Thanks to the untimely 1.5 hour Twitter outage Thursday morning my delicate schedule was thrown out of whack. Of course it would happen during the time I had so carefully slotted to do my writing. I’m finally catching up after a hectic couple of days.
We’re another day closer to the officially opening of training camp which is Sunday, July 29. Just hours away really. Twitter is atwitter with anxious excitement and the players aren’t the only ones waiting for 3:30 p.m. Eager and impatient Rams fans have been talking about the start of training camp for weeks now. A few of us have even talked about “tailgating” at the McDonald’s parking lot across the street from Rams Park. Yes, we’re sad… Would you like fries with your order?
(If you missed notes #1- #5, the link is here.)
All right, down to business:
6) To follow up on the Scott Wells comment from Wednesday: Rotoinfo is reporting that the newly signed Rams “starting” center Wells may not 100%. That’s not good news, folks. Not good at all. Remember the Rams signed Wells, now 31 in age, to a four-year, $24 million contract with $13 million guaranteed salary. He needs to be on the field healthy. I haven’t seen other sources with the same information so I’ll just take it for what its worth and hope he’s there practicing on Sunday. We should be able to get a visual then.
FYI: Everyone is talking about T-Bob Hebert and Tim Barnes as possible stand-in’s for Wells but don’t count out Robert Turner who already knows Schotty’s offense. (fourth year center free agent from the Jets).
7) Quarterbacks – Is this really a make or break season for QB Sam Bradford? Forget the fact that this is his third offensive coordinators in as many seasons. As Coach Fisher would say, just delete the 2011-2012 season and start over. Bring back the semblance of the Bradford’s rookie year and we can go from there. On paper it seems the Rams front office has provided him with better weapons this year in the form of draft picks Brian Quick and Chris Givens. Both are unproven and will have to develop along with Bradford. Expect some growing pains throughout the season.
I expect Kellen Clemens to be the outright back up. The real battle royale will be for the QB3 spot between last year’s QB3 second year player Tom Brandstater and rookie UDFA Austin Davis from Southern Mississippi. Davis looked a bit more mobile to me during drills but we should get a better sense of real game time skills once preseason games hit.
8) Apparently one of the rookies showed up to training camp “deconditioned.” OL Rokevious Watkins was spotted participating in just the conditioning portion of practice on Thursday. Coach Fisher commented, “Yeah, he had a little setback from the time he left to the time he came back. We’re just trying to get him back in the swing of things.” Twitter followers had mentioned Rok’s struggle with weight during his college career but I’m confident OL coach Paul Boudreau and Rock Gullickson, Rams strength and conditioning coach, will whip him into shape.
9) Wide receivers – National pundits love to discuss this position at length. After all this is a passing league, is it not? My picks to make the team are as follows.
No brainer: Danny Amendola – Bradford’s much missed security blanket. His absence was painfully obvious last season – especially in third down situations. Welcome back, Amendola.
Will most likely make the roster: Greg Salas - started to show his colors towards the end of last season before breaking his leg, Brian Quick and Chris Givens - rookie high draft picks who need to step it up and prove their worth, and Steve Smith - veteran free agent pick up during the off season.
On the bubble: Austin Pettis - still needs to serve a two game suspension, Brandon Gibson – has a comfort level with Bradford but with a strong draft class could see his reps and roster spot disappear, and Danario Alexander – Ah, DX… If he can stay healthy he would be a great complement to Quick on the outside. But his health is a BIG “IF.”
Training camp and done: Nick Johnson and Mike Campbell – both rookie undrafted free agents who showed up oomf during OTA’s and have quite and uphill climb to make the roster. For what it’s worth, both worked very hard during OTA’s. Especially, Campbell who stayed after just about every practice I saw to work with the jugs machine.
10) Running backs – Need I say more than Steven Jackson?
Look for the Rams workhorse to put in the hours and the pounding on the ground this season. SJ39 has come ready to play. And by play I mean to win the game, a la Coach Herm Edwards. I would love to see the offensive line and a real full back make some running lanes for him. And for the record, 5.1 percent body fat is insane. Insane.
When Jackson isn’t in the huddle I fully expect rookie second round draft pick Isaiah Pead to help lighten the running load. Pead missed a good chunk of OTA’s due to NFL graduation rules but has made the most of his time this off season. I can’t wait to see what he can really do. I have high hopes for this young man – especially if Jackson goes down for a more than a game or two like last season.
Don’t count out the little quick man, seventh round draft pick Daryl Richardson. He got lots of practice time while Pead was still waiting to graduate from University of Cincinnati. This kid has zip and has a little slippery in his game. Big guys will have a very difficult time grabbing for this running back on the field.
We still have to discuss the offensive line, defense and special teams. I hope to go through those positions as training camp progresses.
In the immortal words of Tim Tebow, “I’m excited!” I hope to see many of you at Rams Park. I’ll be wearing my Pigskin Arch/Rams jersey with the 55 on the back. If you see me, don’t hesitate to come and say hello.
Click here for important traffic/road closure information if you’re driving to training camp.