May 23, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Brandon Gibson (11) catches a ball during an OTA at ContinuityX Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE
Training camp is right around the corner, less than two weeks, and the St. Louis Rams will get the pads back on and start really getting ready for the 2012 season. So what is there to watch in camp this year? Plenty. In the days ahead, TST will be taking a look at the big stories, the little ones too, to follow as camp opens. It will also be a big part of our new video series returning this month.
To start with, I want to take a quick look at all of the major position battles happening in camp and the preseason this year.
We will be digging much further into each of these. Consider this a preview, a quick reference for roster spots.
Danny Amendola returns to his old stomping grounds in the slot. Which receivers will be working on the outside is the big question the Rams have to answer. Right now, it looks like Brian Quick is on top of the depth chart for receivers, and the coaching staff expects Chris Givens to claim the third spot. The reality is that both Quick and Givens are rookies, meaning their roles could be limited, depending on how fast they get up to speed prior to the season.
Right now, it looks like a battle between Bryan Mattison and rookie Rokevious Watkins. There will be others in the mix. The Rams really need their offensive line to be better than most think it will, not only for Bradford's sake but for the running game as well.
No. 2/3 Cornerback
Janoris Jenkins is the favorite to start opposite Cortland Finnegan, and at this point it would be an upset if he did not. However, he is still a rookie, and could mean some adjustment. Is Bradley Fletcher healthy enough to be a second or third corner? What about Jerome Murphy or Trumaine Johnson? Can either of those two players be counted on this season?
From here, it looks as though Jo-Lonn Dunbar has one of the spots locked up, and Mario Haggans might as well. Neither is a sure thing, and given the Rams' needs at this spot, it will be a matter of finding the best player rather than deferring to experience. I'm less concerned about the outside linebacker spots than some, especially if the corners prove their worth early in the nickel package.
I'm not so sure Danny Amendola is the man for this anymore, not when you consider just how much Sam Bradford needs him on offense. Look for Daryl Richardson to get some looks here, and maybe even Chris Givens.
There are other positions where the starter is well-defined, but in serious need of a good camp and solid season to follow. For instance, we know Lance Kendricks opens camp as a the top tight end, but can he be the player the Rams need him to be? We'll get into those issues in a subsequent post.