It's minicamp day today, and I can't help but wonder if it has all the feel of freshman orientation for the newbies.
This is the last hurrah before training camp starts in late July, minicamp sounds mostly like three intensive days of learning the playbook, offensively and defensively. With the leaders on both sides of the line now having spent a year with Linehan at the helm, this minicamp should give the team a pretty good feel for what they've got going into the season and putting on the pads again in July. Or so one would think...
There are a few key decisions still to make, and I suspect the next few days will give the coaching staff a real chance to do just that. Questions to answer:
- Who'll make up the offensive line? The tackles are set with the line's veteran cornerstone Orlando Pace on that key left side and the talented Mr. Barron on the right. (Surely, he'll get that false start thing nipped in the bud this season...) The middle of the line carries the biggest question mark with that decision effecting who'll be starting at guard. McCollum's days under QB seem to be pretty well numbered, and there are legitimate questions as to whether he can remain as a backup with his contract. The real choice likely falls between Romberg and Incognito, with Incognito a real possibility for the right guard slot as well. Could Goldberg be in the mix at RG as well? Of course, we can't forget about draft pick Dustin Fry. Several times since the draft, pundits have dropped his name as a real possibility to start at C. It'll be pretty tough to start him over Romberg (in TST's opinion), but I suspect he'll be a backup that we'll see more and more of as the season drags on and/or injuries occur. Another thing to remember is that by keeping Fry as a backup at center, the Rams will have given themselves serious depth at that position, with the experienced Cogs able to slide over as well. Setterstrom seems like the man at LG, and the coaches have spared no effort in publicly praising him. Terrell could give him a run for his money, but will most likely be the number two.
- How will the key offensive additions of Bennett, McMichael and Brian Leonard fit in? I think we already have a pretty good idea about this, especially Bennett and McMichael. However, through minicamp and the training camp we'll probably start seeing some more efficient schemes for inside the red zone and trench battles in the middle of the field. Leonard's grasp of the playbook will go a long way toward determining how often he's a blocker, a back up or a pass catching tool in key situations.
- Of course, what about the D-line? It's such a prevalent theme that we really shouldn't even need to ask it. There's no bigger question surrounding the Rams at the moment. How well the youth in the middle, both the 2007 draftees and returning youngster Wroten, grasp their tasks will almost immediately figure into the "next move" decision about adding another DT that we've been discussing here in the wake of the Kennedy deal. Will the Rams try to bring in a marquee name, i.e. Kris Jenkins? Or will they look for solid, experienced depth to merely compliment the young blood in front? I suspect we'll know more by the weekend.
- Finally, there's one key roster move I'm waiting for in the wake of this minicamp, and that's what to do with our depth at TE. McMichael's a given, but someone among Klop, Byrd and Aaron Walker. Most likely, either Byrd or Walker will get cut at some point, and I can't imagine them giving up on their investment in Klop just yet. He showed some decent potential last season.
Most exciting part of minicamp, for players: