What's new
Fantasy Football - Footballguys Forums

Welcome to Our Forums. Once you've registered and logged in, you're primed to talk football, among other topics, with the sharpest and most experienced fantasy players on the internet.

All Rams, All The Time (1 Viewer)

couple camp reports, from don banks of SI & clayton of espn...

bradford is starting to elicit some props...

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writ...html?xid=si_nfl

Posted: Friday August 6, 2010 11:02PM ; Updated: Saturday August 7, 2010 12:49PM

Don Banks

Bradford already dazzling in camp

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- If Sam Bradford keeps having eye-opening practices like the one he cranked out Friday afternoon at Rams training camp, this barely-begun St. Louis quarterback competition between the NFL's No. 1 overall pick and veteran A.J. Feeley isn't going to make late August. And that may be the easiest snap judgment I've ever rendered.

Not to go all "I have seen the future of rock n' roll'' on you, but I did just see the future of the St. Louis Rams at the game's most pivotal position, and it's in very good hands indeed. Bradford had a razor-sharp showing in the Rams' 2½-hour practice, with everyone from St. Louis head coach Steve Spagnuolo on down calling it the finest so far of his nascent NFL career.

"Every day he sees the field more and more, and you can see it coming,'' Feeley told me, just minutes after the Rams completed their final workout before Saturday night's intra-squad scrimmage. "He's starting to get it. You can just tell. Today he just had his best day of practice since he's been here.''

Bradford looked in almost complete command over the course of the Rams' 10th workout of camp, throwing bullets in every direction and routinely hitting his receivers in stride and on the hands. Working with the first team on at least 40 or 50 percent of his snaps -- which is more than he has been seeing -- he had completions to at least a half dozen St. Louis pass-catchers, tossed a pair of crowd-pleasing touchdown passes, and gave a real glimpse of the potential that led the Rams to award him that ground-breaking six-year, $78 million contract last week.

You could almost feel the surge of excitement that Bradford's practice performance created, as teammates, coaches and fans alike watched his every throw with building anticipation. Afterward, the always understated Bradford admitted to me that he felt "pretty good out there,'' which is about as close to bragging as it gets for the former Heisman-Trophy winning Oklahoma quarterback. But if Bradford follows up Friday's results with another boffo display of passing in Saturday night's scrimmage, look out. Bradford Fever may soon ensue in St. Louis.

And the Rams will be Sam's Club before you know it.

"Today was definitely one of my better practices,'' said Bradford, letting a slight smile slip out. "It's always nice when you have days like that, especially this early, when sometimes it's a grind and I feel like I'm struggling and things are tougher than what they were in college. So to come out there and have a day like that, it really does kind of give you some confidence. In your head, you're like, 'Okay, I can do this.'''

I spent 15 minutes with Bradford in the office of a Rams team executive after practice, and he gave me a pretty good snapshot of how the early days of his rookie NFL season are unfolding. He said he felt "overwhelmed'' at times during the first week of training camp, with his mind going "1,000 miles per hour.'' But the game is starting to slow down for him, and he's eager to take the field in Saturday night's scrimmage, because it marks the first time he'll be completely healthy in a game-type situation since the Sooners' 2009 season opener.

"I really haven't played a lot of football in the past year,'' said Bradford, who played in just three games as a senior, finishing only one thanks to two well-chronicled injuries to his throwing shoulder. "I think that's what makes (Saturday night) even more special. Some people look at it and say, 'Oh, it's just a scrimmage.' Me? It's the first opportunity I've had to play football since I've gotten hurt. That's exciting.''

Even Spagnuolo seemed excited by the obvious jump his young quarterback took Friday. Like any NFL head coach (outside of the Jets offices), "Spags'' isn't going to add fresh oxygen to the hype. But Bradford might have teased us all with a preview of things to come this season, and it was hard not to be wowed by his ridiculously accurate arm and quality decision-making. Spagnuolo confided to me that the Rams are putting their quarterbacks on a 35-second play clock in team drills at practice, and the rookie is more than keeping pace.

"That was a good day for him, his best practice,'' Spagnuolo said. "And I know you're probably thinking of the (touchdown passes), but there was a play that he got (the pass) out quick on a blitz that I think was just as incredible as what he did on the touchdown throws. He got the ball out quick all day. The play clock is speeding everything up and the tempo is good.

"One thing you've got to remember now is this is practice. I don't mean to be Allen Iverson here, but you're talking about the development of a quarterback, and there's a certain tempo of practice compared to a preseason game. But Saturday night's environment will be a little different for him. It'll be a good first step.''

While everybody is eager to learn when the Bradford era in St. Louis will start in earnest, meaning his ascension to the starting lineup, here's what I came away from my visit to Rams camp believing:

• St. Louis isn't going to run Bradford out there as its opening day starter against visiting Arizona unless the rookie's performance in the preseason justifies it. Just because they gave him $50 million guaranteed, they're not going to skewer the competition between him and Feeley to ensure the rookie wins it. But if it's close, with no clear-cut victor, the jump ball will clearly go to Bradford.

• That said, the Rams went 1-15 last year and feel an obligation to the other 52 players on the 2010 team to play the quarterback who gives them the best shot to win games, especially early on. They can't afford year two of the Spagnuolo era to be just about the development of the team's franchise quarterback. Not with St. Louis going an NFL-worst 6-42 over the past three seasons.

• Feeley has gotten the vast majority of first-team reps so far in practice and he's having a very solid camp. His command and comfort level with the Rams' version of the West Coast offense is obvious, and he won't be easily displaced in the lineup by Bradford. I could see a scenario where Feeley starts the season at No. 1, and then gives way to Bradford by maybe Week 3 or 4. But I can also envision the momentum building in Bradford's favor from this point forward, with some credible preseason showings clinching the deal for him to be under center against the Cardinals.

As good as Bradford looked Friday, maybe the best news for Rams fans is how he's approaching his quarterback competition with Feeley. Bradford is adamant that it won't be a coronation. He refuses to assume the mantle of franchise savior, and has consistently deferred to his more experienced fellow quarterbacks, Feeley and No. 3 Keith Null. Everyone I talked to at the Rams camp had a story for me of how Bradford gets it, and wants nothing more than to find his place on this team without fanfare or self-importance.

"That's just part of my personality, but I do feel that way because I haven't done anything in this league yet,'' Bradford said earnestly. "I realize everything has to be earned. I don't want anything given to me. I don't want any reps given to me. I don't want to play because I'm the No. 1 pick. I want to play because the coaches and staff feel that I'm the guy who gives us the best chance to win. That's kind of my approach to everything.''

When the Rams told Bradford that the St. Louis Cardinals wanted to invite him to a game and have him introduced to the crowd, he agreed to do it only on the condition that he went with both Feeley and Null and they all got the same introduction. When Bradford, a very good golfer, was invited to play with other NFL players at the American Century Championship Celebrity Golf tourney last month in Lake Tahoe, he declined, saying he didn't feel it was right for him to participate having never taken an NFL snap.

And as Spagnuolo tells it, Bradford also showed pitch-perfect judgment when he agreed to play in announcer Joe Buck's charity golf tournament in St. Louis the day after the Rams' rookie mini-camp closed, providing he had clubs that were supplied by his agents and playing partners that day, Tom Condon and Ben Dogra.

The reason? "Sam said 'I'm not showing up at my first mini-camp, coming off the plane with my golf clubs,''' Spagnuolo said. "Some guys would have not thought like that. With Sam, all those signs are quality signs. We've talked about what he should concentrate on is being the best teammate he can be and the best player he can be. And he is.''

