Chapter 1, Game 4: Kansas City Chiefs (Aug 28)

Well, we're one game away from the regular season.  It's almost like 9am on a Friday.  If you can just get through this, you can enjoy living for a short while.

As for the 3k series, some of you may be asking why there was no breakdown of the middle of the preseason schedule, games 2 and 3.  Let's be honest, none of you were asking that.  But let me answer anyway: one, VanRam had us covered.  I pledge eternal props for his service to true Rams fans, or as I call them, the Ramily.  And two, as a fan, I really only take a full interest in the first and last games of the preseason.

The first game is the first real taste of football, the first full-speed full-pads game against a real opponent.  Granted, the majority of the game is just fodder for sites like TST to mull over the pros and cons of rookie linebackers (see VanRam's story here for proof).  This last game is the last tune-up.  The final chance to get everything ready for game 1 (in Philly, no less).

So let's go ahead and get to it.

Let's get to some of the blatant storylines:

OFFENSE

 - The Return of Steven Jackson - At least the holdout is over.  Imagine if SJ had gone the Jason Peters route; for a good recap of that escapade, see ESPN's Tim Graham break it down here.  I doubt Eugene Parker is a popular guy in front offices these days.  Parker aside, we still don't know if Steven will take the field tomorrow night:

 Linehan said he hasn't decided whether Jackson would get any carries in the Rams' final preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night

That quote comes from the Belleville News-Democrat's Steve Korte with the full article here.  If SJ does hit the field and does anything anywhere near impressive, expect every Rams fan on Earth to immediately forgive and forget the summer drama.

- Wide Receiver Believer - VanRam has been touting Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton for a while now, and if they look good again, it's fair to say they'll see the field in week 1.   BND's Korte had a praise piece on the pair here.  Equally important is seeing how Drew Bennett plays.  If he's still not clicking with Marc Bulger, is it possible that Burton slides all the way up to #2 as Van asked recently (here)?  What about Dane Looker and Dante Hall?  Does Reche Caldwell merit any attention?  Hopefully, we'll have settled most of this by the game's end, but I seriously expect this to be one of the three main stories concerning the Rams' season.

- Line Dancing - Is it possible that the Rams O-line can go two games in a row without giving up a sack?  I hope not, because that will infuse me with WAY too much optimism going into the regular season.  In any case, the dominant storyline of last year still hasn't been put to sleep yet.  Staying injury-free, especially now that Mark Setterstrom and Brandon Gorin are gone for the season, is the highest of highest priorities.  Make that higher than the highest of the highest.  Times three.

DEFENSE

- 4th and Long - Entering the final preseason game, there's not a single player on the entire roster I want to see step his game up more than Chris Long.  Sure, we can chalk it up to growing pains.  Hell, in February, we could look back at this season and call the whole thing growing pains.  He is a rookie after all.  Nevertheless, with a #2 overall pick, you expect those growing pains to go away quickly.  Especially on a line with Leonard Little and Adam Carriker garnering attention, you would hope he would start making noise soon.  At least I would...and do.  At least Coach Linehan sees them making strides here courtesy of Bill Coats at the St. Louis Dispatch.  I'd like to see that too.

- Q-bert - We've got an interesting LB corps this year.  It looks as if Quentin Culberson will be joining Pisa "The Leaning Tower" Tinoisamoa and Will Witherspoon as the final starting linebacker.  An AP story I picked up out of The Ledger (from Lakeland, FL of all places) here keys in on Q and the recent successes he's seen on the field.  Linehan has some special praise for he and Chris Draft, who looks to be a backup for the starters at all 3 positions.  With the pressure inherent in the promotion, you have to wonder how Culberson will respond.  Let's hope with a pile of tackles.

- Hairy Secondary - Having already lost Justin King for what looks like the season and having both Fakhir Brown and Oshiomogho Atogwe battling annoying injuries, the secondary could be an interesting concern.  Interesting, I say, because we have some serious potential in certain individuals: Tye Hill, Ron Bartell, Jonathan Wade, Darius Vinnett.  The problem is, all of those guys (along with Brown) are CB's, which doesn't provide a lot of help to Atogwe at the back of the D.  If our front line and LB can stuff the run well enough to the extent that teams are forced to rely on their passing game, how will our secondary hold up?  While the Chiefs aren't exactly a great template for this, the Eagles will be.  An average front line might help us contain Westbrook (as well as he can be) and force Donovan to go to the air.  This final preseason game could give us a preview of who will be on the field if that happens and how they might fare.

 

Well, that's the end of Chapter 1.  Chapter 2 should be coming soon which will focus on games 1-4.  Discuss.

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