Sunday, August 25, 2013
St. Louis Rams rookie review
By Nick Wagoner
EARTH CITY, Mo. – It would probably be unfair to expect the Rams rookie class to perform at the level it did in Saturday night’s loss to Denver on a weekly basis. But if nothing else, the draft class and a few undrafted rookies certainly gave everyone a glimpse at the potential that exists for this group.
Here’s the breakdown on how much the seven-man rookie class played and how it fared in those opportunities along with a look at a few undrafted rookies who have made an impression.
WR Tavon Austin, first round, No. 8 overall: The Rams and Austin have waited patiently for him to get an opportunity to do something in the return game but they didn’t wait long Saturday night. Austin took his first punt return of the evening back 81 yards to setup the team’s first score. He played 18 snaps on offense and just two on special teams but both punt returns combined to go for 104 yards. He also made a catch for 12 yards.
LB Alec Ogletree, first round, No. 30 overall: It was a big night for Ogletree, who answered many of the early questions that have been asked of him. He played 53 snaps on defense and four more on special teams on his way to the type of performance that showed why the Rams coveted him in April’s NFL draft. He finished with a line of six tackles, two for loss, an interception, two passes defended, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a touchdown. And he did it against Peyton Manning and one of the best offenses around. It hasn’t been an easy transition for Ogletree to the NFL game and he’s by no means a finished product but Saturday provided some definitive progress.
S T.J. McDonald, third round, No. 71 overall: Playing against Denver’s uptempo offense, McDonald also played every defensive snap in the first half with 53. He also fared a bit better against the Broncos, making three tackles and not missing any obvious tackle opportunities. He also played six snaps on special teams, one of which went for a blocked field goal.
WR Stedman Bailey, third round, No. 92 overall: Bailey played 28 snaps on offense, where he was targeted three times and came up with one catch for 13 yards. He also chipped in on special teams with seven plays there. Bailey continues to work exclusively with the backups.
OL Barrett Jones, fourth round, No. 113 overall: Jones played 27 snaps with the backup offensive line and three on special teams. The backup offensive line has continued to struggle in the preseason and Jones has had his share of that. He’s still working his way back into shape and he’s had some decent moments but it’s going to take some time to get him fully up to speed.
CB Brandon McGee, fifth round, No. 149 overall: No word on if something is wrong with McGee in terms of health but he did not play on defense and played a lone snap on special teams. Second-year corner Quinton Pointer didn’t play either, leading one to believe the Rams simply wanted to get a long look at the cornerbacks lower on the depth chart before cuts. Either way, McGee had been coming on strong and earning more playing time going in to Saturday night.
RB Zac Stacy, fifth round, No. 160 overall: Seemingly healthy for the first time in a few weeks, Stacy played 12 snaps with the offense and crammed a lot of work into such a short outing. He carried five times for 8 yards with two catches for 19 yards. The Rams are still sorting through the backups behind Daryl Richardson but have struggled to get any semblance of a run game going the past two weeks.
Undrafted Rookie Roundup: Another game, another big play or two for linebacker Ray Ray Armstrong. He played 21 defensive snaps and 17 on special teams, finishing with two tackles, a sack and a quarterback hit. … Cornerback Darren Woodard played 32 snaps on defense and came up with an interception to kill a Denver drive in the second half. … Defensive tackle Al Lapuaho is a roster long shot anyway but didn’t do anything to help his cause with a 15-yard taunting penalty in the fourth quarter. … Backup kicker/punter Brett Baer finally got an opportunity to do some of each but it didn’t go as he’d hoped. He missed a 43-yard field goal attempt and had a punt blocked. He did later drop a perfect 52-yard punt out of bounds at Denver’s 5, though.