Feeley, the 10-year NFL veteran, is as impressed as anyone with the big-picture perspective of his rookie teammate. The two locker side by side, and Feeley told me Bradford's head is constantly in his playbook, with the former Sooner showing no inclination to try and work the locker room and win over his new teammates with mere words.

"He gets it, and that's what makes him good,'' Feeley said. "He's going to be the face of the organization, and that's inevitable. But he understands what this is all about. That's about getting on the field and performing. So all this stuff that goes on outside of that, it's great and all, but until he feels comfortable in what he's doing and he's proven himself, it's not important to him.''

In some ways I don't know what was more impressive about Bradford on Friday, what I saw from him on the field, or what I heard about him off it. But both of them went a long way toward convincing me the Rams got the right guy at quarterback. In time, with that arm, and that head, he's going to lead this long downtrodden team to better days.

"I'm a part of this team too, and I want this team to win as many games as possible this year,'' Bradford said, when I asked if he had a timetable for winning the starting job. "And if that's with me at the quarterback position, then that's obviously what I want. If that's not with me at the position this year, then I understand that, and I'm going to work as hard as I can to get on the field as soon as possible. I'll be out there when the coaches feel that I'm ready to help this team win.''

After Friday's step in the right direction, that might just be sooner than anyone with the Rams had even hoped.

________________________________________________________________________________

____________

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/trainingcamp...&id=5445006

Originally Published: August 7, 2010

Sam Bradford is long-term remedy

With franchise quarterback in the fold, Rams feel they can build solid foundation

By John Clayton

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Often in sports, franchises must take a step back in order to move forward.

Blessed with great quarterback play for a decade, the St. Louis Rams kept passing on young quarterbacks, hoping Marc Bulger would cover for their declining talent base. He couldn't. The Rams bottomed out with a 1-15 record last season and got the first pick in the 2010 draft.

Although Rams officials won't publicly admit it, they were sold on drafting Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford before the 2009 regular season ended. It's a quarterback-driven league, and the Rams knew they could get the jump on the rest of their division rivals by grabbing Bradford. Matt Leinart of the Cardinals, Alex Smith of the 49ers and Matt Hasselbeck of the Seahawks are all in year-to-year situations.

Optimism for this season is grounded in reality. Bradford has the benefit of having a decent offensive line and a great running back (Steven Jackson), but growing pains are inevitable. Steve Spagnuolo is an upbeat head coach who is trying to develop an aggressive defense. But the key to this season is developing Bradford and coming together as a team. That might not translate into a lot of victories, but it would set up the Rams toward becoming players in the NFC West again in years to come.

Here are three observations from Rams camp:

• Bradford shows every sign that he could be the opening-day starter from his work in practice. He's a tall pocket passer with an accurate arm. Having worked the college spread offense for the past couple of seasons, he might not be completely comfortable retreating from center on three-, five- and seven-step drops, but he's good enough.

The key is his accuracy. Bradford knows how to throw a catchable, accurate pass. He has the knack of locating a throw so a receiver can make the grab and get some yards after the catch. The only thing that would prevent him from starting the opener would be the urgency of beating the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams won only one game last season, so Spagnuolo needs a win to give everyone hope.

The talent comparisons between Bradford and A.J. Feeley are dramatic. Feeley is a decent backup. Bradford has that Matt Ryan look of being an elite franchise quarterback. The problem facing Spagnuolo is that if he starts Bradford and the quarterback has a poor game that results in a loss, the feeling that this season is only about developing Bradford might enter the locker room. The Rams will use four preseason games to see which quarterback gives them the best chance of beating Arizona.

• Thursday was an important day for the Rams, as they got to see how the offensive line will work this season. Jason Smith, the second pick of the 2009 draft, was healthy enough to go on the practice field after missing a week because of a slow recovery from offseason toe surgery. A left tackle in college, Smith struggled making the adjustment to right tackle last year because he had to completely revamp his stance, footwork and how he used his hands. A bad concussion and the toe problem further complicated things.

Smith lined up Thursday as the right tackle, leaving second-round choice Rodger Saffold as the starting left tackle. Don't expect that to change. After coaches had watched Saffold in practice for a week, they realized he's better as a left tackle prospect than they expected. He sets up nicely to handle pass-rushers, and Spagnuolo knows the importance of having the quarterback's blind side protected. They also remembered that when Smith played in a three-game stretch at right tackle last season, his ability to maul defenders on running plays to the right gave the offense some of its better yardage numbers. Having the second pick in a draft as a right tackle may not translate into great value for the dollar, but at least the Rams have addressed the two tackle spots and won't have to touch them for the next few years.

They also have a Pro Bowl-caliber center in Jason Brown and a decent left guard in Jacob Bell. The key is making sure Saffold doesn't look like a rookie in his first season at left tackle.

• Jackson is a freak. He showed up at camp eight pounds heavier than last season and every bit as fast. Now he's 244 pounds and has 5 percent body fat. He has put together five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and wants to do at least five more. His goal is to play a dozen seasons. Most running backs start to run out of gas after about 1,600 carries. Jackson feels as if he's just getting started after 1,548 rushing attempts.

He knows teams will stack eight and nine defenders at the line of scrimmage to stop him, particularly when the Rams go to Bradford as the starter. Armed with fullback Mike Karney, Jackson is ready for the pounding.

 
couple camp reports, from don banks of SI & clayton of espn...

bradford is starting to elicit some props...

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writ...html?xid=si_nfl

Posted: Friday August 6, 2010 11:02PM ; Updated: Saturday August 7, 2010 12:49PM

Don Banks

Bradford already dazzling in camp

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- If Sam Bradford keeps having eye-opening practices like the one he cranked out Friday afternoon at Rams training camp, this barely-begun St. Louis quarterback competition between the NFL's No. 1 overall pick and veteran A.J. Feeley isn't going to make late August. And that may be the easiest snap judgment I've ever rendered.

Not to go all "I have seen the future of rock n' roll'' on you, but I did just see the future of the St. Louis Rams at the game's most pivotal position, and it's in very good hands indeed. Bradford had a razor-sharp showing in the Rams' 2½-hour practice, with everyone from St. Louis head coach Steve Spagnuolo on down calling it the finest so far of his nascent NFL career.

"Every day he sees the field more and more, and you can see it coming,'' Feeley told me, just minutes after the Rams completed their final workout before Saturday night's intra-squad scrimmage. "He's starting to get it. You can just tell. Today he just had his best day of practice since he's been here.''

Bradford looked in almost complete command over the course of the Rams' 10th workout of camp, throwing bullets in every direction and routinely hitting his receivers in stride and on the hands. Working with the first team on at least 40 or 50 percent of his snaps -- which is more than he has been seeing -- he had completions to at least a half dozen St. Louis pass-catchers, tossed a pair of crowd-pleasing touchdown passes, and gave a real glimpse of the potential that led the Rams to award him that ground-breaking six-year, $78 million contract last week.

You could almost feel the surge of excitement that Bradford's practice performance created, as teammates, coaches and fans alike watched his every throw with building anticipation. Afterward, the always understated Bradford admitted to me that he felt "pretty good out there,'' which is about as close to bragging as it gets for the former Heisman-Trophy winning Oklahoma quarterback. But if Bradford follows up Friday's results with another boffo display of passing in Saturday night's scrimmage, look out. Bradford Fever may soon ensue in St. Louis.

And the Rams will be Sam's Club before you know it.

"Today was definitely one of my better practices,'' said Bradford, letting a slight smile slip out. "It's always nice when you have days like that, especially this early, when sometimes it's a grind and I feel like I'm struggling and things are tougher than what they were in college. So to come out there and have a day like that, it really does kind of give you some confidence. In your head, you're like, 'Okay, I can do this.'''

