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Thread: Rams cope by preparing for 2010
Rams cope by preparing for 2010
Rams cope by preparing for 2010
Columnist Jeff Gordon
By Jeff Gordon
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
There is no need for Rams fans to lament Sunday’s loss at Arizona. That was just an exhibition, a pre-preseason game if you will.
Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo used the game to get a head start on his 2010 retooling. This was a full-scale audition for players hoping to compete for jobs next season.
Spags used a no-name lineup in the 31-10 loss. You could see as many as 30 to 35 different faces when the Rams open next season for real.
That is not an exaggeration. Look at the breakdown:
The Rams were missing 13 players from injured reserve, including safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, quarterback Marc Bulger, guard Jacob Bell, cornerback Bradley Fletcher, defensive tackle Adam Carriker, long snapper Chris Massey, defensive end C.J. Ah You, tight end Daniel Fells and receivers Laurent Robinson, Keenan Burton and Brooks Foster.
Running back Steven Jackson, defensive end Leonard Little, tackle Jason Smith, defensive end James Hall and cornerback Quincy Butler were among the players not active for the game.
Of those 16 injured or otherwise absent players, you could see 11 to 14 of them dress for the Rams in Week 1 of next season. That is where the turnaround must begin.
The Rams need to get all their wounded warriors back on the field and playing up to full potential.
This franchise must add another 10 first-year players through the draft and rookie free agency. The 2009 draft was solid (but injury-prone) and this next class has to be even better.
General manager Billy Devaney must add four or five impact players via free agency, using the money saved by the franchise’s massive salary dump during this calendar year.
He must also fill another four or five roster holes with lesser free agents -– like many of those populating the Week 16 lineup -– or via trades.
So the 2010 Rams should look a lot different than the overmatched group which fell well short in Glendale, Ariz., Sunday afternoon.
Flip over the equation and answer this question: How many Rams who played this game are sure bets to play for the Rams next season?
On the offensive line, Jason Brown and Adam Goldberg appear to be locks. Defensive end Chris Long is a cornerstone, as is middle linebacker James Laurinaitis. Safeties James Butler and Craig Dahl seem like good bets to stick in some capacity, as do cornerback Ron Bartell and defensive tackle Clifton Ryan.
We assume the team will stay with kicker Josh Brown and Donnie Jones, since both are high-end performers. (On the other hand, kicking is one area where a rebuilding team can cut costs.)
Receiver Brandon Gibson is in the process of winning a job and the Rams aren’t likely to give up on speedy wideout Donnie Avery.
Those 12 players appear to be pretty solid for next season. After that, there should be plenty of Week 16 guys competing for work -- including offensive linemen John Greco, Mark Setterstrom and Roger Allen III; defensive tackle Dorell Scott and LaJuan Ramsey; running backs Kenneth Darby and Chris Ogbonnaya; quarterback Keith Null, receiver/kick returner Danny Amendola, special teams gunner Jordan Kent, tight end Billy Bajema and linebacker/special teamer David Vobora.
A lot of these guys have shown enough to get into camp . . . but they haven’t done enough to win games, so Devaney needs to maximize the job competition at Rams Park.
Sunday’s exercise was useful. Many players got an opportunity to make their case. A few of them looked fairly convincing in their starting roles.
The competition for next year is already under way. Most of the dead weight is already off the roster.
When you look at it that way, these grim ’09 blowouts are easier to endure.
Re: Rams cope by preparing for 2010
I have said in other threads that I expect some major changes concerning our roster. However 30-35 new faces seems a bit extreme.
Devaney and SPAGS certainly have alot of work to do.
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