I don't think anyone doubts that it's the Rams offense that has the most to prove/lose in this weekend's preseason game against the Chargers. If their preseason scoreless streak runs to 10 games, panic sets in. Don't blame it all on Steven Jackson's holdout either, the Rams first team offense failed to score with Jackson in the mix last summer and the summer before that too.
However, while the offense was inducing panic last week, the defense wasn't exactly a beacon of hope when they gave up 340+ yards to the Titans on the ground. Add to that the pressure the Rams defense will carry if the offense is shaky or, heaven forbid, Steven Jackson's holdout continues. The defense needs a good night too tomorrow. Here's a few things we'll be watching for, feel free to add to this list in the comment or on in the fanposts. Oh, and before I forget, if you're new to the TurfShowTimes, be sure get an account via the links in the top part of the page. It's not used for any marketing crap or anything like that, it just allows you to comment and be a part of the community here. And you may well feel the need to vent if Steven Jackson's holdout goes on.
- On the d-line, rookie Chris Long and second year vet Adam Carriker didn't contribute much against the Titans, looking lost and getting manhandled at times. They'll play most of the first half against a Chargers team resting or missing some its marquee names: Tomlinson won't play, TE Antonio Gates is out with a toe injury and WR Vincent Jackson has a sore hammy. We've heard lots about Long's work ethic and ability to improve rapidly, and we'll need to see that this weekend. Plenty is expected out of Carriker too, and only crashed pockets and stuffed runs will ease minds.
- Stopping the run last week proved to be especially difficult with MLB Will Witherspoon and Culberson out. The Spoon and Culberson are back this week, but they can't do it all by his lonesome. Rookie linebackers like Chamberlain, who did have a good game, Vobora and Magro need to put on a show for a spot on the active roster. McGarigle has the most to lose after a bad game with plenty of lapses last week. These guys may be ultimately overmatched against a team like the Chargers, but they have to at least compensate by not missing assingments and lining up right.
- The Rams could be without several defensive backs this week, including safeties O.J. Atogwe, Jerome Carter and Eric Bassey as well as starting cornerback Fakhir Brown. Chavous, Todd Johnson and European import Sebastien Sejean will see plenty of playing time. Although his play at LB has garnered him attention, I'd like to see what Chris Chamberlain can do at safety. At corner, Bartell and Jonathan Wade will see more time with the first unit with Brown out. Bartell needs to show consistency and Wade needs to show he's a reliable option as the Rams fourth CB.
- Sacks, sacks, and sacks. Little's been "on" through the early goings, and a sack from the man, myth, legend would do much to bolster confidence. For that, he'll need solid play from his front line mates.
- Speaking of the d-line, there's plenty to anticipate from James Hall too.
I'm sure I left something off the list. The preseason's all about answering questions, so covering them all is unlikely. Add what you will.
Tomorrow, our eyes turn to the beleaguered offense and their mighty task of reassuring fans.