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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Nick's Mailbag - May 20

    Nick's Mailbag: May 20

    Scott Bundren

    Hey, Nick. I was just wondering if the Rams could be interested in trading for Roscoe Parrish. The Bills have had him on the trading block since early April. He's an excellent returner (which we need) and would add more depth (and speed) to our WR corps (which we also need). I'm sure they've considered it, but if not, maybe you could leave a note under Devaney or Spagnuolo's doors. I, for one, would love to have him on the team. Thanks for the great work!

    NW: Itís an interesting idea. Not sure if there is interest from the Rams side but a receiver with return capabilities would be intriguing. As it stands, only Derek Stanley had any significant return experience in the NFL among the receivers on the roster.

    Richard A. Morton

    Nick. Great job keeping us informed. Love to read the mailbag and can't wait for Wed to roll around. Lifetime Rams fan here. Since 57. Thanks to our new coach, I'm excited about the coming season and especially the next. I'm thinking he's a real coach, who knows how to take young players and get the max out of them. If I recall correctly. Deacon Jones was drafted in the 14th round. Undrafted now a days! Go Rams!

    NW: Indeed, hidden gems are there to be found. In fact, there are usually two or three guys every year that go undrafted and go on to long and productive careers. Maybe those guys donít go on to become Deacon Jones (who I think is the best pass rusher of all time) but finding those guys is like finding gold. As for your point about Spagnuoloís success getting the most out of young players, Iíd say his track record would support your theory.

    Rich Merchant

    If the Rams had been better at the draft, do you think they might not be in this mess?

    NW: Clearly, the draft is supposed to be the backbone and basis for how you build a team. There was a period at the beginning of the decade until about 2005 where there wasnít much gained through the draft. The past few drafts have been much more fruitful and the current setup seems to have the Rams headed in the right direction.

    Scott Rhoads

    Hey Nick,
    I've been a fan since 1968. I'd like to know your feelings on the starting "D", and how the changes have affected the Rams chances to make the play-offs.

    NW: Itís going to be interesting to see how the defense improves under the guidance of Spagnuolo and Flajole. As it stands, only James Laurinaitis and James Butler will be new starters but there have been some changes that could lead to more success as well. If nothing else, Iíd expect this defense to be more aggressive and more disciplined. Those two ideas might seem to run counter to each other but every defensive player Iíve talked to has said that this defensive scheme isnít as hit or miss as the old one. In other words, if a player misses an assignment, heís got somebody to help him out instead of everything being done on an island.

    Zach Eggleston

    Are the rams highly considering re-signing Little to a long term deal so he can retire a ram? Are the rams going to re-sign Barron so they donít have to draft a tackle again next year? And last but not least where are all the jerseys sold because I went to the rams shop and they had like 5 jerseys that are still on the team where can you buy the others? And wait I almost forgot is the rams uniforms staying with the navy blue pants instead of the gold like the years before? Sorry for all the Q's I read your mailbag every week. Is there any chance at having it twice a week?

    NW: Little is in the last year of his contract and has maintained for a while that when this contract is complete, thereís a good chance he will call it quits and retire anyway. Could that change if he has a good year and can stay healthy? Sure. But I donít think heís in the market for a long term contract and I donít foresee those conversations taking place. Probably a wait and see on Barron. How he performs this year will go a long way in determining his future in St. Louis. There are only a certain amount of jerseys that are pre-produced but on the fan shop right here on stlouisrams.com, you can order a jersey of any player you wish simply by choosing the customizable jersey option. As far as I know, the gold pants are still out of the mix for next season.

    Twice a week has been discussed but it would depend on what kind of feedback we get from you guys and the volume (and quality) of the questions.

    Manuel Alcantar

    Hello Nick thanks for the time. Iím exited about the way were heading even if we let go of some stars. With Tinoisamoa now the latest do you think if that spot canít be filled they might try to add someone like Derrick Brooks?

