NFL Nation: C.J. Ah You

First look at Rams' 2012 free agents

February, 7, 2012
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The St. Louis Rams have 20 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.

I'm not sure any of them qualify as players the Rams absolutely must bring back, particularly with a new coach and new schemes on both sides of the ball.

Receiver Brandon Lloyd would help fill a need, but at what price? Would he fit as well in a new offense after producing at disproportionate levels to this point when paired with former coordinator Josh McDaniels, now in New England?

Guard Jacob Bell played for new coach Jeff Fisher in Tennessee. He might have more value to the new staff than he had to the old one; McDaniels wanted more powerful guards, such as Harvey Dahl.

This item, like the previous one for Arizona, expands upon Brian McIntyre's lists. I've added columns for offensive and defensive snap counts from 2011, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information. The final column shows how much each player's previous contract averaged.

Update: Punter Donnie Jones is also an unrestricted free agent. His previous contracted averaged not quite $1.2 million.

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Receiver Danny Amendola, listed with the restricted free agents below, has not played since suffering an elbow injury in the 2011 season opener.

Rams find way to protect Sam Bradford

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
3:16
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Picture-perfect California weather only marginally improved the St. Louis Rams' view from the visitor's sideline at Candlestick Park.

Bradford
Bradford
The Rams watched backup quarterbacks A.J. Feeley and Tom Brandstater warm up, but there was no sign of starter Sam Bradford. The more time passed, the clearer it became Bradford would not play Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

Bradford, slowed by an ankle injury, was among the players St. Louis declared inactive 90 minutes before the 4:15 p.m. ET kickoff. Feeley, 1-1 as a starter for the Rams this season, will start against San Francisco. The Rams also declared safety Darian Stewart, running back Cadillac Williams, linebacker Josh Hull, guard Kevin Hughes, tackle Mark LeVoir and defensive end C.J. Ah You inactive.

The 49ers' list featured quarterback Scott Tolzien, receiver Braylon Edwards, cornerback Shawntae Spencer, fullback Moran Norris, guard Daniel Kilgore, guard Mike Person and nose tackle Ian Williams.

Bradford missed practice during the week after aggravating the high-ankle sprain he suffered this season. There was no sense risking his physical well-being behind an offensive line playing without both starting tackles, in my view.

2011 Rams Week 12: Five observations

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
10:33
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Five things I noticed while watching the St. Louis Rams' most recent game, a 23-20 home defeat to the Arizona Cardinals:
  • Defensive scheming still evident. It's been a tough season for the Rams' defense. I'm inclined to think personnel, not scheming, is primarily at fault. The coaching staff continues to draw up blitzes producing free shots on opposing quarterbacks. That was the case about five minutes into the game when the Rams brought safety Darian Stewart to the line of scrimmage at the last moment, suggesting seven defenders could be coming on a blitz. Two defenders on the left side dropped into coverage, leaving Cardinals right guard Rex Hadnot with nobody to block. The left guard and left tackle went in opposite directions to pick up their rushers, leaving a free path for Stewart to shoot into the backfield unblocked. Stewart sacked quarterback John Skelton quickly, killing the drive.
  • Defense vulnerable on early downs. The Rams allowed 5.1 yards per play on first down, 8.1 yards per play on second down and 3.9 yards per play on third down. They allowed only 3.2 yards per play and no plays longer than 14 yards when using sub packages on defense, according to ESPN Stats & Information. But with Beanie Wells gashing the Rams' base defense, it's clear St. Louis needs the most improvement from its front seven, even while injuries at cornerback get most of the attention.
  • Stewart could be missed in run game. The 228 yards Wells gained could have been much more without a couple open-field tackles by Stewart, the Rams' big-hitting, somewhat inconsistent safety. A concussion will prevent Stewart from playing against San Francisco.
  • Rough one for Laurinaitis. The Cardinals, specifically left guard Daryn Colledge, effectively blocked Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis. I'll be interested in seeing how Laurinaitis fares when the 49ers' left guard, Mike Iupati, comes his way. Inside linebackers benefit or suffer from the defensive tackles playing in front of them. The Rams were without Justin Bannan in the Arizona game. Fred Robbins, coming off a career-best performance in 2010, hasn't stood out this season.
  • Sharing the blame for punt return. Patrick Peterson's 80-yard touchdown on a punt return stretched a 13-10 Cardinals lead to 20-10 late in the third quarter. So many factors beyond punt coverage enabled the return. Two plays before the return, guard Jason Brown and tackle Harvey Dahl whiffed on their blocks, allowing the Cardinals to tackle Steven Jackson for a loss, setting up third-and-long. Peterson made a physical tackle to stop the Rams short on third down. And with the Rams facing fourth-and-1, a false-start penalty against C.J. Ah You prompted the Cardinals to change their personnel. Arizona had its defense on the field to prevent against a fake on fourth-and-1. The punt-return team came onto the field once Ah You's penalty changed the situation to fourth-and-6.

I'll be heading over to Candlestick Park shortly. No NFC West teams play early games this week. Sounds like a chance to check out the tailgating scene. The forecast calls for clear skies, moderate temperatures and the 49ers' first NFC West title since 2002.

