Monday, August 29, 2011

Predicting the St. Louis Rams Final 53-Man Roster

All NFL teams are required to cut their rosters down to 80 players by August 30th and the final 53-man rosters will
need to be set by September 3rd.

The St. Louis Rams have produced several intense training camp battles, with the battle among the wide receivers being the most publicized, but unfortunately they won't be able to keep everyone.

In recent years, the Rams have had many late round picks and undrafted rookies make the roster, so final cuts have not produced any real bombshells. The players that have been cut in previous seasons were typically players who were never expected to make the team to begin with.

However, now that the Rams are much deeper into their rebuilding plan that began in 2009, there will likely be more talented players that are sent packing, perhaps even some players that the fans are attached to.
So here is a prediction for the Rams final roster in 2011...

*Indicates a player who is sent to the practice squad after clearing waivers.

Quarterback (Two)

1. Sam Bradford
2. A.J. Feeley

Cut: Thaddeus Lewis

Running Back (Four)

1. Steven Jackson
2. Cadillac Williams
3. Jerious Norwood
4. Brit Miller (Fullback)

Cut: Keith Toston, Chase Reynolds

Wide Receiver (Seven)

1. Danny Amendola
2. Mike Sims-Walker
3. Brandon Gibson

4. Donnie Avery
5. Mardy Gilyard
6. Greg Salas
7. Austin Pettis

Cut: Danario Alexander*, Dominique Curry*, Greg Matthews

Tight End (Three)

1. Lance Kendricks
2. Billy Bajema
3. Michael Hoomanawanui

Cut: Fendi Onobun*, DeMarco Cosby, Ben Guidugli*

Offensive Line (Nine)

1. Rodger Saffold
2. Jacob Bell
3. Jason Brown

4. Harvey Dahl
5. Jason Smith
6. Renardo Foster
7. Adam Goldberg
8. Quinn Ojinnaka
9. Drew Miller

Cut: Hank Fraley, Cody Habben, Ryan McKee, Randall Hunt*, Kevin Hughes

Defensive Line (Nine)

1. Chris Long
2. Robert Quinn
3. James Hall
4. Eugene Sims
5. George Selvie
6. Fred Robbins

7. Justin Bannan
8. Daniel Muir
9. Gary Gibson

Cut: Darrel Scott, C.J. Ah You, Jermelle Cudjo, John Henderson, Damario Ambrose

Linebacker (Seven)

1. James Laurinaitis
2. Ben Leber
3. Brady Poppinga
4. Bryan Kehl
5. Chris Chamberlain
6. Jabara Williams
7. Josh Hull

Cut: Na'il Diggs, Zac Diles, Pete Fleps

Defensive Back (Nine)

1. Ron Bartell
2. Bradley Fletcher
3. Al Harris
4. Justin King
5. Quintin Mikell
6. Craig Dahl
7. Darian Stewart
8. Jermale Hines
9. Jonathan Nelson

Cut: James Butler, Mikail Baker*, Marquis Johnson, Dionte Dinkins*, Tim Atchison, Jeremy McGee, Tae Evans, John Dempsey, Jerome Murphy (Injury Reserve)

Note: Marquis Johnson is currently on the PUP list (Physically unable to perform), which means he is not practicing with the team and will automatically miss at least six games. Depending on his health, it is possible he will be handed a roster spot.

Also, rookie Dionte Dinkins suffered a high ankle sprain, which hurts the chances of the team using a roster spot on him, but they will likely find a way to keep him around. 

Special Teams (Three)

1. Josh Brown
2. Donnie Jones
3. Jacob McQuaide (Long Snapper)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rams vs. Chiefs: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The St. Louis Rams (3-0) took on the Kansas City Chiefs (0-3) at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, and they were able to win the Governor's Cup in the process.

The annual preseason competition between the two teams for the Governor's Cup trophy is usually a minor accomplishment for the winner, but this year's game had an increased significance as some of the proceeds went towards aiding the victims of the Joplin tornado disaster last April.

This year the Rams were able to take home the trophy with a 14-10 victory over the Chiefs.

The win wasn’t quite as dominate as their performance against the Indianapolis Colts during the first preseason game, but it was certainly a great improvement over their disappointing display last week against the Tennessee Titans.

