Posted: July 31, 2007

Jim Thomas
For Sporting News


The club feels less playing time will lead to more production for veteran DT La'Roi Glover. Glover is the first to admit he isn't the player he was a few years ago, but he still was effective last season as an inside pass rusher and run defender. But Glover was forced to play too many snaps last season and wore down in many games. The development of second-year man Claude Wroten is important this season. If Wroten shows he can handle more snaps, Glover will benefit from the lessened workload. Wroten was slow to grasp the defensive scheme a year ago, but has a better comfort level this year. He also has reported to training camp in much better shape. ...

With the release of veteran G Adam Timmerman, the Rams are counting on LT Orlando Pace to assume more of a leadership role on the offensive line. Despite his soft-spoken ways, Pace is welcoming that challenge. He also is eager to get back on the field following triceps surgery that prematurely ended his '06 season. Pace was cleared to practice at the June minicamps; nonetheless, the Rams will be smart about not overworking him in training camp. Pace reported to camp at 321 pounds, the lightest of his 11-year career, and 10-15 pounds lighter than most years. Pace feels the lighter weight will help his quickness, and result in less stress on his knees, while lessening the chances of muscle pulls.

NEWCOMER REPORT: It was very important to first-round pick Adam Carriker that he didn't miss any training camp. And not just because he is playing at new position -- defensive tackle -- after playing end in college. Carriker has an old-school approach to the game that coaches love. As it turned out, he missed only one training camp practice before his five-year deal was signed with the club. Carriker needs all the time he can get on the practice field, learning how to use his hands and play amid all the chaos that happens inside. He has a passion for the game that will serve him well in the NFL, helping to overcome any physical limitations.

PLAYBOOK UPDATE: Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's scheme is complex, featuring a variety of alignments, checks and mixed coverages. After a year in the system, most of the Rams' returning defenders finally have a good grasp of the scheme. That increased comfort level showed through during minicamp and the spring OTAs. There will be a few tweaks in '07 however, with even less emphasis on 3-4 looks. (The team didn't use that front much in '06, and had little success in it.) Without a true prototype nose tackle, the Rams will go more to a "left tackle/right tackle" alignment, meaning the tackles won't flop sides according to strength of the offensive formation. That means rookie Adam Carriker won't have to play exclusively at nose tackle. Otherwise, Haslett is likely to do anything at any time. He will blitz as much as necessary, particularly if the front four isn't getting much pressure. Haslett still needs to find a way to incorporate undersized LB Jon Alston into his packages. Alston, at 225 pounds, displayed pass rush skills that need to be utilized on the pro level. New LB Chris Draft, coming off a 5.5-sack season in Carolina, also figures to be incorporated into the blitzing and pass-rush schemes.

INSIDE DISH: Tom Donohoe, the former front office executive with Buffalo and Pittsburgh, is an unpaid consultant for the Rams this year. Don't be surprised if former Michigan State head coach John L. Smith surfaces with St. Louis in some form of consulting role. Smith hired Rams head coach Scott Linehan on no fewer than three occasions as Linehan was coming up through the coaching ranks.