Nick's Mailbag: May 27
Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Reason Warehime

Nick,

Ya Know I respect and value your opinion youíre the best at what you do but look, we understand the point of view of how Pisa didn't go with Spags system. What bothers a lot of fans is that why even not a late round trade even if not a 2010 6-7th rounder. Look at what K.C. was able to do last year. It's not like both Torry and Pisa won't be on a roster next year. Pisa had value, please for the sake of the fans weíre owed an explanation for giving away a talent like Pisa can you at least clear this up for us? PLEASE!

NW: Take heart, my friend, anytime a move like this is made; it is done with careful consideration. That means anytime a player is released, especially one of note such as Pisa, there is always an attempt made to get something of value for him. Itís important to remember, though, that it takes two teams to make a trade. Itís easy to think you should have received a draft pick or a player in exchange for a released guy but itís not as simple to make it happen. The other thing to remember is that when you make a guy available for trade in a situation such as Pisaís, itís then known that you probably will release him if you canít find a deal. The key in Tinoisamoaís situation is simply this: he made a lot of money for a guy that not many teams consider a starter anymore. When he does sign with his next team, he wonít get as much money as he would have made here or as much as if a team had traded for him.

Brian H.

Hey Nick Hope you can help. Two of us Nor Cal rams fan are planning on buying tickets to the Jan. 3rd home game vs. the Niners. Any seating preferences or hotel advice would be greatly appreciated. I know youíre not the visitor center but you always have the best and up to date info. You can give my email out if you have any advice givers. Thank you, were looking forward to our first home game since Anaheim. Brian

NW: I donít have any specific seating recommendations (because I sit in the upper reaches in the press box for game) but you can call the ticket office at (314) 425-8830 or (800) 246-7267 and discuss ticketing options and one of the excellent ticket reps down there can help you out. Also, right here on the site, you can scan and view the seating chart and pricing to have an idea of what you might want to do when the time comes to buy single game tickets. As for hotels, there are plenty in the area but I'm a fan of the Hilton downtown, just a few blocks from the Edward Jones Dome.

Lloyd Porter

Hey Nick, I love the way you answer questions on here even though you essentially answer the same questions over and over. My question is, I know the team needs a young DE but is the team interested in Jarvis Moss from Denver or Tamba Hali from KC since they were on the trading block and in danger of being cut? Spags would get the most out of those guys if they added one of them to the roster. It would be an excellent addition to get one of guys before the season starts. Also, are the Rams really interested in signing Rod Hood? He'd be great to help tutor the young guys like Hill, King, Wade, and Fletcher.

NW: Iím not sure of any particular interest in either player as teams rarely comment on players under contract with another team but the Rams will continue to explore and review any potential upgrades at any position, not just the ones you mentioned. As for Hood, coach Steve Spagnuolo addressed that last week and acknowledged the teamís interest. But Hood opted for a one-year deal in Cleveland on Tuesday, taking him off the market.

Joseph Roberson

Hey Nick thanks for all your wonderful insight...
Just one question... Are we really going to start the 11 year vet Chris Draft opposite of Witherspoon? There has got to be some young guys challenging for that spot right (Culberson, Chamberlain, maybe even Vobora)??? Is there anything you have seen in camp so far that might suggest otherwise?

NW: Iíve written about it some in passing and itís something I plan to delve into further as we hit the final minicamp and head toward training camp but I expect there to be competition there just like a few other spots. Draft is such a versatile piece that he could fill a lot of roles. Culberson could be in the mix but the guy who is already making waves at the position and could get a long look is Larry Grant. The strong side linebacker spot will be one to watch during the preseason.

Nathan Castillo

Hi nick

I got a two week late question for you. If Will Witherspoon is big enough to play middle backer why is he not big enough to play strong side backer? I just donít understand how Pisa is a man without a position. For a long time we needed that third linebacker and we finally got him in the draft then we let one of our top speed backs go. Pisa (speed) James (run stopper) and will speed (speed) would have been great. So my question is what type of 4-3 scheme are the Rams looking at playing this year. Are the linebackers of the line of scrimmage or is the SLB on the line of scrimmage setting the edge? Sorry so long.

NW: Iím not really sure what the thought process is here. Witherspoon was always considered too small to play in the middle but he did it (and did it pretty well) because there werenít many other options. His natural position is on the weak side and thatís the place he can be most effective. The strong side linebacker is generally a bigger type of Ďbacker because he needs to be able to stand up and be physical against the other teamís tight end as well as provide something in terms of a pass rush. A guy like Brandon Chillar, who departed to Green Bay previously fits the mold more of the size you want at that position.