So without further ado, here is “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”…

The Good

-Other than an interception while the Rams offense was backed up deep in their own territory, quarterback Sam Bradford had a solid outing going 9-for-16 with 95 yards and two touchdowns. And when the quarterback is rolling, the team is rolling.

- Steven Jackson had a questionable game last week against the Titans with a 1.7 yards per carry average, but he turned it around tonight with 72 rushing yards on 15 carries, including a 25-yard run on the first drive of the game.

-It was only a single six yard reception, but after a 25-yard reception against the Titans last week, receiver Mike Sims-Walker was able to get involved once again with his six yard touchdown reception tonight against the Chiefs.

-Newly drafted tight end Lance Kendricks came on strong in the first preseason game with five receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown, but he was a non-factor last week against the Titans. However, he was able to continue his progress tonight with two receptions for 26 yards and a touchdown.

-The offensive line showed up to play tonight, as oppose to the pitiful performance they put on against the Titans last week. The run lanes were wide open and Sam Bradford had enough time to make plays.

-Prior to tonight, the Rams defensive line had zero sacks in the preseason, but defensive ends Robert Quinn and James Hall were both able to record a sack each. The front four looked less like the pushovers we saw last week and more like the line we were expecting to see in 2011.

-On top of Quinn's quarterback sack, he also came up big with a field-goal block in the second-half. It's good to see the Rams 2011 first-round pick making plays in the preseason. He should be fun to watch. 

The Bad

-Wide receivers Mardy Gilyard and Danario Alexander both had drops tonight. They’re both supposedly fighting for a roster spot, but unfortunately neither of them was able to clearly stand out tonight. Of the two, Gilyard was probably the most impressive with three catches for 18 yards, including a 14-yard catch, as oppose to Alexander and his single three yard reception.

-The backups looked phenomenal in the first two preseason games, and they actually won the game for the Rams last week against the Titans with a last second field-goal. However, they were not nearly as dominate tonight, as they allowed a 32-yard touchdown catch to Chiefs receiver Cody Slate. But in the end they kept the Rams in the game and secured a win.

-Donnie Avery looked solid for a second week straight. He had two catches for 26 yards against the Chiefs, including an 18-yard catch. However, for the second consecutive game he played with the backups as oppose to the first-team offense. Perhaps next week they’ll stick him with the Bradford and try to make something happen.

The Ugly

If you were watching the game tonight either on television or through the online NFL preseason package, then you experienced some technical difficulties during the first half.

There was supposedly a power surge that interfered with the broadcast, but it’s hard to not get frustrated with a situation like that, especially since Rams fans missed a Lance Kendricks touchdown during the blackout.

The blackout also caused a change in momentum. The first-string Rams offense was dominating before the blackout, but the game returned just in time for Bradford to throw an interception. It was a nightmare for those who believe in superstitions.         

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rams Vs. Titans: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The St. Louis Rams had a solid preseason opener a week ago against the Indianapolis Colts. The Rams walked away with a convincing 33-10 victory.
Brandon Gibson hauls in an 83-yard touchdown reception against
the Titans last night on the very first offensive play of the night. 

This week, however, the Rams still won the game against the Tennessee Titans with a score of 17-16, but this week’s victory was not nearly as convincing.

There were obviously some positives, as they won the game, but the negatives were plentiful in the first half and difficult to ignore. So without further ado, here is the 2011 premiere of “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”…

The Good

The 83-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sam Bradford to receiver Brandon Gibson on the first offensive play of the night was seemingly a good omen, perhaps even a sign that the Rams would repeat last week’s routing of the Colts, but it turned out to be their only points in the entire first half.

Despite the touchdown pass being the only points of the half, Bradford played well the entire time. He was 8-for-15 with 138 yards and a touchdown. He also had an interception, although it came off of a pass that hit receiver Mike Sims-Walker perfectly in the hands but was deflected off of the gloves and into the hands of a defender.

The only other positive was the backup players.

Second-string quarterback A.J. Feeley looked sharp and alert for the most part. He hit Donnie Avery for a touchdown in the third-quarter, and Avery looked surprisingly fast and healthy coming off his ACL tear from 2010.
Third-string quarterback Thad Lewis drops back
 for a pass in last night's game against the Titans.

Third-string quarterback Thad Lewis was phenomenal during his playing time in the fourth-quarter. He completed 80% of his passes (8-for-10) for 74 yards, had a ten yard scramble, and he even led the Rams downfield for the final drive of the game, which resulted in a game-winning field-goal by kicker Josh Brown in the final seconds of the game.

