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RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

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  • RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

    RamView, August 7, 2007
    Team Scrimmage Report from Lindenwood College


    Hey, St. Louis may have figured out it's time for some football. A capacity crowd of 7,000 watched tonight as the Rams locked horns with one another in the closest atmosphere to a live game they've seen so far this preseason. The problem is, I'm not really sure exactly what we all learned tonight. The Rams might have answers right now to a couple of their myriad issues, but there are still an awful lot of questions left blank thus far on their 2009 NFL entrance exam.

    Position by position:

    * QB: Marc Bulger looked solid enough, though I'm not ready to proclaim he's “back” like they just did on the 10 o'clock news. The short passing game clicked and Bulger especially made some nice throws into tight spaces. He found Keenan Burton and Donnie Avery downfield a couple of times and is still working really well with Randy McMichael. He was picked off from the goal line by Quincy Butler on an attempted out route to Laurent Robinson. Butler really jumped that route, so I'm not sure if Bulger's throw was the problem there. At least I hope not. That wasn't Bulger's only INT, though; Craig Dahl picked off a deep throw to end the offense's first two-minute drill. Nobody inspired much confidence behind Bulger. Kyle Boller was under pretty good pressure much of the scrimmage and chucked a couple of INTs – one a dumb throw into double coverage, another 10 yards past the nearest receiver and right to the deep safety, I think Dahl again. The TE cut off his route early on that second INT, though, and I'll bet he wasn't supposed to. At least in Boller's mind. I actually started worrying about Boller before the scrimmage started; I don't think he made a single good throw to the sideline in warmups. Brock Berlin lost the snap from center on his first play, really bad timing since the Rams were starting that drive at their goal line. Keith Null didn't show a lot of zing on his deep throws, and he badly missed on a timing route into the end zone during goal line drills, but he drilled a pass into the end zone the next play for a TD on what had to be his best throw of camp so far. Null also showed off a pretty nice play-fake. They're doing well enough by-and-large with the short passing game, but there were a lot of misses deep.

    * RB: Very limited action for Steven Jackson – 3-4 snaps – and Kenneth Darby, and on just about any sweep, the refs were blowing the whistle before the back could get out and turn the corner, making it hard again to figure how well many running plays actually would have fared. Samkon Gado started at fullback; I do not believe Mike Karney played. Gado's RB3 ahead of Antonio Pittman, but Pittman showed some of the nice footwork and elusiveness that makes him worth keeping around. Chris Ogbannaya and Null collided on one attempted handoff and had a lengthy discussion on the field over who was at fault. It's going to be hard for me to get a good feel for the progress of the running game until real, live competition starts next week.

    * Receivers: Keenan Burton's in the mix for star of the night. He made a couple of nice downfield catches and also caught the one short TD pass I can remember Bulger throwing. Donnie Avery and Laurent Robinson also had nice outings, and my confidence increased tonight about the Rams entering the regular season with those as the top three receivers. Derek Stanley is 4th at WR, based on tonight's substitution pattern. Tim Carter made a nice play to haul in an underthrown deep ball from Null. Eric Butler had two TD catches at TE but also had the worst drop of the night and may have been the TE who helped cause one of Boller's INTs. Especially with Burton turning in some consistently good performances, WR is starting to look like an area the Rams are getting shored up.

    * Offensive line: Definitely a step backwards tonight for first-round pick Jason Smith, eaten up by Victor Adeyanju and taken to school by Leonard Little. There was a three-play sequence late in scrimmage where Smith probably would have given up three straight sacks. Looked to me like he was dropping too deep too fast, and with bad balance, and his man would just drive him straight back to the QB. Smith saw some snaps on the first unit, but I'm gonna have to slow down my expectations on him, though his potential is undeniable. What's also undeniable? Alex Barron's ability to false start, which he did on a simulated third-and-short to a chorus of thousands of boos. The line had a second false start, but with an unidentified perpetrator. I'm thinking 70 again. And, grrrr. The more some things change, the more they stay the same.

