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Positional Breakdown Preview: Wagoner
Monday, June 19, 2006
By Nick Wagoner
At various points during 2005, the Rams worked their way through their entire depth chart at quarterback.
Shoulder injuries cost starter Marc Bulger eight games. Backup Jamie Martin also struggled with injuries and rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick received considerable playing time.
There were highs such as Bulger’s lightning start against Indianapolis on Monday Night Football and Fitzpatrick’s miracle comeback against Houston, but for the most part, the lack of continuity under center cost the Rams a chance at a winning record and perhaps the playoffs.
With Bulger unable to complete a full season in either of the past two years, the Rams and coach Scott Linehan made it a point to address the backup spot during the offseason.
As training camp nears, here’s a glance at what the Rams will be relying on to engineer Linehan’s offense.
Scouting Report: Bulger has proved to be one of the most accurate and gifted quarterbacks in the league. Was team MVP in 2004 after ringing up 3,964 passing yards in 14 starts. Won the Pro Bowl MVP award in 2003, the second Rams to do so and the first since Deacon Dan Towler was player of the game in 1952. When healthy, one of the most dangerous passers in the league.
Last Year: Bulger was off to his best start when he suffered a shoulder injury against Indianapolis in Week 6. Re-injured it against Arizona after returning. The injury cost Bulger potentially his best season, as he played in just eight games. He was among league leaders in all passing categories at the time. Played in eight games, posting 2,297 yards and 14 touchdowns for a passer rating of 94.4.
Outlook: Bulger is healthy again after an offseason of rehabilitation. With an improved commitment to protecting the quarterback and a more settled situation at right tackle, Bulger should have the tools for his biggest season.
Quotable: “How are we going to protect our quarterback?” offensive coordinator Greg Olson repeated in answer to a question. “Obviously, that will be a priority. Obviously, we have to keep him healthy, number one. But I think he’s a tremendous player. I have all the respect in the world for Marc Bulger, and if we can keep him healthy, I think we’re going to have a heck of an offense.”
Scouting Report: Few backup quarterbacks have the experience of Frerotte. Has started 79 games in a 12-year career. Moved around a lot, playing for six teams before coming to St. Louis. Accurate, intelligent quarterback who has earned the trust of Linehan in previous stops.
Last Year: Started 15 games in Miami when Linehan was the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator. Had one of his best seasons in the league, throwing for 2,996 yards and 18 touchdowns for a rating of 71.9
Outlook: Bulger’s backup and has embraced the role of mentor to the younger signal callers on the team. His experience in Linehan’s system makes Frerotte a vital player.
Quotable: “I'm sure he feels like he is one of the assistant coaches out there,” Linehan said. “He knows what I am going to want. He knows what I am going to watch, he knows what I am going to say about something. He is wearing another hat, but his role is to be our backup quarterback. He started nearly 80 or 90 games in the NFL now, so we know what he can do, and that if something ever happens to Marc (Bulger) he could step in.”
Scouting Report: Entering his second season in the league, Fitzpatrick has one of the strongest arms among the Rams’ quarterback. Is also the most mobile of the group with the ability to escape pressure and make plays with his legs. Picks things up quickly. Can be erratic at times when it comes to accuracy.
Last Year: As a rookie in 2005, Fitzpatrick made an immediate splash by leading the Rams to a miracle comeback win against the Texans. Started three games and played in four, with 777 passing yards, four touchdowns and eight interceptions in place of Bulger and Martin.
Outlook: Could have a bright future in the league because of his promising physical tools. Will likely compete with Jeff Smoker for the third quarterback spot on the squad.
Scouting Report: Possesses a strong arm and excellent size for a quarterback. Is still a bit inexperienced and raw, but has all of the physical tools to play in the NFL.
Last Year: Smoker bounced back and forth off the Rams’ roster after being released following the preseason. After injuries to Bulger and Martin, was brought up from the practice squad and placed on the active roster. Did not play in any games and has yet to make an appearance in a regular-season NFL game.