I spent 15 minutes with Bradford in the office of a Rams team executive after practice, and he gave me a pretty good snapshot of how the early days of his rookie NFL season are unfolding. He said he felt "overwhelmed'' at times during the first week of training camp, with his mind going "1,000 miles per hour.'' But the game is starting to slow down for him, and he's eager to take the field in Saturday night's scrimmage, because it marks the first time he'll be completely healthy in a game-type situation since the Sooners' 2009 season opener.

"I really haven't played a lot of football in the past year,'' said Bradford, who played in just three games as a senior, finishing only one thanks to two well-chronicled injuries to his throwing shoulder. "I think that's what makes (Saturday night) even more special. Some people look at it and say, 'Oh, it's just a scrimmage.' Me? It's the first opportunity I've had to play football since I've gotten hurt. That's exciting.''

Even Spagnuolo seemed excited by the obvious jump his young quarterback took Friday. Like any NFL head coach (outside of the Jets offices), "Spags'' isn't going to add fresh oxygen to the hype. But Bradford might have teased us all with a preview of things to come this season, and it was hard not to be wowed by his ridiculously accurate arm and quality decision-making. Spagnuolo confided to me that the Rams are putting their quarterbacks on a 35-second play clock in team drills at practice, and the rookie is more than keeping pace.

"That was a good day for him, his best practice,'' Spagnuolo said. "And I know you're probably thinking of the (touchdown passes), but there was a play that he got (the pass) out quick on a blitz that I think was just as incredible as what he did on the touchdown throws. He got the ball out quick all day. The play clock is speeding everything up and the tempo is good.

"One thing you've got to remember now is this is practice. I don't mean to be Allen Iverson here, but you're talking about the development of a quarterback, and there's a certain tempo of practice compared to a preseason game. But Saturday night's environment will be a little different for him. It'll be a good first step.''

While everybody is eager to learn when the Bradford era in St. Louis will start in earnest, meaning his ascension to the starting lineup, here's what I came away from my visit to Rams camp believing:

• St. Louis isn't going to run Bradford out there as its opening day starter against visiting Arizona unless the rookie's performance in the preseason justifies it. Just because they gave him $50 million guaranteed, they're not going to skewer the competition between him and Feeley to ensure the rookie wins it. But if it's close, with no clear-cut victor, the jump ball will clearly go to Bradford.

• That said, the Rams went 1-15 last year and feel an obligation to the other 52 players on the 2010 team to play the quarterback who gives them the best shot to win games, especially early on. They can't afford year two of the Spagnuolo era to be just about the development of the team's franchise quarterback. Not with St. Louis going an NFL-worst 6-42 over the past three seasons.

• Feeley has gotten the vast majority of first-team reps so far in practice and he's having a very solid camp. His command and comfort level with the Rams' version of the West Coast offense is obvious, and he won't be easily displaced in the lineup by Bradford. I could see a scenario where Feeley starts the season at No. 1, and then gives way to Bradford by maybe Week 3 or 4. But I can also envision the momentum building in Bradford's favor from this point forward, with some credible preseason showings clinching the deal for him to be under center against the Cardinals.

As good as Bradford looked Friday, maybe the best news for Rams fans is how he's approaching his quarterback competition with Feeley. Bradford is adamant that it won't be a coronation. He refuses to assume the mantle of franchise savior, and has consistently deferred to his more experienced fellow quarterbacks, Feeley and No. 3 Keith Null. Everyone I talked to at the Rams camp had a story for me of how Bradford gets it, and wants nothing more than to find his place on this team without fanfare or self-importance.

"That's just part of my personality, but I do feel that way because I haven't done anything in this league yet,'' Bradford said earnestly. "I realize everything has to be earned. I don't want anything given to me. I don't want any reps given to me. I don't want to play because I'm the No. 1 pick. I want to play because the coaches and staff feel that I'm the guy who gives us the best chance to win. That's kind of my approach to everything.''

When the Rams told Bradford that the St. Louis Cardinals wanted to invite him to a game and have him introduced to the crowd, he agreed to do it only on the condition that he went with both Feeley and Null and they all got the same introduction. When Bradford, a very good golfer, was invited to play with other NFL players at the American Century Championship Celebrity Golf tourney last month in Lake Tahoe, he declined, saying he didn't feel it was right for him to participate having never taken an NFL snap.

And as Spagnuolo tells it, Bradford also showed pitch-perfect judgment when he agreed to play in announcer Joe Buck's charity golf tournament in St. Louis the day after the Rams' rookie mini-camp closed, providing he had clubs that were supplied by his agents and playing partners that day, Tom Condon and Ben Dogra.

The reason? "Sam said 'I'm not showing up at my first mini-camp, coming off the plane with my golf clubs,''' Spagnuolo said. "Some guys would have not thought like that. With Sam, all those signs are quality signs. We've talked about what he should concentrate on is being the best teammate he can be and the best player he can be. And he is.''

Feeley, the 10-year NFL veteran, is as impressed as anyone with the big-picture perspective of his rookie teammate. The two locker side by side, and Feeley told me Bradford's head is constantly in his playbook, with the former Sooner showing no inclination to try and work the locker room and win over his new teammates with mere words.

"He gets it, and that's what makes him good,'' Feeley said. "He's going to be the face of the organization, and that's inevitable. But he understands what this is all about. That's about getting on the field and performing. So all this stuff that goes on outside of that, it's great and all, but until he feels comfortable in what he's doing and he's proven himself, it's not important to him.''

In some ways I don't know what was more impressive about Bradford on Friday, what I saw from him on the field, or what I heard about him off it. But both of them went a long way toward convincing me the Rams got the right guy at quarterback. In time, with that arm, and that head, he's going to lead this long downtrodden team to better days.

"I'm a part of this team too, and I want this team to win as many games as possible this year,'' Bradford said, when I asked if he had a timetable for winning the starting job. "And if that's with me at the quarterback position, then that's obviously what I want. If that's not with me at the position this year, then I understand that, and I'm going to work as hard as I can to get on the field as soon as possible. I'll be out there when the coaches feel that I'm ready to help this team win.''

After Friday's step in the right direction, that might just be sooner than anyone with the Rams had even hoped.

________________________________________________________________________________

____________

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/trainingcamp...&id=5445006

Originally Published: August 7, 2010

Sam Bradford is long-term remedy

With franchise quarterback in the fold, Rams feel they can build solid foundation

By John Clayton

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Often in sports, franchises must take a step back in order to move forward.

Blessed with great quarterback play for a decade, the St. Louis Rams kept passing on young quarterbacks, hoping Marc Bulger would cover for their declining talent base. He couldn't. The Rams bottomed out with a 1-15 record last season and got the first pick in the 2010 draft.

Although Rams officials won't publicly admit it, they were sold on drafting Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford before the 2009 regular season ended. It's a quarterback-driven league, and the Rams knew they could get the jump on the rest of their division rivals by grabbing Bradford. Matt Leinart of the Cardinals, Alex Smith of the 49ers and Matt Hasselbeck of the Seahawks are all in year-to-year situations.

Optimism for this season is grounded in reality. Bradford has the benefit of having a decent offensive line and a great running back (Steven Jackson), but growing pains are inevitable. Steve Spagnuolo is an upbeat head coach who is trying to develop an aggressive defense. But the key to this season is developing Bradford and coming together as a team. That might not translate into a lot of victories, but it would set up the Rams toward becoming players in the NFC West again in years to come.

Here are three observations from Rams camp:

• Bradford shows every sign that he could be the opening-day starter from his work in practice. He's a tall pocket passer with an accurate arm. Having worked the college spread offense for the past couple of seasons, he might not be completely comfortable retreating from center on three-, five- and seven-step drops, but he's good enough.

