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  • TSN Rams Report

    TSN Rams Report
    By Jim Thomas

    Some observers felt using a first-round pick on RB Steven Jackson was more of a luxury than a necessity. But because of uncertainty over Marshall Faulk's right knee, it's looking like a wise move. If Jackson can get a handle on the offense, he has the versatility to develop into a solid threat quickly. Lamar Gordon also provides depth.

    It's too early to get excited, but DT Jimmy Kennedy could be a contributor. He has been much more effective in pass-rush drills, a product of better conditioning and focus.

    Rookie DE Tony Hargrove looks like the real thing. There's no doubting his motor, athleticism and quickness, though he needs consistency and polish.

    Continuing hip problems for C Dave Wohlabaugh has led to line shuffling that could have unproven Andy King starting at left guard. LG Andy McCollum has moved to center for now.

    PLAYBOOK UPDATE: Don't look for Larry Marmie's defense to be much different from Lovie Smith's early in the season, but the cover 2 scheme will evolve. Don't be surprised to see the Rams blitz more because they have quick, aggressive, attacking players such as SS Adam Archuleta and OLB Pisa Tinoisamoa. Look for Archuleta to play a linebacker role in some nickel and dime situations. With Archuleta's linebacking skills from college and FS Aeneas Williams' experience at cornerback, the Rams have flexibility in their back seven that can be utilized--especially if second-year CBs Kevin Garrett and DeJuan Groce develop.

    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

  • #2
    Re: TSN Rams Report

    Don't be surprised to see the Rams blitz more because they have quick, aggressive, attacking players such as SS Adam Archuleta and OLB Pisa Tinoisamoa. Look for Archuleta to play a linebacker role in some nickel and dime situations. With Archuleta's linebacking skills from college and FS Aeneas Williams' experience at cornerback, the Rams have flexibility in their back seven that can be utilized--especially if second-year CBs Kevin Garrett and DeJuan Groce develop.
    This defense is tailor-made for consistent blitz packages. The only pieces missing were a DC committed to using it as such (which Marmie at least appears to be) and earthmovers at DT. Which brings us back to what has been the most familiar phrase (or at least one of them) of this off-season, the trio of Lewis, Pickett & Kennedy HAVE to play up to draft day expectations. If they do, this defense will out-perform our offense and be the key to our post-season.
    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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    • RamDez
      TSN Rams Report
      by RamDez
      Jim Thomas

      Though the cover 2 still will be the base defense for new coordinator Larry Marmie, the team plans to mix coverages more than it did under Lovie Smith. Another noticeable change will be the size of the tackles. Marmie will let the tackles play at a higher weight than Smith, who wanted them at 310 or less. Jimmy Kennedy reported at nearly 340 for the team's minicamp, and Ryan Pickett checked in at 330. The added bulk could help shore up a spotty run defense. Kennedy's commitment to weight training is paying off. He looks quicker at 340 than he did last year at 305.

      The coaches are encouraged by what they have seen of rookie TE Erik Jensen. He has displayed good blocking skills and will enter camp as the top backup.

      CORNERBACKS ANALYSIS

      This is a solid unit with young, athletic players. But it lacks size; no player is taller than 5-10, leaving the Rams vulnerable against big wideouts. Travis Fisher has excellent closing speed and good tackling skills and can play through injuries. The other starter, Jerametrius Butler, is athletic but lacks size (5-10, 181). He has became more physical as a tackler but still needs to improve in that area. Kevin Garrett and DeJuan Groce are the top backups. Garrett has elite speed and has flashed instincts that excite the coaches. Groce has enough speed and aggressiveness but needs work on technique. Another possibility is Dwight Anderson, an undrafted rookie who has impressed the coaches....
      -06-01-2004, 12:04 AM
    • Nick
      TSN Rams Report - Interesting Tidbits
      by Nick
      TSN Rams Report

      CAP STATUS: When all is said and done, the Rams have enough cap room to
      make one or two moderate to large strikes in free agency. Currently the
      team is $4.5 million under the salary cap, but it will gain cap room if
      RB Marshall Faulk restructures his contract, if the team signs
      franchise LT Orlando Pace to a long-term deal, and when the team makes RT Kyle
      Turley a post-June 1 cap casualty
      .


