As the Rams head on down to the Jones Mahal this weekend to play the traditional all important third preseason game Coach Fisher said the following on how he balances the need to evaluate players fighting for roster spots with the need to keep fresh legs:
You have to use the practice field and you have to use the games. We do the best we can. We spend hours as a staff discussing play time, and how many snaps, and who’s going to play with whom and who needs this or who needs that. So you do the best you can under limited opportunities.
1) How does the offensive line look with Wells at center? At this point it may sound like a broken record but the offensive line. Center Scott Wells will be returning to the playing field this week for QB Sam Bradford. They are still developing chemistry but it will come along as time goes by. But don’t expect too much playing time from Wells. The Rams will be easing him into regular in-game snaps. RT Barry Richardson took reps with the first team this week and I don’t expect that to change in the game. Looks like Jason Smith may have permanently lost the starting position. The line did a good job protecting Bradford against the Chiefs but they will be facing a much more complex Rob Ryan defense in Dallas.
2) Will Isaiah Pead shake off the nerves and play better? (No more dropsies and being patient for blocks to develop.) With RB Steven Jackson about to see limited playing time I’ll be very interested in seeing how presumed back-up Isaiah Pead and third stringer Daryl Richardson look with the ones. Pead looked a bit off kilter in the Kansas City game. Holes closed up and he did a lot of back pedaling and side stepping. His stat line of 6 carries for negative 5 yards for one TD reflect the kind of day he had. Richardson, on the other hand, made a smoother transition from the practice field to the playing field – 8 carries for 35 yards. Quick, decisive, and made the most of the small gaps he found. Is his success a function of going up against the twos and threes? This week’s game should give us a clearer answer.
3) How comfortable are the receiving ones and the youngin’s at this point? The only sure thing on the Rams receiving roster is Danny Amendola. The tail end of the roster battle is up for grabs. I’d like to see another solid outing by Chris Givens and Brian Quick as they play with the first team and how the chemistry between Bradford and Steve Smith is developing. Austin Pettis and Greg Salas need to get some reps as well. Salas seems to have faded off into the sunset in recent weeks. I’m starting to wonder if Schotty likes him. Not sure what this means but somehow I always forget about Brandon Gibson when naming Rams WRs. This can’t be a good sign. I guess as long as Bradford doesn’t forget him he’s all right… Then on the outskirts lurk Nick Johnson, Mike Campbell, and the two newly signed bodies Charles Gilbert and Brandyn Harvey. Yeah, I know. I didn’t talk about Danario Alexander. Not much to say other than he hasn’t gotten on the field much. Not even a vat of industrial strength crazy glue will help him stick to the final 53-man Rams roster.
We’re going to try and play some of those guys a little bit earlier, yes.
In case you need a refresher this is what I wrote after Murray ran all over the Rams D on October 23, week 7 of the 2011 season.
The biggest storyline of the game has to the pathetic attempt at a rush defense by the Rams.
Rams D fall victim to DeMarco Murray and become 0-6 road kill heading into week 8.
Can’t stop this: Cowboys’ RB DeMarco Murray (Courtesy STLouisRams.com)
Ever hear of DeMarco Murray? He’s the rookie RB from Oklahoma taken by the Cowboys in the third round. The kid only ran 253 yards on 25 carries (yes, that’s an incredible 10.3 yds/carry) today against a porous Rams defense.
Murray broke Emmitt Smith’s single game rushing record of 237 yards which has stood the test of time since 1993 – DeMarco was only 5 years old at the time. (Man, that makes me feel old).
The longest run came at the fifth play of the Cowboys’ first series when he ran for 91 yards for a TD – the second longest TD run in Cowboys’ history. (99-yard TD run by Tony Dorsett)
Congratulations, rookie. Well done. (Come on, you have to give props where its due.)
I think more importantly for Dallas it kept the ball on the ground and out of QB Tony Romo’s hands. Romo’s questionable judgment has been well documented throughout this season so why risk turnovers.
5) Will Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein try to hit the Jones Mahal jumbotron?
No seriously, I’d like to see him kick one straight up. Then hit another one 60 yards+ and show the rest of the NFL what Rams fans have been witnessing all throughout training camp. When you get the attention of SI’s Peter King despite the more flashy and noteworthy draft picks you’re doing something right, kid.
I went out of the box this season and passed on my perennial favorite Sebastian Janikowski for my fantasy team. Yep, I took Zuerlein.