Jordan Stanley

Do you think the Rams would have any interest in DJ Hackett? I'm fairly sure he was released by the Panthers after last season. When he hasn't been injured, he has been a good contributor. What do you think?

NW: No interest in Hackett that Iím aware of right now. Heís been injury prone and probably isnít an upgrade at this point.

Steve Smith

Hi Nick:

I have one question about John Greco. When the Rams drafted Smith, signed Bell and Brown to big contracts do you think he is a trade possibility? How good of a player could he bring to a position of need?

NW: Iíd be surprised to see Greco traded. Heís a talented young lineman with a lot of upside who is just scratching the surface on his potential. The Rams arenít teeming with talented offensive linemen and Richie Incognito will be a free agent after the season. Grecoís future is in St. Louis.

E.K. Rice

Have you had a chance to see Kirston Pittman play? Even after the injuries he seemed to be a consistent playmaker on that LSU line. Why is he listed as a 250 lb NT? One would think he is getting a shot at RDE. How many D-linemen do you think Spags will have in his rotation? How has Klop looked so far?

Thanks in advance for your hard work!!!

NW: Have seen him a little during the rookie minicamp and then in a couple of the OTAs. Heís moving around, playing some different spots and getting acclimated to the system much like the rest of the rookies at this point. Itís safe to assume the Rams will keep at least eight defensive linemen and possibly nine considering how much Spagnuolo has traditionally liked to send in waves of new ones on a given play.

Klopfenstein has earned some credit for playing and practicing with a cast on his hand. In OTAs, he has gone through receiving drills catching the ball with one hand just so he can be out on the field and working in the new offense.

John Stephenson

Nick, I've got the number two pick in my Fantasy Football Draft! With Spags in town with his running game should I take Steven Jackson at number two or should I go with Michael Turner? I'm assuming Adrian Peterson will go number one. What do you think!?! Thanks for playing!

NW: I like this question, always fun to talk fantasy. But for the purpose of getting you a much better barometer on the situation from someone who does it for a living, Iím going to defer to one of the best in the business in The Sporting Newsí Matt Lutovsky. I sent him your question and here is his response:

ďIn most of the mock drafts I've participated in or seen, either Turner, Matt Forte or Maurice Jones-Drew has gone second after Peterson. There are reasons to like all of them, but there are also reasons to worry. Both Turner and Forte had a ton of touches last year and have only had one good season in the NFL. Jones-Drew should get more opportunities with Fred Taylor gone, but can he hold up and/or be as effective as the feature back? We all saw what happened when Marion Barber was in a similar situation last season. With all that said, I think Jackson is a great choice at No. 2. He has injury concerns (but, let's face it -- who doesn't?), but he should benefit from being in camp from Day 1 this year. Plus, with an improved line and increased commitment to getting him the ball, he'll put up as much, if not more, total yards than any of the aforementioned players. It's ultimately a coin flip with these guys, and Jackson probably has the most physical talent of the group. You can't go wrong with talent, and if you're a Rams fan, you can't go wrong with Jackson.Ē

Kevin White

Hey Nick,
Happy Football season, I just want to say thanks for all the patience it takes to do what you do, and keep up the good work. My question is regarding our #2 cornerback position. I have been hearing that we are sending out different contracts to free agent DBs like Hood, and a couple others. I'm curious on what Tye Hill and the other corners look like in camp. Hood and Hill about the same size. Is this insurance on Hill? Also do you think he will pan out and live up to his pre-draft hype? This is his 3rd year...

NW: As I mentioned earlier, Hood signed with the Browns yesterday so he is out of the picture. As for Hill, itís still early but he has looked pretty good during the minicamp and had a good first couple of OTAs. Hill is actually entering his fourth season but it might seem like less since heís been hurt so frequently. Iíll say this for him as it pertains to this year: he absolutely knows this is a big year for him and he is working as hard as he can to be ready for the season. Heís been at the facility for almost the entire offseason and is giving everything he can to solidify his spot. In addition, heís finally almost completely healthy after having a cyst removed from his knee in the past month. And one final thing, Hill is surrounded by three emerging young talents in the secondary. The trio of Ron Bartell, Oshiomogho Atogwe and James Butler are young, ascending talents and Hill wants desperately to be a part of that group which could turn into the backbone of the defense. Iíll have a story about this in the coming weeks.

Scott Bundren

Hey, Nick. Thanks for the great mailbags! I've heard analysts on national television talk about the Rams being one of the few possible homes for Vick if he gets reinstated. First off, is there any interest there on the Rams' side? Second, I just wanted to note that he doesn't quite fit the Rams' new personal conduct philosophy. Have you heard anything? What is your take on his situation, if you don't mind giving it? Thank you.

