The St. Louis Rams get back on the field this week. After a brief break last week, OTAs resume Tuesday and run through Friday. Spring practice is what is, learning the systems, getting the young players up to speed and keeping the veterans fresh. Nevertheless, there are a few things worth keeping you eye on at this week's pajama party.
1. Wide receiver shuffle
Once again all eyes are the Rams receivers in the offseason, sort of a regular thing in recent years. Unlike previous seasons, there finally is some exciting talent on the roster.
That starts with Tavon Austin, who has been working outside, in the slot and at running back. He's going to get the ball early and often. Hell, Sam Bradford started watching tape on him before the Rams even drafted him. Keep an eye on what kind of work Austin's doing, because that's going to define this unit.
Stedman Bailey has already had some work with the first team offense. He could leapfrog some of the incumbent receivers on the roster. I'm really anxious to see how the horse race at wide receiver stacks up heading into training camp.
2. Running back rotation
Isaiah Pead's suspension is just one game. The team has already been pretty clear that it's not going to change his projected role in the offense which figures to be big. Odds now say that Pead and rookie Zac Stacy will be the two main guys in Brian Schottenheimer's ground game. Nevertheless, it's wide open with Daryl Richardson having shown what he's capable of last season, and Terrance Ganaway being valuable enough for the team to bring into this season.
How do the reps get divided? Based on Schottenheimer and Fisher's past, one back will get a majority of carries. Who will it be? And what role will the other guy(s) play? With Austin and Givens forcing defenses to back up a little, the Rams running game could be poised for big things in 2013.
3. Safety dance
The biggest question mark on defense is in the back, at safety. Rookie T.J. McDonald headlines the group. He's the most talented of the bunch right now, and it's a very, very young group of defensive backs. Darian Stewart looks like the other starting safety. He's the senior member of the group, a holdover from the Spagnuolo days, but he's never been able to get on the field and stay there.
A trio of talented corners bolster the secondary. However, any issues syncing it all up could open holes in the defense, the kind of holes that Adrian Peterson and others ran right through last year.
4. Team health
Tuesday's headlines are all injuries. The Rams usually have their fair share of injury news, but, so far, the lone new injury news out of Rams Park is tight end Lance Kendricks having his knee scoped, a minor thing. The team's two most senior players, center Scott Wells and guard Harvey Dahl, are recovering from prior ailments. Jake Long is still working his way back to full strength.
Obviously, the team needs to avoid the random stuff that can happen this time of year, torn Achilles, twisted ankles, etc. That puts them in good shape for training camp and the start of the season. A relatively healthy year for the Rams could be the difference in a tight NFC West race.