ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 30: Darian Stewart #20 of the St. Louis Rams intercepts a pass against the New Orleans Saints at the Edward Jones Dome on October 30, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Saints 31-21. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Add strong safety, or at least No. 2 safety, to your list of position battles to watch through the St. Louis Rams' training camp. Head coach Jeff Fisher is splitting the first team reps between Darian Stewart and Craig Dahl, and that could continue right up through the end of the preseason.
"Yeah we're alternating every day and that's good for both of them," Fisher said. "Then we'll start alternating some positions as well but they're both very smart and both very talented."
Last season, Craig Dahl started off in the first team lineup next to Quintin Mikell. Eventually, Stewart replaced him and saw roughly twice the snaps over the course of the year. Stats reveal what fans noticed week in and week out from both players. Stewart holds up better in pass coverage; Dahl is better against the run.
Stewart had a neutral grade in coverage from PFF; Dahl had a -5.7.
The Rams defense under Fisher uses a similar approach with the idea of interchangeable safeties, especially since the team is reportedly going to go to more Cover-2 concepts which have safeties splitting the deep field in half.
"Well you're looking for first a thorough understanding of the defense," Fisher said, "for them to be interchangeable both positions - strong safety, free safety - and then you've got to be a complete player, in that you've got to be a good run defender and good tackler and you've got to be able to play spacing and break up passes."
That could be an issue for the Rams this season at safety. Even Mikell, the team's best safety, lags in deep coverage. An improved cornerback situation helps, but it could be the safety position that causes more problems for the Rams defense than outside linebackers.