Good afternoon, everyone. Hope you're all having a great week and ready for the weekend. Let's get to it.
After watching OTA's, is there any indication that any of the Ram's young wide-outs are ready to step up and become a true #1 receiver?
I'm not going to make any sweeping proclamations about any position based on OTAs when guys are running around in jerseys and shorts with no pads. This time of year is best to see how young guys or new guys are transitioning to the team and catch up with those coming back from injury to see where they are in rehab. The receiver group had some really nice moments in camp, from guys like Britt and Givens on down to someone like Emory Blake. But in the grand scheme, it doesn't mean a whole lot.
hey there nick. if bradford plays 16 games and has above average numbers, yet not elite by any means, for how much money (range?) do you think he'd be extended?
The going rate for an average quarterback is still pretty high and you have to factor what he's been paid in the past. I'd think he'd be in the $15 million range on an annual basis depending on how well he plays. Jay Cutler's contract would be a likely baseline, I'd think. Again, that's based on him playing well enough for the Rams to want to do an extension.
Nick, BleacherReport articles keep singing the praises of Brian Quick. Do you think his stock is rising?
Brian Schottenheimer said he was the most improved player in camp. He definitely had some good moments. But that's nothing new, either. Quick has always showed great promise in practice. It's about doing it in games. Let's see where he's at when the real stuff begins.
Favorite NFC west city to visit?
Hmm, good question. I really like all three of them in their own way. Big fan of the Scottsdale area and San Francisco also has some really cool spots. But I have to go with Seattle. It's always going to be a special place for me because I had family there growing up and used to go out there to visit. But even now, I enjoy going there and seeing all it has to offer.
Referencing a Nelly song on rams winning the division.... What does it take to be number 1 cuz 2 is not a number and three no one remembers
I'm not sure there's really a question here but I appreciate a solid Nelly reference wherever you can find one. For the Rams to win the division, they'll need the defense to deliver on all of its promise, an offense that can be as balanced as it wants to be, a lot of injury luck and a lot of young players to take big steps forward. Especially that last part.
First I just want to say thank you for taking all of these rams questions its awesome being able to have some rams news in the off season. My question is who do u think is the better overall rams corner? Johnson or Jenkins? From all the games I saw last year Johnson outplayed Jenkins even though he is considered better. What do u think?
Interesting question and a difficult one to answer. I think Jenkins has accomplished more but he's also more of a risk taker. You could argue that Johnson's ceiling is as high based on raw talent. I'd still tend to lean to Jenkins because of the play making ability but he needs to become more consistent and not allow the big plays that cancel out the ones he makes.
How's Lamarcus Joyner doing? We haven't heard much from him.
He's doing well. Working with the second team in the nickel mostly though he's also gotten some work in that role with the 1s and some work at safety with the backups (mostly because of injuries to other safeties). I still expect him to be the nickel back when the season starts but we'll see how he does in camp in overtaking McGee.
Best offseason pickup.... Greg Williams Aaron Donald or Greg Robinson
Will probably be a different answer in the long term but as we sit here right now, Gregg Williams is probably going to be the short term answer.
Do you expect Kenny Britt to be a starting receiver?
Hard to say but if the season started today, I'd think some combination of Givens, Britt and Austin would get the first crack at the receiver spots. But a long way to go.
Of the 4 guys drafted in the 7th round, which one do you think has the best chance of making the final roster?
It's going to be tough for all of them, honestly. Bryant is the one that plays the position that would seem to have the most open competition but hard to project him as having a good chance since he's been hurt and hasn't played at all since he arrived in STL. If not him, then Michael Sam would be next best guess but I'd venture that the odds are against all four.
After watching the ota's is there any area of the team that u feel better about than you did going in?
Not really. And the opposite is true, too. OTAs have their purpose and there's things that can be gleaned from watching them but there's nothing roster or season altering that takes place with limited contact and no pads. Don't get me wrong, you can see if an injured player is making progress or if someone is in better shape or earning more reps with the first team but it's really hard to take too much from them.
I think Given's slump last year was not only because without Bradford there were no long balls, but mainly because he was the No. 1 receiver. If Britt or someone else draws that attention from defenses he should have a good year, he just can not handle the top d back, What do you think?
There were a lot of things that contributed to Givens not taking the step forward that was expected, some out of his control and some that were in it. It's not just the absence of an accurate deep ball thrower or another wideout to take the pressure off. He battled injury issues for much of the season and he struggled to improve his route running. And, at times, he didn't put forth the effort he needed to on contested balls. In talking to him, he sounds like someone who knows what needs to be done to succeed. We'll see if he can do those things.
