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  1. #1
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    Rams Satisfied with Improvements

    Monday, April 30, 2007

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    In the age old NFL debate of need versus value, teams are always trying to find the best way to reconcile the two to make themselves better.

    And it would be almost impossible to find a coach at the end of the two-day marathon that is the NFL Draft that isn’t happy with what his team has done. The Rams and coach Scott Linehan are no different.

    “Nobody is going to get up here and say they aren’t happy with their draft, but I think the realistic way to look at it is I think we have been able to address all of our needs at some point of the draft,” Linehan said. “I think we have made improvements that will help us get to another level.”

    Entering this year’s draft was a bit different from drafts of the recent past. Teams are generally able to fill the majority of their needs through free agency. But this season, teams were flush with cash because of the rapidly expanding salary cap. That enabled most teams to retain their best players with franchise tags or long term contracts.

    So, it’s safe to say there was an added emphasis on this year’s draft as teams looked to improve the big picture while filling in any glaring holes.

    “You are trying to add players and accumulate talent for your football team but at the same time you want to address some areas you need to address on your team need-wise,” Linehan said.

    The Rams needs included an opening for help all along the defensive line, a backup running back to help relieve Steven Jackson, depth in the secondary and on the offensive line, a solid return man and a punter.

    Including a pair of trades that were made before the draft, the Rams seemed to go up and down the list and check off each need.

    At the top of the list was the need for help on the defensive line, particularly players who can help boost the team’s run defense. After some brief discussions about trading for Carolina’s Kris Jenkins, the Rams turned their attention to finding that player in the draft.

    They did just that by getting the guy they wanted all along in the form of monster defensive lineman Adam Carriker from Nebraska with the 13th pick in the first round. Carriker will instantly step into the middle of the line and be expected to make a difference, especially against the run.

    To help fortify the position with some competition, the Rams added two more defensive tackles on the second day in Michigan State’s Clifton Ryan and Arkansas’ Keith Jackson. Those two will compete for a roster spot at nose tackle.

    In addition, the Rams traded for defensive end James Hall, who is expected to start right away opposite Leonard Little. All of those additions could make for an interesting camp when it comes time to make decisions.

    “There’s no greater motivator than competition,” Linehan said. “I think we will have a tough decision to make when we get down to our roster cuts on the defensive line. We wanted to create a competitive environment inside and I think we have accomplished that at this point.”

    While the need for a star at running back wasn’t necessary because of the presence of Jackson, finding a backup who can give him a rest every now and then was important.

    Clearly, the Rams made it a priority by using a second round pick on Swiss Army knife back Brian Leonard of Rutgers. Leonard can play tailback, fullback and on special teams and gives the Rams something special in the way of leadership and character.

    “He fills different roles for us,” Linehan said. “I think that he is a very good fit for our system. I really believe he will be our No. 2 running back by early in the season.”

    In addition to Leonard, the Rams also added Travis Minor as a free agent earlier in the offseason and have Kay Jay Harris and Rich Alexis for competition.

    Linehan said Sunday the Rams brought Tony Fisher back in for an examination last week and there is interest in bringing him back, but he isn’t likely to be ready to return until after training camp.

    Last year, the Rams spent a first round pick on cornerback Tye Hill and signed Fakhir Brown in free agency. That brought the need for help at the position down some, but the team entered this offseason in search of depth at the position.

    After signing veterans Mike Rumph and Lenny Walls and drafting raw but exciting Tennessee cornerback Jonathan Wade in the third round, consider the depth at cornerback one of the team’s strengths.

    And just because the team added Wade, Walls and Rumph doesn’t mean that veteran Jerametrius Butler is out, at least not yet. Although Butler hasn’t been participating in the voluntary workouts, Linehan expects him in St. Louis for the mandatory portions of the offseason.

    “I expect him to be here when he has to be here,” Linehan said. “Right now everything is voluntary and he’s not here. I don’t have any idea what the future holds. But as long as he’s around I expect his best effort.”

    Entering the second day of the draft, the Rams were armed with three less picks than they originally had because they made a trio of moves to bolster the team through trade. After dealing one fifth round choice for James Hall, they dealt another to Kansas City to fill the need for a returner in Dante Hall. They also surrendered a seventh round choice to Miami for punter Donnie Jones.

