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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Young blood energizes Rams offense

    By Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    08/25/2008

    The Rams offense came to life Saturday night when rookie receivers Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton hit the field against the Ravens.

    Sure, they suffered a few mishaps. Avery let some completions slip through his hands, including one in the end zone. Burton couldn’t quite make a highlight-reel catch along the right sideline; his “reception” was overturned by a video review.


    But these kids got open consistently. They made key plays. They brought the best out of quarterback Marc Bulger. They got the Rams offense into high gear.

    This was the first time they got to really show their potential this summer -- and they put on quite a show.

    “With Donnie getting hurt and Keenan having some tendinitis and some camp leg issues, we really never got to have them out there at the same time,” Rams coach Scott Linehan told reporters after his team routed Baltimore 24-10. “I was very pleased with their approach and their effort.

    “It wasn’t perfect. They had their share of mistakes, but they also had their share of plays and I think they showed that they have that short memory and the ability to come out and step up and make plays. It was fun to watch them.”

    It certainly was. So Linehan should move them up the depth chart and let their young legs energize the team.

    Veteran receiver Torry Holt looked like his old self Saturday night. He ran good route after good route to help Bulger find his rhythm.

    Dane Looker, one of Linehan’s favorites, continued his strong preseason with an impressive effort against the Ravens. He looked more than capable of moving up into the possession receiver role.

    On the other hand . . .

    Veteran receiver Drew Bennett looked sluggish again Saturday, then bowed out with a groin muscle strain. Why should the team waste any more time with him?

    Kick returner Dante Hall, who already had limited value as a receiver, suffered a high ankle sprain. Veteran Reche Caldwell, another under-whelming veteran, suffered a minor knee injury.

    So it’s time to turn the page and inject some more youth, speed and skill into the Rams attack.

    Last season, the Rams offense started with a yawn. The passing game featured too much east-west passing and not enough north-south aggression.

    There was too much checking down, too much dumping off, too many passes along the line of scrimmage. And as those offensive line injuries piled up, the offense got REALLY conservative.

    For fans of the old “Greatest Show on Turf,” this was really hard to watch.

    New offensive coordinator Al Saunders is trying to revive the unit. Already we’ve seen how he can make much better use of tight end Randy McMichael, who was relegated to a blocking role for much of last season.

    The Rams have actually used him as a downfield target this summer, giving Bulger another deep option. Imagine that!

    Now Avery and Burton have shown what they can do for the offense. Avery has the explosiveness to separate from cornerbacks and gain big yardage after his catches.

    He caught five passes for 65 yards against the Ravens. He will do better as he makes up for lost practice time and adjusts to playing at this level.

    “He looked kind of nervous on a couple of plays,” Linehan told reporters Sunday. “The bright spot was he just kept playing. He got better as he continued to play in the game and didn’t let himself get down. He’s very, very hard on himself, which is a great trait of his.”

    Burton can really go get the football, which makes him the anti-Bennett on this team. He caught a four-yard TD pass on a fade route, then drew a pass interference call in the end zone on a similar play.

    “They’ve got the ability to get more and more playing time,” Linehan said. “At this point, we’re just excited about the prospects of them playing and adding some dimensions to our offense that we were looking for.”

    Here, here.


  2. #2
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Young blood energizes Rams offense

    Damnit, Jeff Gordon! Stop stealing my material!!!! This isn't the first time!!!!

    (My sig pic went up yesterday, right about the time Gordon was likely writing this article. Coincidence? I think not!)

  3. #3
    TekeRam's Avatar
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    Re: Young blood energizes Rams offense

    All I can say is that after watching the first half of the Ravens game, Bennett was not as bad as it sounded(he got mugged on his long bomb miff), though obviously needs work, and that Burton got robbed on his "drop". He had both feet down and had complete control of that ball with only the one hand somehow. He looks darn good.

    With Avery, the hands will come, and the plays will come. He looked wonderful for that being his first NFL exposure. I mean would you want to be going across the middle against Ray Lewis in your first game? These two look very promising just from the grabs and routes that they were running. I can't wait to see them in the real thing in a couple weeks.

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    Re: Young blood energizes Rams offense

    These guys are going to be big for us. Having the veteran experience in Holt, they can only improve through the season. I'm excited.

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    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Young blood energizes Rams offense

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    By Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    08/25/2008

    The Rams offense came to life Saturday night when rookie receivers Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton hit the field against the Ravens.

    Sure, they suffered a few mishaps. Avery let some completions slip through his hands, including one in the end zone. Burton couldn’t quite make a highlight-reel catch along the right sideline; his “reception” was overturned by a video review.


    But these kids got open consistently. They made key plays. They brought the best out of quarterback Marc Bulger. They got the Rams offense into high gear.



    Veteran receiver Drew Bennett looked sluggish again Saturday, then bowed out with a groin muscle strain. Why should the team waste any more time with him?

    Kick returner Dante Hall, who already had limited value as a receiver, suffered a high ankle sprain. Veteran Reche Caldwell, another under-whelming veteran, suffered a minor knee injury.

    So it’s time to turn the page and inject some more youth, speed and skill into the Rams attack.
    Scott Linehan and Al Saunders need to read and reread this info over and over again until it sinks in. IMHO it's a no-brainer. Play the kids "NOW".


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    TekeRam's Avatar
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    Re: Young blood energizes Rams offense

    I said Caldwell was only a camp-body when we signed him, and it certainly seems that way still to me. He won't hurt against the cap and if we're going to keep any of the young non-rookies and/or Looker, Caldwell's got to go.

    If not for his cap hit, Bennett could indeed be on the chopping block given his performance vs Looker and the kids. I really hope he turns it up. Hall I think stays as well, but he's last on the depth chart at receiver other than on special plays.

    1. Holt
    2. Bennett
    3. Avery
    4. Burton
    5. Looker
    6. Hall

    Those are the keepers and a depth chart to start the season.

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