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    Scouts, Inc. breaks down Rams roster

    Faulk, Jackson will be good tandem

    Scouts Inc.

    As another NFL season approaches, Scouts Inc. breaks down every roster and offers position-by-position breakdowns.

    Quarterbacks
    Marc Bulger hasn't taken the league by storm like his predecessor, two-time league MVP Kurt Warner, did when he led St. Louis to its first Super Bowl victory since 1951 in his first full season as the starter. In addition, Bulger doesn't have elite arm strength and is a streaky passer who misses the strike zone at times. However, has progressed steadily in his first two seasons as the starter and should continue to improve.

    Bulger generally finds the open man given enough time. He also puts good touch on his short-to-intermediate passes and is mobile enough to buy some time in the pocket. Most importantly, he appeared more comfortable last year and did a better job of taking care of the football.

    Backup Jamie Martin, re-signed during the offseason, provides adequate depth behind Bulger. He doesn't put great zip on his passes, but is mechanically sound, has good experience in this scheme and is capable of moving the offense effectively when he takes what the defense gives him.

    2005 seventh-round pick Ryan Fitzpatrick and 2004 sixth-round pick Jeff Smoker are expected to battle for the No. 3 job, and it's a competition worth keeping an eye on because of their potential. While the fact that Fitzpatrick played at Division I-AA Harvard raises concerns about his ability to compete in the NFL, he is smart, accurate and has good size.

    Smoker had some off-the-field problems at the collegiate level and failed to attempt a pass last year. However, he became the first Michigan State quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season in 2003, and has better arm strength than Fitzpatrick.

    Running backs
    It's hard to believe that Marshall Faulk's reign as the Rams' premiere back has come to end, but Steven Jackson is expected to get the bulk of the carries last year. Jackson has the burst to turn the corner, the power to pick up the tough yards between the tackles and the speed to break the long run when he gets a seam. Although he doesn't always give his blocks enough time to develop, he should improve in that area as he gains more experience.

    With that said, Faulk will continue to play a big role on offense and should be more explosive when he does touch the ball, because he'll be fresher and most likely healthier. St. Louis is also expected to play Faulk and Jackson in the same backfield at times. Look for Faulk to motion out to the slot out of this two-back set at times. Faulk is still an outstanding receiver, and the Rams will try to keep defenses off-balance by taking advantage of his versatility.

    No. 3 Arlen Harris doesn't have great lower body strength or breakaway speed, but provides good depth. He is an efficient runner who bounces off arm tackles and is a reliable possession receiver who is elusive enough to make the first defender miss after the catch.

    Fullbacks
    The fullback doesn't get many touches in this system, and that won't change with St. Louis looking to get Faulk and Jackson on the field at the same time. However, Joey Goodspeed plays his role well, as is a relentless run blocker who takes good angles to his blocks and has the lateral mobility to adjust to flowing linebackers at the second level. He also runs adequate routes and rarely drops passes that he should catch.

    2005 seventh-round pick Martin Hedgecock should push Nick Burley for the backup job. Hedgecock plays with a mean streak, is big enough to engulf undersized defenders at the point of attack and has the lower body strength to drive defender out of the hole. If he progresses expected, he should move ahead of Burley on the depth chart and could even push Goodspeed for playing time.

    Wide Receivers
    This is one of the deepest and talented receiving corps in the league. No. 1 Torry Holt uses his hands to get a clean release against press coverage, has the burst to consistently separate from man coverage and is dangerous after the catch. No. 2 Isaac Bruce has lost a step with age, but continues to play at a high level. He reads defenses quickly, excels at adjusting his routes at the line and runs precise routes.

    No. 3 Shaun McDonald and No. 4 Kevin Curtis lack ideal size and physical corners will have some success muscling them out of their routes. However, they show good burst coming out of their cuts, rarely drop passes they should catch and can be productive after the catch. Dane Looker may be the best No. 5 in the league.

    He isn't as consistent or fast as the top four receivers, but isn't afraid to go over the middle, and flashes the ability to make the tough catch in traffic. With two of the best starters in the league, and excellent depth behind them, the biggest concern here may be the lack of size. The Rams don't have a receiver that is tall enough to consistently compete for jump balls, or big enough to shield defenders from the ball in the red zone.

    Tight End
    At this point, Brandon Manumaleuna isn't a dominant drive blocker and should be more productive in the red zone considering his size, but he's developed into an effective starter. He does a good job of sustaining his blocks once in position, is a reliable short-to-intermediate possession receiver and runs with good power after the catch. Manumaleuna has also steadily progressed since entering the league, and is young enough to continue to get better with added experience.