How would you describe Snead and Fisher's personalities when not being formal to the media? They really seem like people you would want to get a beer with.
I think that's probably a fair assessment. They're pretty different personality wise but seem to complement each other well.
Nick, thanks for the excellent work you do covering the Rams. As a die hard fan, your coverage of the team is the most comprehensive and timely that I can remember. Two questions 1) With the remaining cap, which position group do you see Snisher adding veteran depth to for training camp? (My guess OLB or Safety). 2) Based on the little info you can gleam from OTA's, which player surprised you, either positively or negatively?
1. As of now, they don't seem to be in a hurry to do anything else in terms of vets and they will need some cap space to get through the season with injuries and such. If they do, I think the two positions you name would make the most sense, especially a veteran linebacker. 2. I don't know if it's a surprise but I thought Ray Ray Armstrong looked much more comfortable and confident in the defense during the OTAs. That's before he missed the last couple practices of course. But I think he's someone to keep an eye on as we head to camp and into the regular season.
Do you think Pace, Faulk, Warner, Bruce, and Holt will all make the Hall of Fame?
Well, Faulk is already in so you can mark that one off. I think Warner and Pace will definitely get in, even if it's not right away. Bruce and Holt are tougher cases just because of the potential glut of receivers that's only going to increase the next few years. I think both should get in and they probably will eventually but I'd feel more confident in Warner and Pace before the two wideouts. If I had a vote, I'd vote yes for all four (not in the same year necessarily but within a reasonable amount of time).
How many QBs do you expect the Rams to keep? Do you think Gilbert has the edge over Austin Davis?
It could go either way depending on how preseason goes. If neither Davis nor Gilbert shows much, I could see the Rams keeping two and then putting Gilbert on the practice squad. If Gilbert plays well in the preseason, I think they keep all three. But I do think Davis would have to really surprise to make it.
Hi, Nick. A couple weeks ago (June 5th) you mentioned the Pro Football Focus rankings had the Rams way down at 31 largely due to a lack of above average players according to their ranking system. You mention that Quinn is (obviously) elite, and that there are only 4 other players that rank as "high quality" or "good starter". For those of us that aren't insiders, can you reveal (as some of your fellow bloggers have) exactly who else ranks as above average in their eyes?I would have expected our "average" LBs to be there, but they weren't. Can I assume Long, Long, and... hmmm... maybe Saffold? While I would love to hope that SB does, I can't imagine that being the case... Maybe Jenkins? Just been kinda nagging at me for a while and I was hoping you could elucidate. Thanks!
Sure. They had Quinn as "elite." Jake Long was deemed a "high quality starter" and C. Long, Barksdale and Saffold were labeled "good starters."
I know it's hard to know about linemen from OTA's, but do you hear good things about B. jones? I'd sure love it if this line came together as expected, then added pro bowl talent in Jones. But it's hard to know much since he's been shelved.
Well, it's especially difficult to judge linemen in OTAs without pads but Jones definitely has done the work to change his body and looks much more prepared to contribute at this level. He also got some work with the first team so the Rams clearly have some faith in his future. Here's what I wrote about him earlier in OTAs: http://espn.go.com/blog/st-louis-rams/post/_/id/9080/barrett-jones-healthy-and-ready-to-compete
Do you think Tavon Austin will have a bigger/better role in the offense this year?
Yes. I expect him to be used more like he was toward the end of the year, moving around and lining up inside and out similar to how Philadelphia used DeSean Jackson. Wouldn't be shocked to see him out of the backfield more, too.
Any possibility Mason overtakes Stacy or even Cunningham? 70/30 stacy/mason?
A possibility? Sure. But I still am not fully buying this competition for starting RB discussion quite yet. Mason looks good in practice but from conversations I've had, the Rams want to see a lot more from him in terms of understanding of pass blocking and blitz pickup. I wouldn't be shocked if he's involved in the offense quite a bit. And Cunningham and Pead could factor as well. It's also worth remembering that Stacy struggled with nagging injuries last year. If he does so again, someone could take his carries and never look back.
The Rams have a lot of depth at defensive back. A lot of it is unproven, but there seems to be some decent potential in several players there. Between Daniels, Davis, McGee, Reid, Gaines, Bryant, and Roberson, which three would you give the best shot to make the 53?