    NW: The thing is, Tinoisamoa was let go because he spot was filled already. Will Witherspoon is the weak side linebacker now. Tinoisamoa was released in part because he was a man without a position. Thereís very little chance theyíd bring in a guy like Brooks to be a backup and thereís even less chance heíd want to come in and be one.

    Kyle Kirby

    Hey Nick its good reading your mail bag weekly and appreciate your insight. So the rams made a lot of salary cap moves this offseason with the release of Holt, Pace, Pisa, Bennett and a few other established players that were slightly over the hill. I understand these moves and that we are in a rebuilding process but the question is what do we plan to do with all the cap space? Any more off season additions in the future? Possibly WR, CB, LB? Thanks Nick.

    NW: There isnít as much cap space as you think. Iím not sure why thereís a perception that this team is swimming in money. They have the cash to maybe add a couple of mid-level veterans at low prices but other than that, the big spending is done. The Rams spent a good chunk of change on re-signing Ron Bartell, franchising Oshiomogho Atogwe and signing Jason Brown, Mike Karney and James Butler to pretty lucrative deals. In addition, they still have to sign the rookie class. That doesnít mean they wonít make any more moves, it just means they wonít be going after any more high-priced types of free agents (not that thereís many worth the money even on the market).

    Roger Schutt

    Hey Nick! A question about Defensive Tackles. I see the notations "NT" and "UT" used to describe this position. I assume "NT" is Nose Tackle. What the heck is a "UT?" And what are the strengths & skills each position independently requires? Thanks!

    NW: Youíre correct that NT is short hand for nose tackle. UT is actually the short hand version of ďunder tackle.Ē The under tackle is also commonly called the ď3-techniqueĒ tackle. The nose tackle usually lines up on the weak side of the offensive line. His job is to take on the center and weak-side or pulling guard so that the smaller 'rush' end has a 1-on-1 matchup with the offense's blindside tackle. Itís one of those thankless jobs wherein you never get credit, only blame. Clifton Ryan has handled these duties for the past couple of seasons. The under tackle generally takes on the strong side guard. Like the nose tackle, itís his job to take on blockers to free up others but since he generally has one on one opportunities inside, the under tackle is expected to provide more of a pass rush than the nose tackle. Adam Carriker and LaíRoi Glover have spent most of the past two seasons as the Ramsí ďunderĒ tackles.

    Richard Layne

    Nick, with the 2009 NFL Draft over, will the Rams now focus their attention on picking up unsigned free agents for offense and defense before training camp in July or will they stand pat until training camp in July to see what they have and then go after unsigned free agents that could help the Rams for the 2009 season and possibly beyond?

    NW: Probably safe to say about 95 percent of the team that will step on the field in September is on the field right now for O.T.A.ís. That doesnít mean there wonít be some changes but itís unlikely anything terribly dramatic will happen with the roster between now and than.

    Dave Knottnerus

    Hi Nick, I have a question that I always wondered about. Do NFL contracts provide health insurance negotiated in for them or do players have to pay for their own.

    NW: As part of the NFL Players Association, all players and their families are covered in terms of health insurance and benefits. That is complete coverage. That is something that was collectively bargained in the CBA so members of the Players Association are covered. Hereís a breakdown of what players get in terms of health insurance, courtesy of the NFLPA:

    - 70% of allowable charges for out-of-network services. You will be responsible for 30% after the deductible has been satisfied.
    - The plan covers players and their dependents
    - There is an annual deductible of $400 per person and $800 for a family. Lifetime maximum benefit increased to $2.5 million

    Players are also covered with life and dental as part of the NFLPA.

    Terry Potts

    Hi Nick,
    I've been a fan since the Roman Gabriel days and have seen a lot of coaches come and go. Some great, some not so great. My question is this; do you see any similarities between George Allen and Spags? Spags just seems like one of those men that is tough, yet respected. Like Allen, he believes games are won with defense, and like Allen, believes in running the ball, only passing to open up the running game. So am I close? I mean, you have been around him. If he is anything like Allen I am really going to be excited about this year and the years to come. The Rams always used to win their division every year, and Iím tired of seeing them being walked on. Go Rams!

