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    What to Watch:Tennessee

    Friday, August 8, 2008

    By Nick Wagoner

    Senior Writer

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. Stlouisrams.com provides you with five key areas to keep an eye on in Saturday nights preseason opener against the Titans.



    1. Working the Ones



    Since Scott Linehan took over as coach in the 2006 season, the Rams first team offense has scored a total of zero touchdowns in preseason games. With that in mind, Linehan is hoping to see all of that change.



    Linehan has spent most of camp preaching tempo and execution and is hoping that will carry into the preseason games, particularly so his offense can get off to a hot start.



    I want us to not just execute the plays and the defenses and what were doing, Linehan said. I want us executing our tempo, our technique. I want to see guys doing things right. We are going to win some battles and lose some battles but I want it to be without the mental mistakes and things that happen before the snap or happen where we dont line up right.



    Those kinks should be knocked out early, at least for the first unit but Linehan said he is planning to play his top group for about a quarter though that can be adjusted depending on how things go. Bulger will take most of that work as the signal caller before yielding and Trent Green could get some reps with the first unit if Bulger has some early success.



    Id say a quarter, maybe more, maybe a little less, Linehan said. It depends on what we get done but that would probably be a fair benchmark right now. The twos will play the rest and when we are done with the twos which is hopefully a couple quarters then we will put some others in.



    Keep an eye on how this group performs because Linehan would like to set the tone early.



    2. Catching On



    One of the most intriguing and compelling battles in this camp has been the depth at the receiver position. Last preseason, Marques Hagans and Derek Stanley staged quite a competition for the final spot at the position.



    This year, Stanley and Hagans are part of a group that also includes Dane Looker and Reche Caldwell for what could be one final receiver spot available.



    Stanley and Looker have been outstanding in camp and could prove additional value by performing well on special teams. Caldwell had a strong week this week and could also get himself noticed.



    Beyond Torry Holt and Drew Bennett, there will be plenty of opportunities for the rest of the wide outs. The guys that best take advantage of those chances will take the first step toward landing one of those roster spots.



    3. The Big O



    Slowly but surely, left tackle Orlando Pace has worked his way back into the lineup on a more regular basis. He got some additional work this week in practices with the Titans but the Rams are still being cautious with him as the season approaches.



    Pace will play against the Titans though Linehan is unsure how long his star tackle will play.



    We are going to play him, Linehan said. I dont know how many snaps yet but hes going to play.



    Most likely, Pace will start and play a series or two before giving way to Adam Goldberg. It will be Paces first live action since suffering a season ending shoulder injury against the Panthers in last years season opener.



    4. Bruce vs. Brock



    The competition for the third quarterback spot began in earnest during last weeks scrimmage. Bruce Gradkowski showed an ability to make plays while improvising while Brock Berlin has clearly improved from last season, particularly in terms of accuracy.



    Berlin struggled in shared practices with the Titans this week but still is getting reps ahead of Gradkowski in practice. Most likely, Berlin will get a crack at the Titans before Gradkowski but expect the Rams to get a good, long look at both before the night is over.



    I want to see them play, Linehan said. I think all of them have something they bring that is unique to our offense. All of them are really good game management type guys that really understand the game and what we are trying to do. Now you want to see the talent and how they separate themselves.



    5. A Youthful Experiment



    The Rams have plenty of young players making their debut against the Titans and Linehan is excited to see them in action.



    No. 2 pick Chris Long will start at defensive end and fellow rookies Keenan Burton, John Greco, Roy Schuening, David Vobora, Justin King and Chris Chamberlain will make debuts while Donnie Avery continues to recover from a pelvic bone injury.



    Beyond that group, theres some young players the Rams are excited about getting a look at. Running back Lance Ball will have a good shot to show his running chops and should get plenty of opportunities. Fullback Russ Weil will also likely get some chances.



    (Im excited about) every one of them from the No. 1 pick down to the free agents, Linehan said. I want to see how the young guys perform because we have put them through a lot. We dont have as many as we used to have from the old days of training camp because we have these (smaller) rosters. You get these young players that are going to play a big role for us this year so we hope they get off to a good start.


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    AtlantaRamFan's Avatar
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    Re: What to Watch:Tennessee

    I know Linehan received a lot of flack last year for not playing the starters much in the preseason. Does anyone remember how much they played last year? It's the first game, so a quarter sounds pretty reasonable to me, but idk what to really compare that to.

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