Good afternoon, everyone. Hope you're all having a good week. Let's get down to business.
How do you see the Rams using Tre Mason this year?
I think he'll work his way into the mix early on but his role will depend on Zac Stacy's ability to avoid nagging injuries that hit him last season. Benny Cunningham shouldn't be discounted in the mix, either.
Nick I was a huge fan of yours when you with the Rams website and was disappointed with the direction of the stories and insight the new writers gave although I do still visit frequently. My question, being that I am new to your ESPN duties is can we expect the exact same type of material you once gave with your prior duties. Overall sometimes I felt as if I was at training camp and OTA's getting a personal view of the players, position groups and team progress. Can I expect the exact same in your new role?
I've been here for almost a year now and I do my absolute best to give as much insight as possible. Obviously here there isn't nearly as much filter so I hope that you stick around. And I'm always open to story suggestions and the like. You can write em in here and I keep a list of stuff to get to if I don't have it planned already.
How do you see Carrington fit into the D-Line?
I think he'll be used similar to how Donald will be where his primary role will be as a pass rusher situationally but he'll be in the rotation and I fully expect him to be active on gamedays. Intrigued to see him and catch up with him at OTAs next week.
Hey Nick, My other question if you have not already answered this is do think there is any truth to Tre Mason's claim that he is in competition with Zac Stacy for the starting job at RB? Thanks Nick
Saying that you've been told to compete for the job doesn't tell me much. The coaches want competition at every position. I think he becomes a factor but I'm not sure there's a full on open competition for the starting spot. Fisher has told the media that he wants to use Mason as a change of pace to spell Stacy. I still expect Stacy to have first crack at the job.
In your opinion, what are the main things (position battles, player development, etc.) to focus on in OTA's this year?
Staying healthy is always first. But I'm intrigued to see how Gregg Williams acclimates to his new talent. There's a bit of a feeling out process when you've never coached players before. For example, Williams may want to be more aggressive in coverage schemes but he also might see his corners and think that's not how they're best utilized. The only way to know is to work with them.
Do you think Brian Quick can make the leap this year with the added threat of Kenny Britt
It depends on what the leap is. If you mean consistent, 1000 yard type of WR, that's unrealistic. I think he can contribute more than he has in the past. If nothing else, he's probably running low on chances so he needs to make the most of whatever opportunity he does get.
Is there any other position where you could see a possible vet be added to the team other than LB?
I think at this point, LB is the most likely. Maybe if a safety of intrigue pops up like they did with Giordano last year but my hunch is there won't be much else added from the outside.
Hey nick love your chat ever since on the rams website and you keep bring Witherspoon name up as a possibility of resigning is there real interest for him to return and if so would it happen closer to camp?
That's when it happened last time so it would make sense if it did again. I know the Rams like Witherspoon's professional approach though he struggled the few opportunities he had last year. I don't know if he's the guy but I wouldn't be shocked if they added a vet there.
Do you ever tire of answering Barrett Jones questions?
Yes, but especially since I don't have an answer. I am proud to say at this time next week, I will have watched a couple of OTAs and have at least a modicum of an idea of how Jones is coming along. And I promise to write about it.
Can Tim Barnes replace wells and save on cap space
I don't think so. And again, I ask, what is the need for cap space this year? If you wanted to part ways with Wells, wouldn't it have made more sense to do it earlier in the offseason. The Rams have the money to sign their rookie class and operate during the season. If someone beats out Wells, fine, but otherwise, the need for cap space isn't pressing enough to let go of a vet who can help.
Yo nick do u think Jenkins has a bounce back year? Potential pro bowler?
I'm interested to see him under Gregg Williams. It should cater more to his skills. But he needs to take a step forward for himself too. Production and even leadership need to be part of the package for him. I'm not ready to say Pro Bowl is an option for him but a step forward should be possible for him in year 3.
What position battle do you think will be the most interesting? I am going with the secondary, safties and corners. A lot of competition and only 3 or 4 already decided.
