It is never easy when a franchise brings in the future superstar before the veteran's time is up, but the Jaguars did just that.
These two teams are going in opposite directions heading into the 2011 season. Things are going to get worse in Jacksonville before they get better. But the Rams, who won more games in 2010 than the previous three years combined, have found the future of their franchise with Bradford under center and coach Steve Spagnuolo on the sideline.
This final week of the preseason will bring the backups out in force for the two teams.
Jacksonville is coming off a 35-32 overtime loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 3. Neither quarterback lit the world on fire and neither part of the duo had a quarterback rating over 66.
The Rams knocked off the defending AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs, with Bradford looking very comfortable under center once again.
These two teams still have things to iron out before the regular season gets underway and we'll see if they can make the necessary changes on Thursday.
Where: EverBank Field; Jacksonville, Florida
When: Thursday, 7:30 P.M. EST
Watch: Rams: KTVI, CH. 2 IN ST. LOUIS. Jaguars: CBS47. Streaming online at NFL.com ($9.99 for preseason package). Replay on NFL Network on Friday at 10:00 A.M. EST.
Listen: Rams: WXOS 101.1 FM. Jaguars: WOKC 690.
Rams' Key Addition: Cadillac Williams
If healthy and in the right frame of mind, Mike Sims-Walker is a downright player. Ironically, he left the Jaguars in order to join the Rams this offseason. He has the potential to become a Sam Bradford favorite early in his stay with the Rams if he can stay on the field.
But the biggest addition, assuming he is healthy, is easily Cadillac Williams. The Rams never had a legitimate player to pair with Steven Jackson and the toll it has taken on his body shows.
Should Cadillac stay healthy, it will go a long way to making this team more complete.
Jaguars' Key Addition: Dawan Landry
The Jaguars continously have problems in their secondary. That is a terrible thing, considering they play Matt Schaub and Peyton Manning twice per season.
The addition of Dawan Landry was quiet, but he will bring stability to the safety position. The 28-year-old has spent the first part of his career with one of the best defenses we have seen in recent years and is a very welcome addition to Jack Del Rio's team.
Rams' Biggest Loss: Oshiomogho Atogwe
St. Louis opted to release safety Oshiomogho Atogwe and saved $8 million in the process. The 30-year-old left a hole in the secondary and their biggest move at safety was the signing on of Quintin Mikell.
If Quintin can get in form quickly with Spagnuolo's defense, it will make this loss a lot more tolerable. If not, it will be felt badly.
Jaguars' Biggest Loss: Mike Sims-Walker
One team's trash is another team's treasure. The Rams could conceivably make Mike Sims-Walker their No. 2 if he gets his head on straight; his departure has left the Jaguars rather inexperienced behind Mike Thomas.
Rookie Cecil Shorts could become the long-term solution, but it will take him some time to adjust to the pro game.
What They're Saying
The St. Louis Dispatch is saying "St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson generally hasn't seen much action in preseason games, the better to keep him fresh for the regular season. But Jackson had 16 touches—15 carries and a reception—Saturday night in the 14-10 victory at Kansas City. That was by design, coach Steve Spagnuolo explained Saturday."
The Florida Times Union is saying "it’s no secret that the receiver corps is a popular target for ridicule. The Jaguars, including tight ends, have already dropped a dozen balls in three preseason games. ... Garrard has to trust his offensive line to give him that extra second to deliver a long pass. The receivers must be trusted to get separation from coverage."
Rams Player To Watch: Cadillac Williams
The veteran running back needs to continue to prove he can stay healthy and productive. Should he become a viable No. 2 option to Steven Jackson, there is no telling how much better off this team will be in the long haul.
Jaguars Player To Watch: Blaine Gabbert
Rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert needs every opportunity he can get to make an impression. There is no simulation for live NFL action; even the fourth preseason game a week before the season kicks off is important for his development.
Matchup To Watch
Rams WRs vs. Jaguars DBs. The Rams' wide receiving unit is wide open. Brandon Gibson, Mike Sims-Walker, Danny Amendola, Danario Alexander and rookies Austin Pettis and Greg Salas are all looking for playing time. Regardless of how many snaps they get, this unit has to perform well against a secondary that isn't expected to dominate anyone.
Rams' Key Position Battle: Wide Receiver
As stated earlier, there are a ton of options for the Rams at wide receiver, despite a lack of big names. Playing time will be given to those who earn it.
Jaguars' Key Position Battle: Quarterback
David Garrard will make the opening week start for this team, but Blaine Gabbert won't be content on the bench for long. Whenever he takes the field it is important to see what the No. 10 pick can bring.
Key Storyline: Experience
Both of these teams have a lot of young players at impact positions. The Jaguars will likely need to count on a number of youngsters and wide receivers, as will the Rams, and there is nothing more important than getting these players on the field when they can. This may be the fourth preseason game, but it means something for players who might not see anything but the practice field for the next three months.
Rams 24, Jaguars 17
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