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Thread: St. Louis Rams Team Report
St. Louis Rams Team Report
Rams coach Scott Linehan knows he wants to improve the team's return game. The question is how he will do it.
Last year, the Rams selected quarterback Marques Hagans in the fifth round of the draft, intending to convert him to wide receiver and punt returner. Hagan showed flashes in training camp, but was released and spent the season on the practice squad.
While Hagans is back on the roster, and Linehan likes his potential, the coach also knows it's no sure thing that Hagans will be game ready this year.
So it was that five draft-eligible players with kick return ability visited Rams Park April 11-12. They included wide receivers Jacoby Jones (Lane College), Yamon Figures (Kansas State) and Ryne Robinson (Miami, Ohio) and cornerbacks Darrell Revis (Pitt) and Josh Wilson (Maryland). Wilson had a 100-yard kickoff return last season.
Revis, rated as a potential first-round pick, returned two punts of 73 and 79 for touchdowns in 2006. Robinson had seven touchdowns on punt returns in college and ranks second all-time in Division 1-A with 1,677 career punt-return yards.
The irony is that Linehan was among a contingent of Rams personnel that left St. Louis April 12 to witness the pro day of wide receiver/returner Ted Ginn Jr. at Ohio State. Because of a foot injury suffered in Ohio State's national championship game against Florida, Ginn wasn't able to work out at the scouting combine or Ohio State's pro day.
Despite being about 80 percent recovered, Ginn ran a reported 4.4 time in the 40-yard dash.
Said Linehan, "It (the workout) confirmed he's still not 100 percent. But he ran a 4.4 with a bad foot and couldn't finish the workout. We're really not concerned with it."
Joining Linehan were Tony Softli, the team's vice president of player personnel, along with special teams coach Al Roberts, receivers coach Henry Ellard and offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
The question is whether the Rams would spend the 13th pick in the draft on a player that will learn behind receivers Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Drew Bennett, while having an immediate impact as a returner. Ginn had eight returns for touchdowns during his three seasons at Ohio State.
The Rams' presence in Columbus seems to indicate either they would -- although they could trade down to get a shot at Ginn -- or they're simply trying to make other teams believe they are interested.
--With the schedule being released for the 2006 season, the Rams have just one game in prime time. They will host the Steelers in a Dec. 20 Thursday night game on NFL network.
For the first time since 1999, the Rams won't be featured on Sunday or Monday Night Football. They do open the season with two straight home games, against Carolina and San Francisco.
--Trying to find a backup to running back Steven Jackson, the Rams have reportedly expressed some interest in Corey Dillon, who was released by the Patriots.
Visits of draft-eligible players were made by Antonio Pittman (Ohio State), Lorenzo Booker (Florida State), Chris Henry (Arizona), Tony Hunt (Penn State) and Brian Leonard (Rutgers).
--TE Dominique Byrd, arrested in Los Angeles on charges of driving under the influence and being an unlicensed driver, entered a not guilty plea March 28. Next is a pretrial hearing set for April 26.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "To be honest, some of these (players), we really, really like. The rest of them are a mixed bag. There's medical re-checks that we need on some players. And there were pro-day conflicts with some where we're really just getting more information on players." -- Coach Scott Linehan on how many of the 33 visits of draft-eligible players the team has a serious interest in selecting.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
1. Defensive tackle: The Rams have been trying to get this right for several years. Jimmy Kennedy was only adequate at nose tackle last season after Ryan Pickett left in free agency for Green Bay. His backup, Jason Fisk, is expected to retire and was only a stopgap anyway. Kennedy doesn't seem cut out to play on the nose, so an upgrade there is necessary.
2. Defensive end: This area was helped with the acquisition of James Hall, but he won't be healthy until training camp because of a shoulder problem and he is 30 years old. Even with a healthy Hall, the Rams have to add more quickness to their pass rush, and the draft this year is deep with quality defensive ends.
3. Wide receiver/cornerback: The front-line players at these positions are fine, but some age is creeping in, especially at wide receiver. The Rams selected cornerback Tye Hill with their first-round pick last season, and it would not be a surprise to see them dip into that area again in the opening round.
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--LB Jamal Brooks made the roster, was cut and then brought back because of injuries. He can contribute on special teams.
--RB Stephen Davis helped the development of Steven Jackson but bad knees make his return unlikely.
--RB Tony Fisher will be coming off a knee injury, but if healthy can provide solid special teams play and a receiving threat on third down.
--DE Brandon Green is a high-motor player who just doesn't have great ability. Might be back if the contract is reasonable.
--LB Isaiah Kacyvenski helped improve special teams coverage, but will probably be looking for more than a one-year, minimum-value contract.
--WR/KR Willie Ponder didn't upgrade the kickoff return game as the team hoped. Still, it might make sense to bring him back unless the Rams know they have someone better.
--LB Raonall Smith proved himself to be a versatile player in situational defenses and on special teams.
--P Matt Turk was consistent all season, and the Rams should ensure that he's back for another year at least.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--S Dwaine Carpenter (not tendered as RFA) did a decent job on special teams, and could return for lower salary than tender.
--C/G Larry Turner (not tendered as RFA) is a competitor, and might be back at lower salary than tender.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--LB Brandon Chillar (tendered at $850,000 with 4th-round pick as compensation) was solid as the strong-side starter, and played better than has been given credit for.
--G/T Adam Goldberg (tendered at $850,000 with no compensation) is an excellent swingman to have around, with the ability to play every position on the line.
--TE Aaron Walker (tendered at $850,000 with 5th-round pick as compensation) showed decent blocking ability and will return to compete for backup job again.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--T/G Todd Steussie: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR Drew Bennett: UFA Titans; $30M/6 yrs, $7.5M SB/$10M guaranteed.
--LB Chris Draft: UFA Panthers; $4.28M/3 yrs, $1.3M SB; 2007 cap: $1.153M.
--DE James Hall (trade Lions).
--S Todd Johnson: UFA Bears; $4M/4 yrs, $700,000 SB.
--DE Trevor Johnson: Waivers Saints.
--TE Randy McMichael: FA Dolphins; $11M/3 yrs, $3M SB; 2007 cap: $2.5M.
--RB Travis Minor: UFA Dolphins; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB Mike Rumph: FA; $595,000/1 yr.
--P B.J. Sander: FA; $435,000/1 yr.
--DT Tim Sandidge: Waivers Chiefs.
--CB Lenny Walls: UFA Chiefs; 1 yr, term unknown.
--LB Dexter Coakley (released).
--WR Kevin Curtis: UFA Eagles; $30M/6 yrs, $2.5M SB/$5M RB '07; $1.5M RB '08.
--RB Marshall Faulk (retired).
--CB Travis Fisher: UFA Lions; $2.25M/1 yr, $1.25M SB.
--NT Jason Fisk: UFA; retired.
--WR Shaun McDonald: UFA Lions; $2.8M/2 yrs, $1.5M guaranteed.
--FB Paul Smith: UFA Broncos; $2.55M/3 yrs, $300,000 SB.
--OG Adam Timmerman (released).
Re: St. Louis Rams Team ReportFor the first time since 1999, the Rams won't be featured on Sunday or Monday Night Football. They do open the season with two straight home games, against Carolina and San Francisco.
Re: St. Louis Rams Team Report
This really reminds me of the Jay Cutler smokescreen last year. I hope that's what it really is.