    Free-agent signing Roland Williams is expected to back Manumaleuna up and is capable of providing excellent depth if he can stay healthy. He is a fundamentally sound blocker who rarely loses a battle once locked onto the defender's frame, and catches the ball well.

    The problem is there are concerns about Williams' durability, as he sustained a season-ending knee injury in 2003 and knee problems slowed him last year. Although 2005 fifth-round pick Jerome Collins has excellent upside, because of his height, speed and strength, he didn't start playing tight end until his senior season at Notre Dame. He is a developmental prospect who needs to work on his route running before pushing for substantial playing time, so it's important Williams stays healthy.

    Offensive line
    The development of 2005 first-round-pick Alex Barron, and his ability to make the transition from the collegiate level to the professional level, is a big key to this unit's success. Barron has the size, athletic ability and range to develop into an upper echelon starting right tackle, but whether or not he starts to realize his potential this year remains to be seen.

    After all, he isn't fundamentally sound and the fact that he didn't play with much of a mean streak at the collegiate level raises concerns about his intensity. If he struggles in an every-down role, the Rams will have to turn to Grant Williams or Blaine Saipaia. While Williams and Saipaia provide excellent depth, their struggles last year are a big reason St. Louis took Barron in the first round.

    Don't underestimate the importance of Orlando Pace signing a long-term deal. Pace is arguably the most dominant offensive linemen in the league, and the fact that he missed all of training camp last year, did not hurt him that much. However, it disrupted the chemistry of the unit and it's important that doesn't happen this year.

    With Tom Nutten and Chris Dishman departing, free-agent signing Rex Tucker is expected to take over as the starting left guard. Having Pace in camp means the two will be able to get comfortable playing together. Veterans OC Andy McCollum and ROG Adam Timmerman return as the other two starters here. Both are on the downside of their careers, but they mask their weaknesses with sound technique.

    It's worth noting that 2005 third-round pick Richie Incognito and 2005 fourth-round pick Claude Terrell aren't expected to play significant roles this year. However, Tucker has had some problems staying healthy and could see some playing time as a result.

    Defensive line
    It has been a trying offseason for Leonard Little, who was charged with and eventually acquitted of a felony drunk driving charge. With the unfortunate situation behind him, Little should be the starting left defensive end on opening day, and that's good news for St. Louis fans. Little has the explosive first step to disrupt running plays in the backfield, he excels in pursuit and is one of the best pass rushers in the league.

    Tony Hargrove is expected to line up opposite Little and is coming off an impressive rookie season. Hargrove needs to continue to work on his technique, but he plays with a mean streak and always seems to be around the ball at the end of the play. Former first-round pick Damione Lewis is also expected to move from defensive tackle to defensive end, and should provide good depth.

    A broken bone in his right foot that required surgery last August slowed Jimmy Kennedy during the 2004 season, but he appears to have made a full recovery and could have a breakout year if he stays healthy. Although Kennedy is still inconsistent, he has the lower body strength to anchor at the point of attack and flashes the ability to shoot the inside gap when rushing the passer. Ryan Pickett is expected to line up opposite Kennedy. He too is an effective interior run stuffer. Brian Howard and Tyoka Jackson are adequate backups.

    Linebackers
    Last year's linebacking corps missed too many tackles, and got caught out of position far too much, so changes have been made. St. Louis signed free agents MLB Chris Claiborne and WLB Dexter Coakley, allowing Tommy Polley to sign with Baltimore. Claiborne isn't going to make many big plays, but is stout against the run and can hold his own in coverage.

    With Claiborne starting on the inside look for Robert Thomas to push Brandon Chillar for playing time on the strong side. Chillar rarely takes false steps and is more consistent than Thomas, but Thomas has better range, burst and athletic ability. In addition, Chillar is versatile enough to back Thomas and Claiborne up if Thomas can win the starting job during training camp.

    While Coakley is on the downside of his career, he reads plays quickly, takes good angles to the ball and is a reliable open field tackler. Pisa Tinoisamoa is going to stay at linebacker after the Rams considered moving him to safety, and should provide good depth behind Coakley. Tinoisamoa has sideline-to-sideline range and plays with a non-stop motor. It's also worth nothing that the added depth here should help the cover units, as Chillar, Tinoisamoa and Thomas are all capable of making an impact on special teams.