The key is his accuracy. Bradford knows how to throw a catchable, accurate pass. He has the knack of locating a throw so a receiver can make the grab and get some yards after the catch. The only thing that would prevent him from starting the opener would be the urgency of beating the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams won only one game last season, so Spagnuolo needs a win to give everyone hope.

The talent comparisons between Bradford and A.J. Feeley are dramatic. Feeley is a decent backup. Bradford has that Matt Ryan look of being an elite franchise quarterback. The problem facing Spagnuolo is that if he starts Bradford and the quarterback has a poor game that results in a loss, the feeling that this season is only about developing Bradford might enter the locker room. The Rams will use four preseason games to see which quarterback gives them the best chance of beating Arizona.

• Thursday was an important day for the Rams, as they got to see how the offensive line will work this season. Jason Smith, the second pick of the 2009 draft, was healthy enough to go on the practice field after missing a week because of a slow recovery from offseason toe surgery. A left tackle in college, Smith struggled making the adjustment to right tackle last year because he had to completely revamp his stance, footwork and how he used his hands. A bad concussion and the toe problem further complicated things.

Smith lined up Thursday as the right tackle, leaving second-round choice Rodger Saffold as the starting left tackle. Don't expect that to change. After coaches had watched Saffold in practice for a week, they realized he's better as a left tackle prospect than they expected. He sets up nicely to handle pass-rushers, and Spagnuolo knows the importance of having the quarterback's blind side protected. They also remembered that when Smith played in a three-game stretch at right tackle last season, his ability to maul defenders on running plays to the right gave the offense some of its better yardage numbers. Having the second pick in a draft as a right tackle may not translate into great value for the dollar, but at least the Rams have addressed the two tackle spots and won't have to touch them for the next few years.

They also have a Pro Bowl-caliber center in Jason Brown and a decent left guard in Jacob Bell. The key is making sure Saffold doesn't look like a rookie in his first season at left tackle.

• Jackson is a freak. He showed up at camp eight pounds heavier than last season and every bit as fast. Now he's 244 pounds and has 5 percent body fat. He has put together five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and wants to do at least five more. His goal is to play a dozen seasons. Most running backs start to run out of gas after about 1,600 carries. Jackson feels as if he's just getting started after 1,548 rushing attempts.

He knows teams will stack eight and nine defenders at the line of scrimmage to stop him, particularly when the Rams go to Bradford as the starter. Armed with fullback Mike Karney, Jackson is ready for the pounding.
Mr. Magaw, do you have any thoughts that you are willing to share on the Rams recent signing of their homeboy Danario Alexander? If so, would you please do so? Cecil Lammey does not believe he will prosper in the NFL. Thanks.

 
couple camp reports, from don banks of SI & clayton of espn...

bradford is starting to elicit some props...

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writ...html?xid=si_nfl

Posted: Friday August 6, 2010 11:02PM ; Updated: Saturday August 7, 2010 12:49PM

Don Banks

Bradford already dazzling in camp

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- If Sam Bradford keeps having eye-opening practices like the one he cranked out Friday afternoon at Rams training camp, this barely-begun St. Louis quarterback competition between the NFL's No. 1 overall pick and veteran A.J. Feeley isn't going to make late August. And that may be the easiest snap judgment I've ever rendered.

Not to go all "I have seen the future of rock n' roll'' on you, but I did just see the future of the St. Louis Rams at the game's most pivotal position, and it's in very good hands indeed. Bradford had a razor-sharp showing in the Rams' 2½-hour practice, with everyone from St. Louis head coach Steve Spagnuolo on down calling it the finest so far of his nascent NFL career.

"Every day he sees the field more and more, and you can see it coming,'' Feeley told me, just minutes after the Rams completed their final workout before Saturday night's intra-squad scrimmage. "He's starting to get it. You can just tell. Today he just had his best day of practice since he's been here.''

Bradford looked in almost complete command over the course of the Rams' 10th workout of camp, throwing bullets in every direction and routinely hitting his receivers in stride and on the hands. Working with the first team on at least 40 or 50 percent of his snaps -- which is more than he has been seeing -- he had completions to at least a half dozen St. Louis pass-catchers, tossed a pair of crowd-pleasing touchdown passes, and gave a real glimpse of the potential that led the Rams to award him that ground-breaking six-year, $78 million contract last week.

You could almost feel the surge of excitement that Bradford's practice performance created, as teammates, coaches and fans alike watched his every throw with building anticipation. Afterward, the always understated Bradford admitted to me that he felt "pretty good out there,'' which is about as close to bragging as it gets for the former Heisman-Trophy winning Oklahoma quarterback. But if Bradford follows up Friday's results with another boffo display of passing in Saturday night's scrimmage, look out. Bradford Fever may soon ensue in St. Louis.

And the Rams will be Sam's Club before you know it.

"Today was definitely one of my better practices,'' said Bradford, letting a slight smile slip out. "It's always nice when you have days like that, especially this early, when sometimes it's a grind and I feel like I'm struggling and things are tougher than what they were in college. So to come out there and have a day like that, it really does kind of give you some confidence. In your head, you're like, 'Okay, I can do this.'''

I spent 15 minutes with Bradford in the office of a Rams team executive after practice, and he gave me a pretty good snapshot of how the early days of his rookie NFL season are unfolding. He said he felt "overwhelmed'' at times during the first week of training camp, with his mind going "1,000 miles per hour.'' But the game is starting to slow down for him, and he's eager to take the field in Saturday night's scrimmage, because it marks the first time he'll be completely healthy in a game-type situation since the Sooners' 2009 season opener.

"I really haven't played a lot of football in the past year,'' said Bradford, who played in just three games as a senior, finishing only one thanks to two well-chronicled injuries to his throwing shoulder. "I think that's what makes (Saturday night) even more special. Some people look at it and say, 'Oh, it's just a scrimmage.' Me? It's the first opportunity I've had to play football since I've gotten hurt. That's exciting.''

Even Spagnuolo seemed excited by the obvious jump his young quarterback took Friday. Like any NFL head coach (outside of the Jets offices), "Spags'' isn't going to add fresh oxygen to the hype. But Bradford might have teased us all with a preview of things to come this season, and it was hard not to be wowed by his ridiculously accurate arm and quality decision-making. Spagnuolo confided to me that the Rams are putting their quarterbacks on a 35-second play clock in team drills at practice, and the rookie is more than keeping pace.

"That was a good day for him, his best practice,'' Spagnuolo said. "And I know you're probably thinking of the (touchdown passes), but there was a play that he got (the pass) out quick on a blitz that I think was just as incredible as what he did on the touchdown throws. He got the ball out quick all day. The play clock is speeding everything up and the tempo is good.

"One thing you've got to remember now is this is practice. I don't mean to be Allen Iverson here, but you're talking about the development of a quarterback, and there's a certain tempo of practice compared to a preseason game. But Saturday night's environment will be a little different for him. It'll be a good first step.''

While everybody is eager to learn when the Bradford era in St. Louis will start in earnest, meaning his ascension to the starting lineup, here's what I came away from my visit to Rams camp believing:

• St. Louis isn't going to run Bradford out there as its opening day starter against visiting Arizona unless the rookie's performance in the preseason justifies it. Just because they gave him $50 million guaranteed, they're not going to skewer the competition between him and Feeley to ensure the rookie wins it. But if it's close, with no clear-cut victor, the jump ball will clearly go to Bradford.

• That said, the Rams went 1-15 last year and feel an obligation to the other 52 players on the 2010 team to play the quarterback who gives them the best shot to win games, especially early on. They can't afford year two of the Spagnuolo era to be just about the development of the team's franchise quarterback. Not with St. Louis going an NFL-worst 6-42 over the past three seasons.