The Bad

There are plenty of things from the game that are considered “Bad”, the only question is where to start.
The Rams were out rushed by the Titans 198 yards to only 44. Star running back Steven Jackson had only 10 yards on six carries, which equals out to a 1.7 yards per carry average.

But it wasn’t just the running backs. The receivers greatly struggled to get separation, with Gibson’s touchdown being the main exception. In fact, tight end Fendi Onobun and wide receiver Greg Salas led the team in receptions with only three each, and only five of fourteen receivers had more than one catch.

On defense, the team made some solid third-down stops that forced field-goals instead of touchdowns, but the effort of the unit as a whole was lackluster at best.
The Rams run game last night can be summed up with this picture.

The starters allowed over 80 rushing yards in the first-quarter alone. And although the pass defense was better, they were still flawed. They gave up 24 and 29 yard receptions, respectively, and allowed starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to go 7-for-9 on his passes.

Overall, the defense looked unfocused and they were lacking intensity. Linebackers were not staying home and they were blowing assignments, while the defensive line failed to apply consistent pressure.

The Ugly

The ugliest aspect of the game for the Rams came at the line of scrimmage. Both lines underachieved, but it was particularly the offensive line that stood out in a bad way.

Bradford was feeling pressure all night and, as mentioned earlier, the run game was non-existent.

But the most infuriating was the play of Hank Fraley, who started at left-guard in place of the injured Jacob Bell, as well as Adam Goldberg, who eventually replaced Rodger Saffold at left-tackle late in the half.

The offensive line allowed almost instant penetration as a whole, but the 33-year-old Fraley was particularly ineffective, and the Titans defensive line turned Goldberg into a ragdoll.

What is absolutely dumbfounding is that the coaching staff left Bradford in the game with Goldberg and Fraley guarding his blindside. On Bradford’s last play of the game he was taken down by a defensive tackle and was hesitant to get up.

It’s hard to justify risking your franchise quarterback just to build the self-esteem of two guys who barely belong in the NFL. If you want to give Bradford second-string blocking then put the second-string quarterback in the game.


It was a win, but it wasn’t easy to watch either.

There is a reason they have the preseason. It gives teams a chance to try a variety of players in different situations, and it also gives them a chance to identify clear problems before the season begins.

The game was not ideal, but it’s good for the team and the coaching staff that they were able to expose some team weaknesses before Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles, so that way they can go to practice this week and work on ironing out the kinks.

Next week the Rams will travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs for the third preseason game and the annual Missouri Governor’s Cup. The game is on Friday, August 26th and it will kick off at 7:00 PM CDT.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

St. Louis Rams Training Camp Report 8/9/11

It was a hot and sticky day for the players in the low to mid 90’s, although there was the occasional cloud, and of course the weather certainly wasn’t as extreme as the previous week.

The team exited the locker room for a 2:30 practice in front of their loyal fans.

There were stands for merchandise, games for children, as well as concessions; however, after driving three hours to Rams park and having no food in my stomach at the time, there were only two things on my mind—the White Castle that I’d be devouring after the practice, and the St. Louis Rams.

The first thing the team worked on was special teams.

Donnie Avery was sidelined with injuries (although he was still present with the team), so he did not take any of the returns, but Danny Amendola, Mardy Gilyard, Jonathan Nelson and Austin Pettis all fielded kicks.

Amendola looked as explosive as ever in the return game. The Rams would surely love to give him some rest so that he can focus on being a receiver, but the electric element that he brings to special teams may be too tempting to avoid.

After the initial work with special teams, the Rams then broke into their respective groups divided up by position.

Offensive Line

The offensive line was sporting the obvious front five, which featured Rodger Saffold (LT), Jacob Bell (LG), Jason Brown (OC), Harvey Dahl (RG) and Jason Smith (RT).


Sam Bradford is obviously the starter, followed by A.J. Feeley. However, Feeley looked erratic and extremely inaccurate throughout the entire practice.

The third-string quarterback was Thad Lewis, followed by rookie Taylor Potts. Neither stood out as a front-runner, but the preseason games will ultimately determine that more than anything.

Running Back

In the running back drills, they took turns in this order: Steven Jackson, Cadillac Williams, Jerious Norwood and Keith Toston.

