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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Offense Has Few Needs Entering Offseason

    Friday, January 19, 2007

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    As Head Coach Scott Linehan heads into his second offseason as the leader of the Rams, he gets to do it in a far less frantic way than he did a year ago.

    Entering last offseason, Linehan was busy putting together a coaching staff and doing his best to become familiar with the team’s personnel. Now that he has been with his team for a full season, Linehan has a much better grasp on what he has.

    That should help him as St. Louis approaches the upcoming free agency period and the NFL Draft.

    Before Linehan and the Rams get to that, though, they must evaluate what they already have in place. For the past two weeks, that’s exactly what the coaching staff has been doing.

    Decisions must be made on the future of some veterans and the potential of some of the younger players.

    “You’ve got to go through the routine of…someone’s getting replaced,” Linehan said. “That’s not necessarily pleasant. That’s part of the job that’s tough, but also the important part of the job that I have—making those personnel moves. Hopefully the ones you make are going to benefit your team; not necessarily just for that particular game, or that part of the season, but for your future. It takes a while. We’re still finding things out about players, but at least now I think we have a pretty good idea of the core players we have, and the young players we brought in, what they’re going to be able to do for us next year.”

    The evaluation of those players involves hours of breaking down tape, looking at statistics and discussion of where they fit in as it relates to the Rams’ various systems.

    “We met as an entire staff to discuss the timeline of making those decisions,” Linehan said. “It’s easier said than done. We have guys whose contracts are up and it’s easier said than done to say if you want a guy back. We have work to do to get that done or to make a decision on whether we’re going to get that done or not.”

    While there are improvements and tweaks to be made on the offensive side of the ball, it’s not likely that anything dramatic will be done. In fact, it’s a great possibility that the most important move the team will make on offense is retaining one of its own.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger is rapidly approaching free agency. After a year in Linehan’s system, it was clear that Bulger was more than talented enough to handle the job. That’s why the Rams will make retaining Bulger one of their top priorities.

    “It’s a no-brainer that we want Marc to be our quarterback as long as Marc wants to play quarterback in this league,” Linehan said.

    The quarterback position won’t see much if any change in this offseason. Bulger, Gus Frerotte and Ryan Fitzpatrick give the Rams a balance of experience and youth to develop. It’s possible another young signal caller could be brought in to compete with Fitzpatrick.

    At running back, the Rams also are set, at least as far as the starter. Steven Jackson had his breakout, Pro Bowl season in 2006 and is entrenched not only as the starter, but also as one of the league’s ascending stars.

    Behind him, the Rams would like to bring veteran Stephen Davis back to the old. Davis is a free agent, but was a positive influence on Jackson and productive in short yardage situations. Of course, the status of Marshall Faulk remains in the air. After sitting out last season, Faulk could retire or look for another opportunity that would afford him more playing time. He has one season left on his contract.

    Kay Jay Harris could get some consideration to return as the third back because of his special teams prowess, but there’s a good chance the Rams will look to add another back in the draft that is capable of working as a change of pace back and returner. Madison Hedgecock and Paul Smith will likely be brought back, but the Rams could add another fullback to compete.

    At receiver, the Rams are in good shape, but have some key decisions to make in free agency. Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald are both eligible for free agency, leaving Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Dane Looker under contract. Curtis will likely draw plenty of interest on the market, though the Rams would like to have him back. Youngsters Dominique Thompson and Marques Hagans will get long looks to fill spots too should Curtis and McDonald depart.

    It wouldn’t be much of a surprise, though, to see the Rams begin looking for a receiver for the future, preferably a bigger, more physical type to create yards after the catch.

    At tight end, the Rams liked the progress of Joe Klopfenstein and, especially, Dominique Byrd at the end of the season. That duo will certainly return and Aaron Walker could also be back. The need for a powerful blocking tight end could be addressed in the offseason as well.

    On the offensive line, the Rams found out a lot about their young linemen, particularly on the interior. The tackle spot is secure with Orlando Pace and Alex Barron. Backup Todd Steussie is a free agent and the Rams would like to bring him back.

    Inside, guard Adam Timmerman and center Andy McCollum are recovering from injuries. Timmerman might not be a starter and has a decision to make on his future. McCollum says he would like to return, but he will have competition from Brett Romberg.

    Mark Setterstrom and Richie Incognito will certainly return at guard and be given every chance to hold on to the starting jobs they had at the end of the season. Claude Terrell’s status remains up in the air.

    While there aren’t many holes to fill on the Rams offense, it could use an influx of youth at some positions, which means many of the holes available will be filled through the draft and not free agency.


  2. #2
    81~BIG-GAME's Avatar
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    Re: Offense Has Few Needs Entering Offseason

    I would like to see a bigger,more physical WR brought in to compliment our current crop of wide-out's.Someone that will make the tough catch across the middle and can make yards after the catch.We have a physical RB in SJ and a big WR would give us an option that we haven't had and bring another dimension to the already potent offense..:l

  3. #3
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    Re: Offense Has Few Needs Entering Offseason

    “It’s a no-brainer that we want Marc to be our quarterback as long as Marc wants to play quarterback in this league,” Linehan said.

    +

    Me=Happy face


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

  4. #4
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Offense Has Few Needs Entering Offseason

    It wouldn’t be much of a surprise, though, to see the Rams begin looking for a receiver for the future, preferably a bigger, more physical type to create yards after the catch.
    And the Ginn-aholics cry in disappointment.

  5. #5
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    Re: Offense Has Few Needs Entering Offseason

    The O-line is the big concern. they may have the starters back next year, but some dependable back -ups are in need. injuries are part of the game and the teams with the depth are the ones who can move on!:x
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

  6. #6
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    Re: Offense Has Few Needs Entering Offseason

    Maineram's offensive offseason priorities;

    resign Bulger to a long term deal
    sign a blocking TE through free agency
    resign Stussie
    resign Davis
    draft a backup tackle
    draft a big physical wideout
    draft a RB for depth
    May have to sign a wideout through free agency. Not sure we can resign Curtis, not sure if McDonald wants back playing second fiddle to the TE's that will get more balls thrown their way. Would prefer resigning Curtis but his asking price may too steep and take money away from the defensive side of the ball. McDonald would command less money, but may not be in Linehans plans.

    Maineram -
    and out of the ashes rise ...The Breakfast Club !

  7. #7
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    Re: Offense Has Few Needs Entering Offseason

    Locking up Bulger is a no brainer obviously. He seems happy here so I expect no problem getting it done. Byrd and Klop both showed plenty of potential as TEs. The future looks bright.

  8. #8
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    Re: Offense Has Few Needs Entering Offseason

    Doesn't seem like a short list does it?
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

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