Rams: Five things to know
By Pete Prisco
CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer
Camp tour: Rams
ST. LOUIS -- Observations from Rams camp.
1. First-year coach Scott Linehan comes to the team with an offensive background. But unlike Mike Martz, he believes in a well-rounded offense. Linehan also instilled some of the discipline he learned during his year in Miami with Nick Saban, which this team needed. There are some who wondered why Linehan got this job, but they will know in a couple of years. He's a good football coach. He's also smart enough to lean on others for help.
2. Look for a monster year from running back Steven Jackson. With Marshall Faulk out for the year with a knee injury, there are no more excuses for Jackson to not get the ball. Linehan loves to spread defenses and run the football. That's huge for Jackson, a big-play back who has craved more carries in his first two seasons. There is a good chance that Jackson can push for the rushing title. "He's got to prove his durability, and he's got to prove he can run between the tackles," Linehan said.
3. The Rams struggled in a big way on defense last year. That will change with new coordinator Jim Haslett. His fiery, in-your-face approach will help liven up a unit that simply didn't get off the field enough in 2005. The addition of some key players will help, too. The big signing was linebacker Will Witherspoon as a free agent from Carolina. His speed is badly needed. The Rams also signed corner Fakhir Brown, safety Corey Chavous and defensive tackle Jason Fisk to pump life into the unit. First-round pick Tye Hill has already impressed as a corner, but he's running with the second team right now. Linehan hired Haslett even though they didnít really know each other all that well. "He's a fighter, a guy who has been through a lot of tough times and never backed down," Linehan said. "He was the best guy for the job."
4. Isaac Bruce has been with the Rams so long that he played with the team when it was in Los Angeles. There was some talk Bruce might be allowed to leave before this season, but the Rams signed him to a new deal. Watching him practice Monday makes it obvious why they did. He can still play. Bruce might not have the speed he once did, but he still runs great routes and knows how to get open.
5. The Rams had issues on the offensive line at times last season, but the improvement of right tackle Alex Barron, a second-year player from Florida State, should help alleviate those worries. Barron teams with Orlando Pace to give the Rams a good duo. Pace isn't the player he once was, but he's still a force. Barron has the look of a future Pro Bowl player. He has trimmed about 10 pounds of extra weight and still looks stronger.
Why I like this team
The offense will be explosive. Linehan is one of the brighter offensive minds in the league. With a good quarterback in Marc Bulger, a talented group of receivers and Jackson handling the rushing duties, the Rams will score a lot of points. Haslett will make the defense better, too. It's just a matter of how much better.
Why I don't like this team
They have major issues on defense. Who's going to provide the pass rush other than Leonard Little? Can the corners hold up? Is Jimmy Kennedy ever going to play up to the high expectations? If the defense can improve slightly, this team has a chance to push for a wild-card spot. If it doesn't, it will be .500 at best.
Re: Rams: Five things to know
Prisco nailed it this time.