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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    Who NEEDS to have a great 2004 in your mind?

    Which players on the 2004 Rams squad really need a great 2004 in order to keep their contract, support, or position on the team in general? Basically, which players do you think 2004 is "make it or break it" for?

    Here's my list...

    1) The entire defensive tackle squad: While Pickett and Lewis have had some success, they've not lived up to their draft position at all, Lewis especially. Kennedy saw practically no action at all. With a new defensive coordinator that isn't hindering the tackles by asking them to be slimmer, they need to show they can be productive this season. Otherwise, how much longer can the Rams expect before these guys develop? I think 2004 is a key season for all three of the Rams' first round tackles on the D-line, and if they still can't perform to their draft status, the team should really begin reevaluating their role on the team.

    2) Brandon Manumaleuna: Guy just got a big contract, so in the eyes of the coaches, it's probably not a vital year for Manu. But in the eyes of the fans, it's a mystery as to how that happened. At or around 300 lbs, you'd think he'd be a force as a blocker, but he was often beat. He doesn't offer much in the passing game. If he can't make an improvement on his play this season -- now that he's no longer going to have to play some fullback as well -- then I think most people will be calling for his replacement.

    3) Marc Bulger: A four year contract is nice, but Bulger is coming off of a successful yet statistically unimpressive year. The Rams released Kurt Warner because -- among other things -- they have faith in the young guy from the WV and think he can be the man for them. But if Bulger doesn't have a great year, he's going to continue alienating those fans with a special place for Kurt in their heart. He needs to come out and have a good year or else he may be digging a hole he might never come out of. He should benefit from being the focus of attention this spring and summer, and not having the shadow of Kurt Warner looming over him, but does he have the physical and mental skills to actually excel at the job, or was his success in 2002 and 2003 more luck than talent? We all have our opinions, and I think 2004 is a year in which Bulger can and will turn some of those opinions into fact.

    4) Marshall Faulk: Who would have thought Faulk would see this list? Well, he's here and I'll tell you why. He hasn't started 16 games in a season since 1999. His yards per carry since '99 have gradually decreased. He's 31 years old and has fought moderate injury over the past two seasons, when he failed to rush for over 1,000 yards. Prior to 2002, Marshall Faulk failed to reach the 1,000 yard mark in only one of his eight season. Faulk has shown flashes of having stuff left in the tank, but if he wants to continue earning the big bucks, he's going to have to show he can still be the man for the Rams in the backfield. I'm sure Steven Jackson would love the chance to prove he can be that man if Faulk can't.

    5) Robert Thomas: Not many two year pros would make this list if it were up to me, but Thomas has a lot to prove and 2004 could be a vital year for him to do it. He's been on the sideline with injury in both of his years in the NFL, and while he does look more natural as a middle linebacker, he'll be no good to this team if he can't stay healthy and be in there to contribute. Let's not forget this guy was a first round pick -- barely. I think 2004 is the year he starts showing us why. Otherwise, the Rams might be a little more interested in veteran middle linebackers who become available in free agency.

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  2. #2
    general counsel Guest

    Re: Who NEEDS to have a great 2004 in your mind?

    Given the cap considerations, this year is clearly make it or bye bye for damione lewis. Polley is an interesting case as well since he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. He is not going to be a core guy for us either way, so if he doesnt really step up, it is highly likely in my mind that someone will overpay for him and he will be gone. Of course, in polleys case, its a little odd since if he does really great, we may not be able to afford him unless he is willing to take less money to stay (that also depends on whether we free up some money by signing pace long term and whether any of the other linebackers emerge as a viable replacement.)

    Another guy is Mccollum, who really needs to do great with andy king in the wings. It is a possibility that king could win this job in camp.

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  3. #3
    Curly Horns's Avatar
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    Re: Who NEEDS to have a great 2004 in your mind?

    Good job Nick. You have certainly went into some depth with your list. I firmly believe that evry starter needs to have a great year and every back-up needs to be prepared to step in. I think it takes an entire team effort to reach the highest of goals in the NFL.

  4. #4
    rampower's Avatar
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    Re: Who NEEDS to have a great 2004 in your mind?

    With Warners legacy, Definitely agree on the bulger front. That D line needs a monster year to justify those 3, 1st round picks.

  5. #5
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    Re: Who NEEDS to have a great 2004 in your mind?

    The interior offensive line has to be better, they didn't play real solid last year.

    Also, the TE/FB position has to be able to block better in this scheme. Especially in the red zone.

    How about the Kickoff team? I better not see one TD given up by this unit this year.

  6. #6
    Dr.Ram's Avatar
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    Re: Who NEEDS to have a great 2004 in your mind?

    I think the Rams need big years from three players in particular.

    1. Jimmy Kennedy - if he can get with the system and play like he did in college, he could be a huge difference maker for the whole defense.

    2. Robert Thomas - he needs to stay healthy and continue to progress.

    3. Marshall Faulk (or, if Faulk can't stay healthy, Steven Jackson) - without the threat of a running game, ultimately teams will find ways to stop Bulger and the offense.
    I'm not a real doctor... but I play one on the internet.

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