How do you judge a minicamp? You don't. It's like trying to judge how well you studied. Did you get soak in the books, the notes, or did you fall asleep at the table waking up in a puddle of drool, a mark on your head from the four-letter word you carved into the library table? By all accounts, the Rams first day of minicamp did not end in a puddle of drool. Let's review. BTW, we should have more photos from today's practice later in the day.
Avery likes what he sees in the offense, and thinks it could be a productive system for him to emerge in his second year. We'll see how it goes with eleven defenders breathing fire lined up on the other side, but I think expecting progress is reasonable. If the fixes that the Rams have made in their blocking game - beefing up at C, drafting Smith, adding a blocking FB & TE - that could make the running game a threat, thus opening the field to air it out a little bit. I expect to see lots of options & play action passes this year.
Avery's excited about the new system, and Steven Jackson is excited about the new blockers the Rams brought in. Behind Jackson the picture's still a little muddled. Complete with a Horatio Alger story, seventh round pick RB Chris Ogbonnaya had a patron in Rams RB coach Sylvester Croom, a new hire. Where he'll end up on the depth chart depends on, besides how he looks in camp, Brian Leonard's injuries (I think Ogbonnaya is a slightly better version of Leonard), and what the next stages are for Darby and Pittman. I have to think Gado's not legitimately part of the picture.
Here's an early, very early, look at who's lining up with the first team. Looking over the list there's only a few spots where a position battle can/will shape up.
- OT - Barron's going to start at OT, so is Jason Smith. Though Goldberg's working out with the first team right now, much of that has to do with Spagnuolo's decision to work the rookies into the mix as they learn the system. What remains to be seen, is which side which tackle will start on.
- WR2,3 - The way it shakes out right now, Donnie Avery is the #1 WR, but after that it's wide open. The WR2 defaults to Burton right now, but that's about as fluid as any position on the team. Could Laurent Robinson emerge? Brooks Foster? Who'll play in the slot?
- DL - The defensive line will see lots of rotations. That's Spagnuolo's method up front as they look for mismatches and multiple looks to keep offenses guessing. How much of a regular feature Darell Scott become at DT is my question. The Rams may not list his as a starter, but they really need him to be a stalwart against the run.
- CB - Obviously, Ron Bartell has one side nailed down, and I suspect given his stature versus that of the other guys on the team, he'll find himself playing the matchup rather than a set right or left side spot. But who's the other CB? Right now it's Tye Hill, and the Rams really need him to work out as a starter, given their investment and need. However, keep an eye out in camp as lots of names could work in and out of this spot.
- MLB - This is James Laurinaitis' job to lose, though Chris Draft is keeping the spot warm for now.
- SLB - Pisa Tinoisamoa had his best season last year, with 98 total tackles (83 solo) and 3 sacks, both career highs. But there's a big question as to whether or not he's the guy on the strong side. If not him, who? Culberson? Chris Draft? Vorbora or Chamberlain?
Here's the uniform numbers for the rookies and new names, that we know of:
Jason Smith - 77
James Laurinaitis - 55
Bradley Fletcher - 33
Brooks Foster - 89
Chris Ogbonnaya - 22
G Rey Feinga won the lottery for the number 69
James Butler - 37
Jason Brown - 60
Billy Bajema - 47
Roger Allen - 62
Back with more this afternoon.
Laurent Robinson - 11