That's going to be a really tough projection. I think McGee is probably in good shape. Add him to Jenkins, Johnson and Joyner and the team probably keeps one or two more corners. Safety is really anybody's guess though I think Davis is probably in pretty good shape.
Nick, I saw your debate about Warner making the HOF, I had the same debate with some of my mate in the US. What swayed me was the fact he had the best 3 statistical games in the SB of any QB, that cherry on the cake I think
It's an interesting discussion because the body of work is so small. To me, it always comes back to what the Hall of Fame should be about. I think it should be a living history of the game. In other words, you should be able to walk through the Hall of Fame and come out of there feeling like you have seen all the high points of the game. Kurt Warner's story is too integral to that story to be left out, in my opinion. And while the sample size is small, taking a second previously moribund franchise to the Super Bowl should seal the deal.
Nick, I've not been to the Rams' outdoor practice facility, but plan to visit preseason training in Earth City this August. I was watching a video on the Rams' website of Zac Stacey (microphone attached) working out and talking with his teammates. I was shocked to see the "grass" he was running on was next to non-existent! Where's the lush grass for our Rams to practice on? That ground looked like the dirt portion of a baseball field. It looked to be mostly dirt, with only bits of grassy stubble. What's up?
It's kind of common procedure at this time of year. Part of the problem is we got hit with summer temperatures a little earlier than expected this year. But usually after OTAs, they pretty much start from scratch and grown new stuff for training camp. The wear and tear in OTAs is why it looked how it looked but it won't look that way in training camp.
Have a Grand Vacation, Nick! Well deserved. So... back in your days at the Rams' website, you'd fill us in on what music you were listening to, as you typed out your daily piece. I won't ask who's playing in the background, but I would be interested in WHERE & HOW you plan to spend you vacation time!
I won't disclose my destination but let's just say there will be plenty of time spent on one of the most pristine beaches in the world mixed with some outstanding scuba diving.
Does Ray Ray have the size and strength to be a traditional strong side linebacker, or is his style a clone of Ogletree? I would have loved it if Fisher had drafted Bobby Wagner rather than Pead and Watkins...but at least he and Snead seemed to have learned something from their mistake. Meanwhile, I don't think we have an outside linebacker who can really shed blocks. Your thoughts?
I'm not sure there really is a prototype strong side linebacker anymore. Teams want more athleticism at all LB spots these days because TEs are more athletic. I'm not sure Armstrong will push for a starting spot this year but I wouldn't be surprised to see him find his way on to the field on defense more this year.
You think cook will be the leading receiver again in terms of yards?
It wouldn't surprise me.
Do you think the rams will add another veteran Wide Receiver?
Barring injury, no.
Do you you think our offensive line should be better than the other teams in our division and possibly one of the best in the NFL? We have 3 potential pro bowlers in Saffold, Robinson, and Long if healthy, and Barksdale was very good last year, especially against good player like JJ Watt. Does any other team in our division or league have 3 potential pro bowl lineman?
Well, San Francisco's is pretty darn good when healthy too. But to answer your question, if the Rams OL can stay healthy (a big if at this point) and Robinson and Barksdale can continue to develop then yes, it can be one of the better groups around.
Has Brian Quick really showed great progress or is it just hype? I am a huge Rams fan and I like Quick and I really want him to do well, I want him to explode on the scene this year and quiet all of his critics.
As I mentioned earlier, he's had some good moments. But it's not like he's never had good moments in practice. I'd imagine that most people want to see him translate it to games consistently before buying into the hype.
What are the chances Greg Reid makes the team or practice squad?
Still think it'll be an uphill climb for him to make the roster though it's not impossible. Practice squad might be more realistic.
My primary concern for the Rams is the big three contracts, C. Long, JL55 and Bradford. Bradford is in somewhat of a "prove it" contract situation, but Laurinaitis and Long seem simultaneously spendy and vital. As you pointed out in your Cap article, Rams spend more on Long alone than the NFL spends on the position.
Well, I don't think it's much of an issue because, as we sit here right now, what has it really cost them? Long and Laurinaitis have been good, productive players. And both of them have cap numbers that reduce in the next two years (especially in the case of Laurinaitis). Bradford's contract is really nobody's fault, it was the going rate for a No. 1 overall pick at the time. Have the Rams got the return on that investment? No. But as you point out, the Rams have the ability to move on from him soon without paying much dead money soon enough if he doesn't take the next step or stay healthy in 2014.
Hey Nick, whats up with Brockers? He wasn't participating during OTAs. Is he going to be alright for training camp? That's a huge blow to our defensive line if he isn't there to clog up the running lanes. Thanks..
Was told it's an ankle sprain but don't think it's anything too serious. He hasn't been in a walking boot or anything. I expect him to be fine to start camp.
If Quick, Britt, Bailey, and Austin are all looking better and have a better understanding of the offensive this year, why are we so worried about if we are gonna have good enough receivers? That could and should end up being a pretty decent group for Bradford to throw too....we have size, speed, and Britt brings the competitiveness.
My guess would be because everything you reference is based on words and offseason practices without pads and nothing to do with actual production in actual games. Don't you think it's fair to be skeptical of a group until it proves itself? There's talent there, nobody denies that, but let's see them produce first. And, as I wrote the other day, the Rams aren't asking them to light the world on fire. They just need to make the most of the opportunities they get.
It seems like everything I read says all these positive things about how the Rams are improving, but that they still aren't gonna be as good as the other teams in the division. Don't you think it would be good for us to be more optimistic and expect them to be better than the other teams? People often only rise to the standard that is set for them and no matter what players say, I believe most of them read what is written about the team. To me, they should be better than the other teams this year. From what I've read, they should and will be better in every area of the defense and offensive and all the other teams in our division have regressed due to injury, suspensions, and personnel loses. Even 3-4 of our receivers are looking a lot better so far. How about some confidence and raising the standard for these guys?
Good for who? The fans? I'm not sure I understand the question. The standard for this team or any other isn't set by the fans or the media. It's set by the team itself. And best I can tell, the standard they've set for themselves is to take that step forward and be a playoff team in 2014. But I also understand and agree with those who want to wait and see before believing this team is going to reach that standard.
Good day, Nick! Happy Friday! Any concern from the Rams staff about some rookies not participating in OTAs due to injuries. I'm thinking of Alexander and Bryant being sidelined. I'm hopeful that there development is not hindered too much by this "downtime". Your thoughts?Thanks
It's a shame they missed that time and it could keep Alexander from contributing to the defense for a while and possibly make it harder for Bryant to make the roster. Fisher said yesterday he thinks all the injured guys except J. Long and possibly Bryant will be ready to go in camp. If, for some reason, Alexander also misses early time, it's going to be tough for him to help out early on, too.
What would the Rams do in a best case scenario : Robinson proves he is capable of pass protecting and starting at LT and Long rebounds from his ACL and plays at a pro bowl level?
Well, Robinson probably isn't going to get enough reps at LT to prove that. At least not based on what he told me about the amount of work he expects to get there in camp. Either way, if Long is healthy and productive, he's the LT in 2014.
What's the big deal with Klay Thompson. Excellent 3 pt shooter that defends well. Not a great passer or rebounder and does not create fouls. Has not increase his 14 PER in 3 years.
This is probably in the wrong chat, Sean but I love talking hoops whenever I can. And frankly, I agree with you. Thompson is an excellent spot up shooter but doesn't bring much else to the table. If he's the final chip the Warriors have to give up to get Kevin Love, I think you do it in a heartbeat. A top three of Curry, Love and Iguodala looks pretty good to me.
Hi Nick, it seemed to me that Stedman Baily had the Best hands on the team when I seen him play. When given the chance, he did produce. Can this be the next Wes Welker type guy for the Rams? Except not drop passes on the SuperBowl to cost his team :-)
Too early to put that kind of expectation on him. I was impressed with how he finished the year and he's had some impressive grabs in OTAs as well. His suspension is a real blow because I thought he'd done enough to earn a shot at a starting job in 2014. He'll have to play catch up a bit when he returns. But in terms of hands and route running, he has a nice upside.
Is there a way the rams can fit brandon flowers in our cap?solid corner for our scheme n adds even more depyh n competition
I don't think the Rams are going to be players in that bidding.
Davin Joseph was signed on the 28th May and its my understanding his signing will be included in the compensatory pick formulation next year. Why didn't the Rams wait the 3 days until he was classed as a street free agent?
Why would his signing be included in the compensatory formula? Tampa Bay released him, he wasn't a free agent. I'll have to double check on that next year but it'd be strange if that's the case.
What is the nature of Alexander's injury and when is he expected back?
Again, just a knee scope (cleanup). Fisher indicated he'll be ready to go at the start of training camp.
Please give Sam some music tips. He said he likes country and rock. Tell him about Wale and K Lamar please and thanks
Ha. To each their own, man. Part of what makes our country great.
