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  1. #1
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    Rams start 'clean' after 2007 disaster

    Rams start 'clean' after 2007 disaster
    By Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    Friday, May. 09 2008

    The last time the Rams were fully assembled on the practice field, they were
    preparing to lose badly to the Arizona Cardinals.

    They were finishing up a nightmarish 3-13 season. Their offensive line and
    defensive lines were decimated by injuries. Spirits were down and tempers were
    flaring.

    But Friday afternoon, the Rams started anew with Day One of their full squad
    minicamp. Many players from the futile ’07 season were gone, including iconic
    receiver Isaac Bruce and long-time kicker Jeff Wilkins.

    There were many new faces, too, including free agent offensive lineman Jacob
    Bell, free-agent kicker Josh Brown and top draft picks Chris Long and Donnie
    Avery.

    New offensive coordinator Al Saunders ran up and down the field, frantically
    coaching up his players while installing the new scheme. Offensive linemen
    Orlando Pace, Richie Incognito and Mark Setterstrom were back from surgical
    repairs, as were defensive end Leonard Little and defensive tackle Adam
    Carriker.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger, another veteran on the mend, liked the vibe he felt in
    the Rams Park indoor practice facility. Rams fans can only hope he is right.

    “Guys are working hard,” he said. “Al (Saunders) has brought some enthusiasm,
    which was real good. It’s a change.

    “It reminds me of -– I wouldn’t say ’01, ’02, because they were real special -–
    but ’03, ’04 right now. That was the kind of practice we just had. We made a
    ton of mistakes and we’re going to make a lot more.

    “But at least it felt like that energy was back and there was a commitment from
    each guy to not make mistakes. There was accountability and some things I think
    have been lacking were back today. That was refreshing.”

    Bulger is eager to turn the page on last season. He absorbed a terrible beating
    behind an ever-changing offensive line. Blocking breakdowns prompted coach
    Scott Linehan to make his conservative offense even more cautious.

    The vertical passing of the “The Greatest Show on Turf” gave way to
    ball-control dinks and dunks. The excitement was gone.

    TV cameras captured Rams veterans expressing their frustration to Linehan on
    the sidelines. Even the mild-mannered Bulger was caught rolling his eyes at his
    beleaguered coach.

    The season was a disaster in every way imaginable. Now the downtrodden Rams
    must rebuild their confidence and relocate their competitive edge. That process
    has to start long before training camp begins. There is so much work to do.

    The Rams are installing new plays and indoctrinating new players. More
    critically, the team is also trying to develop a new personality.

    “As for last year, we don’t want to mention those (problems) much more,” Bulger
    said. “That’s why today was good, too, to get back on the field with the guys.
    The last time we were together on the practice field was Arizona and that ended
    a horrible year.

    “So we started clean. We’re not going to look back. I definitely reflected and
    I think the coach did, most of the players did. We learned what we had to last
    year. But that was a couple of months ago. We’re not going to learn anything
    more from 2007. We’re going to move on and expect good things from this year.”

    The Rams brain trust hired Saunders to rejuvenate the offense. Offensive line
    depth was added through free agency and the draft.

    Long, picked second overall, is expected to make a huge impact at defensive
    end. Avery and fellow rookie Keenan Burton are supposed to add speed and skill
    to an aging receiving corps. New back-up quarterback Trent Green, a Saunders
    acolyte, came home to help implement the new offense.

    The Rams expect to be better on both sides of the ball. They expect to regain
    some respectability in the NFC West.

    “We have the balance now,” Bulger concluded. “It’s a matter of us doing it.”



  2. #2
    live4ramin's Avatar
    live4ramin is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams start 'clean' after 2007 disaster

    "These pretzles are making me thirsty".
    George Costanza
    I'm the guy that walks up after the argument's started.

  3. #3
    VegasRam's Avatar
    VegasRam is offline Ram MVP
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    Re: Rams start 'clean' after 2007 disaster

    Dez - does that Ram sculpture actually have a light built into it, or is it a reflector?
    "the Heart Lies and the Head Plays Tricks with us, but the Eyes See True".

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