Yes, the backup spots in the secondary will be interesting. I'm curious how receiver shakes out as well though I think Givens and Austin will get a lot of snaps.
Hey Nick: Every year after the draft fans (from all teams) get spooled up about the rookies and the possibilities for the upcoming season. So, despite Team Snesher's efforts in what appeared to be a good draft the media still has the Rams barely breaking .500 this year. Is there really that much player quality difference between the Rams, Niners and Hawks?
The gap is smaller than it once was but I think it still exists. I think the bigger difference is when you dig beyond the starters a bit and, of course, consistent quarterback play is always an option. Look, I'm not going to write off the Rams chances of making a push this year, it's entirely possible if things fall into place. But I also think it's prudent to take a wait and see approach because there are more things that must fall in place in STL than places like Seattle or San Fran.
Is Jake Long expected to be healthy by week 1?
The Rams remain confident and steadfast in that belief. We'll see if it's realistic when training camp opens up. And I'll try to get an update on him as OTAs open next week.
I like the Rams statement made at the draft in the 1st round. It says physicality. The Oline is deep and versatile and they are gonna pound the rock, but at some point they are going to have to throw it. I think the Rams are riddled with 2nd and 3rd rate WRs do you think that Schotty can be effective in his playcall with this group?
If the run game is effective, I believe the Rams can be successful using play action. That's the whole point. Your point is fair, though. They don't have to reignite the Greatest Show but the receiving corps has to be good enough to get the job done when opportunities arise.
I thought McLeod was a weak spot in the defense last year. I like his versatility in nickel and dime (although the nickel and dime CBs seem to have just been drafted), but Mo Alexander seems to be another TJ McDonald type. How do you see FS shaking out?
As I've been saying for a few weeks, I think McLeod is back in the safety role for the time being. But Alexander might be the guy they view as the long term solution. We'll see how it goes but I tend to think McLeod keeps his job for now.
I am sure you saw the highlight film of Diontae Spencer. He looks very exciting , a clone of Tavon Austin. I don't know if they would keep him just for a return man, but he looks electrifying. Before OTA's what do you think of his chances of making the team.
Probably not very good.
Hello Nick, Sure is nice being part of a Nick Wagoner Rams chat again. When it comes to our defense our front 7 can be potentially be one of the best if not the best front 7 in NFL within the year or even next year. But the lack of experience in the secondary worries me. What makes me nervous the most is that only 2 of projected starters in the secondary are over 6 foot tall. To me the lack in size could be a real hindrance. Am I being to much of a worry wart?
I don't know if it's the size you should be worried about but I do think worrying about the secondary is certainly fair. It wasn't very good last season, plain and simple. A dominant front should help that group and so should Williams as DC but until it proves itself, it's an area of concern.
How is Garret Gilbert looking???
I'll let you know next week.
Hey Nick, how do you feel about the Rams offensive line. It seems there has been an effort to improve the quality and depth. I am still a little concerned about the health of Long and will he be back and ready to go by the first game as has been indicated by Fisher? and do you feel Barrett Jones ready to compete for some playing time at guard or Center?
Good questions, all, Wayne. I think the line has the potential to be a team strength but depth has to be a concern. And injuries were an issue going into last year and it played out that way during the season.
In the past few weeks, have their been any additional cuts that we might not know about?
Only ones of note are Jermelle Cudjo and Daryl Richardson. But you probably knew those already.
I don't think fans appreciate how difficult it is to play wide receiver in the NFL. Route responsibilities, reads and options can be really complex. I assume the Rams believe B. Quick has the physical tools to be a good wide receiver. What is your read on whether he can "get" all the other stuff? To me Quick is the one guy with the (unknown) potential upside to make a big difference in the offense this year.