The latest on Rams' Sam Bradford

November, 6, 2011
11/06/11
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Chris Mortensen says the St. Louis Rams are "optimistic" quarterback Sam Bradford can return from a high-ankle sprain Sunday.

The Rams listed Bradford as questionable on their Friday injury report. Bradford has not played in 21 days. High-ankle sprains generally take longer to heal, but Bradford has a better chance because his left ankle is the injured one. He plants on his right ankle when throwing.

I've had a hard time projecting a winner for the Rams' game at Arizona, in part because the quarterback situations have been muddied. I went with the Cardinals because they're home and I suspect Arizona should be able to run the ball well, but even that's tough to know for certain with Beanie Wells less than full strength and the Rams coming off a strong showing against New Orleans.

Bradford's availability at less than full strength adds another variable that is difficult to quantify.

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The St. Louis Rams have listed quarterback Sam Bradford as questionable for the second time this season.

Recovery times for high-ankle sprains can be unpredictable, coach Steve Spagnuolo has repeatedly said, but if Bradford returns Sunday, he'll beat reasonable expectations.

Three Cleveland Browns quarterbacks suffered high-ankle sprains last season. The youngest of the three, Colt McCoy, played in a game 28 days later. The oldest, Jake Delhomme, was forced into action prematurely after a 28-day recovery period. He played two quarters and still wasn't right a month later. The Browns' other quarterback last season, Seneca Wallace, returned to practice 31 days after suffering his high-ankle sprain.

Bradford was injured during an Oct. 16 game at Green Bay. Bradford did not play the next week after the Rams listed him as questionable. In retrospect, the team's optimism that week could have reflected Bradford's determination to play more than his realistic chances for getting onto the field so quickly. The team reassessed the injury and held out Bradford against New Orleans in Week 8.

Bradford practiced on a limited basis Friday.

There has been no clear pattern for players the Rams have listed as questionable. Seven of 13 did not play after appearing as questionable on previous Fridays this season. An eighth, Steven Jackson, was limited to only 14 offensive snaps after being questionable for Week 3.

The chart shows the players St. Louis has listed as questionable on Fridays previously this season, their injuries, whether they played and how much they played.

Steven Jackson active: Big boost for Rams

September, 25, 2011
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The St. Louis Rams can use all the hard-nosed, physical players they can get heading into their game against Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens.

Running back Steven Jackson, sidelined since the early going of a Week 1 defeat to Philadelphia, is one of the players St. Louis needs the most. The team did not list him among its inactive players Sunday, meaning Jackson will be available to them.

Jackson's first carry of the season went for 47 yards and a touchdown, but he suffered a strained quadriceps on the play. He returned for one more carry and has not played since.

The Rams will be without receiver Danny Amendola, safety Jermale Hines, receiver Greg Salas and defensive end C.J. Ah You.

No surprise: Jackson, Amendola inactive

September, 19, 2011
9/19/11
7:29
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The St. Louis Rams and New York Giants have submitted their inactive lists for their Monday night matchup.
We're about an hour from kickoff. I'm seeing Rams fans wearing Eric Dickerson and Jack Youngblood jerseys, and another with a Sam Bradford jersey. The stadium remains mostly empty at this time, however.

'07 draft class nearly purged from AFC East

October, 15, 2010
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After they dumped quarterback Trent Edwards and traded running back Marshawn Lynch in consecutive weeks, a lone member of the Buffalo Bills' 2007 draft class remained on the roster.

Just three years later, one keeper is a lousy return.

But consider how the rest of AFC East drafted in 2007.

Only six of 30 AFC East draftees from 2007 still are with the team that drafted them: two New York Jets, two Miami Dolphins, one New England Patriot and one Bill. (See chart below.)

[+] EnlargeDavid Harris
Anthony J. Causi/Icon SMIThe Jets traded second-, third- and sixth-round choices to move up and select David Harris.
The Jets were most effective. They drafted just four players. Their first two have been stars, and the last pick helped them acquire a standout receiver. They traded up to select star cornerback Darrelle Revis 14th overall and top inside linebacker David Harris 47th. Seventh-round pick Chansi Stuckey was sent to the Cleveland Browns in the trade that landed receiver Braylon Edwards.

The Patriots were the least efficient on nine picks, but they had only two selections inside the first four rounds. Their lone keeper was Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather in the first round.

The Dolphins made 10 selections in what was the final draft class for general manager Randy Mueller and the only one for rookie head coach Cam Cameron. They famously misfired on ninth overall pick Ted Ginn, who was traded for a fifth-round pick this offseason, and second-round quarterback John Beck. Still around are defensive tackle Paul Soliai and punter Brandon Fields.

The last man standing from Buffalo's seven-man 2007 draft class is second-round linebacker Paul Posluszny.

So that's a 20 percent retention rate for the AFC East on all draftees and a 40 percent rate for those selected in the top three rounds.

With help from ESPN researcher Keith Hawkins and the Elias Sports Bureau, I wanted to find out how those percentages compared leaguewide.

Poorly, it turns out.

Of the 225 players chosen in other divisions that year, 100 have remained with the teams that drafted them. That's 44.4 percent overall, more than twice the AFC East rate.

