So that's it for training camp. The Rams wrapped yesterday afternoon in Mequon, WI, and the regular season is nowjust over three weeks away.
And preperations begin for what might be the most important preseason game in the franchise's, ney, the league's history. Already, the Rams first home game of the preseason has yet to sell out, meaning that it'll be blacked out on local TV. That might be a good thing considering Steven Jackson's holdout continues, eventhough there's at least a little, tiny bit of sunshine seeping through the cracks.
Camp wrapped with some positive notes from expected and unexpected quarters. All the good news and all the improved performances in the world won't mean squat, however, if the Rams don't play with a high level of intensity against the Chargers this weekend, the kind we haven't seen from the Golden Horns in a long, long time.
- Without Jackson, the passing game will be key in achieving the illustrious and elusive goal of the first team offense scoring a TD. Second round draft pick Donnie Avery is back practicing and should see action in the game. The Chargers defense was a mirror image of the Titans' last season, tough against the pass. They did struggle against third WRs. Avery missed tons of practice with a hairline fracture on his hip. Don't expect a miracle as he has lots of catching up to do, but this could be a good chance to see him stretch the field on deep balls.
- Joe Klopfenstein has "his best camp with the Rams," huh? I'm pulling for the guy, but I'll believe it when I see it.
- The competition for WR spots remains intense. 4th round pick Keenan Burton, surprise stand out Derek Stanley and Dante Hall each made some nice catches in practice yesterday. Add that to the news that Reche Caldwell's stock is rising and the resurgent Dane Looker in camp. The Rams brass is going to have some tough decisions to make on the bottom of the depth chart at WR. Last season the Rams had 6 WRs on the roster; right now they've got 12. Holt, Bennett, Avery and Burton are locks, so that leaves two spots for eight guys. Dante Hall will make it as a returner, if not a WR. The battle comes down to Stanley, who can return kicks, worked hard through camp and may be able to play d-back; Looker, who had a great camp and brings veteran experience; and Caldwell, who's played in Saunders' system before in Washington.
- Atogwe, Carter, Brown and Bassey sat out practice with various ailments yesterday. None of the maladies will keep them from the regular season, but could well force them out of the game this weekend, leaving the Rams really thin in the backfield, especially at safety. That could definitely impact the run defense, but the return of Witherspoon and Adeyanju will put it above what we saw against the Titans last weekend. Of course, the pressure's not on the defense this weekend; we know that with no significant injuries these guys will shake off the rust. All eyes are on the offense this weekend.
- Your daily Steven Jackson holdout tidbit: Linehan will meet with team President Jay Zygmunt today to discuss the situation. You can bet Linehan, with his career on the line this season, really wants to get this wrapped up and Jackson back on the field.
- Hugging Harold Reynolds got their hands on some camp postcards from the NFC West, including one from Brian Leonard.