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Thread: Rams Team Report
Rams Team Report
By Jim Thomas
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
PERSONNEL ANALYSIS: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick seems to have the edge so far, but Jeff Smoker still has a chance to emerge from training camp as the No. 3 quarterback. Fitzpatrick has the advantage of at least some NFL experience -- he started three times and came off the bench to spark a dramatic overtime victory against Houston last season. Smoker, a 2004 draft pick, has yet to throw a pass in an NFL game and got very little work in the preseason last year as well. Smoker has a stronger arm, but Fitzpatrick is more accurate and is better on the move. Smoker is aided by the fact that his former position coach at Michigan State, Doug Nussmeier, is now the Rams' quarterbacks coach. But Rams head coach Scott Linehan liked Fitzpatrick coming out of college. . . .
Give TE Joe Klopfenstein the early edge over Dominique Byrd in the battle for the starting spot at tight end. Klopfenstein has more downfield speed and has the potential to be a better blocker. Byrd can't be overlooked, however, because of his excellent hands and his potential to be a superb NFL route-runner. Both rookies need work in the weight room to improve their strength. Linehan likes to use two tight ends, so both likely will be on the field a lot no matter who starts.
SCOUTING REPORT: In what figures to be RB Marshall Faulk's last season with the Rams, no one is quite sure how much the future Hall of Famer has left. Faulk underwent arthroscopic clean-up surgery on both knees and has had multiple surgeries on his right knee over the years. As a result, he doesn't have the burst and elusiveness that were once hallmarks of his game. Faulk can't turn the corner like he used to, and in the open field, his yards after contact and yards after the catch have declined in recent years. Even so, he still occasionally shows flashes of the old Faulk and remains an effective third-down back. If his knees hold up, he can be an effective change-of-pace back for Steven Jackson.
IMPACT NEWCOMER: Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett likes defensive tackles who can penetrate and get into the backfield. DT La'Roi Glover is that kind of player. Miscast as a nose tackle in Dallas' 3-4 front, Glover has the quickness and pass-rush skills to be a prototypical "3 technique" DT in St. Louis. Glover also brings a lot of intangibles into play, including exemplary work ethic and leadership skills sorely needed on the club's defense. The Rams want Glover to lead the way -- on the practice field, on game day, and in the locker room. The question is how much will Glover have left at age 32?
CORNERBACKS ANALYSIS: C-plus. Jerametrius Butler (knee) and Travis Fisher (groin) must show they've recovered from last year's injuries; newcomers Fakhir Brown and Tye Hill must contribute right away.
INSIDE DISH: After all the talk and controversy about making changes in the personnel department, the Rams might stand pat. Despite entering several candidates for unspecified positions in the front office, Charley Armey could return for another draft as general manager. His contract expires after the 2006 calendar. Armey appeared to be on the way out, but apparently rallied with a well-organized draft. The departure of coach Mike Martz has given president of football operations Jay Zygmunt most of the power at Rams Park.