TSN Rams Report

With a year of learning and experience under his belt, Steven Jackson is primed for a big year as the feature back. Jackson appears fully recovered from knee surgery following the 2004 campaign and should benefit from the installation of the more forgiving FieldTurf surface this summer at the Edward Jones Dome. With Jackson getting the bulk of the carries, the St. Louis running game will have a different look than when Marshall Faulk was the main man. Jackson is more of a power runner but still has enough speed to be an outside threat. Jackson is a good receiver, but he's not in Faulk's class and must improve on his blitz pickup in the pass-happy St. Louis offense. . . .

For the offense to take off in 2005, WRs Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald need to pick up where they left off last season. Curtis adds another speed dimension to the attack with the ability to make big plays vertically. Although no slowpoke, McDonald's strong suit is his elusiveness in the open field. More importantly, those players now have enough knowledge of the offense to be fully integrated into coach Mike Martz's intricate passing schemes.


SCOUTING REPORT: LT Orlando Pace made his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl because of his reputation a year ago, a season that was not up to his usual standards. Pace had occasional problems with speed rushers and sometimes was susceptible to pass rushers who faked outside moves then darted inside. But there's no doubt he has the ability and athleticism to remain one of the NFL's top two or three tackles. He is nimble for his size, has enough bulk and strength to neutralize the bull rush and is an effective drive blocker on running plays. Now that he has signed a multi-year contract, his presence at minicamps, training camps and offseason conditioning should help polish his technique.


POSITION BATTLE: Left guard could be a three-ring circus with former Chicago Bear Rex Tucker and returning Gs Blaine Saipaia and Scott Tercero competing for the starting spot. Tucker has size and toughness but wasn't able to stay healthy in recent seasons for the Bears. Saipaia also has size and toughness but lacks NFL experience at guard, although he did start seven regular-season and playoff games in 2004 at right tackle. Tercero started four games at left guard last season. He's a bit undersized, but he has good footwork and technique and is more athletic than either Tucker or Saipaia.


JUNE 1 CUTS: T Kyle Turley, unhappy, unhealthy and underweight, wore out his welcome last season in St. Louis. A back injury has put his career in jeopardy, and he has been unable to get his weight up to the 290-300 pound range needed to play the position.


SAFETIES ANALYSIS
: Grade: C -. There are lots of candidates but few sure things at what looks like the team's most unstable position entering 2005. The only returning safety from the 2004 roster, Adam Archuleta, is recovering from a herniated disc.