Minicamp gets underway today, with the rookies and the veterans mixing it up. For the veterans, it's a voluntary deal, but it doesn't sound like anyone's missing from the weekend's activities, with just a couple of exceptions.
WR/KR Derek Stanley is still rehabbing his knee from a December injury, so he's out this weekend. Speaking of Stanley, is this guy the answer for the Rams as a kick returner? He proved to be an upgrade over the player formerly known as Dante Hall last year, but that's not saying much, not much at all. If the team re-signs Dane Looker, he could again see some work as punt returner, but seriously, is that the best we can do? Brooks Foster might be an option.
CB Justin King is still nursing his toe injury from last summer's training camp, and the Rams will keep him from pressing too hard in practice this weekend. Safety Craig Dahl, a former Spags depth player who saw playing time with the Giants in 2007, will be limited as well. (I think Todd Johnson's spot as the top backup S is safe. He's a good backup and looked good in that role last year replacing Corey Chavous).
Here's Spagnuolo on his minicamp:
Hopefully by the end of it, we will have a good idea on the rookies and what we have going forward and we’ll have advanced offensively and defensively scheme wise with the vets. It’s not a bad thing to go back and repeat some of the things we did in the first minicamp. The structure of the camp will be exactly the way it was in the first one.
Barron to remain at LT, for now
Another item of note is the mention that, for now, Spagnuolo will leave Alex Barron at left tackle. That's partly due to some continuity from the last minicamp, where Barron worked out as the starting LT, and reportedly the team like the early returns on Barron, who surely knows the value of playing well at LT heading into free agency. Don't panic, Smith's future with the team isn't on the right side, and the current configuration is pretty fluid, I suspect. This report cites an insider who says Richie Incognito is also playing for his future with the Rams this season.
Backup running backs
RamsGab has a good overview of the backup RB options on the roster, and makes a good point about the offensive line's role in contributing to the success of a running back. We've said it many, many times here before, it's a miracle Steven Jackson has the yards he does playing behind the clumps of paper mache the Rams have used as offensive linemen recently.
Another point I would add to the discussion here, is that of Jackson's injury history. Few positions go through the physical wear and tear that running backs do; that's why age 30 usually marks the end of being a full-time starter. Without adequate blocking, hard hitting linebackers and safeties roam can simply cheat up to the line and wait to explode on the running back as he hits the hole, if he even gets that far with some of the blocking we've seen lately. Facing those kind of situations regularly is a guaranteed injury.