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  • Rams-Bears: Things To Watch

    08/11/2004
    QUARTERBACK: Marc Bulger experienced some arm soreness - aka "camp arm" - last week. But after resting his arm for a day, Bulger says it now feels great. He has been very sharp thus far in camp, but figures to play only a couple of series tonight. Look for rookie Jeff Smoker to get a lot of work.


    RUNNING BACK: With Marshall Faulk sitting this one out, and Lamar Gordon recovering from ankle surgery, Arlen Harris, first-round draft pick Steven Jackson and undrafted rookie Dusty McGrorty will handle the rushing chores.


    WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END: Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce figure to have cameo appearances only. Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald, both 2003 draft picks, must continue their good work so far in camp to make a dent on the depth chart.


    OFFENSIVE LINE: Dave Wohlabaugh's hip injury has forced Andy McCollum back to center, so the left guard spot could be Andy King's to lose. Good showings by Grant Williams, Scott Tercero and Greg Randall would help ease concern about the tackle position.


    DEFENSIVE LINE: DT Damione Lewis is off to a good start. Can he transfer that into game conditions? DT Ryan Pickett is healthy but heavy and still is getting into shape. Rookie Anthony Hargrove has been slowed lately by ankle and knee injuries but has been impressive to date.


    LINEBACKER: There is spirited competition for three or four backup spots behind starters Tommy Polley, Robert Thomas and Pisa Tinoisamoa. At the moment, Trev Faulk, Jeremy Loyd, Tony Newsom, Justin Smith and rookie Brandon Chillar are closely bunched.


    SECONDARY: DeJuan Groce probably will start tonight in place of Travis Fisher (ankle) at right corner. Groce and Kevin Garrett are off to good starts in camp. Rich Coady, Justin Lucas and rookie Jason Shivers are jockeying for depth-chart position at safety.


    SPECIAL TEAMS: It appears that Harris and Jackson will get the first cracks at returning kickoffs, with McDonald, Groce and Brian Sump all possibilities on punt returns.

  • #2
    Re: Rams-Bears: Things To Watch

    With the exception of the O & D lines, I am very excited about our reserve depth across the board. Smoker, Jackson, Curtis, Chillar, Shivers, Garrett, Hargrove...our 2nd & 3rd stringers may turn heads this month.
    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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    • Nick
      Rams: Things to Watch
      by Nick
      Rams things to watch

      Sunday, Aug. 22 2004

      QUARTERBACK - Mike Martz would like to play Marc Bulger the entire first half. But that depends on game circumstances and the performance of the offensive line. With only six pass attempts and one series in the exhibition opener against Chicago, Bulger needs the work.

      RUNNING BACK - Marshall Faulk will make his exhibition debut and could play the entire first half. Steven Jackson, who was very impressive in practice late in the week after resting his knee a couple of days, will play a lot. Joey Goodspeed has a tight hamstring, so Chris Massey could play at lot at FB.

      WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END - Shaun McDonald appears to have moved up to the No. 4 WR spot, ahead of Mike Furrey and Kevin Curtis. Curtis missed most of the past week with shin splits but returned to practice late in the week. At TE, Cam Cleeland (hamstring) is close to returning. He is OK after Saturday's car accident but probably will sit out this one.

      OFFENSIVE LINE - The probable starting five: LT Grant Williams (despite a sprained ankle); LG Chris Dishman; C Andy McCollum; RG Adam Timmerman; RT Scott Tercero. Recently un-retired Tom Nutten is a few weeks away from being ready to play.

      DEFENSIVE LINE - Anthony Hargrove is back at defensive end after a brief experiment at DT. Ryan Pickett and Damione Lewis played well against Chicago, but tonight they step up in class because KC has one of the NFL's best offensive lines. Can Bryce Fisher and Erik Flowers keep up the good work at right defensive end?

      LINEBACKER - After being moved ahead of Tommy Polley on the depth chart at strongside LB, Tony Newson (hamstring) may not play tonight. But rookie Brandon Chillar may start ahead of Polley. This is an important game for bubble LBs Jeremy Loyd, Justin Smith and Brandon Spoon.

      SECONDARY - There is some concern about playing starting CBs Jerametrius Butler and Travis Fisher for an extended period, because of tight hamstrings. With DeJuan Groce (knee) sitting out, Dwight Anderson has a chance to play a lot in his bid for the fifth CB spot on the final roster.

      SPECIAL TEAMS - The coverage units were solid against Chicago until a couple of breakdowns late in the game cost the Rams on the punt-return and kickoff-coverage units. If Dante Hall gets his hands on the ball tonight for KC, the coverage units will get the supreme test.

