How are my fellow Ram fans doing on this wonderful Monday morning? It's going to rain here again today, but it's still beautiful. Training camp has returned, Chris Long has signed a four-year contract extension and James Laurinaitis is said to be close to getting his own. The two have been bright spots and stalwarts together on the Rams' defense for three years now, and it looks as though that total will only continue to grow.
While terms of the agreement have not yet been disclosed, given Long's status as a young, double-digit sack caliber defensive end, one can only assume that his contract is "huge." I don't think he'll be taking home Mario Williams-type paychecks, but consider that he did cost $18.3 million against the cap for 2012 after hitting incentives in his rookie deal.
Regardless of money, this should give fans a sigh of relief. It was always - and would continue to have been - one of the franchise's most important tasks and goals to lock up their Pro Bowl-snubbed defensive lineman before hitting the open market. Now attention turns to the "Animal" in the middle. I imagine it should happen smoothly and rather quickly (knock on wood), but it's going to be a subject of interest until Laurinaitis also signs the dotted line. While we start our wait, how about some links? Just make the jump...
Position battles begin - Nearly every position - to one degree or another - should make for quite an interesting training camp as coach Jeff Fisher looks to put together his first 53-man roster with the St. Louis Rams. Aside from quarterback, running back and the defensive line, many starting roles are up for grabs. On offense, the line is far from guaranteed, and the receiving corp is an absolute enigma. On defense, it's anyone's guess as to who will man the outside jobs next to the anchor in the middle, James Laurinaitis, while competition should be fierce behind No. 1 corner back, Cortland Finnegan. It's refreshing to watch battles which are forced due to a plethora of young talent, as opposed to having to piece together the old stopgaps due to a lack thereof.
Steven Jackson slims down, passes on guacamole - Remember that time Steven Jackson didn't have dreadlocks? That was weird. He won't be quite as hard to recognize in 2012, but he may appear slightly differently to fans on gamedays. That is because his normal playing weight of a whopping 245 pounds has be downgraded down to "234.8 pounds (with) 5.1 percent body fat," according to Jackson himself. Of course, that is still not the size of a man whom one should ever attempt tackle head-on. After adding to his already extensive workout regimen, and cutting out some of his favorite fatty foods, Jackson intends to maintain his beastly style of play while - somehow - becoming an even better athlete in the process. Defenders beware.
Again, who's running the defense? - The subject of the Rams' current void at defensive coordinator remainds a topic of constant discussion and inquiry. The team has shown no interest annointing a replacement for the indefinitely suspended Gregg Williams, and fully intends to operate the unit via a collective effort. Head coach Jeff Fisher, assistant HC Dave McGinnis and secondary coach Chuck Cecil each have experience at the position, but there is also a dark horse candidate in the mix. Although some in the sports world have shown scrutiny towards to Rams for employing Williams' son Blake, there are no "Bounty-gate fallout" stipulations which may prevent family conversations. If Gregg were to give Blake his two cents on upcoming gameplans over dinner, so be it.
Trumaine Johnson needs a new alarm clock - What's the best way to poorly kick off your NFL career? Not sure, but missing your first day of training camp seems like a viable answer. Third-round pick Trumaine Johnson slept through his alarm Wednesday morning, missing both his flight to St. Louis and said practice. Let's hope that when he did finally catch a plane, it was a one-way trip, and that he will eventually make the Gateway City his long-term home. He should have plenty of money to cash in for a new sleep repeller after signing his contract last week, and avoiding fines and penalties from the team.
Full back move reflects scheme change - In 2011, the Rams utilized a fullback in only 12 percent of offensive plays. Under Jeff Fisher and new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's run-first philosphy, that number will increase significantly. Saturday's signing of veteran FB Ovie Mughelli only reaffirms that belief. A former All-Pro, Mughelli will likely become Steven Jackson's favorite teammate since Mike Karney, paving the way as #39's lead blocker. It's not an exciting signing, but it's an important one nonetheless. Just be sure to not tell DCRamFan that "Ovie" now plays for the Rams.
Where NFC West teams rank in average age - At risk of sounding redundant and overexcited, the St. Louis Rams are the youngest team in the NFL! Take a look at how they compare to the rest of the teams in the division. Although the Rams rank youngest overall by average, they boast only one position which is actually the youngest unit in the league: special teams. After unloading three veteran starters along the defensive line; however, the come up just one shy in that regard. The Arizona Cardinals have the oldest d-line.