    * Defensive line/LB: The first-string defense started a little slowly but can pretty much be said to have won the night. Leonard Little pwned Jason Smith the series they got to face off, beating him three straight times. The first time he appeared to stun Smith with his punch and rushed right through him. Victor Adeyanju also made some inroads against Smith during the night. Boller can thank God for red jerseys when he gets home, because Cliff Ryan would have obliterated him on a rollout pass that blew up. Nice range from Ryan. Chris Long got a couple of pressures from his end and also spent a curious amount of time working with the twos. C.J. Ah You put on quite a bit of effective pressure in scrub action. And in the oh-crap-here-we-go-again category, Adam Carriker left early with a leg injury I could not determine and did not return. The line got the QBs to rush a lot of throws and had a lot of shots at sacks without doing a lot of blitzing, so it was a successful night for them. Some good linebacking going on as well. Chris Draft flashed in a bunch of times to stuff runs. He also ranks as one of the stars of the night. James Laurinaitis spent the whole night with the second unit and Draft is not giving his position up without a fight. I'm catching up with the Larry Grant bandwagon. He's around the ball a lot. K.C. Asiodu got a moment of glory by picking off a Berlin pass, though the referee's whistle brought a premature end to his return to the house. Dominic Douglas made a couple of nice plays, though he got one pass defense mainly because Null (or Berlin) didn't get enough on a deep throw and hit him in the back with it.

    * Secondary: Jonathan Wade had the hit of the night, sticking Robinson to prevent conversion of a short-yardage down, but he got beat downfield a couple of other times. Ram QBs didn't even try to go after Ron Bartell. I hoped to get a better look at Bartell tonight but he was in zone a few yards off the line anytime I remembered to look. Quincy Butler “flashed” with a very nice INT of Bulger near the offense's goal line, jumping the route perfectly and beating Robinson to the spot. I'm catching up with that bandwagon now, too. Bradley Fletcher looked good the few times the passing game went his way, though watching him try to play gunner on one punt still makes me wonder how much he'll contribute to special teams. The secondary as a whole is noticeably stronger against the run. O.J. Atogwe slashed in a couple of times to stuff runs, though on the starting defense's first play in goal line drills, he bit HARD on a play fake and left TE Butler all alone in the end zone for an easy TD. Cord Parks had a nice pass breakup, catching up to an underthrown bomb from Null after getting beaten deep by his man (Brooks, I think; possibly Curry). Beyond getting beat constantly by the underneath drag route, the secondary played well. They're well-organized and didn't blow any assignments. They supported well against the run. Ram QBs had a fair share of trouble finding receivers, and the defense picked off a bunch of passes, at least 5 or 6. Hmm, any possibility the Rams have a defensive-minded coach now? It's still up in the air to me how the CBs shake out behind Bartell, though, because I don't think Tye Hill has done much to separate himself from the rest of the pack.

    * Special teams: Return specialist auditions continue to be a veritable cattle call. Returning punts at one time or another tonight: Stanley, Curry, Avery, Parks. Kickoffs: Darby, Gado, Carter, and Jarrett Byers. Burton may have returned punts as well. And little's settled here in my mind. Stanley didn't look right out there. He dropped a couple and had to sprint backward 15-20 yards a couple of times to track punts down. I hope he was setting up way too short on purpose. Otherwise, it's Donnie Freaking Jones, for crying out loud, drop back deep. Jones boomed consistent 55-60 yarders before the scrimmage,but his protection allowed too much pressure right up the middle during the scrimmage and he had to rush some punts that came up shorter than his usual standard, and nothing the various Ram returners could really bring back. Josh Brown hit a 50-yard FG to close out a successful 2:00 drill and was hitting from 60 prior to the scrimmage.

    * Coaching/discipline: Steve Spagnuolo observed much of the scrimmage from deep in the Ram backfield. I thought I saw him chew Barron out a little after his false start but that may have been wishful thinking on my part. Not many offensive wrinkles again tonight. There were a few fake end-arounds, and on the opening play, Jackson motioned out of his backfield position to the left slot before an inside handoff to Gado at FB. The secondary appeared to pick Jackson up well. Pat Shurmur appears determined to roll out the QB more than we're accustomed to here, though Boller's the main one I've seen rolling out to date. I'm late bringing this up, but Shurmur is an inverse Al Saunders in that this offense is really working the middle of the field, thank God. And the underneath drag route was there any time the offense wanted it. The Ram D will have to get that tightened up.

