Welcome to Thursday's St. Louis Rams "News and Notes at Noon," the preeminent source for all major Rams headlines and other updates of interest with brief commentary and analysis for Rams Nation.
Reconstruction Begins in Training Camp for St. Louis
Andrew Astleford produced a terrific piece for foxsportsmidwest.com that analyzes the reconstruction of the Rams that is well underway under Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead.
In the aforementioned piece, Astleford analyzes a multitude of questions, including these:
- Will Sam Bradford recover from his sophomore slump?
- How much of a workhorse will Steven Jackson be?
- Which rookie wide receiver will have the strongest year?
- Can Danario Alexander make the team?
- Will the defensive line live up to its potential?
- Can Janoris Jenkins play a positive role?
- How much much of an impact will Cortland Finnegan make on the secondary's development?
- How many victories would mean a successful year?
These were just some of the questions presented and analyzed by Asteford in the above-linked article.
I strongly recommend taking a few minutes to read it.
Three Key Position Battles to Watch
According to Larry Hartstein and this submission at cbssports.com, the three key roster battles to watch during training camp involve the positions of wide receiver, left guard and outside linebacker.
Specifically, Hartstein expects a battle for two or three spots between Danario Alexander, Brandon Gibson, Steve Smith and Greg Sales at wideout; a fight between rookie Rokevious Watkins and Bryan Mattison for the starting spot at left guard; and competition for two spots at OLB between three free-agent acquisitions, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Rocky McIntosh and Mario Haggan.
However, Dunbar is nearly a lock to earn starting duties on the weak side, which should leave McIntosh and Haggan battling one another, along with several rookies, for time, primarily on the strong side.
As for the wide receivers, I expect Gibson to have a tough time making the team. He is in the last year of his deal and is owed no guaranteed money, so cutting him would equate to saving the Rams his entire $1 million salary.
Thus, I expect the battle for the Rams final wide receiver spot to come down to Danario Alexander and Austin Pettis. If he can show himself to be healthy, I give the nod to DX due to him bringing more unique qualities and big-play abilities to the table than Pettis.
Brian Quick Named One of Five Rookies Under Most Pressure to Contribute Early
Bleacher Report's lead NFL blogger Aaron Nagler asserts that Rams rookie receiver Brian Quick is one of five rookies under the most pressure to perform early in 2012.
As you can read here, Nagler explains why he feels Quick must be quick to contribute for St. Louis this Fall.
Nagler expects Quick to immediately make an impact in the red zone, and on smash and quick slants.
For a very nice look at Quick from Eric Nagel of Turf Show Times, please check this.
Unless Quick stumbles in training camp due to an unforeseen health issue or poor play, he appears likely to start on the outside for the Rams when the season opens this Fall.
Nfl.com Power Rankings: Are the Rams Bottom Feeders?
Of course, it is the end of July, and all so-called power rankings mean very little right now. These will mean something, however, when they come out at the end of September following the first weeks of the regular season.
I am not exactly sold on the Kansas City Chiefs being as good as the aforementioned power rankings suggest. I am also not at all convinced that the New Orleans Saints, considering all that has occurred there during the offseason, will be a playoff team in 2012.
As for the Rams, they will apparently have to prove themselves on the field because they certainly have not earned any respect to this point from those who contributed to these rankings.
Not only are the Rams listed among the bottom feeders, but it is suggested that this group of teams are hoping for a miracle.
I am sorry, but I think the folks at nfl.com got this one drastically wrong. St. Louis will not only be far from a bottom feeder, they will head into December within reach of an NFC Wild Card berth.
Fisher Takes Challenge Ahead with Rams in Stride
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shared an outstanding column on Jeff Fisher today, as you can read here.
Miklasz took an interesting look at Fisher's year away from coaching and what he has taken on in the move to St. Louis.
According to Fisher, he is ready for the task and expects to eventually reach the pinnacle of success in St.Louis. Fisher told Miklasz:
I love this game. I have great respect for our owner, and I made a commitment to him to get him a trophy. And I'm going to start working towards that.
It has to be great for Rams fans to hear the head coach share these lofty expectations, in contrast to the statements often made by first-time head coaches Steve Spagnuolo and Scott Linehan.
It is great to again have a confident head coach in place, one not afraid to express optimistic goals—and one expecting success and winning, not some type of mere, tough-to-gauge improvement. Said Fisher to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Every training camp I've started as a head coach or assistant, it felt like my first. This one feels like it's my first [ever] training camp. You go into it with a willingness to learn, with energy. With willingness to put a team together that has high expectations. That goes out expecting to win every game.
As Fisher stated earlier in the offseason, they are not here to just get better, they are here to win and expect to win.
It is refreshing, after what seemed to be a timid approach by the last two head coaches. Here is more on the approach and mindset of Fisher, a mindset that will become the mindset of his players, as shared by Miklasz:
If I were to say we'll go 10-6, what do I tell the players about the six games we're going to lose? That's not fair to them. I'm coming out and saying it's OK to lose six games? No, I'm not going to say that.
You've got to start over, every single year. And there's no reason why we can't have the same expectations that everyone else has.
For much, much more on Fisher from Miklasz, and some outstanding commentary and analysis, please read the piece in full via the link above.
Looking at the St. Louis Defense
Stlouisrams.com senior writer Nick Wagoner shared a great look at the Rams defense, as you can see here.
Wagoner, among other things, suggests that, at least on paper, this is the most talented defensive group to enter training camp at Earth City in a number of years.
I would undoubtedly agree and would suggest that this defense has a chance to be much improved—assuming the play is solid at outside linebacker, the interior defensive line comes together as expected and the vast collection of mostly young cornerbacks plays to its potential and stays healthy.
Wagoner details each position group and offers some terrific information therein.
Coach Fisher's Charitable Celebrity Softball Game is Almost Here
Tony Softli of 101sports.com takes a look at Jeff Fisher's upcoming charity softball game in this piece.
The event will take place tomorrow night and will raise funds for several St. Louis charities.
Several past and present Rams, such as Torry Holt, Aeneas Williams, Dre Bly, Danny Amendola, Cortland Finnegan, James Laurinaitis and Quintin Mikell, along with several others, are expected to attend.
A few local celebrities are expected to join in the action as well.
For more on the family-friendly event, please click here.
Torry Holt Helps Out with Isaac Bruce's Football Camp
For a nice look at Isaac Bruce's recent football camp in St. Louis, presented by the Isaac Bruce Foundation, please click here.
The video includes a nice interview with former Rams great Torry Holt.
How Much Controversy Do the Rams Have Entering Training Camp?
Dan Van Wie, a featured columnist at Bleacher Report, rated the controversy level of each NFL team as training camps set to open around the league.
His review of the Rams can be found here.
Who Will be The Rams Starter Opposite Cortland Finnegan?
In this piece for Bleacher Report, Jesse Reed shares a nice analysis of the Rams potential battle for the No. 2 corner opposite of Cortland Finnegan.
Reed's commentary is interesting. He shares some solid points regarding Janoris Jenkins and Bradley Fletcher, the two individuals who would seem most likely to lock down a starting spot.
Earlier in the offseason, Jeff Fisher expressed an expectation that Janoris Jenkins will indeed win that role.
Have a great day as always, STL Rams Nation.