Not to drudge up bad memories from last weekend's innuagural preseason tilt with the Titans, but those 340 rushing yards accumulated by a parade of Titans runners are enough to wake even the most seasoned Rams fans with night sweats and visions of the 2006 run defense. Last weekend though it wasn't the ghost of Jimmy Kennedy watching opposing backs breeze right by, with Witherspoon and Chris Draft on the sideline, it was the linebackers forcing us to revisit old nightmares.
In case you missed it, or just couldn't bare to watch it, ESPN's Mike Sando has a nice replay of some of the, er, highlights. Here's a dandy that encapsulates it pretty well.
Titans tight ends Bo Scaife and Alge Crumpler flattened McGarigle on a third-and-2 run up the gut. Third-and-2 is often a passing situation in the NFL, but not when the Rams have this personnel on the field defensively.
Leading up to the game, you'll recall a heated battle was emerging between four linebacker for three spots. Two seventh rounders from the 2008 draft, David Vobora and Chris Chamberlain, sqauring off with undrafted rookies Marc Magro and Marcus Riley and a seventh rounder from 2006, McGarigle. After last weekend, McGarigle will need an excellent week and a good game against the Chargers if he hopes to make the active roster.
Adjust your expectations this week. Victor Adeyanju is back and tackling like a machine, and Witherspoon should be ready to go as well. Safety O.J. Atogwe is close to returning too.
Having those key starters back helps, but there's still a question of whether or not the Rams have enough veteran depth at LB. Linebacker? Acquiring a veteran guy like Brandon Moore, recently cut when the 49ers added Takeo Spikes, would give the Rams some experience behind the starters in their LB corps. Moore's a talented enough guy, who struggled in the "Ted" role this summer with the 49ers defense. (The "Ted" LB, in that system, is the guy who draws the linemen/blockers while the "Mike" LB covers the field and makes the plays.) Moore could add depth in the middle, replacing McGarigle on the depth chart. It wouldn't be a bad for the Rams to make.
Now if someone would just release a good cornerback that we could sign to replace Justin King this season...