      - Jim Thomas
      -08-23-2004, 12:18 AM
    • RamWraith
      10 Questions (and a few answers) about the Rams
      by RamWraith
      By Jim Thomas
      Of the Post-Dispatch
      Friday, Aug. 27 2004

      On the eve of training camp, the Post-Dispatch posed 10 questions concerning
      the 2004 Rams. One month later, we reassess those questions:


      1. Can Faulk still run (and catch)?

      He was basically a spectator early in training camp. But Marshall Faulk has
      gotten a lot of practice work over the past two weeks, and some exhibition-game
      time as well. He is rounding into form, but even Faulk isn't sure what to
      expect. The early results have been fairly encouraging. Nonetheless, it might
      be a few weeks into the regular season before Faulk has a read on his right
      knee and how it might hold up over a 16-game schedule.

      At least the Rams appear to have an emerging alternative in rookie Steven
      Jackson. Jackson has displayed surprising cutback ability for a 230-pounder,
      with the power to drag tacklers for an extra yard or two. He has above-average
      ability as a pass-catcher, and is a willing blocker on blitz pickup. He must
      keep mistakes to a minimum, however.


      2. How will Bulger fare as the man at quarterback?

      Bulger seems to have the complete confidence of his teammates. With rare
      exceptions he has thrown the ball well on the practice field - be it in Macomb
      or back at Rams Park.

      He misfired on a few passes against the Kansas City blitz in the second
      preseason game. With the Rams' offensive line in a state of transition, rest
      assured that Arizona (Sept. 12) and Atlanta (Sept. 19) took note. The
      Cardinals, Falcons and other early-season Rams opponents are polishing up their
      blitz packages as we speak.

      A quick start by Bulger in September will keep the pressure off and the Kurt
      Warner zealots quiet.


      3. What's my line?

      The early returns on Bryce Fisher and Erik Flowers at right defensive end have
      been encouraging, fueling optimism that they can adequately replace Grant
      Wistrom. Rookie Anthony Hargrove has shown flashes of his considerable athletic
      talent on the practice field, but has yet to transfer that into games. He
      remains raw and unpolished. His development was hampered by missed camp time
      for a knee and ankle injury, plus a trip to Florida to tend to his family after
      Hurricane Charley.

      The foot injury to Jimmy Kennedy was unfortunate, given the amount of offseason
      work he put in to prepare for this season. His absence makes the defensive
      tackle depth very questionable at this point. Veteran Bernard Holsey is not yet
      up to full speed following offseason surgery to repair a torn quadriceps
      tendon. Brian Howard and Kevin Aldridge have had ups and downs as they contend
      for a backup...
      -08-29-2004, 08:34 AM
    • RamWraith
      Inside Slant
      by RamWraith
      When training camp opened, the biggest question facing the Rams was how they would get through training camp with an unsettled situation on the offensive line, given the unknown status of tackles Kyle Turley and Orlando Pace and center Dave Wohlabaugh.

      Turley was recovering from offseason back surgery, while Wohlabaugh had surgery on his hip in the offseason. The Rams knew Pace would likely not be in camp as the team's unsigned franchise player, so how the line would be deployed because of the Turley and Wohlabaugh injuries was an issue.

      It turned out to be even bigger than expected when Wohlabaugh never made it onto the field and was released and Turley aggravated his back during the first few days of camp. Turley was placed on injured reserve in the cutdown to 65 players.

      Those factors resulted in frequent shuffling on the line in camp. Andy King began as the left guard, but lost that job after the first exhibition game and was replaced by Chris Dishman. Dishman had decided to retire before coach Mike Martz convinced him to sign, and he reported at 375 pounds.

      Grant Williams, who would be the right tackle as Turley's replacement, was forced to play on the left side throughout most of camp because of Pace's absence. Scott Tercero got a lot of work at tackle, even though most in the organization believe his best position is guard. Greg Randall, who was with the Texans last season, was signed when it became apparent Turley wouldn't be available.

      Guard Tom Nutten, who played for the Rams during their Super Bowl seasons, but left for the Jets last year and then retired, was brought back a few days before the third exhibition game against Washington and injured his toe on his second play.

      That's the type of summer it's been for a team that has deep offensive talent, but knows it could go for naught if the line doesn't come together.

      Complicating things even more was Pace's decision to stay away for the entire preseason. Last year, as the franchise player, he reported and signed 12 days before the season opener and was able to play in the exhibition finale.

      Not this time. Pace remained unsigned when the Rams played the Raiders Sept. 2, and for the first time, Martz voiced frustration with the situation.

      Asked about Pace not being with the team, Martz said, "To be honest with you I don't think about it. This is our football team right now, I would just assume he's not coming in. That's his decision, and we're moving on.

