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  1. #1
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    Rehabbing the Rams will take time ..

    Columnist Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    08/09/2009

    Moments into Friday nightís Rams scrimmage at Lindenwood University, Marc Bulger mixed his count cadence and, sure enough, Alex Barron jerked into the full upright and locked position.

    Everybody else on the field remain set. A penalty flag flew. This was still another false start penalty on the big fella. Barron heard boos, catcalls and a few derisive cheers from the loss-weary fans on hand.

    All were reminded of this: Rehabbing this sadsack team will take time. New coach Steve Spagnuolo is running a crisp camp, but there is so much work to do.

    Friday night offered the first full glimpse at the progress. Fans watched proven players test unproven ones, such as second-year defensive end Chris Long working street free agent left tackle Phil Trautwein.

    It was a night were Dominic Douglas, a street free agent linebacker from Mississippi State, got to impress the staff by getting deep in coverage to swat away a Brock Berlin pass. Another linebacker hopeful, K.C. Asiodu, helped his cause with a nifty red zone pick.

    Here were some impressions from the press box above the fray:

    * Do the Rams really want Marc Bulger to throw rollout passes in this offseason? Nimble he is not. After a rocky start, Bulger found his rhythm as the scrimmage progressed. When the team gets into a quicker passing tempo, his accuracy shines. But his adaptation to this offense is ongoing. Spanguolo will be patient, since back-ups Kyle Boller or Brock Berlin arenít exactly turning heads.

    * Rookie quarterback Keith Null has a chance. He is making a big adjustment from the spread offense to lining up behind center in the West Coast scheme. Predictable footwork and ballhandling problems arose early in the scrimmage. But it quickly became evident why he threw for a zillion yards at West Texas A&M. Letís put it this way: The Rams have brought far worse developmental quarterbacks to camp.

    * The competition is spirited at cornerback. Itís a little thing, but Jonathan Wade exudes enthusiasm when wrapping up receivers in the flat. Draft bust Tye Hill must fight for the opening across from Ron Bartell, since í08 camp standout Justin King is back and í09 pick Bradley Fletcher offers more size.

    * Linebacker Chris Draft looks eager to start this year. He got dinged early last summer and he wasnít right all season. Larry Grant is an interesting prospect, offering more upside than the other kids in camp. But once MLB James Laurinaitis graduates to the varsity, Draft could move outside and solidify the defense.

    * There is much sorting to do at receiver. Observers like the progress Donnie Avery has made running routes, but his hands still need some work. Second-year WR Keenan Burton has great hands, but he must stay healthy to advance his career. Laurent Robinson and Ronald Curry should have a leg up on Tim Carter, Derek Stanley and rookie Brooks Foster -Ė and how many receivers will the Rams keep in this run-first offense?

    * Similarly, the kick returning is up for grabs. On punts, the staff looked at Stanley, Avery, Burton and Curry Saturday night. On kickoffs, the staff looked at Carter, Kenneth Darby and Samkon Gado. The preseason games will offer several hopefuls a stage.

    * Who will back up Steven Jackson? Darby is a decent No. 3 back, thanks to his pass catching skills. Gado looks the part with his heft, but he is a career depth guy. Pittman lacks the burst to be a true No. 2 back. Rookie Chris Ogbonnaya can catch the ball, but thatís Darbyís role. Our guess: GM Billy Devaney will keep shopping, as he did when he added Curry and NT Hollis Thomas on the fly.

    * Barronís gaffe aside, the starting offensive line looked imposing Friday night. This is a big, physical group especially adept at run blocking. Itíll be interesting to see if Mark Setterstrom can progress at center and add to the interior lineís exceptional depth. Adam Goldberg is a great third tackle, but can, say, Renardo Foster emerge as the fourth guy?

    * The defensive line depth looks better. Thomas could add a pure inside run stopper if he continues to work into playing shape. Rookie DT Darell Scott and journeyman Gary Gibson are in the battle for the fourth spot -Ė a critical role on this roster. Injury-prone Adam Carriker underscored that when he hobbled off with an ankle sprain.

    * The pass rushing DE rotation of Leonard Little, Chris Long and James Hall stood out. When Hall moves inside to DT, the Rams can use all three to pressure the quarterback at once. But can Little and Hall stay healthy? Victor Adeyanju adds run-stopping heft that the position, but the Rams will want to draft another playmaker at this position next year.

    * With safety Eric Bassey shelved by a sprained knee, there is opportunity for some of the young campers like David Roach and Craig Dahl -Ė who made a great read early in the scrimmage and jumped the route on a Bulger pass. Dahl is hobbled by a hamstring strain, so that is not helpful to his cause.

    All in all, the first leg of Rams camp hasnít produced much surprise. The Rams appear to be on schedule to become a sturdier team this season.

    Can Spagnuolo find depth in the players on hand or must the turnover continue? And can the Rams sustain this early intensity and clean all the sloppiness that plagued the last two teams?

    Stay tuned . . .


  2. #2
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    Re: Rehabbing the Rams will take time ..

    Who will backup Steven Jackson? Ummm Brian Leonard? Oh, sorry we traded him away for basically nothing!

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    Re: Rehabbing the Rams will take time ..

