The Rams made several moves in the off season including one last week to improve the team. Now with training camp about to get into to full swing it is a good opportunity to review the additions and see who will have the biggest impact.
Taking a look a each acquisition in the order they were signed:
Jason Brown – Center
Brown will be a big improvement over the Rams centers from 2008, Nick Lecky and Brett Romberg (both now departed in free agency). Brown was a rising young player acquired from the Ravens and will improve the running game for Steven Jackson and some leadership in directing the pass protection for Marc Bulger. Brown was considered one of the best if not the best interior offensive lineman available during free agency. The Rams made a big splash at the opening of free agency to acquire Brown and based on the size of the contract the Rams front office is certainly expecting big things. Look for Brown to be a major impact to improving the performance of the entire offensive line.
James Butler – Strong Safety
Butler played previously with Giants. He was an up and coming player in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. Corey Chavous was an intelligent player but past his prime. Butler may have one other item in his favor as he has close ties with Tye Hill. Given Butler’s prior experience with Spagnuolo and his defense, if he can improve Hill’s performance and confidence as well, the Rams will have a formidable secondary along with Bartell and Atogwe. Along with Brown, Butler could be considered to provide a big impact on the opposite side of the ball.
Mike Karney – Fullback
Karney is a prototype hard nose fullback formally with the Saints. He blocks and blocks well. Steven Jackson will tell you Karney is the biggest offseason acquisition. Maybe he can’t catch balls out of the backfield but he will open the running lanes for Jackson.
Craig Dahl – Free Safety
Dahl, like Butler, signed from Giants and will be familiar with Spagnuolo’s defense. He has been hampered by injuries over the past few years and at best is a backup to Atogwe.
Billy Bajema – Tightend
Bajema played previously with San Francisco and was signed for his blocking ability. While he could have an impact in short yardage running game and maximum protection passing schemes he may only turn out to a small role player in Pat Shurmur West Coast offense. He may also get some competition during training camp and struggle to make the final roster.
Kyle Boller – Quarterback
Boller was signed from Baltimore and serves only as the primary backup to Marc Bulger. He will not have an impact unless Bulger is lost to injury. Even if he does see significant playing time his impact may be minimal at best coming off shoulder surgery and he may be ask to perform the same role he did in Baltimore which was not to win games but simply not to lose them.
Laurent Robinson – Wide Receiver
Obtained in a draft day trade with Altanta, Robinson provided some experience to a very young receiving group. At the time of the trade he could have been considered a viable third reciever behind Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton if he remained healthy. Eventually he may end up behind Ronald Curry who was acquired later.
Tim Carter – Wide Receiver
After sitting out last season, Carter was added provide some experience at the wide receiver position. With eight year experience he may have been close to exceeding the combined experience of all the other receivers. He will have to have a successful camp to even make the final roster at this point. Like Robinson the later addition of Curry but a big damper on his impact value.
Ronald Curry – Wide Receiver
Curry spent seven years with the Raiders and after being released only a few months with the Lions before the Rams dealt Orien Harris for Curry. A late July trade for Curry changed the landscape of the wide receiver acquisitions. Curry has a huge learning curve to get to know the offense after missing the OTAs but his arrival is certainly the biggest of the wide receivers. Look for Curry to find his way into the second receiver position with Avery or the very least in the slot position or three receiver sets.
Hollis Thomas – Defensive Tackle
After being released earlier in the offseason by the Saints, the Rams signed Thomas just prior to the start of training camp. A huge run stuffer, Thomas was added to provide depth at the defensive tackle position but more as a situational player during the run. When Orien Harris was sent to Detroit for Curry, the Rams starting looking again at defensive tackle and found Thomas. His presence certainly provides some improvement in the run defense but Thomas is approaching the sunset of his career and his playing time on the field will be limited