The St. Louis Rams have had a pretty good week of training camp. With preseason looming closer the Ram's are hoping to put a poor season behind them and start anew. The Ram's have been active this offseason by getting good depth players, and players who can help our team. The Rams didn't go after the big playmakers and are hoping that their young players will play better in their second year under their current offensive and defensive systems
Sam Bradford is the big headliner going into the preseason, and while Sam will take much of the praise it will take more than a rookie quarterback to make a team successful. The Rams will be a better team heading into 2010 season if you don't believe me hopefully you believe Billy Devaney
I felt that way last year. It's a climb back. I'm not kidding anybody. But I really felt we bottomed out way early last year by making those tough (personnel) decisions. We knew what was in store for us and it was going to be a tough road. But that's what I'm so encouraged about. We've hit bottom, we're well on our way to starting to come out of it.
With that being said let's look at the most interesting things to come from the Rams training camp so far.
1. The development of Sam Bradford.
The Sam Bradford era has officially, and just like every rookie he got hazed. It wasn't nothing big however they just wanted to see how Sam could sing ( don't expect him to be on American Idol anytime soon). Sam even beat out Mardy Gilyard and Danny Amendola for the punt returning job, but don't worry it didn't last long.
With all the fun aside Sam is having an up and down training camp so far but at least he is running with the first team for some of the practices. His throws have been on target and it seems like he is the 2nd on the depth chart right now, however he is still a rookie and has been making plenty of rookie mistakes. All of this is to be expected Sam even though he was the first pick of the draft but hopefully he keeps getting better. Saturday will be the Rams first scrimmage and it will be interesting to see how Sam lays in game situations.
"How 'bout that bleepin' kid?" eight-year veteran offensive tackle Adam Goldberg said as he watched Bradford walk off the field after practice. "I mean, how 'bout him, huh? He's so cool and calm for a rookie. Doesn't act like anything gets to him. I couldn't believe how even-keeled he was out there. Walked into the huddle like he'd been there all his life. Now we'll have to see how that all works when another team's blitz package is thrown at him. But man, today he walked right into the huddle and took control. (Veteran center Hank) Fraley and I looked at each other and both of us said, 'Hmmmmm.' We noticed right away how the kid had immediate command as soon as he came into the huddle."
Jim Thomas: Bradford looks good. He's been sprinkled in regularly with the 1s. There have been some glitches and errant throws. But he's shown some of the things that were reasons why he got drafted so far, the ability to hit receivers in stride, throwing well on the run, etc.
If Sam Bradford want's to get better than he should start by watching this video.
2. The Ram's offense is still struggling.
It's still early in camp and the offense is usually behind the defense in the start of training camp. The fact that the Ram's have been running and throwing short routes since training camp has to remind you of last season. There could be many reason's that the Rams are doing this.
The most obvious reason for the offense playing conservative so far, is so that the offense (mainly the three quarterbacks) can get the timing down. I expect the offense to open up slowly before the scrimmage game. The wide receiving position and running back position should become clearer after the preseason.
Also we can't blame the horrible offensive performance on just the QB's it was a team effort.
3. Will the defense keep getting better?
While the defense is better than the offense right now, they will have to keep improving if the Rams want to be good next season. James Hall has been very impressive thus far and hopefully Chris Long will start getting going too. Fred Robbins and the other defensive tackles are doing good also which should take the pressure off the linebackers and allow the DE's to get going. I haven't heard much about the linebackers however except that James Laurinaitis has been impressive and that Larry Grant is with the starters.
4. What about the defensive backs?
Ron Bartell has been doing good so far, here's hoping that his recent injury doesn't set him back. Jerome Murphy has been doing a good job being physical, but he is getting beat on long balls and is making too many gambles. The corners who are fighting for the number two spot so far have been Justin King and Bradley Fletcher. The CB battle is looking like it will be as interesting as the WR battle maybe more.
For those who want to know how the safety's are doing, well I don't know I haven't heard much about them, but expect Atogwe and Butler to start again, Kevin Payne and Craig Dahl will back them up.
The biggest surprises on offense so far
1. The emergence of Rodger Saffold.
I'm sure everyone expected him to be good, but the reports out of camp have been great for Rodger. He is showing good footwork and doing great in one on one drills.It will be interesting to see if the Rams switch him to the right side since he played LT in college.
While it is too early to say that he will be the starting LT going into the season, having an offensive lineman who can play both left and right tackle good will be great for this organization.
2. The persistence of Danny Amendola.
Danny Has had an interesting career so far. He was brought in to be a kick returner last season, and due to injuries became a starter. For the Rams he caught 43 passes as a slot receiver. He was also sixth in the NFL in punt return average (11.6) on 31 returns. He was 16th in the NFL in kickoff return average (24.5) and led the NFL with 66 returns and 1,618 yards.
Pretty good stats for a practice squad player, The Rams have been lacking playmakers so it should have been a no brainer that Danny would be Ram going into the future. Then the Rams drafted Mardy Gilyard a great player from Cincinnati.It looked like Danny would be lost in the shuffle since these two players would be fighting for the same spots. Danny he has been impressive thus far and playing with the first team, In fact I hear that he has been the most impressive WR in practice. I thought the Rams would cut him but I will admit that I was wrong.
The biggest surprises on defense so far.
1.Larry Grant playing with the starters
Maybe this wouldn't have been much of a surprise if it wasn't for the Rams bringing in Bobby Carpenter to play outside linebacker. Larry Grant is doing his best to keep his new starting spot however and has been reminding the staff that he is very physical Just ask Mike Karney. Larry could be a long time starter if he keeps progressing, he just needs to work on his pass defense more, that and make more impact plays.
Expect Grant to be on the field a lot because he will most likely switch between the two OLB spots depending on the game situation. With Larry progressing we will have four solid players at linebacker instead of just James Laurinaitis like last season.
2. James Hall having a great camp
This was the biggest shock out of training camp so far. Every time I read a report it's James Hall that is standing out especially at the end spot. James Hall is a pleasant surprise so far, I won't say that Hall will have a great season but if he can provide an occasional rush it will help out.
Our rookie DE's haven't been spectacular so far and it would be unrealistic to expect much from them this season. Plus you have Chris Long manning the left end spot, while he should have a good season he will most likely get double teamed a lot.
It hasn't been long since training camp started but as you can see the Ram's haven't wasted time trying to improve on their 1-15 record. The road might be long but the Ram's are going by it the right way.