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Nick's Mailbag - June 3

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  • Nick's Mailbag - June 3

    Nick's Mailbag: June 3
    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    Richard Layne

    Nick, with the end of the 2009 NFL Draft and the upcoming 2009 Rams Training Camp around mid-July, will the Rams signed any unsigned free agents that can help the team for the upcoming 2009 season for offense or defense or both and do the Rams have anyone in particular in mind? Also, when will the Rams start signing their draft picks from the 2009 NFL Draft?

    NW: Iím going to stick with the usual response here based on everything Iíve been told in recent weeks and months. The Rams will continue to explore any and all possible ways to upgrade the roster and that includes keeping tabs on current free agents and ones that might shake loose as we get into training camp. Donít expect anything earth-shattering, though.

    Draft picks donít usually start signing until July. Itís starting to trend toward that happening sooner around the league this year so itís possible some of the lower-round guys might ink earlier than anticipated.

    Justin Stine

    Lots of reports coming out about the Rams being very interested in Michael Vick if he gets reinstated. What are you hearing from people in the organization? Seems like he could help us out, but with all the problems with ownership right now it seems like a headache we don't need.

    NW: Once again, itís just not likely. I know there are reports out there that say the contrary but itís a long shot at absolute best.

    Bryan Sipes

    With the recent news about the Rams being up for sale what will that mean for the team? And if they do sell where could they go? Also does Spags have something in his contract where he could leave is the team is relocated? Also I head Deuce McAllister is interested in signing with the team. What is the news on that? Thank you for all the good info for a Ram fan in New Mexico.

    NW: Obviously, a lot of questions this week about the potential sale of the team. Not going to get too far into it in this space but none of this should come as a surprise to anyone who has paid attention to this from the beginning. The team is focused on winning games. Spagnuolo said it on Tuesday and thereís no reason for anyone to worry about anything other than that right now because itís not a 2009 issue. No reasons to speculate on any hypotheticals that may occur because right now that all it is: hypothetical.

    Have heard nothing on Deuce McAlister and Iíd be surprised, given his age and injury history, if he was a consideration.

    John Ricotta

    Nick, how much do you think the additions of Karney and Jason Smith will improve the Rams running game and SJack? Also, are you concerned about SJack staying healthy? And what do you project SJackís stats being in 09?

    NW: You always have to be concerned about a running back staying healthy because of the nature of the position. Iím not any more concerned with Jackson being healthy than any other running back because itís hard to be 100 percent playing that spot for the duration of a season.

    The additions of Karney, Jason Smith and Jason Brown should do wonders to get Jackson back to that level he played at in 2006. Remember, that was the last time he played behind a true blocking fullback. As many of my readers know, I donít get into specific predictions or projections because itís so hard to guess on any of that stuff. I will just say that given the blocking help, a run-oriented offense and his limitless skill set, the sky is the limit for Jackson if he is healthy all season.

    Aaron Storniola

    Okay, Nick here's my topic that people may not talk about much...but I'm gonna....What is up with the RAMS schedule??? Good GOD!!!! What is the NFL thinking??? We have one of the toughest schedules I've seen in years!!! I thought when you werenít a very good team the NFL takes it some what easy on you?? I guess not...except for the ***** twice and Detroit are we even gonna stand a chance to win another game?? I've been a RAM fan all my life so I don't want you to think I'm drinking haterade but I'm calling it like I see it. Itís unfair...ram fans it's gonna be a long year...nick make me see the light!!!!

    NW: Whoa, Aaron, letís just relax. First of all, itís June right now. A lot will happen to change and shape how you see the schedule in the coming weeks and months. The way the NFL schedule works is this: Every season you play six games against divisional opponents with a home and home against each one. After that, everything is done on a rotational basis as far as which divisions you play. This year, the Rams happened to be in line for the AFC South and the NFC North. If one of those divisions just so happens to be strong (which the AFC South could well be), then it makes it tougher but itís the luck of the draw. That accounts for 14 of your 16 games. The other two games also come on a rotational basis but factors in where you finished in your division and where the potential opponents finish in their division. For this year, after finishing at the bottom of the NFC West, the Rams got the last place team in the NFC East (Washington) and the last place team in the NFC South (New Orleans). Unfortunately for the Rams, the Saints happened to be an 8-8 team last year and just so happened to finish last in a strong division.