Outlook: Smoker worked with new quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier at Michigan State and would seem to have a better chance to get an opportunity with the new coach staff than the previous one. Should have a hotly contested battle with Fitzpatrick for the third quarterback job.
Come back tomorrow for a breakdown of the running back position.
Last edited by Nick; -06-29-2006 at 07:14 PM.
-06-19-2006 #2bigredman Guest
Re: Positional Preview: Quarterback
I believe the greatest change that will improve Bulger's performance is the fact he will finally be able to audible. IMO, the reason for his sometimes forcing throws into coverage, and poor time out management was a result of the fact he wasn't allowed to change the play once called from the sideline. He will now be able to make adjustments at the line, which can only improve his confidence and stop all those untimely time outs. Just promise me one thing. Don't become the arm waiving, demonstrative QB that Peyton Manning is. It drives me insane to watch a game with this guy gesturing wildly before EVERY play.
Re: Positional Preview: Quarterback
under the same lines Red, this would also allow us to do a no huddle, which I feel not having it and not using it in the past killed us.
Positional Preview: Running Back
Last year was supposed to be running back Steven Jackson’s breakout season. But because of a variety of nagging injuries and a lack of opportunities, Jackson didn’t quite reach his potential.
Now, with Marshall Faulk’s status in doubt (reports say Faulk is considering retirement), Jackson could be the Rams’ only returning ball carrier from last season. The addition of head coach Scott Linehan could be just the tonic to get a mediocre running game on a more consistent path.
With Linehan calling the plays and Jackson’s desire to get more touches, the running game could become a focal point of the Rams’ offense for the first time in a decade.
Scouting Report: A big (240 pounds), powerful back with enough speed to break the long run. Heading into his third season in the league and second as the team’s starter. Has battled injuries, but appears healthy. Jackson gets stronger as the game goes on and can wear down defenses with his powerful running.
Last Year: Ran for 1,046 yards on 254 carries for an average of 4.1 yards per attempt. Scored eight touchdowns and caught 43 passes for 320 yards and a pair of scores. Ran for a career-high 179 yards against Jacksonville. Missed the season finale with a hip injury.
Outlook: Jackson has wanted to become the focal point of the offense since his arrival in the league. With a stronger commitment to the running game than in the past, Jackson could have his breakout season in 2006. Linehan has made it clear that he wants to get Jackson more involved and Linehan has had success with the running game at each of previous NFL stops.
Quotable: “It seems like everyone is making it a focal point,” Jackson said. “Two years ago, when I was drafted, that’s what the plan was. We knew that eventually the team was going to be more geared and built around me and now it seems like it has finally come to the forefront.”
Scouting Report: One of the NFL’s greatest running backs and players. Few have accomplished the types of things Faulk has in his storied career, including an MVP award in 2000. At his best, Faulk was one of the most creative, elusive runners the game has ever seen. Is nearing the end of the line and has had consistent knee trouble in recent years. A surefire Hall of Famer when the time comes.
Last Year: Ran for 292 yards on 65 carries for an average of 4.5 yards per attempt. Caught 44 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown. Started one game, but played in all 16.
Outlook: Faulk’s status for this season is still up in the air as he decides whether to return for another season or come back as the backup to Jackson. Off-season knee surgery has put his status in question and a recovery will be necessary for a return. Likely to have a decision made sometime before training camp.
Quotable: "It's one of those things that you have to come to terms with, and he only knows how he feels," Rams coach Scott Linehan said. "Guys who have played at such a high level for so many years and have taken so many hits, sometimes it starts to wear you down a little bit, and he's trying to figure out how he can manage it.”
Scouting Report: A third-down back for most of his NFL career, Fisher has excellent hands and is a good pass blocker. Excels on special teams and is a team-first type of player. Remains to be seen whether he could carry the load if needed, but has achieved success in his role.
Last Year: Had 60 carries for 173 yards and a touchdown. Added 48 receptions for 347 yards and another score. Played in 14 games with four starts with Green Bay.