Any reps that the remaining running backs had were very scarce if there were any, they were primarily used as dummies against the other backs, but undrafted rookie Eddie Wide was shown some favoritism, so the coaches obviously want to see what he’s capable of.

Wide Receiver

In the first wide receiver drill, they went out for passes one at a time in a particular order, which might indicate the overall depth chart of the position. That order was as follows: Brandon Gibson, Mike Sims-Walker, Danny Amendola, Danario Alexander, Mardy Gilyard, Austin Pettis.

Avery and rookie Greg Salas did not participate due to injury, which is something to keep in mind. And as for the backup receivers, they did not execute drills in a consistent fashion, which made it hard to determine any further depth.

Tight End

The 2011 second-round pick Lance Kendricks is the best athlete of the group, second to none. He’s something special.

Outside of Kendricks, Billy Bajema seemed to be the clear front-runner as the second best tight end. It was actually disheartening that Mike Hoomanawanui was nowhere to be found, especially considering the potential he displayed last season.

Fendi Onobun still has a ways to go, but he still is able to make an impressive play on occasion.

Defensive Back

When observing the defensive backs I noticed something very peculiar.

I was watching from a distance, so my vision was blurry, but during my first glance at the new safety Quintin Mikell it appeared as though he was completely bald at the top of his head, but had hair on the sides.

“Great”, I thought. Our new safety has the hair of a 50-year-old man.

But after a better look I realized it was merely a black headband that covered the sides of his head, while he was bald beneath it.

In fact, he looked spry as the starting safety alongside Craig Dahl, who was starting at the other spot.

The starting corners are Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher, although the newly acquired 36-year-old Al Harris received a decent share of reps with the first team.

You would never be able to guess that Harris is that old. He looked energetic on the field and he seemed to be enjoying himself.


If James Laurinaitis had it his way, he would probably never be on the sidelines.

During the individual linebacker drills, the starting three (Laurinaitis, Byran Kehl, Na’il Diggs) would rarely step aside for the other linebackers to get involved.

You have to admire that kind of dedication, but at the same time the team didn’t bring in Brady Poppinga and Zac Diles to sit on the bench.

However, the rest of the linebackers had plenty of reps when the team regrouped for 11-on-11.

Defensive Line

This group managed to stay hidden for a good portion of the practice, but during the little face time the crowd had with the group, it was clear that Chris Long is the big shot.

Something that’s a little concerning is seeing first-round pick Robert Quinn with the second team, but since the Rams have James Hall there’s no reason to rush him into action immediately.

However, despite Quinn playing with the second group, he is an absolute monster in person. Surely the Rams offensive line is glad that he’s on their team.

The defensive tackles are hard to gauge from the stands, but I did notice Justin Bannan sprinting onto the field after apparently forgetting that he was on the field-goal blocking team.

Key Moments

-Safety Quintin Mikell shut down receiver Billy Bajema on a very physical play. It’s good to see that Mikell is capable of knocking around a tight end.

-Tight end Lance Kendricks caught a pass out of the flat, turned upfield and completely burned safety Craig Dahl for what would’ve been either a touchdown or a big gain if it were an actual game.

-Safety Darian Stewart collided with rookie tight end Schuylar Oordt for an intense pass breakup. It’s good to see a lot a physicality out of the secondary.

-Rookie wide receiver Austin Pettis had a nice catch against linebacker Na’il Diggs in a one-on-one drill. He made the catch despite taking a bit of abuse from Diggs.

-Rookie tight end Ben Guidugli made a nice jumping catch downfield against safety Darian Stewart. Guidugli landed just shy on the end-zone.

-Rookie safety Jonathan Nelson was burned on a couple of plays, including a touchdown while covering rookie tight end Demarco Cosby.  

-Wide receiver Brandon Gibson laid down a physical block against corner Justin Kings, which allowed receiver and ball carrier Austin Pettis to score during a drill.

-There was a short scuffle on the field that involved several violent shoves before the situation was defused. One of the culprits was wide receiver Greg Matthews, but I was not able to identify the other player involved.
-Sam Bradford was on key most of the practice, but during the two minute drill he was unable to spot a wide open Danny Amendola downfield. He instead forced the ball to Brandon Gibson, resulting in an incomplete pass.

-At the end of practice the team worked on special teams once again, but wide receiver Mardy Gilyard was injured during a kick return drill. He was escorted to the locker room by a trainer and never returned.