The NFL lockout is ending soon, real soon. And that means teams can get back to the business of preparing for the 2011 NFL season. Just as important, we fans can get back to the business of preparing ourselves for the season. To get back up to speed, TST is grinding out our annual roster review, taking a look at where the St. Louis Rams stand on the eve of free agency and camp.
Lets not kid ourselves, the position everyone is the most interested in is the wide receiver position. The Rams' wide receivers weren't anywhere near great last season, but there are a lot of young players with potential. While the Rams didn't have a number one WR at the end of last season, they return players who could produce in specific roles, giving the Rams a good wide receiving core. It would be nice if the Rams WR's can stay healthy and finally live up to their potential this season.
The biggest variable for the Rams WR's, will be how they adjust to Josh Mcdaniels' offensive system. Just because players like Danny Amendola and Mark Clayton played well in the West Coast System, doesn't mean they will make a smooth transition.
The guys from the week 17 game.
Gibson had an up and down season last year. In fact, the first two games of the season Gibson wasn't on the game day roster. However, he eventually became a starter. The thing that stood out about Gibson the most to me is that he learned from mistakes. He made more catches and started fighting for extra yards. Gibson also stopped dropping a lot of catchable balls.
He really caught on last season. He could end up cut, but he will be entering his third season this year. That's usually when WR's start playing up to their potential. In my honest opinion I think he could be a solid number two option, but he will have to have a strong camp and preseason first.
Danny should be the Wes Welker in Josh Mcdaniel's system. He did it all for the Rams last season, catch, run back kickoffs and punts. He doesn't have blazing speed, but he has the passion to play the sport. He really showed up to play last season, and showed how important he was to the Rams offense. Lets not forget, that many people had Amendola not even making the team last season.
If the Rams can get some threats on the outside, Amendola should be able to do more damage underneath, without having great corners on him. If Amendola isn't the number one option that he was late last season, he should give the Rams a great chance to get mismatches.
Gilyard, will be an interesting player to watch this season. He was a rookie last year, and because of the Rams' lack of playmakers it seemed like he'd have a good year. It usually doesn't work like that. To be honest, it shouldn't come as a surprise that he had the year he had. He couldn't practice with the other rookies last season, because of graduation rules. He also had wrist injury, that seems minor, but could been more of an hindrance than we know of.
With all of that being said, it doesn't look like the Rams will wait to let him develop. Gilyard will have to show that he can be a good player in camp and the preseason, or he could be on his way out.
Before the draft it looked like he would get that time to develop, but drafting two rookie receivers, could be a hint that the Rams are willing to move on without him.
Alexander might be the most talented WR on the Rams roster. Last season after Mark Clayton was injured, he was the Rams only deep threat. In more than one game he was the Rams leading receiver. However he needs to play more consistently. There were a few balls he should have caught that he dropped, prime example the week 17 game against the Seahawks.
Alexander had a good, surprising rookie season last season. It seemed like, there were a few games the Rams could have played him, but decided not to. There could have been many factors for this, but I think it was because they didn't want to risk an injury to him. If he can stay healthy he can be a good contributor for the Rams for years.
Robinson disappointed last season. Before he was injured in 2009, it looked like he was going to be a good receiver. It looked like the injury got the best of him last season, he lacked speed and most of the time it didn't benefit the Rams when he came in the game.
He'll be a free agent this year, and there's no guarantee that the Rams will bring him back this year.
Players coming back from injury
When Clayton came to the Rams via trade, he and Sam Bradford had instant chemistry. He became Bradford's favorite target and made the Rams offense work. He was having a great season, but then he suffered a bad leg injury (torn patellar tendon). Clayton was a main cog for the Rams offense and could have made the Rams a more consistent offense.
Clayton is unsigned right now, and before the lockout the Rams were trying to sign him. It will be interesting to see if the Rams decide to bring him back or decide to go another direction. Also the team will have to evaluate how well his leg has healed during the lockout.
Last season was supposed to be Avery's year. He bulked up, and it seemed like he was going to be Sam's number one target and have a big year. However that was cut short when he tore his ACL, playing against the New England Patriots.
The good news is that Avery has been working out, and he said he has been clocking sub 4.3s forties recently. The Rams will see how Avery plays in pads during practice. If Avery is back up to speed, he can seriously help the Rams offense and add more talent to the roster.
The Rams young wide receiver drafted in the 4th round. He should be competing for playing time in the slot versus Mardy Gilyard and Amendola. Salas isn't super fast, but like Amendola he has the passion to play the game. He was a pretty good possession receiver for Hawaii and the Rams drafted him to help do demage against opposing defenses
The big thing for Salas will be how well he learns the playbook. This lockout could have hurt his chances of playing early, I expect him to see more action in the slot if we go four wide, or if Amendola gets injured.
Austin Pettis is interesting. He isn't the fastest guy, but he has good height and great hands. He was drafted to be the Rams outside receiver. Pettis needs to work on his route running this season. He probably won't see much time this season. If you think about it, would it be good if he started this season? It would most likely mean a couple players got injured.
Not saying that Pettis won't be a good player, but it usually takes players a while to get used to the NFL. Pettis didn't get the benefit of team workouts. He worked with Sam, but not in full pads. Pettis could have a good career, but I don't expect to see much of him year one.
Outside looking In
Curry made the 53 man roster last season. He is a young player, but didn't show much as a receiver. He could make the roster as a special teams guy, but might end up cut or on the practice squad.
Made a couple of plays in camp last year, he has the size, but he will face an uphill battle to make the roster.
The Rams signed him late last year. To be honest I don't know much about him, besides the fact that he was on the Bears practice squad before he came to the Rams.
I doubt he makes the roster, but I'm sure the Rams will try him at kickoff returns first.