I'm not sure how many people in the TST community are old enough to have enjoyed a thrilling round or two of Breakout on the Atari. Remember that game, with the big block lines that you had to break away with a tiny square ball? That's about all there was too it, which seems somehow incomplete in an era where video games allow you to live a second life altogether.
There's a transition in there somewhere, but I'm struggling to find it without coffee this morning and a 14 hour work day the day before. So let's do this: Which members of the St. Louis Rams will bust out the low-resolution lines in front of them and have a breakout season that officially puts them on the map? Meet the candidates below the fold:
Donnie Avery - His rookie season was hardly one to scoff at, but like everyone else on the offense, he took a step back last year. If theory meets practice with the Rams plan for their receivers, then they should have enough complementary parts to allow Avery to do what he does best. Avery probably needs to have a breakout season as much as anyone on this list.
Chris Long - Long came on strong in the second half of the season last year. His sack total picked up in the second half, but perhaps more revealing were the number of QB hits and hurries he had, 9 and 21 respectively, which led the team. Typically, that indicates future sack performance which could bode well for Long this year. Of all the guys on this list, Long is the safest bet for a breakout year.
Laurent Robinson - Robinson impressed everyone with his early season performance before sending us all to dizzying lows when he was lost for the season in week 3. He seemed to have a real connection with Marc Bulger and not so much with Kyle Boller (who did?). How will he work with King Sam?
Chris Ogbonnaya - I like what he brings to the table, but the former Texas RB is a long shot for a breakout season. He's not even assured the backup job behind Steven Jackson.
Daniel Fells - Yes, the Rams have two rookie TEs they picked up in the draft this year. However, ookie TEs are a real long shot for breakout seasons on team likely to struggle so it's up to Fells to give the Rams offense a credible receiving threat, especially in the red zone.
Sam Bradford - Define breakout. A 4,000 yards season with 20+ touchdowns remains at the very far end of the spectrum of possibility. We looked at a much more reasonable projection for Bradford over the weekend, one that wouldn't really qualify as a breakout so much as it would an acceptable performance for a rookie QB.
Bradley Fletcher - How does a press corner breakout? If Fletcher Bradley can pick up where he left off and help the Rams coaches with their goal of shortening a field that was all too long last year, then it's a win for Fletcher and the Rams. Where will the INTs come from?
Oshiomogho Atogwe - Atogwe has had his breakout year, but he desperately needs another. Playing on a glorified one-year deal that could reward him rather richly in 2011. His playmaking ability, i.e. forcing turnovers, will be desperately needed by a defense still working up to its potential.
Mardy Gilyard - A breakout season for Gilyard will most likely come on special teams, where he brings tremendous promise as a kick returner. He'll have to beat out incumbent Danny Amendola who is no slouch in that role.