This preseason seems different compared to recent years. The Rams just seem more complete now. Most of the Rams weaknesses are covered by quality players. The overall quality of the team is finally better than mediocre.
Last season, Sam Bradford was the new quarterback, and you can't tell me you didn't want to watch him play preseason games and take A.J. Feeley spot as the starter. That was the only good storyline going into the season. The battles at the other positions weren't really important.
Now the Rams have lots of position battles to watch, since they have an idea on what to expect from Bradford. There are still question marks though, but this season could end up special with all the pieces the Rams have now. The Rams might have a tough schedule, but you have to love where this team is headed.
But before I get to what you should watch for, I have to remind you that this is still just preseason. It doesn't matter who wins or loses. Teams won't run their best plays, and you won't see much of a gameplan. However, you should be able to get an idea on how the team will look.
Every week, I will be breaking down five things to watch for. This is the first preseason game, so most of these will be broad right now. Let's get started on what to watch for this game.
How well will Sam Bradford throw to wide receivers not named Danny Amendola?
Right now, it seems like Danny Amendola will have a big role on the offense. It doesn't seem like any of the other wide receivers are separating themselves from the pack. The Colts might not have a killer defense, but it's good enough to see how good the WR's are.
Will Donnie Avery or Danario Alexander finally step up to the plate? Will Brandon Gibson and Mardy Gilyard's solid training camps translate to the game field? Then you have the three players that just came to the Rams this season in Mike Sims-Walker, Austin Pettis and Greg Salas. How will they play in game time situations?
How improved is the offensive line really?
The Rams did a good job in adding Harvey Dahl to the team, fixing the weakest part of the Rams offensive line. From what I heard about the scrimmage, the offensive line looked okay. With all the money the Rams are putting into the line, they have to at least be good. So even though the Rams got better on the line, they still need time to gel.
Out of all the offensive lineman, Jason Smith worries me the most. I wasn't impressed with him last season. I'm pretty sure I heard there is a stat that Smith didn't allow any sacks or a lot of sacks when Bradford rolled to his side, but let's not act like Bradford is slow - he is really athletic. I heard Smith had an up and down camp, so it will be interesting to see how he will progress this season.
How well are the Rams running backs not named Steven Jackson playing?
The Rams finally decided to get new backups for Steven Jackson. The Rams brought over Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood. Keith Toston is also back this year and will be looking to impress this preseason. Cadillac played well in a backup role last season with the Bucs. Norwood is often banged up and is coming off an ACL injury, so it will be interesting to see how the Rams use him. Then you have Keith Toston, whom the Rams are reportedly high on.
The Rams might end up passing more than running against the Colts. However it will be interesting to see how Toston plays and if he will make the final roster. Also will be interesting to see the Rams plan with Norwood.
Who else is standing out on defense?
Honestly, we already know what to expect from three of the starting defensive lineman. The Rams are good in three out of four starting spots in the defensive backfield. The Rams only got one player at linebacker that they know they can trust: James Laurinaitis. So seven out of eleven positions the Rams know what to expect.
That's where the new players come in. There are a few players at defensive tackle that can end up helping, especially with old man Fred Robbins. Robbins was good, but he can't turn back time and get younger. The Rams added Zac Diles, Brady Poppinga, and Ben Leber. These might not be great players, but they give the Rams options at outside linebacker. James Laurinaitis might be good, but he can't do it by himself. Then you have Craig Dahl at safety. He isn't horrible, but he could lose his spot to Darian Stewart if he's not careful. Also, can't forget about the Rams DBs they drafted, or their first round pick Robert Quinn.
Battle for the second TE spot.
Right now, it appears that Lance Kendricks will be the starter heading into the regular season. It seems like it will be a battle between Billy Bajema and Big Mike. However even if Big Mike wins, let's not act like he doesn't get injured a lot. Even going back to his college days durability was a concern. Billy Bajema has been showing that he can be at least be an average target for Bradford. Fendi Onobun has a lot of potential, but who knows when it will be tapped. He is on the outside looking in. Fendi will have to start impressing the Rams again, and this game will be a perfect starting point. The second TE spot should be important, and I would think that will will see them all play hard for the spot.