Small signs in Rams' offensive evolution

Running back Steven Jackson and fullback Mike Karney became fast friends on the St. Louis Rams.

Jackson welcomed running behind a big fullback. Karney relished blocking for one of the NFL's most physical runners. A recent video production showed the two hanging out and watching football together.

The Rams shifted away from using a traditional fullback last season, however, and Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the team is taking a more decisive step -- beginning with Karney's release from the team. Karney turns 30 this summer. He started 13 of the 26 games he played during two seasons with the Rams.

Karney had value as a blocker in the running game, but he was not a receiving threat or strong special-teams contributor. That made it tougher to justify keeping him active on game days, particularly with rookie tight end Mike Hoomanawanui available to play fullback when needed.

Releasing Karney is even less surprising after the Rams hired Josh McDaniels to coordinate their offense. As Denver Broncos coach through Week 13, McDaniels used far more shotgun formations on first and second down than the Rams used over the same stretch. I would expect McDaniels to open up the offense, something that probably would have happened to a degree anyway in quarterback Sam Bradford's second season.