Outlook: Fisher’s involvement could be directly related to the decision of Faulk. Should Faulk retire, Fisher could be the second back and get his fair share of touches. Should Faulk return, Fisher will likely appear on third downs and on a variety of special teams units.
Quotable: “He’s a classic third down back,” Linehan said. “That can mean a number of things. You have to specialize in the protections; a lot of the passing game fits him because he made a name for himself as a receiving back out of the back field. He’s a fantastic special teams player, one of the things we were evaluating when we signed him. He also has the ability to come in on first and second down and be a change-of-pace back. That will be part of his role, too. A utility infielder in baseball, I don’t know if that’s a good analogy, but he’s got that ability. He’ll specialize on third down.”
Scouting Report: A stout, strong blocker. Hedgecock works primarily as a blocking fullback, leading the way for Jackson. Has good hands and is versatile enough to shift between fullback and tight end.
Last Year: Played in all 16 games, starting eight. Worked in all games on special teams and caught nine passes for 69 yards. Finished with 19 special teams tackles.
Outlook: Hedgecock showed flashes of being one of the best young blocking fullbacks in the league. Needs to work on knowing his assignments and awareness, but is highly thought of and should continue to progress in 2006 leading the way for Jackson.
Scouting Report: One of the most consistent long snappers in the game. Has been on target every time since his arrival in the league and is a willing tackler down the field. Has become a team favorite and leader in the weight room. Has never played much offensively, but is a solid blocker if needed.
Last Year: Made five special teams tackles and appeared in every game with an errorless record as the long snapper.
Outlook: As sure a thing as there is, Massey is likely to return as the long snapper once again.
Also expected to compete: Antoine Bagwell, John David Washington, Fred Russell, Paul Smith.
Come back tomorrow for a breakdown of the wide receiver position.
Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams
Re: Positional breakdown Preview: Wagonerunder the same lines Red, this would also allow us to do a no huddle, which I feel not having it and not using it in the past killed us.
Positional preview: wide receiver
Positional Preview: Wide Receiver
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
By Nick Wagoner
Few positions on the Rams have been harder to break into in recent years than wide receiver.
With the return of Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Kevin Curtis, Shaun McDonald and Dane Looker, it’s going to be difficult once again for any young receiver to steal a roster spot.
After an off-season that saw Isaac Bruce released if only for a few days and the drafting of Marques Hagans, this position remains one of the Rams’ greatest strengths and a position of great depth.
Scouting Report: One of the most talented, consistent receivers in the league. Holt is the only receiver in league history to break 1,300 receiving yards six consecutive seasons. Is almost a lock for 1,300 yards, 100 catches and 10 touchdowns every season. Infectious enthusiasm and talent make Holt one of the leaders of the Rams.
Last Year: Finished with 102 catches, 1,331 yards and nine touchdowns in just 14 games. That performance placed him among the league leaders in all receiving categories and earned Holt another Pro Bowl berth as well as the team’s most-valuable player award.
Outlook: Will remain one of the offense’s top options and continue to be a favorite target of quarterback Marc Bulger. Holt adds a new wrinkle to his game every year so it’s a safe bet that he will stay one step ahead of secondaries again this year.
Quotable: “You mention a couple of guys like Isaac and Torry,” coach Scott Linehan said. “Here are a couple of guys that come to practice with a purpose. I was explaining a drill out here and I said that I wanted the tempo down a little bit. You really don’t want guys going full speed, you just want them to get a mental rep, and Isaac goes out there and runs a full-speed route. That doesn’t click in with him, so I can see why he has been to so many Pro Bowls. Torry is the same way. You see some of the things that you don’t see if you are not associated with them personally and what separates (those) guys from the rest.”
Scouting Report: A savvy veteran who still has plenty of gas in the tank. Bruce is nudging closer to the top 10 in all of the important receiving categories and remains one of the league’s best route runners. Struggled with injury for the first time in a while in 2005, but is one of the most durable receivers in the league. A willing and able blocker to match his pass catching skills. The original Ram remains one of the foundations of the franchise.