    * Cheers: Great crowd tonight! Lindenwood's stadium was filled to capacity on a beautiful summer night with a warm southerly breeze blowing. Announced attendance was 7,000, and I won't argue with the estimate for a change. Stadium capacity is 6,000 and there were plenty of people in the standing areas. The shady west side of the stadium was almost completely filled more than a half hour before the scrimmage was scheduled to start. Lindenwood has a very nice facility (with FieldTurf), and would be a perfect place for the Rams to work out should they decide to have future preseasons outside of Rams Park.

    * Who’s next?: Just Sunday practices from here on out for yours truly. This Sunday'll be my last opportunity to see the team in person before it starts playing live opponents Friday night in New York. The Rams continue to show some pep defensively and look more and more like they'll survive at WR. But there is still a lot of challenge ahead for the team to address by the start of the 2009 season.

    -- Mike

  • #2
    Re: RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

    Thanks. great read. Good grief, I hope Carriker is ok. And we are back at that old perennial conundrum; is one player really doing well/badly or is it a reflection of their counterpart/unit or just an anomaly?

    Some fans ,apparently, find it exasperating. I find it an intriguing puzzle.

    Overall, the thing I like most is Spags' style.For example, he's shown all the support in the world for Bulger yet openly puts pressure on the guy by confessing,essentially, that he was eavesdropping on his huddle. No one & nothing above scrutiny/ reproach .

    I think that, in part, is why things seem to be seesawing so much. This coaching staff seems to me to not be taking the " oh, we know from tape what they do well so let's build around it" approach but more "let's make no assumptions that can't be proven under as realistic conditions as can be safely managed, get all the weaknesses out in the open now, & work them out."
    Last edited by Azul e Oro; -08-08-2009, 01:08 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

      Thanks, Mike. As always.
      The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

        Always a good read, especially when you haven't got a chance to see the scrimmages yourself.

        I especially like the news of Burton starting to make some plays, I still hope that he can surprise people this year. We may not have as bad a group of receivers as you'd think on paper.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

          I was there too and it was nice to see such a turn out. Lots of Rams fans. We had a couple of guys sitting a few rows ahead of us, one had a Josh Brown jersey, the other had a Donnie Jones jersey. Nice touch! Spags got a nice hand as he came on the field too. Overall, a great time. Let's turn this thing around!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

            On the topic of Jason Smith getting pwned... he is going against a healthy Leonard Little. Let's not forget that LL is one of the most dominant pass rushers in the NFL when healthy, lets give the kid a break. Also I love hearing about Victor Ayendeju doing well- I'm still standing by my early predictions, he will be our Justin Tuck type of difference maker on the d line. So imho don't get worried that our rook is struggling, he is going against two of the best in the bigs.

            Also, great article. Thanks for giving us some in person insight.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

              great to see our recievers take a step foward hopefully that can continue. glad to hear spags chew out barron spags needs to do whatever it take to make barron know when to move and when not to.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

                Originally posted by C-Mob 71 View Post
                On the topic of Jason Smith getting pwned... he is going against a healthy Leonard Little. Let's not forget that LL is one of the most dominant pass rushers in the NFL when healthy, lets give the kid a break. Also I love hearing about Victor Ayendeju doing well- I'm still standing by my early predictions, he will be our Justin Tuck type of difference maker on the d line. So imho don't get worried that our rook is struggling, he is going against two of the best in the bigs.

                Also, great article. Thanks for giving us some in person insight.
                Don't get me wrong; I'm still totally aboard Jason Smith's bandwagon & agree with your points. Just wanted to take my foot off the gas pedal a little bit from last week. Still think he's the opening day RT.

