08.13.2009 10:31 am
Rams pre-season opener: What will it tell us?
By Reid Laymance

How much will we really be able to tell from the Rams pre-season opener against the Jets on Friday?

JIM THOMAS: Rule 1 of preseason football: Pay attention to the score when the starters are in; watch individuals when the reserves are on the field. Trends in August usually carry over to September and beyond. To wit, the Rams yielded 340 yards rushing in their exhibition opener against Tennessee last season. They surrendered a franchise-record 2,475 yards in the regular season.

I think this is the first true glance at what the “new” Rams can be. Of course it won’t be a definitive look, but we can surely see if the revamped offensive line can protect Marc Bulger and open holes for Steven Jackson. We get a glimpse at how Steve Spagnoulo’s defense will improve the unit that struggled mightily last season.
But these are only glimpses, not full portraits. But I think it is important from a fan base standpoint for the Rams to look good. Sports fans in St. Louis are preoccupied with the Cardinals now. If the Rams have any hopes of sharing any of that attention in the early fall, they have to show people that there is hope.

We’ll get an idea of what the Rams’ depth might be this year, and that’s a big issue for them. It’ll also be interesting to see if the units are relatively crisp and keep the mental errors down, as Spagnuolo has been preaching throughout camp.

Fans will want to see how well Marc Bulger is adapting to the new offense, because this is a big change for him. This will be a test because new Jets coach Rex Ryan will want to make a good first impression with his group. Rams fans will also want to see if rookie right tackle Jason Smith is making any progress as a pass blocker. And will any of the wide receivers or back-up running backs separate from the pack. Otherwise, this game is all about identifying the team’s depth — or lack thereof. Most of the lineup is set. The guys trying to win the last 8 to 10 spots on the roster must rise to the occasion.