Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rams @ Jaguars: Previewing the Key Points of the Preseason Finale opening day just 10 days away, and with final roster cuts due in just three days, the coaching staff will get one last shot at examining their talent in live action, while the borderline players will fight for a chance to make the 53-man roster. 
The St. Louis Rams (3-0) will wrap up the preseason tonight on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) at 6:30 p.m. CDT. 
Typically, the starters only play about one drive in the final preseason game, but due to the new offensive scheme that the Rams have installed—as well as lost time due to the lockout—the starters will remain in the game for approximately an entire quarter, according to reports.
Here are some hot topics entering tonight's game.

Wide Receiver
Are Danario Alexander's knees healthy enough for him to make the team? Is Donnie Avery a lock, and if so, why is he not getting reps with the starters? Would the team dare to put third-round draft pick Austin Pettis on the practice squad?
We know that Brandon Gibson, Mike Sims-Walker, Danny Amendola, Greg Salas are locks, and possibly Donnie Avery. That leaves Alexander, Pettis and Mardy Gilyard fighting for one, maybe two more roster spots. of the three have made an impression so far this preseason, so a big game by one of them could clinch a roster spot.

James Laurinaitis
Star linebacker James Laurinaitis missed practice on Monday due to a recurrence of a pectoral injury that has been nagging him at different times throughout training camp.
Laurinaitis returned to practice later in the week, but will he play in the finale against the Jaguars?
It's always a benefit for the Rams to have Laurinaitis on the field, but he is a key part of the defense, so he has to be ready to go Sept. 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles on opening day.
It's probably not worth it for Laurinaitis to see the field against the Jaguars. It's a meaningless game, and it's not as though the defense is learning a new scheme, unlike the offense.

The Unexpected Quarterback Battle
It was probably assumed by most that veteran quarterback A.J. Feeley was the undisputed owner of the backup quarterback gig. 
However, earlier in the week, head coach Steve Spagnuolo suggested in his post-practice commentsthat there is an ongoing battle between Feeley and Thaddeus Lewis.
Lewis led the Rams offense on a game-winning drive at the end of the fourth quarter during the team's second preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, which resulted in a field goal by kicker Josh Brown that put the Rams ahead for the final score of 17-16. 
Lewis boasts a 81.0 passer rating so far this preseason, while Feeley is slightly behind with a 77.1 rating.

Robert Quinn
After showing nothing but potential during the first two preseason games, first-round draft pick Robert Quinn finally translated his potential into some production last week against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Quinn recorded a sack, a forced fumble and he even blocked a field goal in the fourth quarter.
If Quinn can repeat that production against Jacksonville, he will likely see an increase in his playing time during the opener against the Eagles.  

Note: Check back in after tonight's game for the post-game segment "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly," which will break down the important events of the game.

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