                --Mike

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

                  Originally posted by Tony Banks View Post
                  I was there too and it was nice to see such a turn out. Lots of Rams fans. We had a couple of guys sitting a few rows ahead of us, one had a Josh Brown jersey, the other had a Donnie Jones jersey. Nice touch! Spags got a nice hand as he came on the field too. Overall, a great time. Let's turn this thing around!
                  I got into the stadium right behind those guys! They should get extra awesome points for those jerseys.

                  --Mike

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

                    Leonard Little or no... it sounds like we might need to shelter the kid a little bit when the season starts by leaving a back in for protection on the right side, or at least to chip the defender. Definitely sounds like he's not ready for the left side yet either. Barron's at least proven himself over there before.

                    Thanks for the report, I can't wait to see them next friday night!
                    I believe!:ram:

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

                      Originally posted by C-Mob 71 View Post
                      On the topic of Jason Smith getting pwned... he is going against a healthy Leonard Little. Let's not forget that LL is one of the most dominant pass rushers in the NFL when healthy, lets give the kid a break.
                      Here's a hypothetical situation: if the guy in your avatar had looked so overwhelmed at the start of his NFL career, would you have been pleased?

                      Smith is the second overall pick in the 2009 draft; if he can't adjust quickly, it's not looking promising.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

                        It's only a week into training camp, so let's not condemn Jason Smith to bustville quite yet. Let's at least let him get some gelling time with his line mates in the preseason first before we really rate him. I know I'll be looking intently at that right side in the Jets game myself.
                        I believe!:ram:

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

                          Thanks for the report! Always a good read.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

                            Originally posted by MFranke View Post
                            Don't get me wrong; I'm still totally aboard Jason Smith's bandwagon & agree with your points. Just wanted to take my foot off the gas pedal a little bit from last week. Still think he's the opening day RT.

                            --Mike
                            I think we are all underestimating the difficulty of that transition for Jason Smith. It's still quite early, he'll be fine, along with James Laurinitis. I'm curious about Foster if he's going to catch on and surprise us?
                            Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009

                              Man. Good read. I am confident in our receiver group, I'll be wearing my Avery jersey on friday!

                              I'm not shocked one bit about Barron...

                              If he continues to screw us over with false starts, bench him, move Smith to the left and start Goldberg on the right.

                              Comment

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                              • MFranke
                                RamView, 9/3/2009: Rams 17, Chiefs 9 (Long)
                                by MFranke
                                RamView, September 3, 2009
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                                The St. Louis Rams – 2009 Missouri state champs! But more important than that, believe it or not, were the final intrasquad contests, at nearly every position. RamView will now take on the daunting task of breaking down those battles while not detracting from the historical nature of the Rams bringing the storied Governor’s Cup back east…

                                * QB: Whoever won the fight at third QB tonight didn’t do it by knockout. Brock Berlin (9-17-97) probably had the better night, despite a bad interception deep in the Rams’ own end in the 2nd. Berlin underthrew what was supposed to be a quick out for Daniel Fells. Hard to believe he didn’t see DaJuan Morgan out there, so I’m assuming the throw was worse than the decision was. Berlin played the second quarter and led the Rams on an earlier TD drive, making several nice throws along the way. After being robbed of a 33-yard TD pass thanks to Derek Stanley’s brutal drop, he hit Nate Jones on the sideline at the 6 with a 27- yard pass, and shortly after, drilled a pass to Fells in traffic at the goal line for the go-ahead TD. Berlin’s engineered some TD drives this summer; his ability to finish drives has to work in his favor. Keith Null (9-17-78) auditioned the whole second half, hitting only one long throw of note, as 23-yarder to Sean Walker. Null didn’t show a lot of touch on what you’d have to call classic WCO throws. Several of the five-yard slant-variety throws he made were high, hard ones his receiver couldn’t handle. Easy there, hoss. Null also fumbled on a completely-blown running play and walked right into a sack in the 4th. Tonight’s starter was actually Kyle Boller (3-4-24), who barely broke even if you take away the 18 yards he lost on just two sacks. I have no idea what the decision’s going to be at QB. Taking the snap from center, having to deal with blitzes, Null hasn’t looked ready to run the offense the last couple of weeks. Yeah, about as ready as Berlin was to play in Cincinnati a couple of years ago. And Steve Spagnuolo’s last team in New York wasn’t that concerned about entering recent seasons without much experience at third string, like Andre Woodson or Hefty Lefty Lorenzen, both 7th-round picks iirc. The guess here is that Berlin’s really going to wish he had that interception back. Waiver bait: Berlin.

