Stock Up, Stock Down for St. Louis Rams Training Camp
The St. Louis Rams are moving right along through training camp and it's almost mind-boggling that the preseason opener is just one short week away.
Overall, there haven't been any major curveballs out of camp. The offense is getting acclimated with the new weapons while the defense looks stout—as expected.
As far as the depth chart, no players have shocked us by making an unexpected jump to the first-team unit. The starters have held down their jobs, at least for the time being.
Even though training camp has lacked suspenseful twists and dramatic story lines, there has still been some fluctuation with some players and their personal "stock."
Take a look at which players have experienced an increase or decrease in their stock...
Stock Up: Chris Williams/Shelley Smith, Guard
Shelley Smith and Chris Williams were midseason additions during the 2012 regular season and both players were solid in limited playing time.
Rokevious Watkins is no longer with the team, leaving Smith and Williams as the top candidates for the starting left guard gig.
As of now, they're alternating reps with the first-team offense every other day.
While most believe one of the two will win the battle and become the starter, don't be surprised if it ends in a tie. I wouldn't put it past Jeff Fisher to have them share playing time in the regular season.
Ideally, it's beneficial to have the same five starters for all 16 games. It allows the blockers to gel and form chemistry. But if there's no clear winner at left guard by the end of the preseason, it's not crazy to believe that Fisher would allow the competition to continue into the regular season.
That's not necessarily a personal prediction, but merely food for thought. After all, that's exactly what Fisher did with Smith and Williams in the final two games of 2012—they rotated every series and split reps.
Regardless, it appears both players will earn a spot on the roster and will provide value, either as a starter or as depth.
Stock Down: Zac Stacy, Running Back
As a fifth-round draft pick, rookie Zac Stacy has received considerable attention from the fans and the media.
Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead are smaller backs—both under 200 pounds—which opened up the possibility that the more well-rounded Stacy would prove to be a more suitable replacement for Steven Jackson as the full-time running back.
According to Nick Wagoner of StLouisRams.com, the first-team carries have been primarily divided between Pead and Richardson.
Obviously, it's still early and there's plenty of time for Stacy to establish himself, but he needs to outplay Terrance Ganaway and Benny Cunningham before he even thinks about consistent first-team reps.
Stock Up: Isaiah Pead, Running Back
As mentioned in the previous slide, Isaiah Pead has been receiving a healthy dose of first-team carries.
It's not exactly a shock that a former second-round pick is getting first-string reps in his second NFL training camp, but you have to give him credit for working through the offseason and earning his place on the field with the top unit.
Pead has a lot of work ahead of him, but if his amount of playing time with the starters is any indication, it's looking like the coaching staff is beginning to trust Pead with the football.
Stock Down: Barrett Jones, OL
Barrett Jones has been battling a foot injury over the offseason and made his training camp debut on Monday, July 29, according to Nick Wagoner of StLouisRams.com.
Jones' injury has him way behind the curve and he has work to do before he's ready for regular season action.
It's not his fault by any means, but that doesn't change the fact that he missed the beginning of training camp and will have to work hard before he's 100 percent.
At some point, Jones will grow into the player he was drafted to be, but he's not there quite yet.
Stock Up: T.J. McDonald, Safety
When the Rams selected T.J. McDonald in the third round last spring, many people were aware that he's a hard hitter and a solid weapon in run support, but his coverage skills were frequently criticized.
He apparently took those criticisms to heart. According to Nick Wagoner of StLouisRams.com, McDonald has been more than solid in pass coverage throughout camp and has disrupted multiple passes.
The only thing that kept McDonald from being a first-round pick was his questionable coverage. If he has truly fine-tuned his coverage, the Rams have a steal on their hands.
Stock Down: Austin Davis/Kellen Clemens, Quarterback
Austin Davis was destined to be the No. 2 quarterback in 2013, but he's not making the decision easy for the coaching staff.
Davis and Clemens are taking turns with the second-team offense, alternating every other day. This indicates that the race is closer than we initially expected.
If neither of the backup passers are shining at practice, it could spell trouble in the future.
Sam Bradford is expected to make significant strides in his fourth year, so the Rams are set at quarterback, but it's unnerving that the roster is lacking a competent backup.
If Bradford has to miss a game or two, it'd be nice to know that the Rams have a backup capable of squeezing out a win.
It's still early, so the backups have plenty of time to bounce back and gain confidence under center, but they have work to do.
Stock Up: Andrew Helmick, Wide Receiver
Andrew Helmick has been sidelined with a hamstring injury and will be out for several weeks, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch via Twitter, but he is still worth mentioning.
Helmick—a local favorite out of Lindenwood University—has been one of the more impressive rookies and will have a shot at making the roster if he continues to produce after returning from injury.
Helmick should return around the third or fourth preseason game, giving him a small window of opportunity to make some plays and impress the coaching staff.
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