      MOVING ON: Tommy Polley was a productive starter for most of his four
      seasons in St. Louis, and he was above-average in coverage. But his play
      was inconsistent, radically so at times, and the team seems committed
      to having '04 draft pick Brandon Chillar step into his starting spot at
      strong side linebacker
      . The team has helped develop Bryce Fisher from a
      fringe player into a bona fide NFL defensive end. But Fisher's
      late-season surge -- he was NFC defensive player of the month in December --
      basically priced himself out of the market as far as the Rams are
      concerned. He finished with a team-high 8.5 sacks. Pass rushers are always at
      a premium in free agency, so Fisher figures to be in line for a nice
      payday. Anthony Hargrove, who actually was starting ahead of Fisher late
      last season as a rookie, will man the right end spot. Hargrove remains
      raw, but he is a promising talent. The team is considering moving DT
      Damione Lewis outside to DE to help on run defense. FS Aeneas Williams is
      expected to retire after missing the last five games of the season with
      an arthritic condition in his neck and shoulder area. Williams, who
      turned 37 in January, wasn't much of a factor last season, largely because
      of the injury. Either Adam Archuleta, who has been moved to free
      safety, or Antuan Edwards, who the club is trying to re-sign, will man the
      position in '05.


      ACTION PLAN: Linebacker already was a position of prime need. But that
      is the case even more now that the team has decided to switch OLB Pisa
      Tinoisamoa to strong safety. With Polley not expected back, the Rams
      now need two new starters in '05. That's particularly true at middle
      linebacker, because the team plans to switch Robert Thomas to weak side
      linebacker
      . If you had to pick one area that the team would target in free
      agency, linebacker would be it. It's clear the team is looking for more
      size and striking power in the middle. Philadelphia's Jeremiah Trotter,
      Baltimore's Edgerton Hartwell or Washington's Antonio Pierce all would
      fill the bill. All three weigh 240 pounds or more. Pittsburgh's
      Kendrell Bell could be another option. He can play all three LB positions and
      can rush the passer. . . .

      With Turley on the way out, right tackle is a high area...
      -02-21-2005, 09:59 AM
    • Nick
      TSN Rams Report
      by Nick
      Jay Williams will fill the departed Bryce Fisher's role on the defensive line. After signing a three-year, $2.65 million contract, the former Miami Dolphin will be the team's No. 3 defensive end. Although he can play both end positions, he will get most of his reps spelling Anthony Hargrove at right end. But Williams also can slide inside to DT in passing situations. Williams has enough quickness to be more than an afterthought as a pass rusher, and he also holds his own against the run. Beyond that, the Rams are looking for some veteran leadership from Williams, 33, on what remains a young defensive line. . . .

      More than a month into the free-agency period, the Rams still haven't added a No. 3 QB to their depth chart. The veteran options still on the market are almost non-existent. With second-year man Jeff Smoker currently backing up Marc Bulger, it wouldn't seem to make much sense to draft a quarterback for the second year in a row, especially considering how hesitant coach Mike Martz is about playing young quarterbacks. So don't be surprised if the Rams end up re-signing veteran Jamie Martin and having him compete with Smoker for the backup job. What Martin may lack in arm strength he makes up for in knowledge of the complex Martz passing system. . . .

      Early attendance at the Rams' offseason conditioning program has been at record levels. More than 90 percent of the team was there on the first day. Among the regulars have been team mainstays WR Isaac Bruce and RB Marshall Faulk. Newly acquired LB Dexter Coakley's arrival was delayed because his wife had a baby, but the team's other free-agent pickup at LB -- Chris Claiborne -- has been there from the outset.

      SCOUTING REPORT: The Rams matched a $15 million offer sheet from Washington one year ago to keep CB Jerametrius Butler as a restricted free agent. Butler played up to the contract a year ago by leading the club in interceptions and establishing himself as an above average cover corner. Butler has good range, above average closing speed and the athleticism to go get the football in a crowd. In order to take the next step and play at a Pro Bowl level, Butler needs to improve in two areas: tackling and defending the slant pattern. Butler will never be a thumper, but he needs to be more aggressive both in run support and in tackling receivers in the open field. A simple technique adjustment should help Butler in defending the slant -- namely, lining up more often with inside leverage on wide receivers.

