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[PD]: Rams vs. Vikings - Five Things to Watch
Five things to watch tonight
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
THE NEW-LOOK D-LINE
It will be Leonard Little at left end; former Detroit Lion James Hall at right end; La'Roi Glover and rookie Adam Carriker at tackle. Can this revamped defensive front do a better job against the run— and rushing the passer — than the '06 version? Little, Hall and Glover might play only a couple of series. But Carriker should play most of the first half.
REVAMPED SPECIAL TEAMS
New return man Dante Hall might not play because of a sore hamstring, meaning second-year man Marques Hagans and seventh-round draft pick Derek Stanley get the bulk of the work on kickoff and punt returns. Even without Hall, the blockers on return units and the coverage units need to make a statement under new special teams coach Al Roberts.
ON THE INTERIOR
With Adam Timmerman gone and Andy McCollum returning from knee surgery, the interior of the offensive line is in transition. Mark Setterstrom starts at LG, where he played well as a starter the final six games of '06. Richie "The Sheriff" Incognito has replaced Timmerman at RG. McCollum is battling Brett Romberg for the center job.
SURGERIES 'R' US
Although they won't play much, LT Orlando Pace (triceps), WR Torry Holt (knee) and LB Pisa Tinoisamoa (shoulder) are among several players who will see their first full-contact work since undergoing surgery to repair '06 injuries. In the preseason, it's all about regaining confidence that those once-ailing body parts are in working order.
Fakhir Brown's pending four-game drug suspension means that someone must step up at the cornerback position. Ron Bartell, who has looked sharp and confident in camp, moves up from the nickel spot to the starting lineup. Veteran Lenny Walls and third-round draft pick Jonathan Wade are competing for the third corner spot in the nickel package.
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