Welcome to Wednesday's St. Louis Rams "News and Notes at Noon", the one-stop spot for a rundown of all major Rams headlines with brief analysis and other information of interest to Rams Nation.
2012 NFL and St. Louis Schedule Released
As for the St. Louis slate, I broke it down week by week in this slideshow and predicted the outcome of each game in the coming campaign.
How many games could the Rams win this year if all falls correctly? Please take a look at the above-linked article to read much more in that regard.
Right Tackle Jason Smith Looks Good at Minicamp
According to a blog report for stlouisrams.com by senior writer Nick Wagoner, 2009 No. 2 pick Jason Smith looked to be chiseled and more focused than ever yesterday.
According to the report, Fisher also said Smith looks good:
Yeah, he’s good (health-wise). He’s been here, he’s been working. He’s been working very well inside and his condition level is excellent. We’re excited about a new start for him, if you will.
Wagoner also says that both wide receiver Greg Salas and cornerback Bradley Fletcher were on the field and moving around well. As you may remember, both spent extended time on the injured reserve last season.
If Fletcher can bounce back to full strength, he could make a major positive impact on the defense this season.
Rams Open Minicamp to the Delight of Media Members
According to former NFL executive Tony Softli in this submission for 101sports.com, the St. Louis Rams opened minicamp yesterday and Steven Jackson looked good in on-field work.
He also said that after the abbreviated offseason last year, minicamp was a sight for sore eyes among media members on hand.
In the above-linked piece, Softli shares much more from minicamp including his take on the first practices of Cortland Finnegan and Scott Wells, among others.
Rams Strength of Schedule Ranking Misleading?
According to an interesting submission by Ron Clements of cbssports.com, the Rams' fourth ranked strength of schedule is misleading.
Clements suggests the ranking is skewed because of the presence of four high win teams from 2011: the Green Bay Packers (15-1), the New England Patriots (13-3), the San Francisco 49ers (13-3 twice) and the Detroit Lions (10-6).
Clements says that St. Louis only faces four playoff teams making it a much less imposing schedule than the rankings would indicate.
Rams Schedule Analysis Via ESPN
Mike Sando of ESPN took a look at the newly released Rams schedule in this piece at espn.com.
Sando feels that the London game interrupts a favorable stretch and that the opener at Detroit will be an extremely tough test.
For much more from Sando regarding his breakdown of the slate, please click the aforementioned link.
More Pre-Draft Visits for St. Louis
According to the following tweet from Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Rams brought several more draft prospects to Rams Park on Tuesday:
Jim Thomas @jthom1
Rams pre-draft visits Tuesday include: RB Lamar Miller, Miami, (Fla.); RB Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State; WR A.J. Jenkins, Illinois.
As for the individual prospects, cbssports.com gives Miller a second-round grade, Hillman a fourth and Jenkins a second-to-third-round projection.
As many of you know, I like Hillman a lot. For much more on the former Aztecs' standout, please read this.
Rams Better Win Early
In the opinion of Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis better win early if they are going to have a strong 2012 season.
Miklasz offers his breakdown of the Rams schedule in this column and shares his belief that the Rams slate looks to be tough again in regard to its' setup.
Rams Retain Backup Quarterback Kellen Clemens
As reported by Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch via this tweet, St. Louis has re-signed 2011 backup quarterback Kellen Clemens:
Jim Thomas @jthom1
Rams have re-signed QB Kellen Clemens to a one-year deal as their backup behind Sam Bradford.
This was a signing that I expected and one that makes a great deal of sense.
Clemens is familiar with Brian Schottenheimer's offense after sharing mutual time in the Big Apple with the Jets. He also brings toughness, starting experience and athleticism to the QB position.
The 28-year-old is a young veteran who could, theoretically, remain in this role for quite awhile.
Clemens played reasonably well filling in last season. He looks to bring more to the table than former backup QB AJ Feeley, who will not be back for St. Louis.
Draft Preview: Safety
Of his top five safeties, Wagoner likes Alabama's Mark Barron the best.
Jeff Fisher Is Back Where He Belongs
In a nice piece from Brian Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher says he is glad to be back.
As the Rams opened a two day minicamp yesterday, veteran middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said that Fisher told the players (in the above-linked column) the following:
He told us don't try to be an Earth City All-American out here today. No need to impress anyone (at minicamp practice.)
After reading the piece, it seems clear that Fisher is thrilled to be coaching again. Various Rams players share their view of Fisher in the article as well, making this an interesting read.
Bradford Ready to Bounce Back
In a lengthy and detailed piece from Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com that includes quotes from Sam Bradford, Jeff Fisher and a look at Bradford's offseason, Wagoner asserts that Bradford is indeed ready to bounce back.
The aforementioned article is a great read and includes information on Bradford's trips to Kuwait and Thailand during the offseason.
Fisher says that Bradford looked very good in day one of minicamp:
It’s his vision, release, accuracy – it’s all those things that we expected to see. He’s picking things up very, very quickly. The accuracy, I think, if you have to pick one thing, it would be that. The ball’s just in the right place every time.
Hopefully, that trend will continue for Bradford during the 2012 campaign.
Rams Defensive Coaches Seem to Share Cohesion
According to an article from Stu Durando for stltoday.com, Rams players feel the defensive coaching staff is undoubtedly on the same page and that the Rams' new defensive line coach Mike Waufle was an attraction for new free agents William Hayes (defensive end) and Trevor Laws (defensive tackle.)
Players also talk about the feedback and teaching they are already receiving from various members of the coaching staff in the above-linked piece.
Looking Back at Rams Great Rich Saul
Mike Sando takes a look back at the life and impact of Rams all-time great Rich Saul in this piece at espn.com.
The piece looks at Saul from various angles both on and off the field. I would strongly recommend taking time to read it.
Saul was just 64 years of age when he passed on. For more on Saul, please read this.
Bradford Talks About the New Offense
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch posted a terrific article regarding Sam Bradford beginning his third offense in as many NFL seasons here.
In the above-linked piece, Bradford shares various thoughts on his current status, his view of the new offense and the addition of a quarterbacks coach:
I like the offense that we're running this year. It's more similar to two years ago than to last year. There is some carryover, so I am somewhat familiar with it, which makes it nice trying to learn it again.
I'm glad that we have a quarterbacks coach now. Obviously, with Josh (McDaniels) trying to do both last year I think it was just a lot for him to handle. Sometimes some of the little things such as drops, footwork, throwing mechanics kind of got put aside as opposed to putting reads and everything in front. ... I think it's going to be great for my development.
To have an offseason program, and to come here in a minicamp and get to have walk-throughs, get to have 7-on-7 — things that we didn't have last year — that really helps. The more reps you get at it, the more comfortable we become
Bradford had more to say in the aforementioned article, including his thoughts on his footwork and the progress he has made recovering from last season's severe ankle injury.
Mike Sando of ESPN Suggests the Rams Might Like Wide Receiver Michael Floyd
Mike Sando of ESPN suggested on 101 ESPN Radio that the Rams might like wide receiver Michael Floyd better than Justin Blackmon.
To listen to the discussion with Bernie Miklasz regarding the No. 6 pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, please click here.
Have a great day, STL Rams Nation.
Shane Gray covers the St. Louis Rams daily as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. You are encouraged to check out the rest of his work here. Gray also owns and operates stlramscentral.com.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!