    Defensive Backs
    Look for 2005 third-round pick OJ Atogwe, 2005 fourth-round pick Jerome Carter and Mike Furrey to push Michael Stone for the starting slot opposite Adam Archuleta. Stone possesses a good combination of speed, quickness and athletic ability, but makes far too many mistakes to be an every-down player. It's unknown whether or not either of the rookies will be able to contribute this year. However, each is a possible upgrade over Stone if they can get comfortable with the defense quickly.

    Atogwe is a physical run defender, has good ball skills and rarely gets caught out of position. Collins is big enough to line up in the box. He is a powerful hitter who can intimidate receivers and is a reliable open field tackler.

    The dark horse in this competition is Furrey. Furrey is a former wide receiver who is trying to make the transition to safety, and has excellent athletic ability, good range and the ball skills to make the occasional big play. He has also impressed the coaching staff with how quickly he's picked up the defense, but there are still concerns about his ability to hold up.

    There isn't a shutdown corner on the roster, but there is pretty good depth. While starters Jerametrius Butler and Travis fisher are undersized, they are quick, can change directions quickly and have good top-end speed. 2005 second-round pick Ronald Bartell is expected into the Nickel back role and has the short-area man-to-man cover skills to excel in that role.

    It's also worth mentioning that Bartell is versatile enough to play safety . St. Louis could move him if they're unhappy with how the competition at safety progresses during training camp.

    Special teams
    Head coach Mike Martz said he lost confidence in Jeff Wilkins during the 2002 season. Wilkins has been inconsistent over the past two seasons, but is a very good placekicker. Wilkins doesn't miss many field goal attempts inside 40 yards, can connect on field goal attempts beyond that range and has experience kicking in pressure situations.

    2005 sixth-round pick Reggie Hodges is the only punter on the roster at this point, and his lack of NFL experience is obviously reason for concern. Keeping that in mind, don't be surprised to see the Rams sign a veteran punter to give Hodges some competition during training camp. However, Hodges has a powerful leg and flashes the ability to pin opposing teams deep.

    WR McDonald has the speed and elusiveness to develop into a dangerous punt return man, but he has yet to translate potential into production. The punt return unit also has to do a better job of setting blocks up for him. RB Harris isn't a threat to go the distance when he gets a seam, and RB Aveion Cason could replace him as the primary kickoff return man as a result. Cason is a shifty runner who can make multiple defenders miss and shows a second gear in the open field.

    Coaching
    Martz has criticized players publicly, and reacts strongly when anyone questions his play-calling or game planning other than himself. The way he comes off as having all the answers, combined with his success, makes him one of the most recognizable coaches in the league.

    However, there's no debating that Martz, who is a former offensive coordinator, is one of the most innovative offensive minds in the league. He does an excellent job of keeping defenses off balance and creating favorable matchups. It's also important to note that he rarely pushes his players too hard and will give his team practices or days off when he thinks it needs the rest.

    Offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild doesn't get a lot of acknowledgment because this is Martz' system, but he understands this offense and what Martz wants. After all, Fairchild played quarterback at San Diego Mesa Community College when Martz was an assistant coach there. Don't mistake their history together as Martz just hiring a friend either. Fairchild is an extremely hard worker and a creative game planner who has earned the trust of Martz.

    Martz asked defensive coordinator Larry Marmie to continue to run former coordinator, and current Chicago head coach, Lovie Smith's schemes when he took the job last year. In fairness to Martz, running the same scheme meant fewer adjustments for the players and should have resulted in fewer players making mistakes.

    Unfortunately for St. Louis fans, that's not what happened, as the Rams finished 17th in the league in total defense, after finishing ninth in that category a year earlier. Now, Martz is giving Marmie the freedom to do what he wants and look for St. Louis to blitz and mix up their coverages more as a result.

    The Rams named Bob Ligashesky special teams' coordinator during the offseason, but he may not want to get too comfortable, as he is the fourth coach in six seasons to hold that title. There is also a concern about his lack of NFL experience, as this will be just his second season in the league.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Scouts, Inc. breaks down Rams roster

    If this article tells us anything, it's that they either don't pay much attention to or just don't think very much of the Rams.

    Some notes...

    -Does anyone else feel the whole section on Bulger reads as more of a back-handed compliment than anything else? The tone of those two paragraphs seems somewhat negative for a guy who finished near the top of the league in passer efficiency.

    -I don't think I've ever seen someone be so complimentary of Joey Goodspeed. Not one negative comment.

    -Scouts claims that Pace missing training camp last year "did not hurt him that much?" I disagree. Last year was probably Pace's worst year as a pro since his rookie campaign.