    Now, all of that said, itís important to remember that the way things look on paper are nothing compared to the way things really are. The example I always like to use is Cleveland. Two years ago, the Browns were expected to be one of the worst teams in the league. Instead, they finished 10-6 and had one of the leagueís most productive offenses. So, based on that year, many thought Cleveland would be the breakout team of 2008 and they struggled on the way to one of the worst records in the league. Itís hard to say how this schedule will play out but I will guarantee this: there will be at least one team on the Ramsí schedule expected to struggle that will have a winning season and there will be at least one team expected to win big that will struggle. Hope that helps you at least see the potential for the light.

    Chris Roy

    Hi nick, thanks for all the great work. I'm concerned about the ram's defensive tackles lack of beef. NFL network likes the nose tackles to be at least 340lbs. and up. Sometimes they are referred to as power pigs and I believe the rams donít quite add up in that department. It all starts inside and our past history stopping the run has been abysmal. Please, I would love your comment.

    NW: Thereís no doubt that it helps to have some beef up front, especially in the middle, to stop the run. A healthy Adam Carriker is a good place to start, though. While Clifton Ryan isnít as big as some of those other prototypical nose tackles, heís still pretty big and Carriker is bigger than many three-technique tackles. The Rams want to get bigger across the board and that includes the defensive tackle spot but stopping the run is about more than just having some sloppy bodies in the middle of the defensive line.

    Bob Arena

    Do you think the Rams will go after Greg Ellis if Dallas lets him go??

    NW: As you probably know by now, the Cowboys did release Ellis earlier this week. No word on the Ramsí possible interest. Rumor mill says Cincinnati is particularly interested in him.

    Eugene Bard

    Do you think James Laurinaitis will eventually be the starting MLB?

    NW: Thatís a strong possibility.

    Eddie Perez

    Hey Nick! Greetings from So Cal. Love the Mailbag!

    My question is: since many defensive-minded head coaches are calling the plays, I was wondering if Coach Spags will do the same? Rex Ryan is doing it in New York, so are Lovie Smith and Wade Phillips. I think our defense would do great with Coach Spags play-calling. Your thoughts?

    NW: As it stands now, Spagnuolo will have plenty of input into the defense but coordinator Ken Flajole will call the defense. Make no mistake, though, that will be a collaborative effort come Sundays.

    Joe Rosasco

    Hey Nick,

    Thank you for all your hard work keeping us Rams fans updated. I've tried before without success to get a question answered by you--hopefully this will get through. As a long time Rams fan, I have watched other teams build a solid franchise starting with a strong offensive and defensive line. It seems like every year for the past several years the Rams have been very small and ineffective on both sides of the ball. Do you think Chris Long is big enough and strong enough to become an effective pass rusher--these offensive lines he is going up against are getting bigger every year? Thanks for your time!

    NW: Iíve written a number of times that I believe Chris Long is going to be a good player in this league and possibly a great one. He certainly has the size to handle his position. Heís no smaller than many defensive ends around the league. In fact, heís awfully close to the league average in height and weight for his position.

    Tiger Johnson

    I really want to know if we will be getting a vet at receiver. Not needing to be a superstar, more like a teacher on the field. Also is Grant really showing off or is that just OTA talk. Really would be nice to find a diamond in the rough.

    NW: No word on any additions at receiver. Iím not sure what type of wide out people are looking for at this point. Names like DJ Hackett and some that I get in this space every week arenít a major upgrade in terms of talent. For instance, would you rather see what a young guy like a Keenan Burton can do with the opportunity knowing he might have some growing pains but has plenty of potential to be a good player? Or would you rather have a guy like a Hackett who has been in the league a while but you know exactly what youíre getting and what youíre getting is nothing special?

    Iím assuming you mean Horace Gant, not Grant though itís an easy mistake to make. Gant is an impressive looking player in terms of his size and athleticism. I donít know what you mean by showing off but heís in the mix with a bunch of young receivers who could be fighting for a roster spot or two come training camp.

    Barry Catrett

    Hi Nick,
    I've been a Rams fan for 35 yrs. My question has to do with the Sam LB. Is there a chance that the Rams may look at another SLB like Marcus Washington? Thanks for your time and answering my question.