Your point is entirely valid. Quick strikes me as a smart guy who wants to learn but has had a steeper learning curve than others in part because of where he played and some other factors. I think he can "get it" because I've seen him dazzle on the practice field. But I've said it many times, it's a matter of consistency with him. He needs to bring the same thing every day. When he does, that's when we'll know he "gets it."
Who do you see as the starting 5 on the o-line to start the year?
Long, Robinson, Wells, Saffold, Barksdale. If Long can't go, then kick Robinson or Saffold out to LT and insert Joseph. That's my best guess right now.
Would Fisher and Snead be willing to make a RGIII-like deal (hopefully for less picks) to move up next year and grab one of the top QBs if Bradford falls short this year... Or would they be more likely to stay put and see what falls to them?
If they decide to move on from Bradford after the season (which would mean he REALLY struggled this year) then they'd probably have to make a big deal to move up to get a QB. Thing is, even if the Rams struggle at the QB position, Fisher teams have a knack for finding their way near .500.
We talk constantly about the named Wide Receivers but fill us in on Veltung and Emory... do they have a future here.
Veltung has had some impressive moments on the practice field, acrobatic catches and good return skills. Blake is more of a chain-mover type. Probably going to be hard for either to crack the 53.
With the signing of Joseph, where are the Rams on their cap? Might there still be a veteran like Dunbar or Wells cut before the end of August?
They're fine under the cap. Again, they could make a move but they don't have anything pressing at this point.
What are the chances Quinn's sack numbers go up this year considering teams might attempt more passes this year than last year.I think it's possible because often last year we had to play from behind and teams were willing to eat up clock running the ball rather than actually being in tight games or even trailing, which supposedly is more apt to happen this year with Bradford returning
That's a good point, too, though I expect Quinn to take a small step back because he'll get more attention. (By small step, I mean closer to 16-17 sacks instead of 19). But you're right, if the Rams get some leads or play closer games on a consistent basis, they'll have more chances to rush the passer. And with the talent around Quinn, teams will have to pick their poison.
What do you think of all the hype about the Rams having the best D line in the NFL when you consider that we are only average at best against the run? Greg Williams needs to shore that up...
The Rams were better than average against the run as the season wore on. Problem was, when they were bad, they were awful. Like the Dallas game, the first San Fran game and the Tennessee game. But I do think the Rams have the pieces to be the best D-line in the game, especially when it's one through eight. Plus, I believe many of their issues against the run were more on the back seven than the front four in those aforementioned games.
The Rams have had a lot of media attention this offseason, first was the promotion to guess the sked, then there was more for drafting Sam. Do you see any benefits or drawbacks from al the media coverage around the Rams?
I think they're equipped to handle it because they have a veteran coach and veteran leaders. But offseason attention is easier to handle than in-season attention. Here's what would be interesting to see: how this group handles some real, actual success. What if, for instance, the Rams started the season 3-0? That would be intriguing to see how such a young team handles its first real taste of being a contender.
Assuming Scott Wells is the starting center, who is the backup?
Battle between Barnes, Jones and Rhaney. I believe the Rams would like it to be Jones but only time will tell.
Do you think Arizona benefited from the last place schedule last year? Much like the way STL did in 2010 and 2012. AZ's Defense will be good, but the offense is suspect. I just not sure I get all the love radiating from them.
I don't think it hurt them but they did go to Seattle and win which makes me think it was less of a fluke. Losing Washington for the season is a huge blow. And I wonder how much longer Carson Palmer holds up. I do think the Rams can surpass them in the West.
Given how much the dodgers and clippers have been sold for, how much would an la nfl team be worth?
Probably in the same range, the $2 billion area depending on the stadium situation. Here's the difference to remember, though: the NBA and MLB allow for local TV revenues. That's how the Angels and Dodgers have so much money and are valued so high. The NFL doesn't have that but it's the NFL so teams are worth a whole lot of money, too.
Hey Nick, So if Mo Alexander forces himself into the starting lineup and brockers continues developing into a very good player and pretty much everything working out on the team (no major injuries and all players either play up to potential or make serious strides toward it) do you see this being a 12 win team next year? Because I do.
