The 5 Biggest Storylines Heading into St. Louis Rams Training Camp
Terrell Brown would have been quite literally the biggest story for the St. Louis Rams as they opened their 2013 NFL training camp. Unfortunately, the 6’10”, 400-plus-pound offensive tackle was recently released without a chance to compete for a preseason roster spot.
There are still plenty of other things to keep an eye on, though, including the infusion of offensive talent to surround Sam Bradford and the potential return of a familiar face on defense.
Training camp starts on July 25.
5. The Return of Will Witherspoon
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From 2006 to 2009, Will Witherspoon played three-plus seasons for the St. Louis Rams. He compiled 331 total tackles, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an interception in 54 games with the team.
Since being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009, he recorded 263 total tackles, seven sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and five picks in 57 games.
4. More Offensive Line Improvements
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Perhaps as important as the respective acquisitions of Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Jared Cook is that of left tackle Jake Long.
In short, Sam Bradford should—again—have the best offensive line he’s ever had as a pro.
Long’s arrival shuffles things up front. Rodger Saffold didn’t just disappear; he’s going to play right tackle. The St. Louis Rams could have double-dipped in free agency, kicked Saffold inside to guard and brought in Eric Winston—who is still looking for work—to man the right tackle spot.
The tradeoff actually wouldn’t have been between Saffold and Winston. If St. Louis was going to afford the former Houston Texan and Kansas City Chief, they would have had to create cap space, likely by restructuring or releasing another veteran lineman.
Like the pass-catching corps, the St. Louis Rams added talent in free agency and the draft, claiming Alabama lineman Barrett Jones in the fourth round.
3. The Undrafted Safety Position Battles
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We know three things about the St. Louis Rams’ safety options in 2013.
Both spots were left vacant by free-agent departures (Quintin Mikell and Craig Dahl), the Rams drafted USC’s T.J. McDonald, and there’s a pretty good chance that an undrafted player will start. Darian Stewart is currently that guy on Ourlads’s depth chart. Along with new free-agent acquisition Matt Giordano, he’s the veteran on the back end.
With the Rams, veteran is a relative term, of course—this particular veteran is 24 years old and has started 13 games in his career. Aside from McDonald, a third-round rookie, and Giordano, a former fourth-rounder, none of the safeties on St. Louis’ roster were drafted.
2. The Running Back Position Battle
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What’s not to like about a guy who averages 5.2 yards per carry on first down?
Still, the running back depth chart is a big area of focus for St. Louis following the departure of the Rams’ career rushing leader in Steven Jackson. Replacing him will be no easy task. His workload will be split between Richardson, fellow sophomore Isaiah Pead and incoming rookie Zac Stacy.
The passing game will also pick up the slack.
1. Sam Bradford's New Weapons
Jared Cook at Rams OTAs
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As soon as the Jared Cook signing was announced, St. Louis Rams fans were excited to see the 2013 installment of their favorite team’s offense. A number of departures, including Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson—last season’s second- and third-leading receivers—created some openings at wide receiver.
The intrigue surrounding Cook was amplified exponentially with the subsequent arrivals of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey to revitalize the passing game.
We know Cook is the favorite to run routes over the middle at the tight end position, and Chris Givens will be deployed out wide as a deep threat, but the wide receiver depth chart has yet to settle itself.
Is Brian Quick ready to expand his role, or will Austin Pettis keep him at bay? How far will Bailey climb?