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Turk-less in '07?

I keeping my fingers crossed that the Rams work out a deal with punter Matt Turk. Last season, the legs were the lone bright spot on an otherwise blighted Rams special teams unit. With Turk and Wilkins the Rams could at least put the ball where they needed to, even if they could do little else.

This B.J. Sander guy just won't cut it with a 39.2 yards per kick average in 2005 with the Packers, yeah, that Packer powerhouse team of 2005. Sander was cut early in the preseason last year.

The Rams certainly have the $$ with their increased cap space this season, Drew Bennett and James Hall won't command all those dollars. There's indication from the Rams camp that they're still hopefull about signing Turk, and that even if they don't this Sander guy might be nothing more than a competitor for the Rams punter's job this summer anyway.

The Rams did offer a contract to former Patriot Tully Banta-Cain, but he elected to keep looking (meeting with the 49ers yesterday and the Steelers tomorrow). It's a move that offers some insight into the Rams offseason plans. Banta-Cain was a multi-faceted part of the New England defense, playing both outside LB and DE, as a pass rushing specialist. We know Haslett m.o. is clearly focused on pass rushing, and the Rams are trying to get themselves set for the pass rush through trades and free agency.

Reading between the lines, it looks more and more like their day 1 strategy at the April draft will be to score a prominent defensive tackle and probably a line backer for the outside. (There's also the outside possibility of grabbing a speedy prospect at WR in the 3rd or 4th rounds to return kicks and become an understudy to a marquee receiving corps.) It's not a stretch; they simply must draft someone to staff the d-line. The question is availability for the 13th pick. Okoye's stock has rocketed upward like anything with a dot com after it 10 years ago, meaning that he's fliting with top 10 pick territory. Alan Branch has cooled off some, but still should be off the board by the time lucky 13 rolls around. That likely means the Rams will select a LB like Ole Miss' Pat Willis and grab a less-hyped but hopefully just as talented DT in the second round. In fact, I just swung over to Football's Future and their most recent mock has the Rams taking this route, picking Willis first and Cal DT Brandon Mebane in the second. I suggest you read their scouting report on Mebane, other than questions about his size, he could be a real swell pick in the second round.