• Feeley has gotten the vast majority of first-team reps so far in practice and he's having a very solid camp. His command and comfort level with the Rams' version of the West Coast offense is obvious, and he won't be easily displaced in the lineup by Bradford. I could see a scenario where Feeley starts the season at No. 1, and then gives way to Bradford by maybe Week 3 or 4. But I can also envision the momentum building in Bradford's favor from this point forward, with some credible preseason showings clinching the deal for him to be under center against the Cardinals.

As good as Bradford looked Friday, maybe the best news for Rams fans is how he's approaching his quarterback competition with Feeley. Bradford is adamant that it won't be a coronation. He refuses to assume the mantle of franchise savior, and has consistently deferred to his more experienced fellow quarterbacks, Feeley and No. 3 Keith Null. Everyone I talked to at the Rams camp had a story for me of how Bradford gets it, and wants nothing more than to find his place on this team without fanfare or self-importance.

"That's just part of my personality, but I do feel that way because I haven't done anything in this league yet,'' Bradford said earnestly. "I realize everything has to be earned. I don't want anything given to me. I don't want any reps given to me. I don't want to play because I'm the No. 1 pick. I want to play because the coaches and staff feel that I'm the guy who gives us the best chance to win. That's kind of my approach to everything.''

When the Rams told Bradford that the St. Louis Cardinals wanted to invite him to a game and have him introduced to the crowd, he agreed to do it only on the condition that he went with both Feeley and Null and they all got the same introduction. When Bradford, a very good golfer, was invited to play with other NFL players at the American Century Championship Celebrity Golf tourney last month in Lake Tahoe, he declined, saying he didn't feel it was right for him to participate having never taken an NFL snap.

And as Spagnuolo tells it, Bradford also showed pitch-perfect judgment when he agreed to play in announcer Joe Buck's charity golf tournament in St. Louis the day after the Rams' rookie mini-camp closed, providing he had clubs that were supplied by his agents and playing partners that day, Tom Condon and Ben Dogra.

The reason? "Sam said 'I'm not showing up at my first mini-camp, coming off the plane with my golf clubs,''' Spagnuolo said. "Some guys would have not thought like that. With Sam, all those signs are quality signs. We've talked about what he should concentrate on is being the best teammate he can be and the best player he can be. And he is.''

Feeley, the 10-year NFL veteran, is as impressed as anyone with the big-picture perspective of his rookie teammate. The two locker side by side, and Feeley told me Bradford's head is constantly in his playbook, with the former Sooner showing no inclination to try and work the locker room and win over his new teammates with mere words.

"He gets it, and that's what makes him good,'' Feeley said. "He's going to be the face of the organization, and that's inevitable. But he understands what this is all about. That's about getting on the field and performing. So all this stuff that goes on outside of that, it's great and all, but until he feels comfortable in what he's doing and he's proven himself, it's not important to him.''

In some ways I don't know what was more impressive about Bradford on Friday, what I saw from him on the field, or what I heard about him off it. But both of them went a long way toward convincing me the Rams got the right guy at quarterback. In time, with that arm, and that head, he's going to lead this long downtrodden team to better days.

"I'm a part of this team too, and I want this team to win as many games as possible this year,'' Bradford said, when I asked if he had a timetable for winning the starting job. "And if that's with me at the quarterback position, then that's obviously what I want. If that's not with me at the position this year, then I understand that, and I'm going to work as hard as I can to get on the field as soon as possible. I'll be out there when the coaches feel that I'm ready to help this team win.''

After Friday's step in the right direction, that might just be sooner than anyone with the Rams had even hoped.

________________________________________________________________________________

____________

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/trainingcamp...&id=5445006

Originally Published: August 7, 2010

Sam Bradford is long-term remedy

With franchise quarterback in the fold, Rams feel they can build solid foundation

By John Clayton

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Often in sports, franchises must take a step back in order to move forward.

Blessed with great quarterback play for a decade, the St. Louis Rams kept passing on young quarterbacks, hoping Marc Bulger would cover for their declining talent base. He couldn't. The Rams bottomed out with a 1-15 record last season and got the first pick in the 2010 draft.

Although Rams officials won't publicly admit it, they were sold on drafting Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford before the 2009 regular season ended. It's a quarterback-driven league, and the Rams knew they could get the jump on the rest of their division rivals by grabbing Bradford. Matt Leinart of the Cardinals, Alex Smith of the 49ers and Matt Hasselbeck of the Seahawks are all in year-to-year situations.

Optimism for this season is grounded in reality. Bradford has the benefit of having a decent offensive line and a great running back (Steven Jackson), but growing pains are inevitable. Steve Spagnuolo is an upbeat head coach who is trying to develop an aggressive defense. But the key to this season is developing Bradford and coming together as a team. That might not translate into a lot of victories, but it would set up the Rams toward becoming players in the NFC West again in years to come.

Here are three observations from Rams camp:

• Bradford shows every sign that he could be the opening-day starter from his work in practice. He's a tall pocket passer with an accurate arm. Having worked the college spread offense for the past couple of seasons, he might not be completely comfortable retreating from center on three-, five- and seven-step drops, but he's good enough.

The key is his accuracy. Bradford knows how to throw a catchable, accurate pass. He has the knack of locating a throw so a receiver can make the grab and get some yards after the catch. The only thing that would prevent him from starting the opener would be the urgency of beating the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams won only one game last season, so Spagnuolo needs a win to give everyone hope.

The talent comparisons between Bradford and A.J. Feeley are dramatic. Feeley is a decent backup. Bradford has that Matt Ryan look of being an elite franchise quarterback. The problem facing Spagnuolo is that if he starts Bradford and the quarterback has a poor game that results in a loss, the feeling that this season is only about developing Bradford might enter the locker room. The Rams will use four preseason games to see which quarterback gives them the best chance of beating Arizona.

• Thursday was an important day for the Rams, as they got to see how the offensive line will work this season. Jason Smith, the second pick of the 2009 draft, was healthy enough to go on the practice field after missing a week because of a slow recovery from offseason toe surgery. A left tackle in college, Smith struggled making the adjustment to right tackle last year because he had to completely revamp his stance, footwork and how he used his hands. A bad concussion and the toe problem further complicated things.

Smith lined up Thursday as the right tackle, leaving second-round choice Rodger Saffold as the starting left tackle. Don't expect that to change. After coaches had watched Saffold in practice for a week, they realized he's better as a left tackle prospect than they expected. He sets up nicely to handle pass-rushers, and Spagnuolo knows the importance of having the quarterback's blind side protected. They also remembered that when Smith played in a three-game stretch at right tackle last season, his ability to maul defenders on running plays to the right gave the offense some of its better yardage numbers. Having the second pick in a draft as a right tackle may not translate into great value for the dollar, but at least the Rams have addressed the two tackle spots and won't have to touch them for the next few years.

They also have a Pro Bowl-caliber center in Jason Brown and a decent left guard in Jacob Bell. The key is making sure Saffold doesn't look like a rookie in his first season at left tackle.

• Jackson is a freak. He showed up at camp eight pounds heavier than last season and every bit as fast. Now he's 244 pounds and has 5 percent body fat. He has put together five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and wants to do at least five more. His goal is to play a dozen seasons. Most running backs start to run out of gas after about 1,600 carries. Jackson feels as if he's just getting started after 1,548 rushing attempts.

