Last season was definitely a forgettable one. Rams fans obviously do not want to see another disaster of a season in 2012. In order for that to be accomplished, several players will need to step up. Here are the 10 players that I think will do just that, in a big way with predictions. They are listed in no particular order.
Lance Kendricks- The second year TE out of Wisconsin looked like he would breakout in 2011 after a great preseason. Then again, preseason is only that. The 2011 regular season was was the complete opposite. I believe he had 3 TD's preseason, but he had none in the regular season. He was a rookie though, and that gives him somewhat of an "excuse" but he did miss many very catchable passes. This year he'll turn it around, becoming a great and reliable redzone target for Sam Bradford. Look for him to finish the season with around 4-5 TD's.
Robert Quinn- Another second year guy, Quinn showed all the ability to be a great pass rusher. Unlike Kendricks though, Quinn had a very productive season, finishing up with 5 sacks and 2 blocked punts. That was as a rookie, he'll only improve especially under the guidance of his defensive line coach Mike Waufle. I predict he'll register 9.5 sacks in a breakout 2012 season.
James Laurinaitis- The argument could be made that he broke out in 2011, which he did. Still he can improve. He finished 2011 with a career high 142 tackles, good enough for eight most in the league. I do not expect him to get as many this year due to our improved D-line clogging up more runs, but he'll get his share. Besides being a great tackler, he is very good in coverage, and I expect him to have more deflections and picks this year, and I also think he will finally get his first career touchdown in 2012. Our stud MLB will be voted to the Pro-Bowl with 108 tackles, 3 ints, 3 sacks and 1 TD.
Chris Long-Yes, I know he broke out last year, but i think 2012 will be his greatest year yet. Every offseason he one of the hardest workers in camp and training, he also trains with his father, the great, Hall of Famer Howie Long. That commitment has paid off. Like Quinn, he still can get even better. In fact he does every season he's played so far, recording more sacks and QB pressures than than in the previous season, but as I stated earlier, 2012 will be his year. He will join Laurinaitis in Hawaii with a career high 17 sacks.
Danny Amendola- Back to offense again with a very underrated WR in the league. Amendola, Bradford's number 1 guy in 2010 dislocated his elbow week 1. He was our most consistent/reliable WR, catching 85 passes in 2010 for 3 TD's. His absence on the field hurt the struggling Rams' offense, especially in picking up first downs. I expect Amendola to bounce back with a very strong 2012 campaign as the Rams go to guy for first downs and as their starting slot receiver. Amendola will surge back from injury, catching 5 TD's this season, once again as Bradford's favorite receiver.
Greg Salas-The 2011 fourth round receiver looked promising, improving each week until he broke his leg against the Cardinals in week 7. Salas, like Amendola is more of a slot receiver but also has the ability to be a deep threat. Salas was a player I was focusing on until his injury and I liked what i saw. Though he did not record a single touchdown, he has the potential to be a very solid, reliable player. He'll return in 2012 hungry, and finish with 2 TD's as a possible starter.
Cortland Finnegan- Far and away my favorite 2012 free agent signing(Wells was a fantastic signing also). Finnegan has proven himself as one the best corners in the league. He is aggressive and has great football knowledge. He will breakout this season, earning him a spot in the Pro Bowl like he did in 2008 for the Titans when Jeff Fisher was his coach...That's obviously a good thing. Finnegan tallied a career high 108 tackles in 2011 as a corner. Thats insane.Pair him up with Jenkins and boom, Rams have a top 10 secondary. Finnegan will rack up 97 tackles and pick off 4 passes.
Roger Saffold-Saffold had a great 2010 season. So good, that the Colts even admitted they were upset on passing on him. Unfortunately his 2011 season was not as good due to overall decline in play and injury. Injury was the biggest reason for his sophomore slump. He'll recover and be one of our starting OT's in September, greatly helping out the porous Rams offensive line.
Quentin Mikell-The best safety on our team will deliver another good season. in 2011 he had 2 interceptions, one against the Giants and one against the Seahawks i believe. He may be on the old side (31) but he has serious potential to breakout in 2012. He will intercept 3 passes this season.
Sam Bradford- The guy we need to breakout. Bradford shut any critics up with a great 2010 season, but was affected big time by the dreaded sophomore slump in 2011. The Rams' success relies on Bradford's play. The FO brought in more receivers seeing the lack of talent in the Rams' current receiving corps to help Bradford out. If Bradford had better receivers he would have had a better season, not too much better, but it would have been noticeable, Also, injury was part of Bradford's decline thanks to his poor offensive line. Still, Bradford himself was part of struggle, On some plays he was slow to react and waited to long to throw, and on others he would make foolish mistakes.I do fully believe Bradford will someday soon be a top 5 QB, there is no doubt that he has the potential.2012 will be the first step in that direction, 2012 will be known as his breakout year(look at Stafford, sure he has Megatron but c'mon). In his breakout year he'll throw 23 TD's and 14 INTs, an obvious improvement from last year,
If all these these players step up and breakout next year,like I think they will, the Rams will look like a brand new team.
The Rams will improve as a whole and be in the race for a possible Wild Card spot. Our defense is set, and could easily be top 10. Just imagine you're a QB. You hike it. Suddenly Brockers and Langford are pushing forward. You look down field and your receivers are being locked down by Jenkins and Finnegan, and you notice Long and Quinn charging at you from both sides. Thats scary.
As for offense, we will definitely improve. With Amendola and Salas back, Quick and Givens ready to go and Jackson being a beast like always, and being relieved by Pead then mix that with a somewhat upraged O-line and a healthy Bradford, and you'll say "Wait, no way we were 31st in offense last year?"
Thanks for reading, and let me know what ya think! Go Rams!