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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Rams see positive results in Battle of the Backups

    By Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    Friday, Aug. 31 2007

    St. Louis walks taller today. The Governor’s Cup is ours. The sacred trophy
    belongs to Rams Nation.

    The Chiefs returned home with bowed heads, losers of the traditional Battle of
    the Backups. Sports fans on Missouri’s West Coast are lamenting their team’s
    fate today. We’re guessing that many had to call in sick.

    Kansas City Star columnist Joe Posnanski captured the scene at the Edward Jones
    Dome beautifully:

    “Thursday evening, in front of several dozen interested fans, the
    soon-to-be-cut St. Louis Rams beat the soon-to-be-cut Kansas City Chiefs 10-3.
    The game was every bit as exciting as the score indicated. The Rams set the
    mood right away by sending out an offense that did not have a single starter on
    it. This was ticket money well spent.”

    Yeah, well, I supposed a cynic could nit-pick about the actual caliber of play
    as the Rams staged their final walk-through. But Scott Linehan was able to give
    a lot of key, young defensive workers plenty of work.

    He worked his back-up offensive players as well and finally got positive
    results from the kick coverage teams.

    The one negative note: The Rams lost tackle Todd Steussie, arguably their most
    important back-up player, for half the season with a broken foot. This will
    force the front office to shop for a replacement among the final cuts elsewhere
    or via a minor trade.

    Replacing Steussie from that remaining pile of spare tackles in camp would be,
    um, well, risky.

    But there were plenty of positive notes in this game, including:


    • Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick starred in a showcase game. If the Rams are
    serious about dealing him to another team seeking a back-up, then his trade
    stock is up. He completed 12 of 18 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. He
    scrambled effectively, too, and showed his uncanny ability to make impromptu
    plays.

    Do the Rams really want to let this guy go?


    • Veteran quarterback Gus Frerotte was especially sharp as well, which is why
    Linehan believes he has the best one-two punch at the position. Like Marc
    Bulger, Frerotte is a very accurate passer in this safety-first passing scheme.


    • Receiver Marques Hagans was a playmaker, again. He looks capable of adding
    youth and explosiveness to a veteran receiving corps. He also has the potential
    to succeed Dante Hall as the team’s return specialist. There was plenty of
    competition for that last receiving slot, but Hagans grabbed this job with both
    hands.


    • Veteran receiver Dane Looker got onto the field and reminded us he can still
    play. A back injury marred his preseason, but the Rams need him to hold for
    kicker Jeff Wilkins and occasionally fill in as the possession receiver.


    • Young linebackers Jon Alston and Tim McGarigle (finally healthy!) made the
    most of their playing time. McGarigle picked off a shovel pass at the goal line
    to highlight his extremely active game. Alston also has the athleticism to
    excel in coverage, as he continues to learn the position at the NFL level.


    • Andy McCollum started and played well at center. If another team suffers an
    injury at this position, the Rams will get a call. The team might fetch a draft
    pick for him if the coaching staff elects to go with younger linemen as
    back-ups.


    • Aside from allowing one 55-yard run -– the Chiefs opened a nice hole for
    Kolby Smith and no Ram filled it -– the front seven had a strong game against
    the run. Rookie nose tackle Clifton Ryan had a standout play stuffing a
    fourth-and-two attempt in the third quarter.

    The Rams front office will still keep an eye out for another veteran defensive
    tackle, to see if anybody interesting becomes available, but Ryan showed well
    in this preseason.


    • Back-up defensive ends Eric Moore and Trevor Johnson had active games,
    combining for three sacks. Both were on the spot as the coaching staff
    continues to sort through all these linemen to come up with its 53-man roster.


    • Rookie running back Brian Leonard strengthened his position as a third-down
    back by doing a nice job picking up blitzes. He isn’t the flashiest runner, but
    he does a lot of things well. He will never be Steven Jackson, but he is as
    versatile as advertised.


    • Young cornerback Darius Vinnett made a head-turning player as the “gunner” in
    kick coverage, putting an exclamation point on his strong preseason. The Rams
    want to fill their final roster spots with impact special teams players -– and
    this undrafted cornerback from Arkansas could be one of them.


    • On the other hand, young cornerback Josh Lay made a couple of strong plays in
    coverage. So the coaches will have a tough call there.


  2. #2
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Rams see positive results in Battle of the Backups

    Wraith, is it that you have a "red phone" direct Hotline installed in your computer to get these articles the minute they are made available?

    No, seriously, great to have these news flash in!

    No doubt, Hagans already occupies one of the 53. I hope Clifton Ryan is in, Tim McGarigle, Madison Hedgecock, and Aaron Walker. To me, these would be VERY positive results! Very positive oriented players for the 2007 Rams.
    Last edited by RealRam; -08-31-2007 at 05:13 PM. Reason: Added 'positive'

  3. #3
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Re: Rams see positive results in Battle of the Backups

    i DO MY BEST

  4. #4
    Keenum's Avatar
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    Re: Rams see positive results in Battle of the Backups

    Thanks for the updates.
    I think I get more hyped up on Hagans after every game.

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