The last game of the preseason is upon us. The St. Louis Rams host their cross-state counterparts from the AFC Worst (not to be confused with the NFC Worst) with a giant silver cup owned by the state of Missouri and given to the team whose second and third stringers out perform the other team's second and third stringers to claim the title of best preseason football team in the Show Me State.
3k has a game preview, so be sure to check it out. I'm here with the cliff notes version of what to watch tonight.
On the radar
Now, before you get too excited about preseason football, just remember the Lions, yes, the 0-16 Lions, won all four of their preseason games last season. I seem to recall more than one pundit writing throwaway copy like "the Lions could surprise this season." Yeah, they surprised alright. Getting a third preseason win doesn't mean much on paper for the Rams in terms of what to expect in the regular season, but they really need to win this game. A win here, with the hometown baseball team having wrapped up their game this afternoon, would help generate a little momentum heading into the regular season, put the Rams back on the St. Louis sports radar. That matters because this is a franchise trying to rebuild itself, and the more asses in the seats it has, the more support from the people signing checks to build a winning team year-in and year-out.
Donnie Avery Returns
After a broken foot, Donnie Avery returns and is expected to play tonight against the Chiefs. The starters are not expected to play much this evening, and that probably holds true for Avery as well. After all, there's no point getting him injured in a game to determine roster spots. He's been running well in practice by accounts. Tonight, keep an eye on how the fast one fares with live opponents trying to make their case to stay on an NFL roster.
Who's Number Three?
Thomas or Gibson?
3k and I spent some time on this question last night on TSR, concluding that Gibson probably gets the fourth and final defensive tackle spot. How can he not? Thomas has size, but have you seen much of anything else from the guy?
Being a better run blocker
Can Jason Smith build on the progress he showed against the Bengals? Watch to see if he does a better job staying low and driving on his blocks. The Chiefs run a 3-4 defense and are allowing opponents an average of 3.3 yards per rushing attempt in the preseason.
Special teams looking special
The Rams special teams have not impressed in the preseason. For a lot of the guys trying to get on the roster, their play on special teams will have lots to do with the final verdict.
The Rams probably won't carry more than nine defensive backs on their roster, which would mean 4 safeties and 5 corners. Since they traded Tye Hill, there are only six corners on the roster, and Cord Parks is going to have to do something really special (or Quincy Butler is going to have to play really bad) to miss out. I think we might get a better sense tonight as to whether or not the Rams will look outside for depth at cornerback.
Backup, backup running back
Gado has the #2 RB spot nailed down. Tonight, Antonio Pittman, Kenneth Darby and Chris Ogbonnaya will make their case for the third spot. Another roster spot where we might get a sense of whether or not Billy Devaney will look elsewhere to find a solid runner to round out this group.
There are a million stories in the naked city and around 75 of them in tonight's game.