                                * RB: The muddle behind Steven Jackson on the depth chart got even more muddled when Samkon Gado (6-17) left the game due to a rib injury. And even more muddled because the other backs didn’t make much of their golden ticket. Antonio Pittman (3-3) made a couple of nice blitz pickups but didn’t find much running room. Kenneth Darby (3-14) weaved through the middle nicely a couple of times. Chris Ogbannaya (12-41) got extensive work in the 2nd half. He popped a couple of 10-yard runs early but spent the rest of...
                                -09-04-2009, 11:14 AM
                              • MFranke
                                RamView, 8/21/2009: Falcons 20, Rams 13 (Long)
                                by MFranke
                                RamView, August 21, 2009
                                From Row HH
                                (Report and opinions from the game.)
                                Preseason Game #2: Falcons 20, Rams 13

                                Preseason is easy to overreact to; trust me, I'm an expert at it. The Rams definitely showed flaws, some painfully familiar, while getting overpowered by the Falcons tonight. But just as those weren't the 1999 Rams who won in New York last week, those weren't the 2007-08 Rams last night. While not ignoring the minuses, we'll be better off heeding the timeless words of Allen Iverson. We're talking about practice!

                                Position by position:
                                * QB: Now that I know Kyle Boller is dating former Miss California Carrie Prejean, who joins a list that includes Tara Reid and Petra Nemcova, all I can think now when I see him is, “Stoney Case”. If Boller (9-16-91) was as rusty in the singles scene as he was on the field tonight, he'd be dating Madeline Albright. Boller was about as accurate as a rookie weatherman at times. Most of his sideline passes were adventures. At least two of them should have been picked off. Laurent Robinson was open by a good couple of yards for what should have been a 40-yard TD in the 2nd, and Boller threw a bomb out of bounds that the WR couldn't even get to. He had Randy McMichael open by a mile on a dig route deep in Atlanta territory in the 2nd and threw the pass into the ground, short of him by yards. He had Keenan Burton open on one sideline pass, pumped, then had to roll out Burton's direction and throw him the pass on the comeback, that way he could get it out there. Yikes. I understand Boller's coming off shoulder surgery, and that he had men in his face on some of his throws, but everybody else understand that we're going to miss Marc Bulger if he stays hurt. A lot. I'll try to account for Boller's rust and that we've been spoiled by pinpoint-accurate throwers like Bulger and Kurt Warner for a decade. But Boller's numbers on the night were inches from being Ryan Leaf-quality. Speaking of Leaf, his protege Keith Null (6-9-56) had a pretty nice 4th quarter, though Null should look good in the 2:00 drill; that's basically his college offense. Null was accurate, threw the ball into some tight spots, showed a sweet play fake, and ran the offense and stood tall in the pocket with poise. He drove the Rams right down the field from their 35 toward the tying TD before Sean Walker got knocked off his route on a 4th-down blitz, and Null's spot pass for him was intercepted in the end zone. But it looks more and more like the kid's got “it”. That may be a bad thing for Brock Berlin (5-8-71), though he didn't have a bad 3rd quarter. His TD pass to Derek Stanley was a suh-weet throw. He couldn't keep the momentum going, though, taking a sack the next possession despite having plenty of time to throw and Jerome Johnson out in the flat lonelier than a pork chop at a vegan buffet. Thank you! I'll be here all week. So will Berlin, though thanks to Null's emergence, I'm...
                                -08-22-2009, 10:40 AM
                              • MFranke
                                RamView, 8/27/2009: Rams 24, Bengals 21 (Long)
                                by MFranke
                                RamView, August 27, 2009
                                From The Couch
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                                Preseason Game #3: Rams 24, Bengals 21

                                The Rams took a hard knock early from the stars of Hard Knocks, but rode the turnover wave again to bounce back for their second preseason victory, and bounce back from last week’s tough loss. Overcoming their flaws tonight with opportunism and resiliency, this team’s showing the character Steve Spagnuolo’s trying to instill in them. They’re far from perfect, but unlike the last two seasons, they’re playing like believers.

