It's official. The St. Louis Rams have started training camp. This morning, the team had a walkthough. Free agency us far from over, and there was a visible reminder of that today.
Howard Balzer of ESPN 101 reports that Rams guard Jacob Bell was not on the field for this morning's walkthrough. It doesn't confirm anything, but it is a notable sign that the Rams will probably playing the 2011 season without Bell, who has not agreed to a restructured contract.
One player on the field today was S James Butler. Widely expected to be a cap casualty, Balzer notes that Butler might be saved, for now, from the ax. Per Balzer, the speculation is that Butler agreed to restructure his contract. Butler was due to make $3 million in salary this year, after losing playing time in 2010.
If Butler sticks around through training camp, he will probably be fighting for his roster spot. Craig Dahl and newly acquired Quintin Mikell are expected to be the starters. Behind them is this year's fifth-round pick Jermale Hines and Darian Stewart, who the Rams were pretty high on as the 2010 season turned into the 2011 offseason. Seventh-round pick Jonathan Nelson is in the mix as defensive back, but probably ticketed for the practice squad.
Take it at nothing more than face value, but the Rams have Dahl and Hines listed as free safeties on the official web site. Mikell isn't listed there yet, but you do wonder if he'll be more of a strong safety in a Spagnuolo defense that blurs the lines between the two safety spots.
Another note from Balzer, Darell Scott is working with the first team. A fourth-round pick in 2009, he showed some flashes of talent early last year but hit the skids late in the season. Gary Gibson, the incumbent, is a free agent. The Rams have been linked to several defensive tackles in free agency, including Justin Bannan and Daniel Muir, both would likely be starters if signed.