NW: Vick to the Rams isnít much of a possibility, if at all. Itís just not a fit for this offense. As for the Vick situation, I do believe he deserves a second chance. Heís paid his debt to society and done everything asked of him in his quest to get back in the league. Thereís no reason he shouldnít be allowed to earn a living and re-establish himself in society. That said, the teams in the league have their right to pass on him as well. Thereís no rule that says Vick has to get an opportunity just because he wants one. Who knows what kind of shape heíll be in and where heíll be in terms of the mental aspect as well. There are plenty of questions that still need answers before anything can be determined on his future.

Miguel Iniguez

The Rams had one of their best drafts in quite some time, besides Smith and Laurinaitis, which rookie will have the most impact?

NW: Interesting question. Bradley Fletcher could chip in right away as a nickel back or even possibly win a starting job if he really shows up and has a big preseason. But my early line guess to answer your question is defensive tackle Darell Scott. Scott has a lot of potential and considering the way Spagnuolo likes to use his defensive linemen, I could easily see Scott working in the rotation and having the most impact of the rookies not named Smith or Laurinaitis.

Pedro Canjura

This question is more based on YOUR opinion than anything. Last season, Donnie Avery was FORCED into the starting line up due to D. Bennett going down for the season on his first reception of the season. He had a string of about 4 games where he had HUGE numbers, and then he had a minor injury and he wasn't the same for the rest of the season. Keenan Burton missed a lot of time last season. That being said, I don't think Donnie was ready to be the #2 last season (and he was there the whole time), and thus I don't think Keenan is ready to be the #2 this season. I know it is one more season of experience under his belt, but as much time as he missed, can you truly say he played a season? I personally don't, it's like that baseball thing where if you play less than half the guys in the previous season you're still considered a rook the next. Do you think if he beats out Robinson for the #2 spot at WR that he'd be consistent enough to be considered a real #2 receiver, and not an over-achieving slot receiver (based off of what you've seen)?

NW: Itís hard to answer this question because itís so early and these guys are still learning the offense. Let me first say that Avery has looked excellent on the practice field and he is confident that he can handle the duty of being the No. 1 wide out. As for Burton, remember he was perhaps the most polished of the young receivers coming out and had an outstanding training camp before being slowed by injury. Burton has all of the tools necessary to be a good No. 2 wideout as soon as this year but it all depends on how he can put it together and if he can remain healthy. I know there are a lot of concerns from some of you on the receiver position but keep in mind that the only way to find out what you have in terms of some of these young players is to give them a chance to play. The amount of competition at the position should only boost the performance of these young wide outs.

Sean Murphy

Hi Nick, thanks again for your time. With Culberson being only 23 and being converted from DB, (at least I think he started college at DB) it would figure he would take time to develop. How would you rate him and do you think he could have a breakout season? Also I was wondering how big C. Draft and Culberson are. NFL.com lists them at 235 & 244 respectively but, sometimes those #'s are wrong. NFL.com has Pisa listed at 240 rather than 220. Thanks Go Rams.

NW: Culberson showed a lot of promise in his first season but that progress slowed some last year. You hit the nail on the head as far as taking some time to develop. He was a very raw player coming out and though he has all of the physical tools to be a solid NFL player, he has struggled with some of the mental aspects required to become a reliable starter in the league. That doesnít mean it canít or wonít happen for him, though. He does have the size to handle the strong side position but as it stands Draft and Larry Grant seem to be getting most of the work at that spot with the first team. Still, Culberson will almost certainly get the opportunity to compete for a spot during training camp.

Jordan Delp

Hey Nick, just curious on what the situation with Klopfenstein is going to be now that McMichael is back. Is he just going to be the back up tight end again?

NW: Klopfenstein will likely have the opportunity to compete for a roster spot during camp. McMichael will be the starter but Klopfenstein, Daniel Fells and Billy Bajema will battle for what will probably be two spots behind him.

Sal Lombardo

Whatís your predication as to how many rookies make this years opening day and how many of the drafted players this year make the cut?

NW: I havenít formed any kind of roster predictions or anything of that sort yet because itís such a small sample size. Recent evidence indicates that more rookies are tending to make this team. Just based on the roster turnover and rebuilding process taking place, itís probably fair to assume that all of the youngsters will get a long look and a fair number will stick when it comes time to make the final cuts.

Tevin Wilson

Nick,

How do you think the rams will fare in the 2009 season? I feel that they have taken the smart and safe choices to become a respectable franchise in the NFL. But......I felt the same way last year and the year before! The division has become much stronger and the schedule is pretty tough. Can the rams pull out a 6-8 win season, or will the 09 season be another disappointment?

