Happy Labor Day, sports fans. I hope you all take the opportunity to relax, ponder your St. Louis Rams and prepare yourselves for opening kickoff, which is now only two days away. Can you believe it!? The season is upon. By my rough count, as of last night, the Rams will enter the 2012 season with 31 new members on the active 53-man roster. That's incredible, and that number could continue to increase. While the roster cuts and adjustments keep rolling in, let's take a look ahead.
2012 Rams season preview: ESPN - In a bizarre turn of events, Mike Sando has a somewhat positive outlook for the St. Louis Rams following last season's 2-14 disaster. He even goes as far to say that finishing last in the NFC West is "not a given." Sando puts the spotlight on the ground game, James Laurinaitis and Janoris Jenkins as three key components. Obviously, the Rams will run the ball this year a lot, and they are not shy to admit it. Middle linebacker is a position that has long thrived in Jeff Fisher's defenses, so it's easy to expect another Pro Bowl-worthy season out of Laurinaitis. Jenkins is in for the biggest test of these three, as he will likely be targeted early and often to start his career with Cortland Finnegan locking down the other side.
2012 Rams season preview: Fox - This is a thoroughly well-researched article with in-depth evaluations of each position. Also listed are all of the team's notable additions and departures of the off-season. As usual, the offensive line and wide receiver unit collect little praise.
2012 Rams season preview: NFL - Just a little bit more. Four "expert" analysts make their final record predictions, calling for outcomes from 5-11 to 7-9, either third or fourth in the division. Week one at Detroit is a pivotal game for the Rams to set the tone for the rest of the season.
More after the jump...
Rams dealing with defensive tackle injuries - Why does it always seem as though the injury bug strikes the Rams' thinnest positions first? Outside of starters Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers, depth was already an issue at defensive tackle. Brockers, after sustaining an ankle sprain against the Baltimore Ravens, now joins Darell Scott, Matt Conrath and Trevor Laws as hobbled players at the position. Laws has been stored on injured reserve, while Scott and Conrath - an impressive rookie free agent - could miss a few weeks. Langford and Jermelle Cudjo are the only DT's who are guaranteed to play in week one. It has been said that Brockers could miss as much as a month. Do I dare mention Albert Haynesworth?
Sam Bradford's lone backup is Austin Davis - Just in case the thought of A.J. Feeley or Kellen Clemens behind center put a queasy feeling in your stomach, you needn't concern yourself over the notion any longer. That is because the Rams have a new backup quarterback - a 23-year-old undrafted rookie backup quarterback. Austin Davis from Southern Mississippi played well in the preseason, but no one should hope that he sees anymore playing time this year. He is an attractive prospect for the future - that is why the Rams made no attempt to stash him on the practice squad - however, Jeff Fisher and Les Snead should be scouring the waivers for a third option.
Rams-Patriots trade reflects staff change - In their first season with the franchise, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead hold no allegiances to players of past regimes. In essence, they're starting from scratch, doing away with all of the underachievers and mismatches within the new scheme. One example is second-year receiver, Greg Salas. Salas was a Josh McDaniels product, and so shall he remain after the Rams shipped him to New England for essentially nothing. With the return of a healthy Danny Amendola, and an impressive preseason showing by Austin Pettis, the team simply had no need for three of the same type of player. Following the release of tight end Mike Hoomanawanui, nine of 26 Billy Devaney draft choices remain in St. Louis.
Jerome Murphy claimed by Saints - This was not hard to see coming. Murphy, a third-round pick in 2010, is entering just his third season in the league. After showing much promise in his rookie year, he missed all of last season with a broken ankle, but had picked it up again in camp, showing the potential that made him a second-day selection. Unfortunately, the Rams were almost too crowded at the cornerback position, and their hand had been shown, making a trade nearly impossible. Jerome Murphy will now rejoin the man who drafted him - Steve Spagnuolo - in New Orleans.
Twenty-five roster cuts you need to know - The greater majority of readers and diehard football fans will have heard of each player on this list. Each has had an impact in the league at one point or another, whether positive or negative, via their play or lack thereof. Some of them will sign elsewhere very soon, others as the season progresses and injuries pile up, while the rest seem to have played their final NFL down. Former New York Jet and temporary Ram Vernon Gholston falls in to the latter of those three categories. Running back Tim Hightower, safety O.J. Atogwe and cornerback Joselio Hanson have a much brighter outlook.
Jeff Fisher is still a little bit sour about "The Tackle," but I think he'll take that to the grave. That is, unless he finds himself on the winning side of such a play. For the first time that I can remember, special teams in St. Louis will be exciting to watch.
This is awesome. I love Demoff's take and knowledge from a football standpoint, not just the front office. He recognizes how players feel and think within the locker room; how they can perceive their own self worth and the worth of others. Demoff mentions James Laurinaitis as a vastly underpaid player - a situation which he fully intends to rectify before the end of the season - as well as Jason Brown had been incredibly overpaid.