It's tough to judge players in training camp before even preseason games start - it's especially tough when you're 250 miles away from the camp too. However, when you start hearing adjectives like "hustle" and "intensity" from the coach you can take it as a good indicator of progress. That's how Brian Leonard is being described as he bowled everyone over with his performance through his first week of camp. He's also using that "hustle and intensity" on special teams, an area where the Rams needed to add talent going from last season to this one.
It's way, way to early to really tell, but so far, the Rams made out with a pretty good draft this season.
At least one member of the 2006 draft class seems poised to make name for his self too. Last year's first rounder, Tye Hill, was a solid part of the defensive backfield last year, and now entering his second year, he's going to have a lot more of the spotlight on him, especially if Brown does wind up suspended. Linehan's giving him glowing reviews, calling him "more consistent" and "ready to take his game to a new level." Consistency is key here. Without a doubt, top tier receivers like Steve Smith (who Hill will be covering in week 1) are going to make catches and might even score a TD. Consistency, however, should go a long way to keeping the Rams from giving up the big plays that so often change a game for the worst.
Speaking of the defensive backfield, here's a really interesting article at Football Outsiders looking at the impact of various team components. D-backs, according to the author, would seem to have less of an impact than the front seven. Note that he's not saying that d-backs are unimportant; they are. However, much of what they do is to provide a stop gap, last line of defense on certain plays, back up the rush, etc. Pass defense starts though with the line, who can have a serious impact on how a passing play transpires downfield, if it transpires at all, which is obviously the most favorable outcome for a defense on a passing play.
Without seeing practices, like we said, it can tough to get an idea of how things are going. Naturally, the team is going to report progress and downplay struggles. However, here's a report on the d-line from a fan at camp over at the RealRamsFans.com forum. Of course, fan reports can carry just as much noise as the media reports and as part of human nature are often subject to preconceived notions and biases. However, this report reads like good news for the Rams run defense. Carriker is practicing well, while Wroten slacks a bit outside of the contact drills. Either way, I really think that we can expect improvement in the run defense this season. Here are some good pics at the same forum.
Please, if you're going to camp be sure to post pics and/or a report in the diaries.