      "You can't let one player, no matter how good he is, or how good of a person he is, hold a team hostage waiting for him to come in. We have to move on, and get ready for Sept. 12th."

      For line coach John Matsko, he has to get this group ready.

      "Each year's different," Matsko said. "The challenge this year was to bring a bunch of guys...
      -09-02-2004, 12:34 PM
    • Guest's Avatar
      Rams roster into training camp
      by Guest
      During the ceremony my daughter and I held tonight at exactly 5pm central, as the players were checking in for camp, i did my best public address anouncer imitation for her and recited the entire 53 man roster from memory as she cheered for each guy. I believe that barring injury, the offense is basically set unless sump beats out furrey for a receiver spot in order to serve as the return guy.

      bubble spots- backup linebackers (special teams key). we will carry six, two spots available for tony newsom, spoon, lloyd, justin smith, trev faulk, mwilliams.
      Defensive end- Will moran make the team? I predict no.
      Defensive Tackle _ Will brian howard make the team. I predict practice squad.
      Punter- Will Landetta get beat out? Could go either way.

      Here is what it looks like

      bulger, chandler, smoker
      faulk, jackson, gordon
      goodspeed, harris
      bruce, holt, looker, curtis, macdonald, furrey (sump)
      mamliamula, cleeland, jensen
      pace, turley, williams
      wolabaugh, turner
      timmerman, mccollum, king, tercero

      Wilkens, Landetta/Nicasso, Massey

      Little, fisher, tyoka jackson, hargrove, flowers (moran)
      pickett, lewis, kennedy, holsey (brian howard)
      thomas, pisa, polley, chillar, two of the following (spoon, lloyd, newson, burley, justin smith, trev faulk, mcwilliams)
      fisher, butler, garrett, groce
      aeneas williams, archuleta, coady, shivers, lucas


      Biggest variable, outside of the backup linebacker spots is injuries. Hopefully, we will make it through camp and the preseason with nothing more than a few bumps and bruises here and there.

      ramming speed to all, as always, i would love your analysis of the roster,

      sign the big man

      general counsel
      -07-27-2004, 09:03 PM
    • evil disco man
      The Good and The Bad
      by evil disco man
      With the Rams' first preseason game only days away, I thought it a good time to take a look at what the Rams put on the table this season - from two perspectives. Feel free to add your opinions and even new categories while trying to include both the possible positive and negative aspects of each.

      Quarterbacks
      GOOD: Marc Bulger can relax now, knowing that the job is his. He's had a full offseason to prepare with the team as the sure-fire starter, and will therefore show more confidence and production with the team behind him. Chris Chandler is the perfect backup; not durable enough to challenge for the starting job, but is an accurate, smart, veteran passer. Jeff Smoker is young, talented, is over his past troubles and could be the quarterback of the future.

      BAD: Marc Bulger was too inconsistent last year to prove he is really worthy of leading the Rams' passing attack. His decision-making and read progressions are questionable, and his long ball is awful. The team is on his shoulders now, and it will be too much for him to handle. Chris Chandler is old and entering a new offense, and he's known for being a statue in the pocket - something that isn't encouraging knowing that he's been severely injury-prone. Jeff Smoker is too young and unproven right now, and with his legal history in mind, he could only have a negative impact.

      Running Backs
      GOOD: Doctors found something previously undiscovered in Marshall Faulk's knee, fixed it, and he'll now be able to play like the old Marshall instead of an old Marshall. He provides the team with great leadership and knowledge and can carry this offense. Steven Jackson was considered the best back in the NFL Draft. He can run over, around, and through would-be tacklers and is a great receiver. He will be a workhorse in the near future for the Rams, and will be able to give Faulk a rest every now and then this season. Lamar Gordon and Arlen Harris provide great depth, as both are experienced in this offense. Joey Goodspeed emerged from the plethora of fullbacks the Rams brought in last season and will be a dependable lead blocker. Arlen Harris could even see time at fullback as the Robert Holcombe-type.

      BAD: Marshall Faulk isn't getting any younger, and he showed that last season. He had to have surgery on that knee again and could be even more prone to injuries after losing weight this offseason. Steven Jackson is too young to step into this offense right now as an unproven rookie, and his head will be swimming trying to learn Martz's playbook. Lamar Gordon is injury prone and inconsistent as a backup; there's no way the team could rely on him if injuries occur. The only thing Arlen Harris can give the team is three yards and a cloud of dust. Martz as usual ignores the fullbacks, and as a result the Rams really have none worth noting.

      Receivers
      GOOD: Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt are the best tandem at wide receiver in...
      -08-09-2004, 02:53 PM
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