St. Louis Rams in Position to Make Statement Week 1 vs. Detroit Lions
St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher will face a tough task on Sunday in Week 1 of the NFL season: taking the youngest team in the league on the road to face a 2011 playoff qualifier in the Detroit Lions.
Without the services of his team’s first-round pick, Michael Brockers, for the season opener due to a high ankle sprain, Fisher’s defensive line will be less than what he can expect from them down the road.
Three Rams defensive tackles will miss the upcoming meeting with the Lions, but St. Louis holds the advantage on the injury report entering this game. The Lions will likely be without two starting defensive backs, cornerback Chris Houston and safety Louis Delmas.
The Rams defense should still look a lot better than it did last season. St. Louis' roster turnover in the 2012 offseason has produced six new defensive starters. The ascent of Robert Quinn, the Rams' 2011 first-round pick, to starting defensive end will provide a seventh.
Returning to start in 2012 are 2011 starters Quintin Mikell and Darian Stewart at safety, Chris Long at defensive end and James Laurinaitis at middle linebacker.
On the eve of the season, St. Louis reportedly signed Laurinaitis, the anchor of its linebacking corps, to a five-year contract extension (via NFL.com).
Laurinaitis is the equivalent of a grizzled veteran in the St. Louis locker room. Entering his fourth NFL season, he has more experience in the Rams organization than more than half of its current players. He’s got 48 more NFL games played than 17 other players on the team combined.
That’s because the Rams have 17 rookies on their opening-day roster.
If St. Louis can leave Detroit with a win, it would do wonders for the young team’s confidence. The Rams’ new defensive pieces will have to work cohesively to stop the well-oiled machine that is the Lions’ explosive offense: a challenge that some teams will undoubtedly fail to meet this year.
If the Rams can do it, the rest of the NFL may be served notice: Youth and inexperience doesn’t necessarily mean that a team won’t be able to do well.
Especially with a seasoned veteran at head coach.
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