      COMEBACK STORY: The 2004 campaign was supposed to be a breakthrough season for SS Adam Archuleta as one of the NFL's elite safeties. Instead, he took a big step backward, largely because of back problems that were later diagnosed as a herniated disc. On a depth chart that is currently paper thin at safety, a bounce-back season by Archuleta is a must for 2005. That means fewer missed tackles and more impact plays. Archuleta opted against...
      -04-03-2005, 05:07 PM
    • Nick
      Rams TSN Report - 4/17/05
      by Nick
      Rams Team Report
      4/17/2005 Print it
      By Jim Thomas
      St. Louis Post-Dispatch

      Although much of the offseason attention has focused on the team's needs at linebacker, safety and right tackle, the left guard position is wide open for 2005. Chris Dishman, Scott Tercero, Tom Nutten, and Larry Turner all started at least one game there in '04. Free agents Dishman and Nutten are both recovering from offseason surgeries and are uncertain if they will continue playing. That could leave Tercero, Blaine Saipaia, and Turner battling for the left guard spot in training camp. But Tercero also could end up at right tackle, which depends on what the Rams do in the draft. Tercero has quickness and footwork, and he is probably the most athletic of the group. The aggressive Saipaia is bulkier and more of a mauler. Turner is a bit undersized, but he has good balance and is a good technician . . .

      At the least, recently acquired DB Michael Hawthorne should be the Rams' nickel back in 2005. But he also has a chance to start at safety. Hawthorne has spent most of his career playing cornerback, including 14 starts at the position with New Orleans and Green Bay. But at 6-3, 204 pounds, he's big enough to play safety, and he finished the '04 season playing safety for the Packers. Rangy and athletic, Hawthorne is an aggressive defender whose skills should allow him to play press coverage if he's on the slot receiver in the nickel defense. In St. Louis, he is reunited with his former position coach in Green Bay, Kurt Schottenheimer, which should make the transition easier. . . .

      Coach Mike Martz hopes that holding training camp in St. Louis rather than remote Macomb, Ill., this summer will lead to less wear and tear on the team, fewer fatigue injuries and a better performance in the preseason and earlier in the regular season. Staying home for camp is a good thing this year because four of the Rams' first six regular-season games are on the road.

      SCOUTING REPORT: DE Leonard Little spent the entire 2004 season with the weight of a drunken-driving charge on his shoulders. The uncertainty affected his play as much as the constant double teams and chip blocking he received for the first time in his career. His acquittal gives him a chance for a fresh start, and that should lead to improved play from his left end position in '05. Little remains one of the game's premier edge rushers, with an excellent burst complemented by good use of hands to ward off blockers. His leverage and underrated strength make him surprisingly effective against the run despite weighing only 261 pounds. But a breakthrough year by Anthony Hargrove at right end might have as much to do with an increased sack total by Little in '05 as anything.

      STOCK RISING: Last year at this time, DT Jimmy Kennedy looked like an underachieving first-round bust. Now, he's a starter and a player being counted on to revive the...
      -04-17-2005, 07:39 PM
    • AvengerRam_old
      One Trial, One Potential Position Change, and Two Safeties
      by AvengerRam_old
      Could those four things be the only things between the Rams and a greatly improved defense? I'm beginning to think so.

      For starters, I think there can be some encouragement drawn from the fact that (apart from the Falcon game fiasco) the Rams defense played much better last year towards the end of the year when Travis Fisher returned from injury and Jimmy Kennedy and Tony Hargrove were inserted into the starting lineup.

      So, the four factors that will determine next year's defense are:

      1. One Trial
      Despite having a somewhat off year, Leonard Little remains the biggest playmaker on the Rams' defense. If he is not available due to the outcome of his upcoming DUI trial, the Rams will probably have to expend a high draft choice in the hope of finding a suitable replacement. If he is available, the starting D Line of Little-Kennedy-Pickett-Hargrove (with D.Lewis backing up both the DE and DT positions) has quite a bit of promise.

      2. One Potential Position Change
      All indications seem to be that the proposed move of Pisa Tinoisamoa to SS may be aborted. If that is the case, you have to like the potential of the Rams' LB corps of starters Coakley-Claiborn-Tinoisamoa, and a second team of Thomas-K.Faulk-Chillar.

      3. Two Safeties
      While the CB spot is relatively settled with starters Fisher and Butler, the safety positions are in a state of flux. Will Pisa stay at SS? Will Adam Archuleta be healthy and, if so, can he play the FS position, or does he go back to SS with Pisa playing LB? And if that happens, who will the FS be? Will the Rams make a run at Darren Sharper? Will they target a FS in the draft?

      The Rams should be able to address these concerns in the coming months. If they do, I look for a much improved defense in 2005.
      -03-11-2005, 08:48 AM
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