He knows teams will stack eight and nine defenders at the line of scrimmage to stop him, particularly when the Rams go to Bradford as the starter. Armed with fullback Mike Karney, Jackson is ready for the pounding.
Mr. Magaw, do you have any thoughts that you are willing to share on the Rams recent signing of their homeboy Danario Alexander? If so, would you please do so? Cecil Lammey does not believe he will prosper in the NFL. Thanks.
Bob Magaw, with the loss of Avery for the season, your opinion on Alexander and the rest of the Rams WR corps is even more desired.

 
The Rams have said they have no interest in Derrick Ward.

Am I missing something, or are the Rams ignoring the glaring need at backup RB?

 
heading in to week four...

rams not only aren't in the cellar...

but just one game out of first place in west... :lmao:

* sorry for missing the WR questions above...

i haven't seen alexander, but obviously since acquiring clayton in the trade (shrewd acquisition by devaney), he is emerging as the rams clear top receiving weapon...

 
paging A.J. green to the white courtesy phone in the lobby...

* agree about bradford, a pick i really liked... as great as suh has looked (looks like a once a decade or generation player), i would still take bradford #1 if draft was held again today...

i think he will soon be the best QB in the division by a wide margin...

 
Last edited by a moderator:
Hi fellas,

My Seahawks roll into town next week. I was looking to share some of my thoughts and questions looking for some informed Ram homer input. I will bold my questions.

Seattle is selling out hard to stop the run with the thought of creating third and long plays to set up a pass rush. The thinking here is that it will allow play makers in the secondary (Earl Thomas, 2 INT today) and DL (Clemons, 2 sacks today) to create havoc and turnovers. So far they haven't blitzed a ton opting to rotate personal based on situations. I'm curious to know how Bradford has handled the blitzes so far.

This formula has been sort of hot and cold. Very hot at home in Qwest field in the first half of both home game. Anemic on the road and in the second half today. The Qwest field crowd noise plays a big role in this working well at home. The Seattle offense couldn't sustain any ball control today leading to the defense being run down in the second half. Phillip Rivers looked like he was in 7 on 7 during practice for stretches of the game today. My prediction has been that the Seahawks will continue to stop the run well, but get carved up by accurate passers all season long. Do you guys think that Bradford is ready to throw up a monster passing game yet? If they lean on him and need a 400 yard passing effort, is that a realistic expectation?

The Seattle offense has been somewhat schizophrenic. I think they are struggling to find an identity and define the roles of players. I believe they would like to run the ball better, but I don't believe they are sold on being a zone blocking scheme. Gibbs left the team before the season started and then they brought in mauler Stacy Andrews who is very far from the profile that a zone scheme would utilize. Making things cloudier, we don't know if first round pick Russell Okung is ready to come back next week. LT Tyler Polumbus has actually played well up to this point. How is your run defense up to this point?

Matt Hasselbeck is not the same guy he was five years ago in terms of his arm. He just doesn't seem to be able to hit the same throws down field any longer. These attempts are resulting in interceptions (and near interceptions). However, given time he will pick you apart like most capable NFL QBs will do in the 10 to 20 yard range. Has Long turned into the pass rusher that you had hoped? Who else is contributing to the pass rush? Also, do you corners play man well enough that you can get away with blitzing a ton?

Thanks for any input. If you have questions about the Seahawks I will be glad to reply.

 
Yup, I'll cop to lobbying for Suh prior to the draft, but any doubts I had about Bradford have long since been shaken, and getting the win today felt, as Bradford himself said, "awesome". I agree with all the praise heaped on Bradford. Hope the team gets a true #1 receiver, and I also think AJ Green tops the list at the moment.

Also hope SJax and everyone else heals up quickly. Despite the win, the Rams have been getting butchered on the injury front. Dominique Curry played great on special teams today, but it looks like his knee injury is pretty serious. Hope I'm wrong. At least some other guys have been healing up in the meantime.

The only thing that could make this better would be if the Rams break their losing streak to the Seahawks next week, at home. They're giving me reason to believe.

 
usa today team report...

rams are improved... while a lot of attention has (deservedly) been paid to the high profile addition and early success of #1 overall bradford, the numbers have been dramatically better on defense, too...

on offense, the win over the redskins was the first 30 pt game since doing in once in 2008 (?)...

as to recent history, an excerpt...

"BY THE NUMBERS: 11 — The number of consecutive division games the Rams have lost at home. Overall, they have lost 15 straight in the division. Since 2007, the Rams are 1-18 in division games and they are 1-15 in home division games since 2005."

* article states they are 4th best in the NFL in scoring defense... they are actually 4th best in the *NFC* (9th best in the NFL)... still, a vast improvement...

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/rams/notes.htm

Last season, the Rams were one of the worst teams in the NFL in the red zone. Whether it was on offense or defense, the team struggled mightily.

On offense, they reached the red zone just 34 times and scored 11 touchdowns, a 32.4 percentage that was fourth-worst in the league. They added 10 field goals for an overall scoring percentage of 61.8.

On defense, the Rams also ranked fourth from the bottom in the league, allowing 36 touchdowns on the 59 red-zone trips by opponents (61.0 percent). Add in 15 field goals, and opponents scored 86.4 percent of the time.

It's only been three games so far this season, but the improvement is significant. That has led to the Rams allowing only 49 points, fourth-fewest in the NFL, and no team has more than the 17 points Arizona scored in the season opener.

In last Sunday's 30-16 win over Washington, the Rams held the Redskins to three field goals in their three trips to the red zone.

Said middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, "I think we're jelling. We're very resilient. We have a mentality right now that the next play's the most important - I think that's the one thing you can look at. If a big play happens, OK, forget it about. You can't change it."

There might have been no better example than on the opening drive of the second half against Washington. Prior to halftime, the Rams came away empty after a 16-play drive that reached the Washington 1-yard line when a 21-yard field goal was blocked. The Rams still led 14-13 after having led, 14-0.

On the first play of the second half, a 56-yard pass play from Donovan McNabb to Santana Moss and a horse-collar tackle penalty on Rams safety Darian Stewart put the ball on the 8-yard line.

On third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, running back Clinton Portis was dropped for a one-yard loss. The Redskins kicked a field goal and led for the first time, 16-14, but the Rams answered with scoring drive that ended with ... a red-zone touchdown run by Kenneth Darby.

"Nobody was down," coach Steve Spagnuolo said, when asked about the mood at halftime. "We were up by a point. All I said to them was to be up by a point at halftime, you're in a football game. There's nothing wrong with that. We're going to go out and battle. I never expected when we got up 14 to nothing ... I anticipated that Washington would chip their way back somehow, someway. I just never thought it was going to be easy, and our players understood that. I looked at it a different way at halftime.

"We were up by a point, we had done a lot of good things. It just so happened that at the end of the half we did our worst, but let's not forget about where we were in the first quarter. So the guys came out and ... they had the one big play which could have deflated us but, I'll tell you what, the defense kept them out of the end zone. To me, that was huge. Then the offense answered."

Offensively, the Rams haven't been great in the red zone, but their 12 trips is tied for the second-most in the league and they have scored five touchdowns for 41.7 percent, which ranks 22nd. That and their 75.0 percent overall scoring mark is an improvement from 2009.

On defense, the Rams rank fourth in the NFL, having allowed just three touchdowns in 11 opponent's trips (27.3 percent).

Sunday against Seattle, if they can hold the Seahawks to 17 points or less, it will be the first time a Rams team has opened a season with four such games in a row since 1978. The last time they started a year with three straight was in 1999.

NOTES, QUOTES

—LB Bryan Kehl was picked up on waivers from the Giants on Sept. 15, and has contributed on special teams and defense. Sunday against Washington, Kehl had four tackles and his pressure on a blitz contributed to a Donovan McNabb interception in the fourth quarter.

