St. Louis Rams 2011 Preseason Schedule: August Preview

Steven GerwelContributor IIIAugust 11, 2011

EARTH CITY, MO - JULY 31:  Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams hands the ball off to teammate Austin Pettis #83 during training camp at the Russell Training Center on July 31, 2011 in Earth City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Chargers and Seahawks are playing tonight for what is the first NFL action since the Super Bowl last February.

The Rams were meant to be the ones that got football started this year, along with the Chicago Bears in what would have been the 2011 Hall of Fame game, but that event was unfortunately cancelled due to the lockout.

However, the Rams will be back in action soon enough; more specifically, this Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts at 7:00 PM CDT.

Obviously it's preseason action and not the real deal, but what can we expect out of the Rams preseason this year?

The first goal should be to keep key players healthy, such as Sam Bradford, James Laurinaitis, Steven Jackson and Chris Long among others, but the Rams have an obstacle that conflicts with that goal.

Unlike many teams, the Rams are integrating a new offensive system, so the players have to be on the field if they want to adapt to the new scheme; but if key players are on the field during the preseason then they risk injury.

Head coach Steve Spagnuolo will have to carefully strategize and determine the proper amount of reps for the key players.

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 25:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts looks to pass the ball against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on October 25, 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Here is a peek at the entire Rams preseason, which will give you an idea of what to expect, as well as time and location for each game:

Rams vs Indianapolis Colts: August 13th, 2011 at 7:00 PM CDT

For any fans wanting to get a look at Peyton Manning under center in St. Louis this Saturday, you're out of luck. Manning is recovering from neck surgery and has not practiced yet at the Colts training camp, so he will certainly be on the sidelines.

As for the Rams' own franchise passer, Sam Bradford, he will see some action.

It is typical for teams to send out their first team offense for only one drive in the first two preseason games, but since the Rams have a new offense they will likely keep them out for two.

Even though the rest of the offense will get extended playing time, star running back Steven Jackson will probably get only one carry the entire game.

With Jackson on the sidelines for the majority of the game, it will be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels utilizes running backs Jerious Norwood and Cadillac Williams. Expect Williams to receive the majority of the first and second down carries, while Norwood will likely be the primary third down guy.

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 19: Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs passes against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on December 19, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Chiefs beat the Rams 27-13.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

As for the defense, they are in a familiar system. Chris Long and James Laurinaitis will be pulled out of the game early, while the rest of the starters will be in for one or two drives.

Rams vs Tennessee Titans: August 20th, 2011 at 7:00 PM CDT 

The second preseason game is very similar to the first one—there will be one or two drives with the starters, while the backup players will see the most action.

One key thing to watch for during this game is the outside linebackers.

Titans running back Chris Johnson is a great outside runner, so it will be interesting to see if the Rams have truly improved at shutting down the outside with the addition of outside linebackers Ben Leber, Zac Diles and Brady Poppinga, although Johnson will probably get only one or two carries.

Also, with Chris Long and James Hall as the starting defensive ends, they will be pulled early in the game, which will allow fans to get a lengthy look at Robert Quinn, who the Rams drafted at No.14 overall last April.

Rams @ Kansas City Chiefs: August 26th, 2011 at 7:00 PM CDT

The Rams will travel to Arrowhead Stadium August 26th for the annual Missouri Governor's Cup. 

The tempo will increase a bit since the third preseason game is traditionally the game where the starters get the most playing time. 

Instead of one or two drives, the Rams will now keep their starters in for the entire first quarter, maybe even longer. 

The Chiefs are a solid football team, but even so, expect the new offense to be much more fluid and efficient by this time.

The Chiefs also had the best run offense in 2010, averaging 164.2 rushing yards a game, so it will be interesting to see how the St. Louis defense can handle their ground game. It could indicate if the Rams defense is truly ready to take the next step towards becoming an elite unit. 

Rams @ Jacksonville Jaguars: September 1st, 2011 at 6:30 PM CDT

The fourth preseason game is not for the fair weather fan. Unless you are interested in seeing how the second and third string players perform, you might want to find something else to do.

The starting offense and defense will play only one drive, maybe not even that. Of course there's the possibility of the coaches making an exception for the offense due to the new system, but not likely.

However, even though the starters are going to be on the bench, this game will be a great indicator of the Rams true potential in 2011.

Every good team has good depth. There are injuries in football, it's just part of the game. Bad teams are typically unable to find backup players capable of getting the job done, while contenders are able to find suitable players worthy of filling in for injured starters.

Therefore, this game will be a great tool as far as gauging which positions can afford injuries, as well as which spots are paper-thin.