If everything works out? That's a big ask. I think it's a playoff team if everything works out. But I don't think everything works out. It never does.
Nick what do you think the Rams team would look like with out all of the draft picks from Washington ?
Well, you know the players they got from Washington in the trade so subtract those players from the roster and there you are. Needless to say, it wouldn't be as good on paper.
What NFL Team does the Rams Open the Regular Season with?
The St. Louis Rams Football Club opens at the Edward Jones Dome against the Minnesota Vikings Football Club on September 7, 2014.
If you could plug and play any non NFC W into the rams line up before training camp who would it be?
I assume you mean player? Calvin Johnson is my answer.
What if anything does it say about Chase Reynolds that the Rams kept him and let Richardson go? If they were doing Richardson and Cudjo a courtesy by cutting them in plenty of time for them to get into another camp, why not Reynolds?
It says they value Chase Reynolds on special teams.
With big wins against New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts with no Sam Bradford, do you think the Rams can replicate big time wins of non-division games with Sam? Do you believe he will also add more wins for division games?
I actually do, Jordon. I think the Rams will fare better against, for example, the AFC West than many anticipate. The Rams have done well in the division with Bradford in the lineup but I'm not sure how much difference he would've made in those three road losses to close the season last year. Hopefully we'll get to find out this year.
Nick, you do a great job of covering the Rams. What player besides Bradford has the most to prove this year in order to maintain a starting spot? Also, could you see Tre Mason taking over the starting position from Zac Stacy? I know Fisher likes two running backs, but I wonder if Mason could do so well that he replaces Stacy
Hmmm, first question is a tough one. Let's go with Rodney McLeod. I think the pressure is on him to step forward with Alexander possibly waiting in the wings. I think there's a possibility Mason eventually takes over but it's more on Stacy's health than anything. If Stacy continues to battle nagging injuries, I could see Mason stepping in and never looking back. Otherwise, I think they work in tandem and Cunningham gets some chances, too.
Hey Nick. I know Jenks, Tru and Joyner are locks at corner. But what are your thoughts on who else is gonna make it at corner? When I did my depth chart I had the depth looking like Gaines and Roberson. McGee and Reid are talented but noteveryone can make it. Is it possible we keep one on the practice squad? Reid maybe. Thoughts? Thanks.
Yes, they'll keep one on practice squad. I can't predict who is going to make it at corner right now. I haven't seen Gaines, Roberson or Reid on an NFL field. You'd think McGee would have the upper hand given that he has at least a little experience but that's no guarantee.
Do you think the signing of Davin Joseph indicates that Jake Long is not healing as fast as they hoped and there is a chance Robinson starts the season at LT after all?
I don't think it means that. But I do think it gives them insurance in case that does play out that way. And yes, if Long can't go, I think Robinson will be considered as the LT before Saffold. The Rams really want to commit to Saffold as a guard considering how well he played there last year.
If one of the receivers plays poorly in the first four games, do you see them being cut to make space for Stedman Bailey?
Well, they might do that even if one doesn't play poorly. They might carry an extra WR knowing that he's coming back and then make the roster move. They're going to have to make a roster move to bring Bailey back one way or another.
Where would you rank Quinn in YOUR top 100 current players list?
I haven't really given it that much thought but I can safely say he'd be in the top 10, probably closer to the 5-7 range.
Is QB Sam Bradford fully healthy now or is he not expected to be that way until around training camp time?
He's not "fully" healthy but he's well on his way. He's going to do some stuff in OTAs and should be closer to full strength around training camp.
where do you think Joyner will be primarily used? I'm a big fan of using him at the other open safety spot, didnt know if he was in the running for that gig.
I've written and said it many times: Fisher views him primarily as the nickel corner.
Will there be pressure from outside sources( NFL, media) to make sure Sam makes the roster?
