St. Louis Rams vs. Cincinnati Bengals 5 things to watch

08/27/2009

Rey Maualuga and James Laurinaitis were both on the board when the Rams made their second-round pick in the draft last April. To the surprise of some, they chose the linebacker from Ohio State at No. 35 overall instead of the LB from Southern Cal. Maualuga was snatched up three picks later by the Bengals.

A disturbing trend from the Scott Linehan era has carried over so far into the Steve Spagnuolo regime namely, a lack of preseason TDs by the first-team offense. Granted, four starters were missing last week against Atlanta, and three will be out tonight, but it's time for QB Kyle Boller and the starters to find the end zone.

The Rams' starting defensive unit was little more than a speed bump for Michael Turner and the Atlanta running game last week. The Bengals don't have nearly the talent in the backfield or on the offensive line as the Falcons; the St. Louis front seven needs to re-assert itself, particularly at the defensive tackle positions.

In our last installment (vs. Atlanta) Samkon Gado was stopped cold; Antonio Pittman wasn't much better. Kenneth Darby rallied but suffered a sprained knee and probably won't play tonight. Rookie Chris Ogbonnaya didn't even get a carry. Gado and Pittman can distance themselves from the pack with good showings against Cincy.

At the moment, Derek Stanley is the front-runner for the punt return job; Gado has done the best work on kickoff returns. But nobody has been overwhelming. Special teams coordinator Tom McMahon, not to mention Spagnuolo, would breathe easier if the Rams could get something going in this area.

Jim Thomas