    NW: An interesting comparison, Terry. Honestly, all I know of George Allen is what I have read of him. I never saw him coach. And likewise, I havenít seen Spagnuolo as a head coach in an NFL game just yet. Iím sure heíd appreciate the comparison but heíd probably also say that heís trying to carve out his own niche and create a team-built legacy. But as far as some of the characteristics you describe, from what I know of him, Iíd say Spagnuolo certainly has those qualities and philosophies.

    Larry Stein

    Thanks for taking my question. The knock on Null from Scouts.com and others was that he could not go deep because he does not have a strong arm. Early reports from the mini-camp talked about his strong arm. Who is right?

    NW: All I have to go in is what I have seen in limited opportunities, thatís five practices in a minicamp and one OTA. From what I can tell, he definitely has the arm strength to get the job done. Is he Brett Favre or John Elway in terms of arm strength? No, but best I can tell heís capable of making all the throws an NFL quarterback needs to make.

    Jack Fenton

    Hey Nick, All I wanna know is what is the most likely starting line for the defense as of right now and who could pressure someone for a starting spot.

    NW: As it stands, the front four would have Leonard Little and Chris Long at ends (though Victor Adeyanju might technically start because of his run defense skills) with Clifton Ryan and Adam Carriker on the inside. There will be plenty of competition all over the place as we get into training camp, though.

    Frank Layana

    Hi Nick, Why don't the Ram punters practice kicking the ball out of bounds anymore? There are times on the field, during the course of the game, that it would be more desirable to do so.

    NW: Iím not really sure what the complaint is. Donnie Jones literally just posted one of, if not the, best season by a punter in league history. His punts were high and long and well placed almost every time.

    Russ from Phoenix

    Hey Nick! Thanks for taking this question. After you see the Rams in their OTAs and have a chance to speak with Coach Spags, I'd appreciate you're asking him if Jason Smith will put his Tight End skills to use in the Red Zone for some misdirection tackle-eligible plays?

    NW: Very funny, Russ. Even if I asked, I donít think weíd get an answer. Why give away any secrets now instead of springing them on some poor, unsuspecting team later in the season?

    Frank Jabido

    Hey Nick - Is the Rams' training camp open to the public? Is there any sort of fee? We were thinking of visiting St Louis this summer from So Cal and would love to stop by the Russell Training Center if possible.

    NW: Indeed, the training camp will be open and free to the public. Weíll have more information on it as it gets closer but there will be plenty of chances for you and other fans to come out to the Russell Training Center this summer.

    Pedro Canjura

    Hey Nick, love the work you do.

    Anyway, in terms of our wideout situation, is Donnie Avery our #1 and Robinson our #2? Or how does our current WR situation look like?

    Also, is Leonard Little going to be an everyday end? Or is he going to come in only on pass rush situations, very similar to how reports are saying the 'Fins are going to use Jason Taylor?

    Thirdly, and my final question, what are the chances Kyle Boller surpasses Marc Bulger for the starting QB position during training camp? I remember 2 seasons ago in Baltimore, McNair went down in a game, and Kyle Boller comes in and re-sparks that team completely going something like 7/9 on a TD drive to take the lead. at that moment I said, "Boller the first round draft pick has arrived.." however, Over The Hill-McNair probably saw the same thing, came back early, and cost Baltimore the game. Boller never got another opportunity, and he didn't even get that opportunity last season after going down to that season-ending injury during training camp.

    Sorry for the long questions, but I haven't really heard anyone ask those questions and as the season gets closers, I need more insight on our team.

