Mike Dembow
Dear Nick, Thank you for all your hard work and dedication you put in every day to bring us DIEHARD ram fans up to date. My question will be asked a lot I am sure. How interested do you think the rams will be in Brandon Marshall? He is very young, but also had some off the field problems. I know coach Spags is high on character, but adding a young budding superstar at receiver can't hurt. Thank you.
NW: Answered this last week but itís almost certainly not going to happen. The Broncos probably wonít trade Marshall, first of all. After what happened with Cutler, theyíd be insane to continue to just cave to the demands of any player that gets his feelings hurt or wants a trade on a whim. Thatís just from their standpoint. For the Rams, it isnít likely for a lot of reasons, including what theyíd have to give up to get him both financially and in trade and the many, many characters issues that he has.
As an aside, let me just point something out in regard to the numerous questions I get all the time about trading for that weekís flavor of the week at wide receiver. The names that are presented here are names like Marshall, Braylon Edwards, Anquan Boldin, etc. Well, I donít know if anyone has noticed, but those guys havenít been traded at all and they really havenít even been that close to being traded. So the Rams arenít the only ones not going after these guys so hard. The reasons in each case might be a little different but hereís one that applies across the board: Roy Williams. The Cowboys gave up a ton in terms of compensation and cash to get him from Detroit. The guys mentioned above are as good or better players than Williams so why would their current teams part with them for less than the Lions got for Williams?
Gary Schneider
First, thanks a lot, your mailbag is really a cool part of this website. Two simple questions, whatís going on with our 2006 1st round draft choice, Tye Hill? I've heard nothing about how he's been doing in the mini-camps and OTAs. Also, same question about James Hall?
NW: Iíve written quite a bit about Hill this offseason but hereís what weíve got at this point. He has pretty much recovered from his knee injury. He had a cyst on his knee he had removed and moved around much better after that. He looked pretty good on the practice field and got almost all of the repetitions with the first team defense. That said and heíd be the first to tell you this if you asked him, he knows he needs to prove himself when the lights come on. This is an important training camp and season for him. Steve Spagnuolo has pulled a lot out of some defensive backs with potential in the past, though. Look what he did for Corey Webster in New York last season.
James Hall looks the same as always. Heís a consistent player that is going to give you maximum effort every play. He might not be an every down guy but he was maybe the teamís most consistent pass rusher in 2008 and I would think in Spagnuoloís rotation should be effective again in a variety of roles in 2009.
Ignacio Del Villar
Hey Nick, love the work you're doing! Just curious about the receiver corps. I'm aware that Keenan Burton is a little dinged up and we got Laurent Robinson from the Falcons. If Burton is completely healthy, how do these two stack up against each other. Also, there is talk that there are a few teams that are talking to Plaxico Burress now that he is not facing jail time any time soon and he has been released by the Giants. Are the Rams one of the teams showing interest and is he interested in rejoining Coach Spags?
NW: Once again, no interest in Burress. Iím about done answering that question every week. As for the likely competition between Burton and Robinson, itís hard to say how it will play out. Burton flashed a lot of potential last season and Robinson did during the offseason program. Burton needs to get healthy if heís going to keep up, though.
Nick Oldenburg
If the Rams end up drafting in the top 5 again, anyway you think they would snag the best quarterback in the draft, Colt McCoy?
NW: Letís let the season play out before we talk 2010 NFL Draft. Please.
Brandon Birkhead
I wondering what you think of the Rams chances of success, and by success I mean at least nine games won.
NW: I donít do preseason predictions in terms of wins and losses, especially in June but as far as progress made in the offseason, itís hard not to like what the Rams have done in terms of the coaching staff, roster decisions and general direction of the team.
John Chase
Hi Nick, love the chats and read them every week. Keep up the good work. I just finished reading an article on the Sports Illustrated web site that talked about the wide ranging problem of wide receiver divas. One prevailing thought that was mentioned in the article was that most of the wide receivers that the article classified as divas are represented by Drew Rosenhaus. These are the same players who are continually in the news because of some off the field issue. The media makes it seem that Rosenhaus is an arrogant jerk and his clients come off like that as well. With that being said my question is does he represent any one of the new draft picks and for that matter anyone on the team at all? I hope not because any time I hear about Rosenhaus representing a player my first thought is HOLDOUT. Thanks for your time.
NW: I donít know him personally so I wonít judge him as a person but I will say this about him and I think many people would sign off on this: heís darn good at his job. Itís not an agentís job to make the team happy or find the best deal for the salary cap. Itís his job to help his client maximize his financial potential. Few agents in the league do it better than Rosenhaus does. He also has the ability to manage his clientsí egos and keep them happy. He might rub people the wrong way but so does Scott Boras yet players always want to have his representation. Put it to you like this, for whatever profession you are in would you rather have someone looking out for you 100 percent or someone looking to make both sides happy if you were negotiating your job?
As for his clients on the Rams, to the best of my knowledge he doesnít represent any of the members of the rookie class. He does have some clients on the team (as of February), including guard Jacob Bell, punter Donnie Jones and tight end Randy McMichael. He also represented Brett Romberg and Anthony Becht, who departed during the offseason. Iíd venture a guess that among the powerful agents in the business, his clients donít hold out much more than any of the others, if at all.
Neville Crews
Do you know if the Rams are considering a WR by the name of Nate Morton? He played for Wake Forest a couple of years ago.
NW: Morton had a cup of coffee with the Rams in the 2007 offseason and was cut in the preseason. There's a chance he could be brought back for another look but nothing set in stone.
