Orlando Pace is gone. Not holding out. Not injured. Gone.
The greatest show on turf has been reduced to one fast second-year Smurf, wide receiver Donald Avery.
Has Marc Bulger seen better days or has he just seen too much of the Edwards Jones Dome roof while lying on his back, sacked and injured yet again?
Steven Jackson, possibly the best running back in the game, can’t take the heat off of any of these issues because he can’t stay healthy. If he is healthy, the defense stacks the box and dares the backup quarterback of the day to find Isaac Bruce or Tory Holt.
Reading the field is one thing, but going through a Jacksonville to San Francisco progression is too much to ask even Kurt Warner to do. Kurt Warner? He is long gone...You the get picture.
Heck, the Rams needed to draft and sign the entire Webster’s dictionary, along with Mike Webster and Webster Slaughter.
The Rams chose Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith with the second pick of the draft. Smith is a converted tight end who has played offensive tackle for only three seasons. The Rams think he would have been the first overall pick had he played offensive tackle his entire college career.
“We're going to start Jason out at right tackle because we think Alex (Barron) has been doing a good job over there (at left tackle)," new Rams coach, Steve Spagnuolo, said.
The Rams tried to add bulk on defense as the draft rolled on.
They took Ohio State middle linebacker James Laurinaitis in the second round, Iowa cornerback Bradley Fletcher in the second round, and Clemson defensive tackle Darrell Scott in the fourth round. Laurinaitis is 6'2", 244 pounds; Fletcher is 6'1", 196 pounds, and Scott is 6'3", 312 pounds.
Spagnuolo said Laurinaitis was a "tackling machine" in college. He better be, as the Rams made the shocking decision to cut linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa. Spagnuolo called it a "difficult decision based on a lot of factors”, but would not elaborate. Tinoisamoa is a six-year veteran who led the team with 135 tackles in 2008.
Fletcher played well in the East-West game where he had six tackles and a pass breakup.
The versatile Scott played both nose tackle and the three gap tackle in the ACC and hopes to join the rotation at defensive tackle with starters Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan.
Many Rams fans were perplexed that the team didn’t look to help their questionable wide receiver corps until the fifth round when they took North Carolina wide receiver Brooks Foster. The Rams have eight wide receivers on their roster, with only three having more than 10 NFL catches.
For the second straight year, the team is trying to catch rookie lightning-in-a-bottle like they did with wide-out Avery, who had 53 catches last year.
The remaining cast is suspect at best. Laurent Robinson, who was acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons, had 42 catches last year; Derrick Stanley missed mini camp, while recovering from knee surgery; and Tim Carter didn’t even play in the NFL last year.
The rookies and veterans are in the same boat in several ways as they don’t know how their new head coach is going to run the ship. However, they all know it will be built around the running game with center Jason Brown, fullback Mike Karney and blocking tight end Billy Bajema brought in to open holes for Jackson and protect Bulger.
Rams fans know all too well that when Jackson isn’t in the line up, St. Louis simply has no running attack.
So, do you have your Chris Ogbonnaya jersey yet?
If the small combo back with good receiving hands isn’t the answer at backup running back, the Rams will be scouring the cut lists much like their fans used to hunt for tickets in the glory days.
One interesting post minicamp move to mention: The Rams traded 2007 second round pick Brian Lenoard to the Bengals for defensive tackle Orien Harris. Lenoard was unable to stay healthy and lived up to his reputation of being a tweener. He simply couldn’t find his role.
Is he a running back or a full back? The jury is still out and the Rams don’t have time to wait for the verdict.
Holes? Got ‘em. Questions galore? You bet. Answers? Stay tuned.