Welcome to Monday's St. Louis Rams "News and Notes at Noon," the one-stop home for all major Rams updates and other updates of interest with brief commentary and analysis for Rams Nation. I hope each of you had a wonderful weekend.
James Laurinaitis Could Be Headed for the Pro Bowl
Brian McIntyre of nfl.com suggests that fourth-year St. Louis middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, 25, could be headed for his first Pro Bowl berth in 2012. I certainly agree with those sentiments.
In this piece, McIntyre maintains that Laurinaitis could well be on his way to a breakout season this fall. McIntyre, interestingly, points out that the stellar St. Louis linebacker has missed just three snaps in three seasons, none of those occurring in 2011.
Speaking of last season and its Pro Bowl, a strong argument could be made that Laurinaitis was worthy of the prestigious accolade, as I did here. He racked up 142 tackles within a defense that struggled during most of the season.
This season, Laurinaitis should have an opportunity to make even more plays with Michael Brockers, the Rams' first-round selection from the 2012 NFL draft, taking up ample space and hopefully giving the St. Louis MLB more opportunities to make plays in space.
In addition to what looks to be the best collection of defensive tackles playing in front of him to this point in his career (Brockers, Kendall Langford and Trevor Laws), he seems to be an ideal fit for this defense, as assistant head coach and defensive assistant Dave McInnis pointed out recently (per Mike Sando of ESPN):
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
He's perfect. He’s the perfect middle linebacker for this defense. The ultimate linebacker for this defense when it started evolving was Mike Singletary. I was with Mike Singletary for seven years. The quarterback of the defense is the middle linebacker and in this system, he has to be so in tune—I mean, he has to be right in the defensive coaches' skin. He has to understand it and know it from a lot of different angles.
We could not have asked for a more perfect middle linebacker to install this system than James Laurinaitis. I remember watching him come out. I interviewed him at the combine when he came out and I loved him then and I love him even more now because he’s exactly what you need.
Former Rams Offensive Lineman John Williams Has Passed Away
According to a report from Michael David Smith at Pro Football Talk on July 8, former Rams offensive lineman John Williams has passed away at the age of 64.
Williams played for the Rams from 1972-1979 and is survived by his wife, Barbara Butts-Williams. His last game, in fact, was Super Bowl XIV.
Smith points out in the above-linked piece that Williams became a dentist following his NFL career, among other things.
Please keep the Williams family in your thoughts and/or prayers today.
For more on Williams, check this.
St. Louis Rookie Janoris Jenkins Denies Rift with the Rams
According to this report from Aaron Wilson of profootball.scout.com, Janoris Jenkins' representation denies that the second-round rookie agreed to a pre-draft setup with the Rams in relation to the management of his finances.
"At no point before, during or after the 2012 NFL draft was there ever any promise from us to the Rams that Janoris would hire a specific financial advisor."
Janoris Jenkins himself, in a prepared statement, denied the reported rift with the Rams.
Meanwhile, the Jenkins camp denied having any rift with Fisher.
"I'm excited about playing for Jeff Fisher. I have a lot of respect for him and he's a great guy. He's a highly respected coach in this league."
As for contract talks, Jenkins' agent, Malik Shareef, says those are progressing as expected.
"Contract talks are going fine. We fully expect to have Janoris' deal done soon."
Please click the above-linked report from Wilson for more on the ongoing situation. For a link to the original report and further analysis, please click here.
How many games will the Rams improve over 2011 and their 2-14 record?
Which NFL Teams Make a 3-Win Jump in 2012?
Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports expects St. Louis to be one of three teams to make a three-win jump in 2012.
As you can read here at cbssports.com, Kirwan envisions the Rams as being better during the coming campaign than they were a season ago.
However, after a 2-14 season, one would expect some improvement, at least enough to fulfill Kirwan's prognosis of a 5-11 record for the Rams.
Among the other teams Kirwan expects see make a three-win jump include the cross-state rival Kansas City Chiefs, from 7-9 to 10-6.
Football Gameplan's St. Louis Rams Preview
Football Gameplan shared this Rams preview on the wall of my STL Rams Central Facebook page, the Facebook home for stlramscentral.com.
Among many others topics, positions and players analyzed, the aforementioned Football Gameplan likes the St. Louis situation at quarterback, the outlook for the secondary, the prospects for the running game and the addition of second-round running back Isaiah Pead, someone they see as a home run threat.
The commentary and analysis in this video is very solid and I strongly suggest that you take a few moments to take a look at it.
Not surprisingly, the offensive line is seen as a cause for concern as is the outside linebacker situation.
Nine Veteran Free Agents the Rams Should Bring in for Training Camp
Finally, my friend and colleague Steven Gerwel asserts that St. Louis should bring in nine veteran free agents for training camp.
As you can read here, the Bleacher Report featured columnist believes the Rams should take a look at wide receiver Plaxico Burress, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and tackle Marcus McNeill, among several others.
Have a great day, as always, STL Rams Nation.