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    Who will backup Steven Jackson? Ummm Brian Leonard? Oh, sorry we traded him away for basically nothing!
    Reports are Curry's a bit more than 'basically nothing', (good news now that Avery's out for a bit).
    "the Heart Lies and the Head Plays Tricks with us, but the Eyes See True".

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    Re: Rehabbing the Rams will take time ..

    Quote Originally Posted by VegasRam View Post
    Reports are Curry's a bit more than 'basically nothing', (good news now that Avery's out for a bit).
    Curry could have been signed off the free agency pile. So yes, we traded Leonard for nothing. We could have kept Leonard AND signed Curry.

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    Re: Rehabbing the Rams will take time ..

    If Leonard was in Spags plans for this year we wouldn't have traded him. I don't know why some of you are so hung up on this guy. This aint college. The guy has accomplished basically nothing in his NFL career.

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    Re: Rehabbing the Rams will take time ..

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    Who will backup Steven Jackson? Ummm Brian Leonard? Oh, sorry we traded him away for basically nothing!
    What makes you think Leonard would have been a good backup when he couldn't get ahead of our 2nd and 4th guys Darby and Pittman. Samkon Gado would have been ahead of him. Unlike and 3 or 4th RB a 3rd or 4th WR can contribute in a game. Nothing?.... not so much

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    Re: Rehabbing the Rams will take time ..

    Quote Originally Posted by 39thebeast View Post
    What makes you think Leonard would have been a good backup when he couldn't get ahead of our 2nd and 4th guys Darby and Pittman. Samkon Gado would have been ahead of him. Unlike and 3 or 4th RB a 3rd or 4th WR can contribute in a game. Nothing?.... not so much
    It might be that Laramo is exasperated over the fact that Leonard was a 2nd round pick, and we traded him for basically nothing thanks to the marvelous talents of our then draft guru: Scott Linehan. We traded a second rounder for a ham sandwich .. Wonderful ...

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    Re: Rehabbing the Rams will take time ..

    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam View Post
    It might be that Laramo is exasperated over the fact that Leonard was a 2nd round pick, and we traded him for basically nothing thanks to the marvelous talents of our then draft guru: Scott Linehan. We traded a second rounder for a ham sandwich .. Wonderful ...

    just because a poor FO drafted Leonard in the second round does not mean we should criticise this current FO for not keeping him around and managing to at least get something for him.

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    Re: Rehabbing the Rams will take time ..

    Quote Originally Posted by tomahawk247 View Post
    just because a poor FO drafted Leonard in the second round does not mean we should criticise this current FO for not keeping him around and managing to at least get something for him.
    Where do you see someone criticizing the current FO? Do you not see the irony in this? The ineptitude of the former FO still plagues us .. It is a bummer we had to let a high second round pick go for peanuts.

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    Re: Rehabbing the Rams will take time ..

    Quote Originally Posted by RebelYell View Post
    Curry could have been signed off the free agency pile. So yes, we traded Leonard for nothing. We could have kept Leonard AND signed Curry.
    I must be misunderstanding something. We TRADED for him, so that tells me he WASN'T a free agent.

    Besides everyone, could we maybe get off the subject of the pre-Devaney drafts?
    Yes, they were pretty bad, but have already been beaten to death.

    It's done.
    Get over it.
    Move on.
    Be positive.
    Quit whining.
    Enjoy the season.
    Last edited by VegasRam; -08-11-2009 at 01:55 PM.
    "the Heart Lies and the Head Plays Tricks with us, but the Eyes See True".

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    Re: Rehabbing the Rams will take time ..

    I don't see us signing a proven NO.2 RB. I just dont

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    Re: Rehabbing the Rams will take time ..

    Quote Originally Posted by VegasRam View Post
    I must be misunderstanding something. We TRADED for him, so that tells me he WASN'T a free agent.
    Detroit signed Curry as a free agent on April 16th. Three months later we trade for him.

    Leonard was barely given an opportunity by the previous group and was flipped between positions. To me he showed heart, determination and solid team oriented character throughout his college and pro career. And at one point he DID beat out our other backups to become the starter when Jackson went down. Honestly I think he was originally traded to save salary cap over production more than anything.

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    Re: Rehabbing the Rams will take time ..

    Quote Originally Posted by RebelYell View Post
    Detroit signed Curry as a free agent on April 16th. Three months later we trade for him.

    Leonard was barely given an opportunity by the previous group and was flipped between positions. To me he showed heart, determination and solid team oriented character throughout his college and pro career. And at one point he DID beat out our other backups to become the starter when Jackson went down. Honestly I think he was originally traded to save salary cap over production more than anything.
    Leonard was drafted by the previous group with the intent being for him to back up SJ. He was thrust into that role immediately. By the end of the season he fell behind Antonio Pittman on the depth chart. And that is with the people who drafted him running the show.

    I actually think we made out pretty good in this deal. We got Curry who could possibly end up being a pretty good slot receiver. In exchange we got a guy who couldn't even beat out Antonio Pittman (who is in danger of being cut by the way) for a job by the people who drafted him for the purposes of being our #2 back.

    Between Darby, Gado, Pittman and Ogbannaya we should be able to find a guy who can at least match the production Brian Leonard gave us.

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