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Thread: TSN Rams Report
TSN Rams Report
The Rams signed Western Carolina's Jeremy Carter as an undrafted rookie because of his speed. But he has made some impressive catches during the spring, although his best bet to stick might be on the practice squad because of the team's depth at wide receiver. There is an opening at WR because of Mike Furrey's switch to safety, but sixth-round draft pick Dante Ridgeway is the frontrunner for that spot. Ridgeway lacks top end speed but has good hands and the kind of size (5-11, 212) that has been lacking from the Rams' receiver corps. . . .
The early results on Furrey's move to safety have been favorable. Furrey has displayed good range and recognition skills in the secondary. The acid test will come during the preseason, however, when Furrey must prove that he can tackle. As a wedge buster on special teams, Furrey didn't shy from contact. And that was at 180 pounds. He has bulked up to 205 to play safety without a noticeable drop in speed. . . .
Coach Mike Martz has been so impressed with the early work of seventh-round draft pick QB Ryan Fitzpatrick that he had him running with the second unit for a while during the Rams' recent minicamp. Fitzpatrick has displayed good poise, accuracy and an early ability to comprehend the offense.
SCOUTING REPORT: CB Travis Fisher appeared poised for a breakout year in 2004 but then missed the first six games because of a broken arm. Fisher is the Rams' most aggressive and best tackling corner. That makes him an asset in run support, although 2004 wasn't his best in that area, perhaps because he was favoring the arm. One of Fisher's best assets in coverage is his closing speed, giving him the ability to make plays on the football and erase mistakes. He has good hands for a defensive back and is capable of making something happen once he comes up with an interception. Fisher needs to stay healthy and avoid nagging injuries to reach the elite level at his position. All the other ingredients are there.
OFFENSIVE ADJUSTMENTS: With a playbook the size of the New York phone book, Martz has a lot to choose from each year and each week. But each year he does some tinkering to best shape the offense to his personnel. This season, with two point-of-attack tight ends in Brandon Manumaleuna and Roland Williams, the Rams could go with more two-tight end sets, with Manumaleuna and Williams basically interchangeable parts. Both can line up on the line of scrimmage or in the backfield, although both are more comfortable on the line. At running back, Martz is designing new and more creative ways to keep Marshall Faulk involved even though Steven Jackson is the starter. Faulk's pass-catching skills will be highlighted. Look for some two-back sets involving Jackson and Faulk. Faulk still has to be respected as a runner, which means teams can't necessarily key on Jackson in that alignment.
INSIDE DISH: The Rams had three first-round picks in the 2001 draft -- DTs Ryan Pickett and Damione Lewis and S Adam Archuleta. All three contracts are up after the 2005 season. The team normally doesn't like to redo contracts in the middle of the season, but in the case of Pickett -- an underrated, durable performer -- an exception may be in order. Although he played decently last season, Lewis has been a disappointment and slowed by injuries. As for Archuleta, the team will likely take a wait-and-see approach because of his back problems.
WIDE RECEIVERS ANALYSIS: Grade: A. Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt arguably have formed the NFL's best receiving tandem for the past five seasons. Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald are emerging players