It's almost time. So far in training camp the St. Louis Rams have worn jerseys and shorts, but today the team will finally don their full pads and hit each other. It means that we're getting closer to the beginning of preseason.
But there I go thinking ahead again. Right now, it's all about the first practice in full pads. Some questions that we can look forward to answering after the pads come on.
1. How good is the defensive line really?
Throughout the offseason a lot of the attention has been placed on the Rams' most dominate unit, the defensive line. Robert Quinn and Chris Long should pick up where they left off and continue to pressure quarterbacks. On the inside of the line starting tackles Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers will look to continue their progress from 2013. Then you have first-round draft pick defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who looks to be another weapon that the Rams will use to pressure quarterbacks.
2. Will Brian Quick and Kenny Britt produce in pads?
If you would've asked me what two receivers would have been the most productive right now, I would have answered Tavon Austin and Chris Givens, not Brian Quick and Kenny Britt. But those two have stolen the show and it looks like both of these players have a chance of starting for the Rams. Quick is the biggest shock, because he hasn't been productive in his two prior seasons before camp.
The jury is still out on the receivers and it's anyone's game. Givens is the best deep threat that the Rams have, but who knows, maybe with the Rams interest in putting the run game first, they would like to have their two biggest receivers to start. Right now Austin Pettis and Stedman Bailey are fighting to stay relevant. This position battle will be intense.
3. The progress of Greg Robinson
When the Rams drafted Greg Robinson with the second overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, it became obvious that the plan wasn't for Robinson to start at left tackle, where he played at Auburn. It was for him to play guard. Eventually the hope is that Robinson will develop his pass blocking and gain some experience to one day unseat current starting left tackle Jake Long, but that time won't happen this season unless there are major injuries.
So keep your eyes on Robinson, he's raw but he has the potential to become a great left tackle. That road might be rocky this year during practice, but don't worry he will be getting enough practice against the best defensive line in the league.
4. How aggressive will the secondary be?
The biggest weakness on the Rams defense is their secondary. The corners were lackluster, at best, last season. Safeties Rodney McLeod and T.J. McDonald left us hoping that they will improve after their first season as starters. There's a lot to be nervous about with the Rams secondary, but hope comes in the form of newly hired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Will he make them better?
The expectation is that the Rams will finally become an aggressive unit and the secondary which played passively last season needs that attitude adjustment. The Rams have two interesting rookies that could help the secondary become more aggressive, nickel corner Lamarcus Joyner and potential future starting safety Maurice Alexander. Williams likes to blitz, doesn't have a problem pressing receivers, oh, and it would be a shock if he had his corners play 10 yards off of the receiver consistently.