Slowly but surely, camp inches closer. It's one of the more memorable starts to the Rams season in a long, long time. Obviously, camp and the promise of football that counts right around the corner is always exciting. Anyone else remember they felt in August the last time we started a new era of Rams football, when Linehan took the reigns? Without being a total homer, I feel much different this time, not only has the coaching staff turned over, but the entire front office has turned over too, a much needed development as the stench of rot was starting to whifting upwards from the suites at Rams Park. One thing I like about where the Rams sit right now, as I've siad before, is the coherent vision for putting together a winning team, emphasis on winning.
With that, I thought it would be a good time to take an early stab at predicting what the roster will look like once camp ends and the season starts. Today, let's start with the offense.
Rather than just rattle off my predictions for each position, I'm going to list players in the order I think they'll appear on the depth chart, with notes where necessary.
QB: Marc Bulger, Kyle Boller, Keith Null
I think the coaching staff likes Null, and sees him as a fit in the new offense. Fear not Brock Berlin fans, he'll find work elsewhere.
RB: Steven Jackson, Kenneth Darby, Chris Ogbonnaya
I'm not sure that the team won't carry four running backs, depending on the additional duties (i.e. KR, etc.) they'll ask of the players. Also, don't be surprised if they pick someone off the street when roster cuts start happening late in the summer. Finally, I went with Ogbonnaya over Pittman, because I never got the feeling from spring camp reports that the new regime was too high on Pittman.
WR: Donnie Avery, Kennan Burton, Laurent Robinson, Tim Carter, Derek Stanley, Brooks Foster
This one gets really tough to predict after Robinson, and though I'm sick of hearing about it, I understand why people have made this position the official Rams storyline of the offseason. I think Travis Brown or Horace Grant could easily push Foster to the practice squad, depending on how they use their size - both measure 6'3" - in camp this summer. Again, though the front office and coaches deny the likelihood of it happening, don't be surprised if there's a last minute addition to this list, especially if a younger player with experience in this kind of offense gets das boot.
FB: Mike Karney
TE: Randy McMichael, Daniel Fells, Billy Bajema
At this point, does anyone really expect Joe Klopfenstein to beat out Fells?
RT: Jason Smith
RG: Richie Incognito
C: Jason Brown
LG: Jacob Bell
LT: Alex Barron
OL (backup): Adam Goldberg, John Greco, Mark Setterstrom, Phil Trautwein, Tim Mattran
This is a tough one to call too, after Stetterstrom. An injury to a starter would likely push another starter to a different position. Goldberg is the primary guy to replace an OT, and Greco or Setterstrom are equally cabable at filling in for a G. However, after Goldberg, there is no tackle on the list, unless the Rams would go to Greco, who was an OT in college. I put Trautwein on this list for that reason. The position I really wonder about is center. What happens if Jason Brown can't play a game? I'd probably slide Incognito over, since he has experience at the position as well as good size and the team has solid guys to step into the hole at RG if Cogs slides over to the middle. Behind Brown, the Rams have two true centers on the roster right now, Tim Mattran and Daniel Sanders, both undrafted free agents. I'm deferring to Mattran for my list, because scouting reports show an intelligent player with a nasty demeanor and a physical style of play. Of course, Setterstrom was taking snaps last year prior to camp, and there have been reports of Greco doing the same this year. Don't be surprised if another undrafted free agent like Roger Allen or Ray Feinga sneak onto the list. You can count on some OLs being on the practice squad too.
Alright, there it is, subject to much debate. Who's missing? Who doesn't belong on this list?