Kehl was playing as a nickel linebacker because of injuries the Rams have experienced on defense.

Said coach Steve Spagnuolo, "I was impressed with that. I think he'll continue to get better."

—Pat Kirwan of Sirius XM Radio wrote this on nfl.com after the win over the Redskins: "It was Week 3 last year, in a victory over Washington, when Matthew Stafford brought so much hope to Lions fans, who realized they finally had a quarterback of the future. Well, the Redskins once again launched the career of a rookie quarterback, as well as the dreams of the St. Louis fans.

"Sam Bradford got his first win as a pro on Sunday, and he did it by playing the second half without Steven Jackson in the backfield. On top of that, he was 7-for-16 on third downs. Bradford is only being sacked once every 20 pass attempts, which is impressive at this early point in his career.

"If Bradford can keep up the production he has delivered to date, he could wind up with 3,500 yards and 21 touchdowns by season's end. It was just a few months ago when many Rams fans were criticizing the selection of Bradford in the draft. I suspect I will not hear from any disgruntled fans on my Sirius radio show this week."

Just to clarify, however, The Rams were 7-for-16 on third downs against the Redskins, but on third-down passes, Bradford was 8-for-11 for 81 yards with six of those first downs.

Bradford has received a world of experience in three games, and on Sunday, he had a 93.4 passer rating on third down and 104.2 in the fourth quarter (although he had just five pass attempts).

Still, he was kicking himself for missing wide receiver Brandon Gibson in the back of the end zone in the final quarter.

Said Bradford, "That was a touchdown. If that was going to come back to haunt us, I was going to kill myself over that one. When they lined up on that coverage, I knew the corner was going to 'squat.' Yeah, I wish I could have that one back."

—Asked what it meant to be given the game ball by center Jason Brown after the win over Washington, coach Steve Spagnuolo said, "It means a great deal, but I tell you what, I'd just as soon chop it up into 75, 80, whatever it is, count up all the players and coaches and give everybody a piece of it. It's humbling. I appreciate it. I love these guys, but that's a team effort."

Stan Kroenke, the new majority owner of the team, was in the locker room after the game and went to every locker, shaking each player's hand.

Spagnuolo wasn't specific when asked what the owner told him. "Stan's great," Spagnuolo said. "I just love having him there. He was terrific. We just both were enjoying the win really."

BY THE NUMBERS: 11 — The number of consecutive division games the Rams have lost at home. Overall, they have lost 15 straight in the division. Since 2007, the Rams are 1-18 in division games and they are 1-15 in home division games since 2005.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It feels good. Finally you know that feeling of what it means to pull a close one out. I think that's important. We can talk about it, encourage it and all that stuff, but to actually feel it, that's something that we know now. We know this is our first time. As the game gets closer, we can overcome that and get the game going. I think that's the most important thing we've learned from this. Now we've got those Seahawks. Hopefully, this is one of many. That's the message we want to send." — LB James Laurinaitis after the win over Washington.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

—RB Steven Jackson saw limited action in practice Friday after not practicing Wednesday or Thursday with a groin injury he suffered last week against the Redskins. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo said the team is taking it day by day with Jackson, who is expected to be a game-time decision Sunday against Seattle.

— S Oshiomogho Atogwe saw limited action in practice Friday after not practicing Wednesday or Thursday with a bruised thigh he suffered in last week's win over Washington. He was listed as questionable on Friday's report.

—S Craig Dahl returned to practice after missing last Sunday's game against Washington because of a concussion. Dahl worked at FS Oshiomogho Atogwe's spot. Atogwe isn't practicing because of a quad injury.

—LB Bryan Kehl, who had a pressure that led to an interception in Sunday's game against Washington, could see more time as the nickel linebacker in passing situations.

—OG John Greco saw some time at right guard Sunday against Washington in a rotation with Adam Goldberg. Greco was in the game for significant time when the Rams were running the ball with the lead in the fourth quarter. The rotation is expected to continue.

—DT Clifton Ryan remained out of practice and not on the field watching as he deals with migraine issues.

GAME PLAN: Control field position. The Seahawks' average drive start after kickoffs has been the 38.5-yard line. Rams PK Josh Brown has just one touchback this season, although 10 of his 13 kickoffs have reached the end zone, resulting in a 24.5-yard line drive start for opponents.

For the fourth straight game, the Rams will try and hold their opponent to under 20 points. They have allowed just 46, ninth-best in the NFL, and have allowed only three touchdowns in 11 red-zone trips. Last week against Washington, the Redskins failed to score a touchdown all three times they reached the red zone.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Rams special teams vs. Seahawks special teams — Seattle has been electric on special teams this season, Leon Washington returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in last week's win over San Diego, and he leads the NFL with a 46.3-yard average. Washington has averaged 24.8 yards on his five non-touchdown returns, which the Rams would be happy with. In addition, rookie Golden Tate leads the NFL with an average of 25.2 yards on five punt returns with a long of 63. The Rams rank 18th in the league in punt-return defense (8.6) and 21st in kickoff-return defense (26.1).

Rams running game vs. Seahawks run defense — With RB Steven Jackson's availability in question, the Rams could be hard-pressed to run the ball and open up the passing game. The Seahawks have allowed just 67.7 yards per game, which ranks fifth in the NFL, and they rank third in average per attempt against with just 2.6.

INJURY IMPACT: Because of continuing injuries to special-teams players, RB Chauncey Washington is expected to be active Sunday against Seattle. Washington was signed off the Jets' practice squad Tuesday and practiced Wednesday. ... The return of S Craig Dahl from a concussion comes at an opportune time with safeties Oshiomogho Atogwe (quad) and Darian Stewart (hamstring) iffy for this week.

 
Last edited by a moderator:
rams are tied for first in the NFC west one month into the season for the first time in recent memory...

next four games DET, SD, TB & CAR (two against winless teams)...

if the rams win at least two of these, they could go into the bye week 4-4 (more wins than 2008-2009 COMBINED) or even 5-3...

the division is completely up for grabs... 8-8 might win it...

SF 0-4 now... ARI reeling... SEA two washington returns from being 1-3...

the STL defense is giving up an average of just 13 PPG (top 5?)...

i think they are also averaging about 19 PPG on offense (close to top half of the league, now first in NFC west)...

last season...

27.3 on defense, #31 (about 14 PPG improvement)

10.9 on offense, #32 (about 8 PPG improvement)

to wit, giving up 2 TDs less on D, scoring 1 TD more on O, relative to last year...

they buried multiple losing streaks today... divisional losses, divisional losses at home, to seahawks, etc...

it is a welcome sight to see the rams relevant and playing meaningful games again, after a long absence...

___________________________________________________________________

cross-post from a rams board...

the fact that both offense and defense improved probably not an accident...

when the offense is converting third downs, extending drives, it allows defense to rest & benefit from better field position... when offense scores (especially TDs), it allows defense to play downhill more, and makes opposing offense more one dimensional...

when the defense is rested, has benefit of better field position (harder for opposing offense to string together drives long enough to score), gets to play downhill, etc...

this sets the offense up better field position... when not behind, they can open up the whole playbook, choose when they pass & run, etc...

as to the defense, with a new HC, defensive scheme, addition and departure of different players, there was understandably a lag in implementation of spag's system in his first year...

talent and athleticism are important, but a great defense doesn't necessarily consist of an all star team.... a hallmark of great defense is playing well TOGETHER, in unison (swarming to the ball and gang tackling another)... the coordination, synchronization and meshing of a lot of interacting parts into an ensemble...

a key concept related to this is that of GAP CONTROL/DISCIPLINE.

i have yet to see a game, but it would seem that with the maturation of some of the younger players, the growing familiarity with teammates and scheme, the rams are getting better at this critically important factor...