    NW: To your first question, as it stands Avery is No. 1. Robinson and Keenan Burton are likely to battle for the No. 2 slot though Burton has taken most of the reps as the No. 2 wideout to this point. There are a lot of things that will have to shake loose in the coming months at that position but right now, those are the top three with Avery leading the way.

    Little was used almost exclusively as a passing down guy last year and I would expect that to continue. When healthy, heís still the teamís best pass rusher and limiting his snaps only makes him more effective on the downs heís on the field. With a talented run stopper like Adeyanju around, it makes sense to rotate them. Keep in mind, too, that Spagnuolo likes to rotate ALL of his defensive linemen on a regular basis throughout the game.

    Bulger is the starting quarterback. Boller is the backup. Thatís been written and discussed multiple times and thatís the bottom line.


  2. #2
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Nick's Mailbag - May 20

    Thanks Mike! Interesting / good reading.

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    LA Rammer's Avatar
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    Re: Nick's Mailbag - May 20

    Quote Originally Posted by RealRam View Post
    As it stands, only James Laurinaitis and James Butler will be new starters but there have been some changes that could lead to more success as well.
    Okay we're talking about a defense that gave up the second most points of last season (465) and we only made 2 starter changes?

    It looks pretty resolute these are the guys we're going to have on the field game one. I really hope we are aggressively pursuing Hood and (or) some other defensive help. With that aside I will be excited to see how Carriker, Long, will do. Hope those picks will pay huge in 09.

    anything is possible till trade deadline.
    Last edited by LA Rammer; -05-22-2009 at 02:15 AM.
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    KoaKoi is offline Registered User
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    Re: Nick's Mailbag - May 20

    Quote Originally Posted by LA Rammer View Post
    Okay we're talking about a defense that gave up the second most points of last season (465) and we only made 2 starter changes?
    nah, there has to be a 3rd. Fakhir Brown is no more, so there will be a 3rd "new" starter guaranteed. Also, Larry Grant has been workin with the 1's at SLB, so he could be the 4th "new" starter.

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    Re: Nick's Mailbag - May 20

    I assume Larry Grant is only working with the 1's at SLB because Chris Draft was lined up with the 1's at MLB. I think if Laurinaitis takes over the starting MLB spot, Draft becomes the starting SLB.

    Just because we haven't completely overhauled our defense doesn't mean we won't see an improvement on the field. Spags was the hottest head coaching commodity on the market for a reason. He has been one of the best and most innovative defensive coordinators in the league. Adding Spags and his crew will do more for our defense than adding a whole roster of new players would have if Haslett were still in charge.

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    Re: Nick's Mailbag - May 20

    Plus we don't have ton of salery cap we did all we could to improve this year

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    Re: Nick's Mailbag - May 20

    I think our defense has shown flashes of being able to be a highly competitive unit in the NFL-especially in the first half. The problem I have arbitrarily noticed was being put in bad field position and having little to no rest because our offense would go three and out or turn the ball over.

    So only adding two new bodies is misleading. We added a true MLB, put our best defender in his natural position, added a leader to the secondary instead of a slow old man, and I expect our d line's play to be vastly improved with a healthy Carriker and Little and a coach who knows how to use his d lineman (see Super Bowl XLII).

    All said I expect to see vast changes on our defense. Sure I'm drinking the Kool Aid, but only because it tastes so so good.

  8. #8
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: Nick's Mailbag - May 20

    Quality depth was a problem last year for the defense too. I'll bet Spags has that addressed before the season starts.

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    Re: Nick's Mailbag - May 20

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Hey Nick! Thanks for taking this question. After you see the Rams in their OTAs and have a chance to speak with Coach Spags, I'd appreciate you're asking him if Jason Smith will put his Tight End skills to use in the Red Zone for some misdirection tackle-eligible plays?

    NW: Very funny, Russ. Even if I asked, I donít think weíd get an answer. Why give away any secrets now instead of springing them on some poor, unsuspecting team later in the season?

    I like this idea. Had not even thought of it before.

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