Roger Koopman
At the heart of every successful team are the "high character" types, who lead by example, both off the field and on. Those who put their personal egos in check, and concentrate on helping and encouraging others, for the good of the team. I know this is a hard question to answer, without appearing to exclude some who may be equally worthy. But could you identify a half dozen or so Rams, who you've personally observed fitting into this category? And a tougher question, which (understandably) you may wish to side-step. Are there any "locker room lizards" on the roster whose potential bad influence has the coaches concerned?
NW: Honestly, I donít think there are many, if any, ďlocker room lizardsĒ on this team. Most of them have been weeded out and you could identify them in recent years, the guys like Claude Terrell, Domonique Byrd, etc are all gone. As for high character, most of these guys are high character but without offending anyone, the ones that immediately jump to mind are Will Witherspoon, Chris Draft, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Chris Long, Marc Bulger, Jason Brown, Adam Goldberg, Donnie Jones and Steven Jackson. There are plenty more, though those just happen to stand out to me.
Doug Ibarra
Hey Nick I was just wondering what your opinion was if we got the best ILB in the draft between James and Rey?
NW: Time will tell but I think both will be excellent but different NFL players.
Eric B.
Nick,
First, thank you for answering questions from us every week. How do you see Coach Spags compared to past coaches in Rams history. I know it is early, but is your first gut feeling that he is a Chuck Knox? Ray Malavasie? John Robinson? Maybe a Dick Vermeil or somebody that I have not even thought of. All of us Rams fans will judge you in about 3 years on this one answer! [No cop outs here and statements that he is his own person. Everyone is molded after somebody!] Thanks again.
NW: I know you said no copouts but I donít know how to answer this question. You say everybody is molded after someone but a Rams coach isnít necessarily ďmoldedĒ after another former Rams coach. The best way to answer your question is to look at who are the main coaching influences in these guysí careers. Andy Reid, Tom Coughlin and Jim Johnson are some of Spagnuoloís influences. Those are the guys who Spagnuolo will most likely resemble as a head coach.
Jimmy Christensen
Is Steven Jackson looking better than last year? And is Derek Stanley looking like he will get more playing time?
NW: Jackson looks a bit stronger but he still looks like the best player on the field every time he steps out there so hard to say if heís ďbetter.Ē
As for Stanley, he hasnít had a chance to do any team work yet though he will be ready for training camp. No way to tell where he fits in because he hasnít done any team stuff with the new coaching staff yet.
Doug Schaffer
Nick, in my opinion the Rams actually had two first round picks, Jason Smith of course, and Coach Spags. There is a lot of raw talent on the defensive side and THIS coach is the one who will bring out the best in them. Don't you think our biggest improvement will be on defense this year?
Thanks Nick for feeding the faithful!
NW: Hard to say where the biggest improvement will be (though I think you could make a great case that the offensive line will be better as a whole) but Iíve written it before and truly believe that the influence of Spagnuolo and Ken Flajole on this defense could really work wonders for its productivity. His track record speaks for itself.
Scott Lindsay
I am a huge fan of the rams and I was wondering when will the training camp schedule will be out to see all of the training dates.
NW: Soon enough. Remember, camp opens on July 30 and 31st, itís safe to assume there will be practices and plenty of them in the course of the ensuing three weeks. Actual times will be released soon as well though the chances are good there will be one practice in the morning with the second one in the early afternoon.
Scott Kaufman
Hi Nick,
Thanks for all you do to keep us informed the way you do. I really look forward to the weekly mailbag plus the other columns you write at the Rams website. A simple question; why is the regular season starting later than usual? I guess you can tell that I can hardly wait. I'm enthused by what the Rams have done during the off season, and I believe given a little bit of luck and the ability for the players to stay healthy, we could have a reasonable year.
NW: Thatís a good question, Scott and one that I donít have a real solid answer for. I know the league usually likes to start on the week after Labor Day but it just seems like itís much later than usual. Maybe itís just the way the days fall but the regular season wonít end until January 3 and everything else is pushed back because of it. I believe next yearís NFL Draft isnít until the beginning of May.
Mark Tipple
Hi Nick. This is my first time writing to you. I appreciate the job you do to keep us all informed. Keep up the good work!
My question: Do you think the training and conditioning programs under our new coaches will help alleviate some of the injuries that have plagued us in the past couple of years? It seems to me that we could have a good season this year with a healthy O line, Jackson, and Bulger. Our defense should be improved, and I think the WR's could really fly under the radar this year to keep opposing defenses honest.
Thank you so much for your time.
NW: Itís hard to say how much correlation there is between the training programs and injuries but thereís no doubting that there has been an inordinate amount of ailments affecting the Rams over the course of the past two seasons. Talking to the players, they all have really enjoyed the ďback to basicsĒ approach of Rock Gullickson and Chuck Faucette in the weight room and hope that will translate into better health. Injuries will happen, itís part of the game but Iíd venture to say the Rams are due to have some good luck for once in this department.
Frank Jabido
Hi Nick,
Rams fan from So Cal...We have a relief pitcher over here playing for the Angels of Anaheim named Jason Bulger. Just wondering if he is related to Marc.
Thanks Nick!
NW: To the best of my knowledge, the two are not related. Iíll double check with Marc when he gets back for training camp but I donít think thereís a connection beyond a shared name.
Dennis Rufus
Hello Nick and as always thanks. Wanted to know how Alex Barron is doing since going from right to left. I know LT is his natural position. How much will this help him?
NW: Barron doesnít say much so itís hard to get a read on how much more comfortable he is on the left side, if he is at all. But he seemed to do fine in the offseason program, OTAs and the minicamps. The true test will come in training camp when the pads are on. I will say this, though. Barronís natural position is the left side and this is the first time heíll have an entire offseason to prepare to play there. Itís also his contract year. This is a very important season for him.

With that, I bid you all adieu as the mailbag will take a break for a week. Iíll be on vacation next week and return on July 8 for more mailbag fun.