    -What is this "Little SHOULD be the starting left defensive end" stuff? That's like saying Torry Holt should be the starting WR. It's not a matter of should, it's a matter of WILL. They WILL be starting...

    -This is probably the best part, "With Claiborne starting on the inside look for Robert Thomas to push Brandon Chillar for playing time on the strong side." Huh? "Pisa Tinoisamoa is going to stay at linebacker after the Rams considered moving him to safety, and should provide good depth behind Coakley." Behind Coakley? Where have we seen any indication that Pisa won't be starting? Furthermore, where have we seen any indication that Chillar and Thomas will battle it out for the Sam LB role? Scouts looks to have dropped the ball on this one entirely.
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    Re: Scouts, Inc. breaks down Rams roster

    As is the case with most preseason reviews, I found this one to be just super...

    Superficial, that is.

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    Re: Scouts, Inc. breaks down Rams roster

    How about this from NFL.com:

    "Aeneas Williams and Adam Archuleta are two of the best safeties in the game, but the cornerbacks are still young and overmatched. Jerametrius Butler may be locked up against opposing teams' best receiver at least some of the time, and that is a tall order for a guy beginning his third year as a starter. The signing of Corey Ivy does give the unit a boost. The corners have the speed to keep up with receivers, but the Rams will see a lot of opponents throwing short and over the middle, where they can beat the coverage. That will put a huge strain on the linebackers."


    Aeneas isn't listed on the RAMS Team Roster ???? Is he retired or isn't he?

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    Re: Scouts, Inc. breaks down Rams roster

    Or, this one from GridironNews.com...


    The loss of Eric Dickerson will greatly impact the focus of the offense. No longer can the Rams count on an easy four to five yards on first down. They may have to consider throwing the ball early and often.
    Okay, so I made that up...

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    Re: Scouts, Inc. breaks down Rams roster

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam
    Okay, so I made that up...
    Thats OK, AV. Seems as though the whole article as posted was made up by some uninformed high school dropout. At least yours sounds believable.

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    Re: Scouts, Inc. breaks down Rams roster

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam
    Or, this one from GridironNews.com...




    Okay, so I made that up...
    Thats pretty much how it went after Eric went to the Colts.We had a string of wendel tyler wannabees in the back field.
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    Re: Scouts, Inc. breaks down Rams roster

    Pisa Tinoisamoa .... should provide good depth behind Coakley.
    And with this, Scouts.com's credibility is blown.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Scouts, Inc. breaks down Rams roster

    give them a break. they don't get to see the Rams as close as us. Heck, if I only casually followed the Rams, I'd probabably say the same things about an 8-8 team. Luckily I know the hidden truth about the Rams that the nation doesn't know.

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    Re: Scouts, Inc. breaks down Rams roster

    They're paid to write and research this kind of stuff. If they were amateurs, I'd give them a break. Considering their stuff is regularly published on ESPN, they should be accurate.

    "2005 seventh-round pick Martin Hedgecock should push Nick Burley for the backup job." Are you kidding me?
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    Re: Scouts, Inc. breaks down Rams roster

    Quote Originally Posted by NickSeiler
    They're paid to write and research this kind of stuff. If they were amateurs, I'd give them a break. Considering their stuff is regularly published on ESPN, they should be accurate.

    "2005 seventh-round pick Martin Hedgecock should push Nick Burley for the backup job." Are you kidding me?

    EXACTLY!.........Nick who? Who does their research? NAMBLA? The Helen Keller Society? Come on! These are the people we, as sports fans, are supposed to look to for intelligent, knowledgable reporting!

    Bulger is an up-and-comer? A streaky passer? He hasn't taken the league by storm like Warner did because he's playing the same system Warner had, only 3 years after the rest of the league adjusted to defend against it! But, Hey! He should continue to improve!

    Pisa will back up Coakley. WTF?!?!




    I cannot go on.........the disbelief is mixing with the bile.


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    Re: Scouts, Inc. breaks down Rams roster

    They got the info from that nasty Head coach in new england,Who collaberated with that nasty coach in sanfran,who stole the Idea from that fat head in Seattle.Then they emailed the scouts inc.
    :mask:
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    Re: Scouts, Inc. breaks down Rams roster

    give them a break. they don't get to see the Rams as close as us. Heck, if I only casually followed the Rams, I'd probabably say the same things about an 8-8 team
    If they only casually follow the Rams, they shouldn't be making "professional" analysis of them.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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