* part of the power of a strong scheme coupled with assignment-sound personnel that can EXECUTE it... lack of stellar personnel can be surmounted... i'm not as sure the same can be said on offense... which is why bradford was an inspired pick, with apologies to suh, who looks like a once-in-a-decade/generation talent at DT... even without suh, clearly the defense is playing at a high level... even with what would certainly be a better defense, how much better would it be? but with the status quo on offense, we would be all dressed up for the prom with nowhere to go once we got the ball... without bradford, i shudder to think where the offense would be...

clearly it has been a collective, team effort (the main thrust on what defensive improvement has stemmed from)... but bradford single-handedly has lifted the franchise to a higher level... in just his first month of starts... the future is promising...

bradford is playing with poise and maturity beyond his years... which has collapsed the future into the present.

hopefully year or two away will rapidly diminish in the rear view mirror, and become a legacy of a byegone era...

the rams are close to being 3-1 or even 4-0 (first two losses more competive than many losses in recent years)... bradford has transformed the franchise into a more competitive team INSTANTLY... that ability is extremely rare for a rookie QB.

 
Last edited by a moderator:
i've been a very vocal critic of the Rams' front office, draft, fa and on the field blunders over the years...there were a few drafts I think I'll never figure out. i will always think of the rams' as SOSAR. yah, i'm an ahole.

that said, i'm extremely impressed with bradford. on a team with poop at WR, a mediocre OL, and below average D, he is carrying you...as a rookie. wow.

this division is the Rams for years to come (unless SF gets a QB). congrats, Rams' fans :thumbup:

 
Gilyard got a few more targets yesterday. How does he look? Is there any chance he cracks the starting lineup this year?

 
local beat writer jim thomas delineates some of the causes for improvement on the defensive side of the ball, at the midpoint of the rams season...

http://www.stltoday.com/sports/football/pr...114de971fa.html

Rams' improvement on defense is a result of numerous factors

BY JIM THOMAS

Posted: Sunday, November 7, 2010 12:35 am

There are only three new starters on the St. Louis defense in 2010, so it's not like a dramatic personnel makeover took place during the offseason.

The free agent pickups were modest. Defensive tackle Fred Robbins (New York Giants) and linebacker Na'il Diggs (Carolina) were the "headliners," and both were deemed expendable by their former clubs.

In the draft, cornerback Jerome Murphy was the only defensive player taken in the first four rounds, and the Rams haven't had a rookie start a game on defense all season.

The coaching staff is unchanged on that side of the ball, from coordinator Ken Flajole on down. And the scheme is the same — with a few tweaks here and there — as it was in 2009, Steve Spagnuolo's first year as head coach.

It doesn't add up. How have the Rams gone from so bad to pretty good on defense in one year's time? The improvement has been startling.

• At the midpoint of 2010, the Rams are sixth in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing only 17.6 yards per game. In seven of their eight games, they've allowed 18 points per game.

• In terms of yards allowed the Rams are 11th in total defense and eighth in rushing defense.

• The Rams are tied for sixth in the league in sacks, with 23; they had 25 in the entire '09 season.

• They're tied for 10th in takeaways, with 15; they had 20 through the entire '09 campaign.

• The Rams are 10th in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert just 35.8 percent of their third downs.

Somehow the defensive performance has exceeded the sum of its parts. Eight games into the 2010 season, here are eight reasons why that's the case.

1.) The pass rush: This was the biggest defensive question mark entering the season. Leonard Little, the team's annual sack leader for most of the past decade, wasn't re-signed. The Rams didn't sign an end in free agency and didn't draft one until the fifth round. But James Hall and Chris Long have picked up the slack, combining for 11 sacks through eight games.

Strange as it sounds, both players may actually be benefitting from Little's absence. Last year, the trio split the reps in a rotation. This year, Hall and Long almost never leave the field. That has allowed them to get into a rhythm and the result has been more production. This is doubly true for Hall, who was moved inside to tackle on passing downs last year. This year he has stayed at right end, using his bull rush and tenacity to record 6 1/2 sacks and seven quarterback hits.

Long may be the team's most improved player. Besides his 4 1/2 sacks, he leads the team with 11 quarterback pressures and nine QB hits. In short, he has been in the backfield a lot, and his run defense is noticeably better as well.

The work of Robbins in pushing the pocket can't be overestimated, either. He has been far more disruptive as a pass rusher than his sack total (two) indicates.

The improved pass rush by the front four has given the Rams the flexibility to blitz less often, meaning they can drop more defenders in coverage. For example, the Rams blitzed 14 times against San Diego and 11 times against Tampa Bay, according to unofficial count. They blitzed twice that much in the season opener against Arizona.

2.) Solid corner play: The second-biggest defensive question mark was whether the team had enough at cornerback. Ron Bartell was coming off a subpar '09 season in which he was slowed by a nagging thigh injury. Bradley Fletcher, who suffered a major knee injury in late October '09, wasn't expected to be healthy in time for the season opener.

But Bartell is back and Fletcher has been in the starting lineup since opening day. Yes, Bartell has had trouble with dropped interceptions, but he leads the team in pass breakups with 11 — more than twice the total of runner-up Fletcher (five). Bartell has been the team's highest graded defensive back — although several others are close — according to the coaches' evaluations.

Fletcher has had a few bumps along the way in terms of penalties and allowing completions, but he's played much better than could've been expected, shares the team lead with two interceptions and has been on the field for more plays than any other member of the secondary — even Bartell.

3.) Second time around: Way back during the spring practice program, one of the earliest observations about the Rams' defense was that it was playing faster. The second year in the Spagnuolo/Flajole scheme led to less thinking and more reacting. And football at its most basic level is a reaction sport. Players know where to be, and know where their teammates are going to be. The coaches have a better grasp of player strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.

One example of how the familiarity has paid dividends is the Rams' blitz packages. They are much smoother, better disguised, and better-timed than a year ago. Everyone gets in the act —it could be a cornerback on this play, a safety or linebacker on the next, or some combination. Ten players have at least a half sack so far this season.

4.) Tweaking the scheme: The Rams try to confuse quarterbacks with pre-snap movement, and that seems more prevalent. Ends Long and Hall —especially Long — occasionally drop into coverage on both zone and man blitzes. Linebackers charge the line as if blitzing, then drop into coverage. It is confusing and looks a lot more convincing than it did a year ago.

In recent games, the Rams have employed a three-man front in passing situations — usually Long, Robbins, and Hall. Once in a while a defensive lineman such as C.J. Ah You lines up off the line in a two-point stance like a linebacker.

5.) Player improvement: Because the Rams didn't make major personnel changes, they were counting on improved play by returning players in order for the defense to raise its level of play. That has happened almost across the board, from young players such as Fletcher and Long to veterans such as Bartell and Hall.

6.) Role players contributing: Gary Gibson has been an unsung hero at tackle. Ah You has been productive as a situational pass rusher. Because of injuries, the Rams have had to mix and match in the secondary, particularly at the nickel back position. Kevin Dockery and Justin King, when healthy, have both been effective. Diggs has been a solid addition at linebacker, both in run support and in coverage.

7.) Softer schedule: At this point in the 2009 season, the Rams already had faced Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. The only elite quarterback they've faced so far this season is San Diego's Philip Rivers.

8.) Help from the offense: The Rams are tied for fifth in the league in time of possession, with their offense possessing the ball 31 minutes 56 seconds per game, or nearly four minutes longer than the opposition. It helps to play with a lead as well. In seven of their eight games this season, the Rams have either led (six times) or been tied (once) at the half.

 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top