No. At least none that will matter.
Is the franchise QB that can get them over the top on their current roster?
It depends on whether you think Bradford is that guy or not. If not, then the answer is no. To me, they can win with Bradford. But I still need to see him healthy and productive for 16 games before I'd commit to him.
I've looked at this draft so many different ways. And I'm thinking the Rams made the correct choices in the first round. I personally don't believe the Rams could do enough in this draft to catch the 49ers or Seattle. I think it would have been counterproductive to just give up on Bradford (it just doesn't make enough sense) although it might have been the right choice. But wouldn't it be enough of a success for the Rams to come out of this draft with solid blocks on the offensive and defensive line. I'm not one who believes the Rams offensive line is solid. I believe the offensive line is a work in progress and Robinson has to be major player for them to move forward. I think they had no choice but to take one of those tackles, that was absolutely necessary. And Donald is a solid block for the future. Now my specific question..................if both Robinson and Donald become solid players, guys who have a real future............and the Rams still hare a .500 team..........will this go down as a successful draft ? Possibly as a process toward getting closer to the divisions top teams ?
Sure. You base the draft on what return you get from the players over the course of time not the team's record in the first year. If Robinson and Donald are true building blocks that's the start of a good draft. If you get more productive starters in rounds after that, even better.
I have a general draft question. Tom Savage. Ok, he seemed to come out of nowhere and people were talking about him. In watching the Pitt tape. I'm wondering is it possible with all the teams being interested in Donald, and all the scouts watching his work, is that why Savage began to get noticed. I myself though he looked really good after watching Donald. Its almost like you're saying the two guys who stand out in this game are Savage and Donald. Savage reminds me of Kyle Orton, the ball just naturally comes out of his hand.............I don't I'm just wondering........do you think that the interest in Donald led to the interest in Savage..........I don't know ?
I tend to doubt it. Teams have enough scouts that they watch everyone. And generally, they sit down and are focused on a guy or two. Also, different scouts do a lot of position specific scouting so the guy watching Donald might not see any quarterbacks other than the ones Donald was chasing.
Is it possible the Rams could trade for Andre Johnson?
If E.J Gaines makes the roster, do you think we will line him up against Mike Evans when we play Tampa?
Does the offensive personnel fit the coaches and vise versa?
I think it does, considering what we've seen.
Austin Davis. You spoke about him this week. He's one of the most interesting players on the team to me. Although I guess he is a bubble player for sure. He looked really good his first year in pre-season. Then last year he also looked decent. Then was released (which turned out to be the right move). But, my question with the late choice in the draft of a Qb instead of an early one. And possibly last year's cut of Davis (maybe that was a tough choice). And it seems everyone he's associated with in his past seems to rave about the guy. I"m thinking maybe he has a real chance to be a Ram this season,,,,,and maybe even possibly to be a starter.............is any of this possible or is he just a body in camp. I like the guy alot and hope he gets a real chance.
Austin Davis wouldn't have been a Ram last year if not for the injury to Bradford. He simply didn't take the steps forward they'd hoped he would from year one to year two. And he really struggled in preseason and camp last year. At best, he's probably got an uphill climb to stick around.
If Bradford (or the offense in general) struggles this year... Is Schottenheimer likely to leave? He has yet to do anything to impress me as a coordinator
If the offense struggles and the defense plays very well, you'd have to think most of the key parts on that side of the ball -- players and coaches -- are put under the microscope with the heat turned up.
Wouldn't Ed Reed be a good player to bring in and help a young secondary develop while also contributing on the field?
No, he wouldn't. Not as a player anyway.
Nick, just wanted to say you really hit the nail on the head with LaMarcus Joyner. That being said there seems to be a real logjam of talent on the CB side of things (WR too for that matter). Not counting Joyner, Tru and Jenkins, who do you see making the team between Gaines, Reid, Roberson and McGee? Go ahead and throw in your opinion about who makes it out of the Wideouts too if you don't mind. Thanks Nick
I'll have to get back to you on that since I haven't seen that many of them actually play yet. I'm sure the Rams would love it if that turned out to be a logjam of talent.