In a press conference Brian Schpttenheimer made the comment that Aaron Donald has his vote already for rookie of the year. What can you tell us about Donald's performance in OTA's? Did you see what Schottenheimer was impressed with?
I can tell you that he wasn't wearing pads and we didn't get to see much that would allow us to make much determination on the production of any linemen on either side of the ball. One thing I did notice about Donald was that he seemed constantly engaged in what was going on out on the field. Even when he wasn't in on a play, he seemed locked in and willing to ask questions. I heard a lot about his work ethic leading up to draft and it seems all of it was true.
Chances we have a 1000 yard receiver and who
My guess is that there won't be but if there is going to be, I'd probably guess Givens and Austin in that order as most likely to do it.
Aaron Donald doesn't get talked about a lot. With Brockers, Quinn, and Long already dominating on the d-line, what are your expectations for Donald's rookie season?
I could see him getting seven or eight sacks as a rookie. I think he'll work on sub package stuff a lot early on, coming in on passing downs. He should be able to do some damage there right away given his polish.
It do look like Greg William will push our defense.. He may push our good players to be great and great to be elite... Can't say the same about offense but I think we would be in better shape than last year. Your thoughts?
The expectations for Williams' defense are high. And rightfully so. He has a lot of good pieces in place. I do think he'll help that group reach top 10ish status. If he gets them further up that list, it means the Rams are probably really contending.
Hi Nick,should we be happy about the standout performance of Kenny Britt in OTAs? I mean, he excelled among WRs and beat the corners. But considering his lack of production lately, there's a different read on it. Even a Kenny Britt can excell among WRs and even a Kenny Britt can beat the Rams' starting DBs. Is the glass half full or half empty?
You should be happy that he's running well enough and appears healthy enough to make some of the plays that he's made. In terms of extrapolating that to what he could do in real games, I'd say proceed with caution. Also, don't judge the DBs based on that either. They don't have pads on and can't really put their hands on receivers in OTAs.
Hey nick thanks for all you do covering the rams! Is there any indication of how the rookies, especially the top draft picks, are adjusting to nfl level schemes and the playbooks?
From talking to them, they sound like they're coming along fine. If you saw what I wrote on Greg Robinson yesterday, he was very forthcoming that his adjustment is coming along slowly and is a work in progress. That's probably true for all of them but some have more to learn than others, too.
Who is the Ray Ray, Benny Cunningham, or Daren Bates of this year's rookie class? Will Pead play offense?
Some undrafted rookies I'll keep an eye on -- and for the next few weeks, I'll have little bios on the undrafted rookies on the blog for you to peruse -- include DT Ethan Westbrooks, LB Tavarius Wilson, CB Marcus Roberson and TE Alex Bayer.
Dear NickDid the Rams honor Deacon Jones last year?
Yes, they wore decals on their helmets in his honor.
Hi Nick, add to the debate in the 49ers-Seahawks rivalry. Who do you take? More physically gifted Kaepernick, or more mentally gifted Wilson? More strategic Harbaugh, or more "team togetherness" Carroll? Better roster? 49ers have a better collection of individual talent hands down, in my opinion, but since you like basketball talk, Seattle seems to have that Spurs "The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts" feeling to them. Just curious to a divisional rival's opinion. Thanks!
Interesting question and perspective, Joey. From what I see when I watch both, I'd go with Wilson over Kapernick. Kaepernick is incredibly talented, I'm not taking anything away from him but Wilson has a certain "It" factor about him that's too good to ignore. And the stories of his work ethic are reaching mythic proportions already. As for coaching, again, both are outstanding but I think I'd go with Carroll. I'll admit a bit of bias toward Carroll though because I prefer his approach. He doesn't treat everything like a state secret and has proved that you can be open and embrace attention and still win. Harbaugh does great work, too, but it's hard to overlook Carroll's ability to cultivate an environment where so many lesser known players develop into major contributors. On the roster, I agree with you. I think from 1 to 53 the Niners have a better roster. Heck, they basically use injured reserve as a farm system for talented draft picks. And Seattle took some hits to its depth in the offseason as well. Either way, it's hard for me to see either team having any sort of major drop off. Those two teams set the standard for the league right now in my opinion, not just in the NFC West but the league at large.
Well, that's going to do it for today. Thanks to all of you for participating. The chat will be taking a summer hiatus for the next few weeks but return in time for the start of training camp. Talk to you all then.