    NW: Again, the Rams will explore all options at every position. Itís not terribly likely they are going to bring in another linebacker at that spot but hereís the thing: when you get into training camp, things like injuries happen or guys donít show up with the pads and the spotlight on. That means tweaks can and will be made all the way up until the final cuts.

    Jack Fenton

    Hey Nick, any news floating around about any possible free agent signings any time soon? Thanks.

    NW: Nothing specific or noteworthy.


    What position needs the biggest upgrade or players to come through this season for the rams?

    NW: You could make the argument that every position needs to improve for the Rams in 2009 with the possible exception of punter. If you want specifics, itís telling that the Rams spent a lot of time and money this offseason to upgrade the offensive line. So itís safe to say thatís one area the Rams are hoping to see drastic improvement.

Related Topics


  • r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag - July 8
    by r8rh8rmike
    Nickís Mailbag Ė July 8, 2009


    Nick, one simple question for ya, what are the chances of Ian Campbell making the team, and if so, any possible playing time and Special teams or D-Line??

    NW: It would seem there is an opportunity for a defensive lineman to potentially squeeze his way on to the roster. Havenít seen enough of these guys to know who could emerge but if you figure the team keeps eight defensive linemen, you have Leonard Little, Chris Long, Victor Adeyanju, James Hall, Adam Carriker, Clifton Ryan and Darrell Scott seemingly in the best position to land on the roster. That would leave an opening for another end like Campbell or possibly a tackle like Gary Gibson or Orien Harris. Regardless, Spagnuolo likes his players to be versatile so the guy that emerges there will likely need to be able to contribute inside and out as well as on special teams.

    Miguel Iniguez

    Hopefully you can answer one of my questions Nick. I read a story on the internet that stated the Rams are looking into playing some games with throwback jerseys. Is that true? And if so when? Also which colors will they be the blue and white? Or the Blue and yellow?

    NW: Indeed, the Rams will be wearing the blue and gold throwbacks to mark the 10-year anniversary of the Super Bowl championship team. The games have not yet been determined but apparently, it will happen on three occasions this year. Iíll be sure to get the information out there when that determination is made.

    Dennis Quijadas

    Hey Nick. First off I want to thank you for the great insight for all us RAMS Fans. I see that Billy D. has finally brought over Renardo Foster from Atlanta. How does he pan out for the Rams? Is he just a big back up or a possible replacement if they can't sign Alex Barron at the end of the year? Saying that, would Alex Barron most likely be tagged after the season?

    NW: I havenít seen Foster play in person but I met him when he was here recently and I do know heís a large man. Because he has some experience and has been in the league, one would think he has a legitimate shot to stick on the roster and provide some depth at tackle but without having seen him, itís hard to make that determination right now. If nothing else, heíll provide some depth and competition at the spot. As for Barron, the approach is to wait and see how he performs when the lights come on this year before anything is decided on his future. This is a big year for him.

    Jeff Jordan

    I recently discovered "Nick's Mailbag" and really appreciate the info. Thanks. I am a transplanted Rams fan living in the Bay Area of California and all I hear is ***** this and ***** that. And no, nobody here really cares about the Raiders. Or at least believes in them. What in your opinion is the area of improvement most needed that will put the Rams back above the *****...
    -07-09-2009, 01:06 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag - June 10
    by r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag: June 10
    Tuesday, June 9, 2009

    Pedro Canjura

    How does ďAnimal Jr.Ē look to you? Will he be ready to start from day 1? If you had to compare him to another MLB in the NFL today, who would it be? Tatupu?

    NW: Havenít had a chance to see him with the pads on but best I can tell so far, heís everything heís been advertised. He has outstanding instincts and seems to be around the ball a lot. Thereís a good chance he will be the opening day starter in the middle. Interesting question on the comparison but if forced to compare him; Iíd say heís a bigger version of Zach Thomas. He has those type of read and react skills but heís not a terrific athlete or a huge hitter. He just finds the ball and makes the tackle.

    Mark Mercurio

    Is there any chance the Rams have interest in linebacker Brock Christopher from Mizzou who just got dropped by the Falcons.

    NW: Suppose itís a possibility as the Rams are always looking to add to the roster but I havenít heard his name mentioned. He had a nice career for the Tigers; just not sure heíd be an upgrade over what is already on the roster.

