Saturday, August 20, 2011
Three things: Rams-Titans
By Mike Sando
Three things to watch for in the St. Louis Rams' preseason game against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET:
1. Three wide receivers: Not just any three. Mardy Gilyard, Danario Alexander and Donnie Avery are battling for what could be a single roster spot. Each offers something different to the offense. Each carries injury baggage. Gilyard's shiftiness and special-teams value sets him apart from the other two. Alexander has size on his side. Avery's pure speed and past production has some appeal. Gilyard had wrist surgery this offseason and has suffered from migraines in the past. Alexander has had five surgeries on his left knee. Avery is coming off a torn ACL that sidelined him last season. Avery's knee has required rest during training camp. Of the three, Avery was most impressive during practices late in the week.
2. Steven Jackson's debut. The Rams expect running back Steven Jackson to make his 2011 preseason debut. It's the first time we'll see Jackson working within the Rams' new offense in a game situation. The team rested Jackson to protect a sore hip during the week. Keeping him healthy is critical. The Rams expect Jackson to catch more passes out of the backfield this season. Jackson expects to have more options running on the perimeter. It's doubtful Jackson will play enough to explore all the offense offers him, but we should see a few glimpses.
3. Quinn off the edge. Rookie first-round draft choice Robert Quinn has gone through camp without attracting a great deal of attention. That is because the Rams are already set at defensive end with Chris Long and James Hall. Having Long and Hall in place allows Quinn to come along at a slower pace after sitting out his final season at North Carolina. The Rams have seen flashes of the pure pass-rush ability that led Mel Kiper Jr. to say Quinn could have been a No. 1 overall pick had the NCAA not ruled him ineligible last season. Quinn was active during his preseason debut. He should become increasingly comfortable after the long layoff.