NW: Again, I refuse to make predictions on things that are so far off. The NFL is a funny league and you can go from one-win seasons to division winners like Miami did last season just as easily as you can fall from grace in just a year. The only prediction to make is that anything is possible.

Doug Beers

I've seen some versions of our roster showing Brock Berlin as a member, and some as him being a free agent. Is he coming back or not? Also what is Claude Wrotenís status and chance of playing again? Thank you.

NW: Not sure what version youíve seen that doesnít have Berlin but he is on the roster and participating in everything. Wroten is still suspended. When he gets re-instated, Iíll be sure to write about it.

Tom Staton

When will the rams be starting their spring training camp and is it open to the public if so what do the tickets cost to see the practice sessions thank you in advance for the information.

NW: If you mean actual training camp, that is slated to begin at the end of July (dates and times will be forthcoming in the near future). There are no tickets and the selected open practices will be free to the public. If you mean things going on now like organized team activities and minicamp, those are closed to the public.

Wade Jacobson

Hey Nick
Thanks for all the time you give us crazy Rams fans. I read your mailbag every week and I enjoy it very much. I am very excited about everything that has happened this offseason, and I really believe that we are headed in the right direction. I know you have said before that character is of the utmost importance under the new regime. But I think we could greatly use a young and very talented WR like Matt Jones, he is a big physical WR who could be a good complement to Avery & Burton. And if I'm not mistaken we could acquire Jones pretty cheap, and he is clear to play for whomever (no suspension). Also when I hear that a player like Greg Ellis is going to be available, I think he could be a great addition to a subpar defense. I know Dallas has been playing the 3-4 the last few seasons, but Ellis has proven earlier in his career that he could play in a 4-3 system. We could always use another big physical presence on defense, especially one that can rush the passer like him. Although, he has not been released yet he will be soon. I know Spags and Devaney want to get younger, but Ellis has the kind of talent & experience I wouldn't pass on. Do you think that Devaney is interested in Ellis or Jones?

NW: I would be highly surprised if Matt Jones is someone the Rams were interested in. Off the field issues aside, he has never been all that productive. As for Ellis, not sure how much he has left in the tank but I donít know how much, if any, interest the Rams have in him.

Joey Bittick

Hey Nick, I love the mailbag and read it every week. I know you get a ton of these, so I'll be brief. I know that Julius Peppers is unhappy that the Panthers franchised him and the he wishes to be traded. I'm sure if asked the Rams would say that they are "exploring every possible way to upgrade the team" but do you know if there is any legitimate interest in Peppers? If so, I'm sure Carolina would want at least a 1st or 2nd round pick. Would the Rams Be willing to pay that price? Do you believe that they should if the opportunity arises? Thanks for the great answers, Nick, and have a great week!

NW: The asking price for Peppers will start at a first-round pick and then if you deal for him, you will have to sign him to a mega-contract to keep him in the fold. In addition, heís made a list of teams he would like to play for and itís not believed the Rams are on that list. Itís a long shot at best.

Mike Stockwell

Torry Holt and Orlando Pace were released due to the salary cap. Would it have been POSSIBLE for Holt to remain on the team to give us a real #1 receiver if only Pace was let go?

Huge fan from Southern California, so I really appreciate your hard work and effort.

NW: Sure, it would have been possible but it might not have been prudent. The Rams arenít right up against the cap but they donít have a ton of cap space, either. Keeping Holt might have meant not getting a Jason Brown, Mike Karney or James Butler or made it more difficult to keep Ron Bartell and Oshiomogho Atogwe. And, of course, Holt had asked for the opportunity to move on.

Ruben Campos

Hey Nick,
Since you have Ram sources that may disclose possible moves or team news that you cannot report on, is it frustrating at times that other reporters from outside of St. Louis "scoop" the St. Louis press? I realize you only deal in fact, not rumor. It just seems to me that the business is a competitive one and puts local media at a disadvantage at times. What are your thoughts?

NW: Sure, I think it can be frustrating to not have the story first but itís a heck of a lot worse to be wrong than it is to be fast. In my experience doing this, more often than not, the majority of the real, factual stories have been reported here in St. Louis before they are elsewhere. For example, the coaching change was a perfect example of why you should never jump the gun. How many of the ďnationalĒ guys got that one wrong? From my recollection, almost all of them. Youíll never see anything on this website that isnít 100 percent, guaranteed fact. And thatís a record Iíd prefer to keep intact over rushing to break a story that isnít true.