    Marvin Williams

    Hi nick, Iíve been a ram fan for over 30 years. I am wondering do you think the ram defense will be aggressive and get after the QBs or will they play conservative style of defense?

    NW: I can answer this with absolute certainty. This defense will be nowhere close to conservative unless the situation absolutely dictates it (preseason, big lead, etc.). Steve Spagnuoloís defenses in New York were always extremely aggressive and he believes in getting after the quarterback and putting the press on with his corners on the outside. This defense has other parts to it but thereís little doubt that it will be an aggressive scheme.

    JM Black

    Hey Nick, I have seen the plan of Spag's and BD come into play in our free agent pick up's and our draft! Get bigger, stronger, faster, younger and more athletic on both sides of the ball! Use the running game to keep the defense off the field and the defense can attack with a purpose to help keep the offense churning the ball! I think there is plenty of potential to turn the losses of the past into wins for the future!

    We have probably the best punter/kicker combo in all of football! How do we turn around the poor play we have received from our special teams over the last five or more years? How does the new wedge rule help or hurt our return or coverage units? There is no way we can keep giving up the huge returns we have in the past and expect to compete! We need to also be able to establish great field position from the return teams to take pressure off the offense. Who are some of the players you see as special teams standouts? ~JMB

    NW: The special teams showed signs of improvement last year and were consistently better in...
    -06-11-2009, 11:34 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag: May 27
    by r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag: May 27
    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    Reason Warehime


    Ya Know I respect and value your opinion youíre the best at what you do but look, we understand the point of view of how Pisa didn't go with Spags system. What bothers a lot of fans is that why even not a late round trade even if not a 2010 6-7th rounder. Look at what K.C. was able to do last year. It's not like both Torry and Pisa won't be on a roster next year. Pisa had value, please for the sake of the fans weíre owed an explanation for giving away a talent like Pisa can you at least clear this up for us? PLEASE!

    NW: Take heart, my friend, anytime a move like this is made; it is done with careful consideration. That means anytime a player is released, especially one of note such as Pisa, there is always an attempt made to get something of value for him. Itís important to remember, though, that it takes two teams to make a trade. Itís easy to think you should have received a draft pick or a player in exchange for a released guy but itís not as simple to make it happen. The other thing to remember is that when you make a guy available for trade in a situation such as Pisaís, itís then known that you probably will release him if you canít find a deal. The key in Tinoisamoaís situation is simply this: he made a lot of money for a guy that not many teams consider a starter anymore. When he does sign with his next team, he wonít get as much money as he would have made here or as much as if a team had traded for him.

    Brian H.

    Hey Nick Hope you can help. Two of us Nor Cal rams fan are planning on buying tickets to the Jan. 3rd home game vs. the Niners. Any seating preferences or hotel advice would be greatly appreciated. I know youíre not the visitor center but you always have the best and up to date info. You can give my email out if you have any advice givers. Thank you, were looking forward to our first home game since Anaheim. Brian

    NW: I donít have any specific seating recommendations (because I sit in the upper reaches in the press box for game) but you can call the ticket office at (314) 425-8830 or (800) 246-7267 and discuss ticketing options and one of the excellent ticket reps down there can help you out. Also, right here on the site, you can scan and view the seating chart and pricing to have an idea of what you might want to do when the time comes to buy single game tickets. As for hotels, there are plenty in the area but I'm a fan of the Hilton downtown, just a few blocks from the Edward Jones Dome.

