Avery and Alexander.

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Scott: Afternoon Jim, after watching Rams/Titans game Saturday , I was not impressed with front 7 performance against the run. We gave up a ton of yards to # 3 back. Should we expect this week in week out , or will this unit step up and stuff the run ? Also , getting the feeling D.Alexander is gone due to injury history. Thoughts ?




Jim Thomas: If as you suggest we can expect this kind of run defense week in and week out, it will be a long season.
As for Danario, it does make you wonder. He is a guy who has to be managed during the practice week in order to get through an entire season.

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Pete: How is the DE competition playing out? Will Selvie, Sims, and Ah You all make the team?




Jim Thomas: I guess, it's possible that all three make the team, but then you'd have 6 DEs (along with Hall, Long, and Quinn).

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MSS99: Why do we not see any NFL trades during the season similar to NHL and MLB with a trading deadline, etc? It seems once the season starts you have who you have with no chance of adding someone via a trade...is there a rule in the NFL that is different than the other major sports?




Jim Thomas: The salary cap is part of the reason. Plus, there's also the time needed to pick up a system. If you're an outfielder or pitcher in baseball, for example, it's not like you have to learn a playbook.

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Haden: Hi Jim. With all the free agent signings, what do you think the teams's greatest need still is? Do you think this area will be addressed after cuts start occurring or do you think we will stay with what we have? Thanks for the chats.




Jim Thomas: To me there are depth concerns at cornerback and tight end. And I'm still not sure the Rams have enough at wide receiver. I think the Rams stand pat at WR (possible exception, if Mark Clayton gets healthy). The X-factor at TE is Hoomanawanui. If he's stays healthy, you're fine. But at the moment, that's a huge IF. At cornerback, I think the Rams will scour the waiver wires for another body there.

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robbotis: When will we see downfield shots?
Last year proved you can't make the playoffs throwin nothing but 5 yard passes all day!




Jim Thomas: Uh, did you see the 83-yard TD play to Brandon Gibson. Sims-Walker caught a deep in -- which was a staple of the Martz offense -- for 26 yards. And he ran another deep in that was intercepted.

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Barf3: The empty backfield 5 wide receiver set certainly leaves Bradford open to alot of hits. Do you feel the possible rewards of such a set out weighs the risk of having him unprotected. In my opinion, no!

Run defense on Saturday had alot to do with poor LB play, other the JL, from what I saw. Your thoughts? This ongoing problem needs to correct itself if this team is serious about winning the division.




Jim Thomas: That's the rub. If you want to be more wide-open on offense, which most fans and media observers seemingly want, then you're going to have to take some deep shots (which take more time to develop) and spread the field with multiple receivers (which leaves less blockers in). I think this same argument resonated during the Mike Martz era.

It looks like Ben Leber and Brady Poppinga will get a true shot with the starting defense this week at outside linebacker; let's see how that works out.

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robbotis: Buy or Sell: the Rams finish in the top 10 defensively in Points allowed?




Jim Thomas: Sell

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virginiatom: I am very concerned with the fragil state of the Rams receivers, and am not confident Avery or Alexander are going to make it through and Sims-Walker has a pretty long injury history between his pro and college with knee and ankle. Their ability to stretch the field is going to be non existent if they don't have a plan B on this and its hard to believe they have no real speed threat on the roster right now beyond Avery.




Jim Thomas: Yeah, we got spoiled with the durability of Holt and Bruce (other than the '97-'98 hamstring issues) over all those years.

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Steven Skelton: I'm assuming Billy won't cut any of his guys, (Pettis, Salas, Sims-Walker and Gilyard) and isn't a fool so he won't cut Amendola. That leaves one spot for Avery, Gibson and Alexander to fight over.

Is there a trade market out there for either Avery or Gibson?




Jim Thomas: Probably. But you're not going to fetch much in return.

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4thandJuan: I've read on some blogs and bulletin boards that Spags in this year's camp is spending a lot less time with the offense and focusing on the defense. Have you noticed anything like this?




Jim Thomas: He never spends any time with the offense.

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Loren: I'm a big Austin Pettis fan and he has been getting grief on here however I believe that once get gets the offense down his talent and smarts will help the Rams. Whats your insight.




Jim Thomas: I'm far from a Pettis expert. But he looks like he's pressing.

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CuriousGeorge: Jim: One concern I have is with the Rams pass rush. How do you rate Robert Quinn as both a pass rusher and run stopper? Given the short amount of time he has had with the coaching staff, he has a lot to learn in a short time. Do you think he is a keeper? Also, do you see Chris Long improving on his sack total?




Jim Thomas: Way too early to tell on Quinn. He has a lot of rust to knock off, and he wasn't nearly as noticeable against Tennessee as he was against Indianapolis. But he has shown some flashes.

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I Noah Tall: Mardy Gilyard is obviously a gifted athlete. But last year he reportedly was slow to learn the playbook. Against the Titans he shunned the touchback several times on kickoffs 8-9 yards deep in the end zone and then didn't make it past the 20 on the return. What's your take on his football instincts?




Jim Thomas: I'm guessing the coaches have instructed him to return the kickoffs because they want to evaluate him, and evaluate the new kickoff rule. That's all for now, practice starting. Talk to you all next week.