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Rams vs. Dolphins, NFL preseason 2014: Preview

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The Rams close out the 2014 preseason in down in South Beach against a Dolphins team that has high hopes this year. The Rams, for their part, are figuring out their 2014 hopes themselves.

Mike Ehrmann
Rams_logo_small_mediumDolphins_logo-150x150_reverse_medium

One more game before they matter. This is the tune-up to end all tune-ups, where we get a last look at the players fighting to make the 53-man roster...and the first look of the Shaun Hill-led Rams.

For game-related info, check out the SBN page for the game. For Dolphins news leading up the game, check out The Phinsider.

St. Louis Rams, 1-2, t-2nd - NFC West

Miami Dolphins, 2-1, t-1st - AFC East

Thurs., Aug. 28, 7 p.m. ET

St. Louis
@
Cleveland
Andrew Siciliano, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt
KTVI (FOX/2 - St. Louis)
KTUL (ABC/8 - Tulsa)
WLMT (CW/30 - Memphis)
KFVS (CBS/12 - Cape Girardeau MO)
KQFX (FOX/22 - Columbia MO)
KRBK (FOX/49 - Springfield MO)
KFJX (FOX/14 - Joplin MO)
WBUI (CW/23 - Springfield IL)
8:00 ET
Dick Stockton, Bob Griese, Nat Moore
WFOR (CBS/4 - Miami)
WTVX (CW/34 - West Palm Beach)
WZVN (ABC/7 - Ft. Myers)
WRDQ(27 - Orlando)

MIA pass v. STL pass D

Skip the starters. This is about depth. Miami's wideouts aren't all that stacked, but if they leave Jarvis Landry in to get some reps, he could cause trouble.

This is the last chance to sort out the cornerback depth chart. We all know Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson are locks, even with Tru sidelined for a bit. Lamarcus Joyner's in, and I've got Brandon McGee down as a lock. That leaves E.J. Gaines, Greg Reid, Marcus Roberson and Darren Woodard potentially fighting for the last spot. The Rams carried five last year and could expand that to add a sixth with Tru out, but I wouldn't be surprised if they keep it at five. All of them are practice squad eligible, so if nobody snaps them up they could all stick around. It's a tough call though. The second half of this game just might clear things up.

MIA run v. STL run D

The Dolphins are strong three-deep here with Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas and Knowshon Moreno. We're likely to see plenty of rookies Damien WIlliams and Orleans Darkwa though.

For the Rams, this is largely an exhibition in the question of a sixth linebacker, namely Phillip Steward. The other five are locked in, and I don't see a challenge behind Steward. Tough call. If this were my final projections, right now I'd have him in. He logged nearly 60% of the special team snaps, something I'll be watching for when the totals come out.

MIA O-line v. STL D-line

Well, the Dolphins' O-line last year was a mess. The Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito saga, understandably, didn't help things at all. So, they did what any sane franchise would do. They completely remade it. The depth isn't half bad either with former Ram Shelley Smith in reserves as well as third-round pick Billy Turner.

Still, we're talking about opposing offensive lines. And the Rams should expect to win. They should win against the ones, they should win against the second string, and they should win against the deep reserves. This too comes down to roster moves and we know the story. It's about Michael Sam and Ethan Westbrooks, both of whom should they not be selected to make the 53-man roster, will likely have another employer to answer to soon thereafter. Truth is, they could both show up and put up a big performance. This is top-tier preseason backup duty viewing.

STL pass v. MIA pass D

Well, here we are. Another season without Sam Bradford, perhaps the last which that bears mentioning. So be it. Now comes the tough decision of whether or not to give Shaun Hill some extra game reps with the starting offense or whether or not to protect him until week one of the regular season and avoid risking having both of your top QBs injured before the season even starts. In terms of WRs, we're locked up. Sure would be nice to see the ones dominate the way they did against the Browns, though.

Miami's pretty thin at corner. WARNING: Cortland Finnegan. That is all.

STL run v. MIA run D

The lack of strong blocking has made it tough to get things going here, and it hasn't done Tre Mason any favors. Still, the combination of Zac Stacy, Benny Cunningham and Mason is the 53-man look here. Chase Reynolds technically gets a spot, but won't get any carries. And Trey Watts is a luxury keep that the Rams can ill afford on the final roster. Stash him on the practice squad and hope he's left alone.

The Fins have a decent linebacking corps. Not overwhelming, but not pushovers. Rams might be able to get some work done here, if...

STL O-line v. MIA D-line

...they can improve their offensive line play. Between the image of Jake Long's swinging door that left Sam Bradford crumpled and the running game that has had too many linebackers behind the line too often, there's nowhere to go but up for this group. If they happen to be leaving it until week one to get started, so be it. I wouldn't be mad if they flashed signs of the 2013 grit against Miami though. And yes, the back end of this unit is ENTIRELY unsettled. This might be the hardest unit to predict for the 53-man.

Miami offers a tough test though. Cameron Wake leads a plus group of starters, and the depth isn't bad. The Rams will have their work cut out for them. Statement opportunity, this.

This week's top 3 storylines brought to you by things I would bet ESPN wonders about:

1.) Groin injuries. Lots of groin injuries. Ever had em? How many? What kind? Ever had a groin injury on top of another groin injury? Ever had one of your groins injure your other groin? Did that create tension between your groins, not as in tension in the area between your groins but tension as in did it strain the relationship between your groins? How would you describe the relationship between your groins? In one word, describe the relationship between your groins. Using your groins.

No more injuries. Please. We've nearly paid off the karma needed to go injury-free all season.

2.) Let's talk about trimming. Grooming. You know.  People really wanna know. Would you call your style more Michael Brockers or James Laurinaitis? I'm talking about your pubic hair in case that wasn't clear. Can we get the HD cameras in here?

Roster cuts are coming due. This game is the last bit of homework before Fisher and company snips the depth chart down. I am talking about football and not pubic hair. I think.

3.) Toilet toughness. How would you describe your approach when you clock in on the toilet? Are you more aggressive or do you kind of sit back and wait for the right moment? What kind of advice have you gotten from Brian Schottenheimer when your intestines are running that 5-yard out? Is it true that Chris Long is a clogger? You can't spell Chris Long without clog, yanno.

...ok, that one doesn't really have to do with anything. Just stop thinking about what people do in the shower, ya weirdos.

Go Rams.