    Lloyd Porter

    Hey Nick, I love the way you answer questions on here even though you essentially answer the same questions over and over. My question is, I know the team needs a young DE but is the team interested in Jarvis Moss from Denver or Tamba Hali from KC since they were on the trading block and in danger of being cut? Spags would...
    -05-28-2009, 04:31 PM
  • larams1980
    Nickís Mailbag Ė June 24, 2009
    by larams1980
    Mike Dembow
    Dear Nick, Thank you for all your hard work and dedication you put in every day to bring us DIEHARD ram fans up to date. My question will be asked a lot I am sure. How interested do you think the rams will be in Brandon Marshall? He is very young, but also had some off the field problems. I know coach Spags is high on character, but adding a young budding superstar at receiver can't hurt. Thank you.
    NW: Answered this last week but itís almost certainly not going to happen. The Broncos probably wonít trade Marshall, first of all. After what happened with Cutler, theyíd be insane to continue to just cave to the demands of any player that gets his feelings hurt or wants a trade on a whim. Thatís just from their standpoint. For the Rams, it isnít likely for a lot of reasons, including what theyíd have to give up to get him both financially and in trade and the many, many characters issues that he has.
    As an aside, let me just point something out in regard to the numerous questions I get all the time about trading for that weekís flavor of the week at wide receiver. The names that are presented here are names like Marshall, Braylon Edwards, Anquan Boldin, etc. Well, I donít know if anyone has noticed, but those guys havenít been traded at all and they really havenít even been that close to being traded. So the Rams arenít the only ones not going after these guys so hard. The reasons in each case might be a little different but hereís one that applies across the board: Roy Williams. The Cowboys gave up a ton in terms of compensation and cash to get him from Detroit. The guys mentioned above are as good or better players than Williams so why would their current teams part with them for less than the Lions got for Williams?
    Gary Schneider
    First, thanks a lot, your mailbag is really a cool part of this website. Two simple questions, whatís going on with our 2006 1st round draft choice, Tye Hill? I've heard nothing about how he's been doing in the mini-camps and OTAs. Also, same question about James Hall?
    NW: Iíve written quite a bit about Hill this offseason but hereís what weíve got at this point. He has pretty much recovered from his knee injury. He had a cyst on his knee he had removed and moved around much better after that. He looked pretty good on the practice field and got almost all of the repetitions with the first team defense. That said and heíd be the first to tell you this if you asked him, he knows he needs to prove himself when the lights come on. This is an important training camp and season for him. Steve Spagnuolo has pulled a lot out of some defensive backs with potential in the past, though. Look what he did for Corey Webster in New York last season.
    James Hall looks the same as always. Heís a consistent player that is going to give you maximum effort every play. He might not be an every down guy but he was maybe the teamís most consistent pass rusher in 2008 and I would think in...
    -06-25-2009, 09:15 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag - May 20
    by r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag: May 20

    Scott Bundren

    Hey, Nick. I was just wondering if the Rams could be interested in trading for Roscoe Parrish. The Bills have had him on the trading block since early April. He's an excellent returner (which we need) and would add more depth (and speed) to our WR corps (which we also need). I'm sure they've considered it, but if not, maybe you could leave a note under Devaney or Spagnuolo's doors. I, for one, would love to have him on the team. Thanks for the great work!

    NW: Itís an interesting idea. Not sure if there is interest from the Rams side but a receiver with return capabilities would be intriguing. As it stands, only Derek Stanley had any significant return experience in the NFL among the receivers on the roster.

    Richard A. Morton

    Nick. Great job keeping us informed. Love to read the mailbag and can't wait for Wed to roll around. Lifetime Rams fan here. Since 57. Thanks to our new coach, I'm excited about the coming season and especially the next. I'm thinking he's a real coach, who knows how to take young players and get the max out of them. If I recall correctly. Deacon Jones was drafted in the 14th round. Undrafted now a days! Go Rams!

    NW: Indeed, hidden gems are there to be found. In fact, there are usually two or three guys every year that go undrafted and go on to long and productive careers. Maybe those guys donít go on to become Deacon Jones (who I think is the best pass rusher of all time) but finding those guys is like finding gold. As for your point about Spagnuoloís success getting the most out of young players, Iíd say his track record would support your theory.

    Rich Merchant

    If the Rams had been better at the draft, do you think they might not be in this mess?

    NW: Clearly, the draft is supposed to be the backbone and basis for how you build a team. There was a period at the beginning of the decade until about 2005 where there wasnít much gained through the draft. The past few drafts have been much more fruitful and the current setup seems to have the Rams headed in the right direction.

    Scott Rhoads

    Hey Nick,
    I've been a fan since 1968. I'd like to know your feelings on the starting "D", and how the changes have affected the Rams chances to make the play-offs.

    NW: Itís going to be interesting to see how the defense improves under the guidance of Spagnuolo and Flajole. As it stands, only James Laurinaitis and James Butler will be new starters but there have been some changes that could lead to more success as well. If nothing else, Iíd expect this defense to be more aggressive and more disciplined. Those two ideas might seem to run counter to each other but every defensive player Iíve talked to has said that this defensive scheme isnít as hit or miss as the old one. In other words, if a player misses...
    -05-21-2009, 09:58 PM