Wow! Daryl Washington just got suspended for the entire year! How much do you think that hurts Arizona's chances to improve. Great player to make up for.
It hurts them a lot. The Cardinals have some serious questions moving forward and replacing Washington is at the top of the list.
The idea that they can pick a top hundred players. To me thats insulting. I just wish they didn't do it. I wish they never came up with the idea. I can see a top ten or something like that. But I mean who can truly pick who the 99th best player in football really is, and who cares ?//...............Any thoughts ?
I hear you and none of the lists are definitive but I don't think it really does any harm. The offseason is long and what's wrong with a fun little debate? Just don't take it too seriously and take it for what it is.
Do you think Mason can recognize and execute his blocking assignments this season?
It would go a long way toward earning him playing time.
Washington suspended for the season in AZ. Davis not showing up to OTA's. Will these types of things help us improve our NFC West standings?
They don't hurt.
Is Steven Jackson a future hall of famer?... Because he should be considering what he accomplished on those teams
At this point, I think the answer is no. If he can rebound and have some success this year, he can elbow his way into the conversation. But right now, I think he'd come up short.
Will the rams have more non starting OL players on the roster or more non starting defensive backs?
It'll be close. I wouldn't be shocked if they had five of each.
What do you think the media backlash would be on the Rams if Michel Sam just doesnt work out and is cut... Also do you think he has a shot at making the team?... Personal opinion, he has the potential to be a good situational pass rusher, but a year on the practice squad and in the weight room couldn't hurt
Yes, he has the potential to make the team. It's far from guaranteed but the Rams carrying a 9th defensive lineman would be nothing new. He needs to show he can chip in on special teams. Also, I don't think the sports media would have much backlash if he's cut. The ones to wonder about are those who don't cover the league or have an understanding of the simple fact that there's nothing guaranteed to a seventh round pick in terms of making the roster.
How many other things could you be doing right now instead of answering pre-pre-season questions about backup centers?
At least a couple. It's OK. Vacation is coming soon. And at least next week we'll actually have OTAs to talk about.
Am I the only one who feels a sense of urgency regarding the lack of a veteran in the secondary?
If we beat our divisional rivals at least once and at least two from AFC West, I think we stand a good chance of making the play-offs. Where do you think the key match-ups will be to make a push for the play-offs?
That would be five wins and probably put the Rams in a good spot. They have to handle business against the other teams in the NFC who finished at the bottom of their divisions: the Giants, the Bucs, the Vikings. Those are important games. They can't afford losses like they had last year against Tennessee, especially at home.
Nick,I saw someone ask a HOF question. Torry Holt's status has bugged me for years. I feel like he was one of the most underrated players i can remember. He had records that Jerry Rice didnt. Fastest to 10K yards, most yards in a single decade, etc. WR is a tough position concerning the HOF.
It is going to be a tough one to crack but I think, eventually, Holt and Bruce both get in. Bruce has the longevity and the big play in the Super Bowl which should get him in a little earlier. But if you go on numbers, Holt was one of the two best WRs for an entire decade. He'll eventually get there.
I have a suspicious feeling that SF will be imploding soon. There were already hints of an uneasy relationship between coach and front office. Now you have Crabtree, Boldin, Davis, and Johnson all hoping for enough passes to keep them happy. Will there be enough carries for Gore, Latimore, Hyde? What will happen next with Aldon Smith? Boone unhappy and wants new contract. Seems like a lot going on over in SF and I expect the team to fall apart in the next season or so. Your thoughts?
They definitely have a lot to manage. The front office/coach relationship is the biggest thing to me. That can rip up championship dreams faster than anything.
That's going to do it for today. Thanks to all for joining us. Back next week with actual information from actual OTAs. Talk then.