                                * QB: It was a nice night to be Kyle Boller (14-20-96, 1 TD), as he led a long TD drive in the 1st to reset the team’s momentum from a poor start. Boller showed fine poise in the pocket, nice mobility I should have given him more credit for last week, and good accuracy on most of his passes. It helped that everything was to the middle of the field this week instead of the more difficult outside throws Boller’s been struggling with. But it helped more that he made critical plays during the two TD drives he led. A screen to Steven Jackson with a blitz coming converted a 2nd-and-long, and again later with a Bengal bearing down on him, Boller found Ronald Curry on 3rd-and-7 to keep the 1st TD drive alive. Boller kept the 2nd TD drive afloat with clutch play, a tough 2nd-down scramble followed by a bullet slant pass to Laurent Robinson for a first down at the Bengals 5. Factor in 2 or 3 drops by his receivers, and Boller had as good a night as you could want him to have, especially since it left out those difficult deep throws that vexed him last week. The QB3 battle, meanwhile, has turned into an unpretty war of attrition, with neither of the back-benchers showing much tonight. Brock Berlin was 2-5-21 in the 3rd, and in the 4th, Keith Null (1-4-24) suddenly turned into 2000 Rick Ankiel, making high, wild throws and looking little like a player who had developed into one of the surprises of training camp. Even his one completion was a dubious play, a ball unwisely chucked into coverage but caught by Sean Walker across midfield. Not sure what made Null so uncomfortable tonight – less work from the shotgun? Bengal blitzing? But he looked as bad making sideline throws as Boller did last week, and the clash at QB3 is going to come down to a tiebreaker next week.

                                * RB: What does Steven Jackson (5-12) have in common with the President of the US? They both get a LOT of August off. Jackson had just 6 touches tonight, most of them handoffs with no room to run where he got stuffed. He had one 10-yard run, but a key play of the first TD drive was a 2nd-and-11 screen pass where he hurdled a tackler and scooted for the 1st. Samkon Gado (5-33) stepped in that same drive at RB2 and loudly announced “I’d like to keep this job, please,” with a 9-yard power run and a 16-yard cutback run for a TD that put the Rams back in the game. Also helping Gado keep RB2: Antonio...
                                -08-28-2009, 12:54 PM
                              • MFranke
                                RamView, 8/14/2009: Rams 23, Jets 20 (Long)
                                by MFranke
                                RamView, August 14, 2009
                                From The Couch
                                (Report and opinions on the game.)
                                Preseason Game #1: Rams 23, Jets 20

                                Last year's disastrous preseason opener led to a disaster of a season. With tonight's game, Rams fans can hope the team has put a lot of 2008 behind it. Compare the first preseason games. Winning 23-20 instead of losing 34-13? I'll take it. Giving up 102 yards on the ground instead of 343? I'll definitely take it. The offense that settles for too many field goals and still doesn't protect Marc Bulger adequately? We'll have to wait on that. But this year's Rams are starting off on the right foot, instead of shooting themselves in it.

                                Position by position:
                                * QB: Marc Bulger (4-4-77) played about a quarter and a half, and when his teammates protected him, he looked sharp and threw accurately, including as good a pass as he's thrown as a pro, a 50-yard bomb he dropped right into Laurent Robinson's breadbasket in the 2nd. Protection problems, though, got Bulger sacked a startling three times and forced the offense to settle for 3 FGs. Kyle Boller got about a quarter but was pressured into an underwhelming 3-9-25 performance, relying a lot on bootlegs and swing passes. Brock Berlin was 6-8-27 but had a short night, spraining a knee while getting dragged down at the end of a naked bootleg by Zach Potter. The most impressive QB off the bench may have been Keith Null (2-2-16). After Berlin's injury rushed him into play, the Rams got a composed and ultimately game-winning play from the rookie. Sean Walker lined up wrong with the Rams at the Jet 14, but instead of blowing a timeout, Null got Walker lined up correctly before the snap and wound up exploiting a mismatch with a LB and hitting Walker for the go-ahead TD. Berlin'd better be wary or he'll get Wally Pipped. Or is that Trent Greened?

