Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Morning Ram-blings: Replacing production
By Nick Wagoner
EARTH CITY, Mo. – When the St. Louis Rams said goodbye to running back Steven Jackson and receiver Danny Amendola in the offseason, they were parting ways with perhaps their two most productive offensive skill-position players.
When healthy, Jackson and Amendola were probably the two most talented playmakers in the Rams' offense, but that statement almost always had to be pre-empted with the "when healthy" disclaimer. So when the Rams went seeking replacements in the offseason, replacing two of their most popular players seemed like a difficult task.
In many ways, Amendola and Jackson brought intangible things like leadership and toughness to the team. Those things are important, of course, but the task of replacing their production didn't seem that overwhelming given the injury issues both dealt with in recent seasons.
It's likely no surprise to Rams fans that a quick perusal of injury reports around the league turn up the names Jackson and Amendola. It's a big part of the reason the Rams sought replacements in the offseason. How talented a player is doesn't mean as much if that player can't stay on the field.
Now in New England, Amendola has battled injuries since the start of training camp, and now reports say that he is going to eschew surgery for a sports hernia and attempt to return in a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile in Atlanta, Jackson has a thigh injury that is expected to keep him out two to four weeks. For most of his career in St. Louis, Jackson was able to avoid serious injuries but had persistent problems with soft-tissue injuries. The result usually didn't cost Jackson many games, but would slow him for a few weeks. That appears to be the case once again in his new home.
The Rams opted to replace Amendola with a combination of tight end Jared Cook and Tavon Austin and stuck with young options like Daryl Richardson and others in the running game. It remains to be seen if the replacements will be able to replicate the production of Amendola and Jackson, but so long as they continue to stay healthy, there's little doubt they'll have a good chance. After all, those persistent injury issues kept Amendola and Jackson from producing big numbers in the first place.
A quick rundown of yesterday's Rams' coverage right here on ESPN.com. ... We started with a look at the Rams' No. 17 spot in this week's power rankings. ... Then we looked at reports that right tackle Rodger Saffold has a sprained medial collateral ligament that will likely keep him out this week against Dallas. ... After that, we closed out the evening with breakdowns, thoughts and observations from the All-22 film with one for the defense and one for the offense.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell implored the Rams to use the no-huddle, up-tempo offense on a regular basis.
Jim Thomas, of the Post-Dispatch, writes that Rams coach Jeff Fisher isn't so keen on that idea.
STLtoday.com columnist Jeff Gordon takes a look at the improved production of the Rams offense but also issues some cautions about jumping to conclusions two weeks into the season.
StLouisRams.com caught up with former kicker Jeff Wilkins.