Last Year: Played in 11 games after missing time with a turf toe injury. Caught 36 passes for 525 yards and three scores.
Outlook: Bruce is happy to be back to health and appears to have his usual zest. Will once again team up with Holt to form one of the league’s best receiving combinations.
Quotable: “Isaac is Mr. Ram in my opinion,” Linehan said. “I know he downplays that because of his humility. I know he’s very important for our organization, not just me or our coaches and players, but our organization to have him be able to finish his career a Ram. He’s got more than a couple good years left in him, I think. But that’s up to him.”
Scouting Report: Blazing speed combined with developing route running skills make Curtis one of the league’s most exciting receivers. Mature and intelligent with the capability to be a breakout player in the NFL. Works out of the slot and is a threat to score anytime he touches the ball. Had trouble with injuries in the first couple years of his career, but has since become a reliable option every week.
Last Year: Had 60 catches for 801 yards and six touchdowns, including an 83-yard touchdown against Jacksonville.
Outlook: Curtis’ role will continue to expand.. Should work primarily as the third receiver in the slot again, but is ready and capable of handling top two receiver duties if need be.
Quotable: “I think they have done a great job,” receivers coach Henry Ellard said. “Kevin has really stepped up. When Isaac went down, Kevin stepped in and ended up with 60 catches. Shaun did a great job and struggled with a knee problem. We are excited about getting those guys back and keeping the offense intact.”
Scouting Report: Possesses excellent elusiveness and is willing to go over the middle out of the slot. Is a solid catch-and-run receiver with the ability to return kicks. Has struggled with fumbling problems, particularly as a returner, but has the speed to make big plays at any moment.
Last Year: Finished with 46 catches for 523 yards in 16 games. Started a pair of games.
Outlook: Likely to return as the fourth receiver and push Curtis for the job as the slot receiver. Will be used in four-receiver sets and could play on special teams. In his contract year, McDonald could be primed for a big season.
Scouting Report: A smart, fundamentally sound receiver who is a better athlete than he gets credit for. Few players work as hard as Looker at the little things. There are few options better than Looker to find the sticks on third down. Doesn’t blow anyone away with his speed, but gets by on solid route running and good hands. Also a solid holder for kicker Jeff Wilkins.
Last Year: Had 23 catches for 237 yards in 16 games.
Outlook: Should compete for playing time again and remain as a part of the Rams’ depth at receiver and Wilkins’ main place holder.
Scouting Report: Fast, elusive, and versatile. Played quarterback and receiver as well as returning kicks at Virginia. Should be used in a variety of ways in the Rams’ offense and is an early favorite to land punt returning duties.
Last Year: Threw for 2,492 yards and 14 touchdowns as the Cavaliers’ quarterback in 2005. Added 310 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
Outlook: Will be given every opportunity to prove himself at receiver and, more important, as a returner in his first year in the league. Possibilities are endless for a player who could play an Antwaan Randle-El-type role for Linehan.
Quotable: “He has shown throughout his career that he can be a very capable and dangerous returner,” Linehan said. “I think his natural position is at punt return, but punt returners can also be kick returners or be the return specialist for a team. He gives you one of those toys on offense; you can put him in there and he plays something one play and something else the other play.”
Also expected to compete: Brad Pyatt, Jeremy Carter, Clinton Solomon, Taylor Stubblefield, Brandon Middleton.
Come back tomorrow for a breakdown of the tight end position.
Re: Positional preview: wide receiver
May there be enduring health and strength for our Ramreceivers! :angryram:
Re: Positional preview: wide receiver
I still don't understand when ever the media have polls etc that bruce and Holt are't up there at the top or very near, just bets me.......
steve:clanram:"The breakfast Club"
Re: Positional preview: wide receiverOriginally Posted by majorramOriginally Posted by ramsbruce
Re: Positional breakdown Preview: Wagoner
sorry to go back to previous comments, but i agree that Bulger being able to audible will help the team immensely. How many times did we have to put up with Martz after the game saying it was his fault the interception happened because he chose the wrong play. I remember one game, the Rams came out with a large amount of WRs, maybe 4, and the defense backed off. Bulger quietly audibled to a QB sneak and picked up the first down with ease.
