Posted: May 27, 2007

Jim Thomas
For Sporting News

Perennial Pro Bowl LT Orlando Pace should be ready for the start of training camp, but for now it's a slow-go as he puts the finishing touches on rehab from a triceps injury suffered last November in Seattle. The injury ended Pace's string of seventh consecutive Pro Bowls, but the team is counting on him more than ever to be the anchor -- and a quiet leader of a young line. With the release of long-time G Adam Timmerman, and the possibility that veteran C Andy McCollum will be a backup, Pace could be surrounded by youngsters at all four other line positions. . . .

WR Torry Holt still rounding into form following offseason knee surgery, and Isaac Bruce doing most of his offseason work on his own away from Rams Park (as usual), QB Marc Bulger has gotten plenty of time during OTAs to work with new WRs Drew Bennett and Dante Hall, and new TE Randy McMichael. As Holt continues his rehab, it may not be until training camp, where Bulger gets to throw to his entire complement of weapons on offense.

SCOUTING REPORT: RB Steven Jackson answered a lot of questions about himself in terms of durability, blocking, and productivity on the NFL level. Clearly he has established himself as one of the league's elite backs. The only unanswered question now is can he do it again? There's no reason to think that Jackson can't, particularly with offensive coordinator Greg Olson's penchant for sticking with the run. Jackson has learned to run behind his pads, lessening the number of times he gets caught drifting wide on running plays. He also has become more decisive in his cuts _ he has one of the best jump cuts in the game. He still needs some work on blitz pickup, but improved dramatically in that area a year ago.

MINICAMP MAYHEM: Marques Hagans has made noticeable strides in converting from a college quarterback to an NFL wide receiver. He has spent extra time running routes over the offseason at Rams Park and done speed work to help him gain separation. But it looks as if he'll be one of several candidates vying for just one spot on the 53-man roster. With Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Drew Bennett, Dante Hall, and most likely Dane Looker assured of spots, that leaves Hagans, rookie Derek Stanley, and Dominique Thompson heading a pack of candidates. And the Rams are intrigued by the potential of Stanley, a seventh-round draft pick from NCAA Div. III Wisconsin-Whitewater, who is undersized but has some playmaking skills as a receiver plus potential as a return man. . . .

DT Clifton Ryan, a fifth-round draft pick from Michigan State, needs to get in better shape if he wants to be a serious candidate for a roster spot. Based on his performance in the rookie minicamp, seventh-round DT Keith Jackson has the early lead over Ryan.

Jim Thomas covers the Rams for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.