    But the Rams recouped some of those choices by dealing their fourth round pick to Detroit for two fifth round choices early Sunday.

    St. Louis turned one of those picks into Ryan and addressed one of their needs on the offensive line by choosing center Dustin Fry of Clemson. They took care of another need by selecting developmental tackle prospect Ken Shackleford of Georgia in the sixth round.

    All told, Linehan and the Rams used the draft (either by making selections or using picks for trades) to add 11 players. In addition to the free agent pickups made last month, Linehan believes the Rams have done plenty to fortify the roster.

    “I feel so much better this time of this year than I did last year,” Linehan said. “I think we were still working trying to find some answers that weren’t there yet. Now I think we have addressed those needs and now we have to go out and prove it and do it on the field.

    “At this point, we are getting close. You never know what is going to happen between now and then. I feel really good about the players we have added.”


  2. #2
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    Re: Rams Satisfied with Improvements

    I can't believe he's happy and we still don't have a backup for SJ. He even stated himself that he wanted help.

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    Re: Rams Satisfied with Improvements

    Quote Originally Posted by itsguud View Post
    I can't believe he's happy and we still don't have a backup for SJ. He even stated himself that he wanted help.
    Clearly, the Rams made it a priority by using a second round pick on Swiss Army knife back Brian Leonard of Rutgers. Leonard can play tailback, fullback and on special teams and gives the Rams something special in the way of leadership and character.

    “He fills different roles for us,” Linehan said. “I think that he is a very good fit for our system. I really believe he will be our No. 2 running back by early in the season.”


    Uh ,,, doesn't this guy fit the bill??

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    Re: Rams Satisfied with Improvements

    :x Brrian Leonard will be the #2 running back.

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    Re: Rams Satisfied with Improvements

    I have to wonder how much will we improve on D. Going into a season needing your rookie DT to preform at a high level, well that don't happen often ie Texan last year. Mabe it's just me but I don't see much different than last year D. Hall and a rookie DT. The middle of the D line is still week, and that means that teams can't wait to run run run.
    :ramlogo:

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    Re: Rams Satisfied with Improvements

    Quote Originally Posted by eldfan View Post
    I have to wonder how much will we improve on D. Going into a season needing your rookie DT to preform at a high level, well that don't happen often ie Texan last year. Mabe it's just me but I don't see much different than last year D. Hall and a rookie DT. The middle of the D line is still week, and that means that teams can't wait to run run run.
    There is a big difference between Mario Williams and Adam Carriker, and thats their attitude. Carriker is the type of guy that will take it personally if you try and run on him, which is the type of player we need on the DL.

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    Re: Rams Satisfied with Improvements

    Quote Originally Posted by eldfan View Post
    I have to wonder how much will we improve on D. Going into a season needing your rookie DT to preform at a high level, well that don't happen often ie Texan last year. Mabe it's just me but I don't see much different than last year D. Hall and a rookie DT. The middle of the D line is still week, and that means that teams can't wait to run run run.
    With the offense we will have for 2007. The opposition will have to pass, pass,pass.:r

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    Re: Rams Satisfied with Improvements

    Originally Posted by eldfan
    I have to wonder how much will we improve on D. Going into a season needing your rookie DT to preform at a high level, well that don't happen often ie Texan last year. Mabe it's just me but I don't see much different than last year D. Hall and a rookie DT. The middle of the D line is still week, and that means that teams can't wait to run run run.
    Camp is going to be very interesting, Carriker is going to have to come in and prove he's ready to start at DT. Has to beat Glover and Wroten out. IMO Carriker will play some DT and DE. We will see Wroten and Glover at DT and Carriker at DE at times. We will see Carriker DT at times. I don't think Carriker comes in and is named the starting DT and we never see Wroten and or Glover. I don'r rhink he has to be all world to see the D line play better then last year, I'm counting on Wroten to play more and better. Coaches made comments over the weekend that Wroten looks great.
    Last edited by Rambos; -05-01-2007 at 04:31 PM.

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    Re: Rams Satisfied with Improvements

    Well from what Mayock said on draft day the Rams are expecting Wroten to be the wildcard here. They said he is in great shape and could push for a starting position. If that's true we might get the first round talent that everyone said wroten had. I'm not panicking about the defense because some of these youngsters are bound to improve and if not I guess we will have to outscore everyone.
    Just Fix It

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