When narrowing the field to players taken within the first three rounds, 89 prospects were absorbed into other divisions, and 54 have stuck, a success rate of 60.7 percent.

A few notes turned up by the research:

  • The Dolphins are the only team that has gotten rid of their top four picks.
  • Twenty-six teams have parted ways with at least one of their picks from the first three rounds.
  • Of the 19 teams that had at least one pick in each of the first three rounds, only the Pittsburgh Steelers retained all of them (Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, Matt Spaeth).

On the radar: Surprise injuries

June, 24, 2010
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NFC On the Radar: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A player, coach or issue that should be on your radar as training camp approaches.

A sore hip bothered Kurt Warner at Arizona Cardinals camp last summer. It wasn't a big deal.

[+] EnlargePatrick WIllis
Brett Davis/US PresswirePatrick Willis has already practiced after his offseason knee surgery and will seemingly be ready for training camp.
Two summers ago, the Seattle Seahawks downplayed Matt Hasselbeck's bad back because they didn't know the full extent of the problem. That one turned out to be more serious than expected.

Having the right feel for each injury situation can be tough. I'm sure a surprise injury or two will become a story after NFC West teams report for training camps in late July.

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis (knee), St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (back), Arizona Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (knee) and Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu (pectoral) are among the high-profile NFC West players coming off surgery rehabs. Their situations will bear monitoring.

The following players ended last season on injured reserve (some are no longer with NFC West teams):

Arizona Cardinals

Matt Ware, Mike Gandy, Justin Green, Cody Brown

San Francisco 49ers

Tony Pashos, Ricky Schmitt, Thomas Clayton, Jeff Ulbrich, Walt Harris, Kentwan Balmer, Curtis Taylor

Seattle Seahawks

Tyler Roehl, Walter Jones, Kevin Houser, Brandon Frye, Tatupu, Mike Hass

St. Louis Rams

Marc Bulger, Adam Carriker, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Eric Bassey, C.J. Ah You, Brooks Foster, Gary Gibson, Jacob Bell, Daniel Fells, Chris Massey, Bradley Fletcher, Laurent Robinson, Keenan Burton

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams' roster requires additional study after a thorough house-cleaning this offseason. With so many new faces, I feel less familiar with the Rams than with the other teams in the division. This initial look at the roster will hopefully help bring some focus.

Donnie Avery's injury and overall health concerns at receiver could influence how many players the Rams carry into the season at the position.

Marc Bulger's broken pinky shouldn't affect the roster as long as he recovers on schedule. Teams must reduce to 75 players by Sept. 1 and 53 players by Sept. 5. Those initial 53-man rosters sometimes change by Week 1 kickoffs. For that reason, I've been focusing on Week 1 rosters when setting baseline expectations for each position.

St. Louis Rams
Week 1 Roster
Counts since 2003
QB RB WR TE OL DL LB DB ST
Fewest 2 5 5 2 9 8 5 8 2
Most 3 7 6 4 10 9 7 11 3
Average 2.8 5.5 5.5 3.0 9.2 8.3 6.3 9.7 2.7
Currently on roster
4
7 10 5 15 13 9 14 3

The chart provides a framework for how many players the Rams might keep at each position heading into the regular-season opener against the Seahawks.

Here's a quick look at which Rams players I might keep on the cutdown to 53 players:

(Read full post)

Rams eligible for
practice squad
Pos.Probable Status
Brock BerlinQBKeeper
Chris LongDEKeeper
John GrecoOLKeeper
Donnie AveryWRKeeper
Roy SchueningOLKeeper
Chris ChamberlainLBKeeper
David VoboraLBBubble
Derek StanleyWRBubble
C.J. Ah YouDLBubble
Russ WeilFBLikely cut
Marc MagroLBLikely cut
Cortney GrixbyDBWaived
Lance BallRBLikely cut
Nick CleaverTEWaived
Marcus RileyLBWaived
Donovan RaiolaOLWaived
Dustin FryOLLikely cut
Julius WilsonOLLikely cut
Henry SmithDLWaived
Mark LeVoirOLLikely cut
Willie WilliamsDLWaived
Matt CaddellWRWaived
Marques HagansWRWaived

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams' released 10 players in anticipation of the 53-man roster limit, which goes into effect Saturday.

I've singled out eight of them on our chart of Rams players with practice-squad eligibility. The eighth and ninth players released, veteran safety Jerome Carter, and cornerback Tanard Davis, have no such eligibility.

Expect the Rams to make their remaining cuts before the 6 p.m. ET deadline Saturday.

The Rams are carrying 66 players once they move Steven Jackson to the active roster from the exempt list.

Die-hard alert: Updated roided-out NFC West rosters here.

Earlier: The chart shows each of the Rams' players with practice-squad eligibility, according to the team.

Practice-squad rules can be confusing, and exceptions sometimes apply to relatively experienced players.

I've categorized each player based on his perceived likelihood of earning a spot on the 53-man roster. Those are rough characterizations. Teams still have not made decisions. It's conceivable that a player listed as a "keeper" could face his release.

(Read full post)

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