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Proving Grounds: A Look at the Rams Preseason Opener

As this is my first post on the site, please stick with me while I try to get the system down. But onto the Rams!

This upcoming Friday is the Rams first preseason game, against the New York Jets. While they may not be an ideal opponent (I'm sure everyone is well aware of what happened to them last year with a certain veteran QB), they are an opponent nonetheless and are the first test of the upcoming 2009 season. With that in mind, there are a few players on the Rams that stand quite a bit to gain, assuming they play well:

Larry Grant: While Chris Draft was off the field this morning (don't worry, he is fine), Grant played with the 1st team defense. In that time, he picked off Bulger and punished Darby during a running play. Even though Draft has impressed coaches with his play and seems to be playing quite a bit more with the first team defense as of late, Grant could make a huge statement by playing well against the Jets. With both Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens appearing only marginal at best, he has a legitimate shot to make some noise on Friday and could really open up this positional "battle."

Bradley Fletcher/Quincy Butler (Any Cornerback not named Tye Hill): Tye Hill was injured this morning as well and just like Draft, will be just fine. However, he has had an uninspiring camp so far, and with Bradley Fletcher and Quincy Butler looking good, the two stand a lot to gain by playing well this Friday. Like I noted earlier, the Jets QB situation could lead to some big plays, and if it does, Butler and Fletcher stand quite a bit to gain should they be able to capitalize.

Alex Barron: This quote by Mike Sando of ESPN explains exactly why Barron needs to play well for the team to succeed this year:

Bulger tends to look very good in practice no matter what. I think he'll be fine if the Rams protect him, which depends on that line.

I'd think a good night from Barron would just be blocking effectively and most importantly not having any false start penalties, but playing well against the Jets would be a good first step to easing the minds of the entire Rams fan base. The real test is going to in the first week of the season, because he will be going up against Patrick Kerney. At this point, a bad start to the season for Barron would mean nothing less than seeing what the 2010 Draft has to offer in regards to Offensive Tackles. Russell Okung, anyone?


With those players in mind, it will be interesting to see how the Rams look for their first (semi) official game of the Spagamania era. One can only hope they come out and look good.