However that move probably put him in Martz's bad book
Re: Positional breakdown Preview: Wagoner
I doubt we carry the stable of WR's we have in the past under Martz. Linehan likes to use the TE more and that will mean a reduction somewhere.
Positional Preview: Offensive Tackle
Friday, June 23, 2006
By Nick Wagoner
For the past few years, the right tackle position has been a revolving door for the Rams. But, after the addition of rookie Alex Barron in the 2005 NFL Draft, it appears that the Rams have their right tackle.
The off-season before the 2005 campaign was good for the Rams in regard to the tackle position. Drafting Barron and getting Orlando Pace signed to a long-term contract set the Rams up with bookends for years to come.
This offseason, the only tackle the team needed was a backup for that pair. They found one in the experienced Todd Steussie.
Scouting Report: Simply one of the most dominant left tackles in the game. Strong and powerful as a run blocker and quick and athletic as a pass blocker. Perennial Pro Bowler who has dominated for most of his career.
Last Year: After finally coming to terms on a long-term contract, Pace started and played in 14 games. Missed some time with a hamstring injury, which cost him a pair of games. Went to the Pro Bowl and, in perhaps one of his finest professional performances, got the better of Indianapolis defensive end Dwight Freeney on Oct. 17.
Outlook: One of the positions that, barring some dramatic event, is a lock. Pace is the team’s franchise left tackle and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
Quotable: "I definitely like left guard, playing next to Big O," guard Richie Incognito said. "Big O is great. He makes my job a lot easier.”
Scouting Report: One of the game’s rising young stars. Barron can be a dominant blocker at times and is still developing his technique and fundamentals. Had a tendency for mental mistakes such as false starts in his rookie season. Once that is cleared up, could become part of one of the league’s best tackle tandems.
Last Year: After signing late, Barron took little time working his way into the starting lineup. Played in 12 games, starting 11 including an excellent performance against the Giants’ star end Michael Strahan.
Outlook: Not as much of a lock as Pace for his starting spot, but he’s not far behind. Barron had plenty of ups and downs in his rookie year, but 2006 could well be his breakout season.
Quotable: “He played very well for a rookie,” coach Scott Linehan said. “Obviously, being a first-round pick, you expect a lot out of a guy. What he showed was that he was a rookie at times. But when he settled down and started playing well, he was very technically sound and was a lot more competitive maybe than the impression he gives you, because he's kind of a quiet guy.”
Scouting Report: A hard-nosed, grizzled veteran with the ability to play guard and tackle. Is strong off the ball and a very good run blocker. Still capable enough to be a starter, but is best served as a utility man. Isn’t as mobile as he used to be, but still more than serviceable. Former Pro Bowler.
Last Year: Worked as a backup for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, getting snaps as a tackle and a guard without starting.
Outlook: Will likely be the team’s third tackle and could potentially compete for a starting guard position. Will be utilized in a variety of ways.
Quotable: "He's obviously the ultimate swing guy," coach Scott Linehan said. "He has played both tackle positions, probably a lot less at guard. I think it creates a great competitive environment for the guard spot. We have been without Adam and Andy because they are rehabbing. We'll give Steussie some time--he hasn't been there for a while--and a chance to learn the offense. He already knows tackle. He could go out there tomorrow and be right at home. I think it's good to put him in there and create a competitive environment for the young guys."
Also expected to compete: Blaine Saipaia, Ben Noll, Jason Hilliard, Drew Strojny.
Come back tomorrow for a breakdown of the guard position.
Re: Preview: OT
Saipaia will probably be the backup to the backup on this squad. Stuessie may be able to teach Barron to stay still until the snap count is sounded.
Re: Preview: OTOriginally Posted by txramsfan
Re: Preview: OTOriginally Posted by MauiRam
Unless he screws up, or at least one no-name G & T comes out of nowhere, he'll probably be on the roster."Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod