Lifting weights and running for four days in row - no, it's not a description of Helg the East German deadlifter's ideal vacation, it's phase one of the 2007 NFL season for the St. Louis Rams.
The holdovers - we're looking at you Jimmy Kennedy - on the Rams defense had better use the time wisely, as they may once again be the thin blue line through which opposing runners will look to pass through with only a wisp.
Former Bears DT Alfonso Boone signed with the Chiefs this weekend, while another Chicago DT, Ian Scott, remains unsigned. (sigh) Scott's visit to Minnesota late last week yielding nothing. The Chiefs are reported to have lost interest in Scott after re-signing Ron Edwards, and there's now talk that the Bears would like to re-sign Scott with a Tank Johnson suspension threatening their season. I'd venture to say that Scott and his agent are looking for a pretty hefty chunk of change, perhaps more than a team with about $12 million left to spend, and the draft still to come, would like to pay. Still, if the Rams haven't been interested in him by now, then they're probably not going to be, as was reported a couple weeks ago. With most of the country's attention fixed on college hoops, there's absolutely nothing bubbling up concerning the Rams looking to bolster a defensive line that mostly watched while the league's least impressive running backs ran and ran and ran against the Rams. Personally, what I think will happen is the Rams will sign a DT or two for depth via the RFA market or even the June bonus cuts, along with drafting a DT on the first day of the April draft.
Maybe they're looking for DT help here.
Perhaps the Rams could look to Norwest Mississippi Community College for help at DT. What the...? Yeah, DT Walter Thomas is 6'5" 370 lbs and can, supposedly, run a 40 somewhere in the 4.8-4.9 second range. Whaaa? It sounds too good to be true, but this guy could turn out to be a real steal in the 5th round or so after playing in relative obscurity.
Here's a great article by Pat Kirwan at NFL.com that has a nice overview of defensive talent in the draft and how it lines up with different teams and their different schemes, such as the 4-3 and the 3-4. I know the Rams don't use a 3-4; however, their needs at NT are similar given Haslett's rush-first defense. Alan Branch, not surprisingly, ranks as the best of the first round DTs with the size to draw double teams and the speed to make plays, which is something more desirable for Haslett's approach than it is the 3-4. Okoye also ran a 5.07 40 at the combine and doesn't quite have Branch's strength (33 versus 29 bench press reps), but could fit the profile for what the Rams are looking for at DT rather nicely.
I promise I'll take a break from DT talk soon...one of these days...eventually. Hey, it's hard to, because we know that the Rams are a DT or two away (and maybe a couple other front 7 defenders) from having a really, really good team, a team with balance on both sides of the ball.