                                * RB: Steven Jackson had just a couple of carries and was pulled from the game after a 13-yard gain late in the first. The competition for the spots behind Jackson got more heated when Samkon Gado (6-93) started the second half by exploding up the middle and running through the Jet secondary for a 77-yard TD. Antonio Pittman's (4-36) getting plenty of chances and still looks like the Rams' most elusive back. He bounced a run outside for 20 and forced a fumble on special teams to enhance his chances. Unfortunately, the biggest competition between the RBs tonight was to see who could pick up blitzes the worst. Jackson didn't get a block on the blitzing safety, helping LB David Harris score a sack to shut down the Rams' opening drive. Chris Ogbannaya (9-29) let Kenwin Cummings go right by him and drop Berlin for a huge loss in the 4th. The big winner(?), though, was Kenneth Darby (6-16), who looked far worse in blitz protection tonight than he ever did last season. He let a DB go right around him, creating pressure that led to Calvin Pace getting the Jets' second sack. The third came...
                                -08-15-2009, 02:30 AM
                              • MFranke
                                RamView training camp report: 8/1/2009 (a.m.)
                                by MFranke
                                RamView Training Camp Report
                                First practice, August 1, 2009

                                The first practice Saturday was a little disappointing, to be honest. Today's session wasn't as fan-friendly to view as past sessions, not that
                                there was much of a crowd at Rams Park to disappoint. And so far it looks like the defense is pretty far ahead of the offense. Although a lot of
                                this morning's activities were hard to see, there was still some good stuff to see, so let's get into it. How much can really be bad when FOOTBALL IS BACK?

                                * QB: I didn't get the best of looks at the QBs, and frankly, what I saw wasn't much to be impressed about. Lots of dumpoffs in 11-on-11. Kyle Boller and Brock Berlin did most of the throwing in passing drills and put some nice throws in tight spots. Berlin threw one into the ground later in 11-on-11, though. The goal line offense was a real mess from what I could see. They tried a lot of plays meant to get the ball out quickly but it ended up in a lot of rushed throws, deflections and knockdowns. I'm not sure there was even a TD completion during the drill (be mindful that they were on the FAR end of the practice field, though). Marc Bulger made the day's dumbest throw, rushing and trying to force a swing pass that OJ Atogwe jumped for a simulated TD. Bulger made a nice deep throw to Tim Carter later in 7-on-7 for a long simulated TD. Keith Null hasn't impressed me yet. He had the other pickoff I saw - he tried to lead a TE on a deep sideline route but the pass was too short, hit the trailing defender in the head, with Cord Parks claiming the rebound for the INT. I didn't see any great advertisement for Null's arm strength, or for the Rams' quarterbacking right now today, either.

                                * RB: Got even less of a look at the RBs than the QBs. Samkon Gado got more reps than I noticed any other RB got. Steven Jackson and Kenneth Darby seemed to be used very lightly. Gado caught a lot of passes and looked adept at it. Didn't see anybody tear off any runs for significant gains, though. The drills I got to see focused on receiving, blocking and holding on to the ball. Everyone ran a few times through a machine I haven't seen out there before that I'll call an "arms machine" for lack of a better name and/or knowledge. The running game did not do much in 11-on-11, but nobody put the ball on the ground, so that's at least a good thing.

                                * WR: One of two standouts to me from this morning's practice is Donnie Avery. He definitely won against Ron Bartell in passing drills, once turning Bartell completely inside out on a corner-type move. Bartell grabbed Avery by the shoulder pad the last time they faced off and Avery still made the catch despite the obvious interference. Like what I'm seeing so far from Avery in route-running and in physical play. Randy McMichael got a lot of looks in 7-on-7. Daniel Fells is already rumbling out there and nobody on D wants a part of him. Ronald Curry...
                                -08-01-2009, 10:58 AM
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