Monday, July 23, 2007

How Fast Can Bennett & McMichael Be Incoorperated?

By Nick Wagoner

How fast can Drew Bennett and Randy McMichael incorporate into the offense?

While most fans and football analysts expected the Rams to jump headfirst into the free agent market in search of defensive help, the team was actually investigating ways to improve an already talented offense.

After most of the top defensive players were either franchised or re-signed with their teams, the Rams wasted no time finding a couple of pieces to add to their stable of skill position players.

As Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald departed for Philadelphia and Detroit, respectively, the Rams moved swiftly to replace that duo with a pair of players who can boost the Rams’ red zone production with their size.

On the opening day of free agency, the Rams surprised many by going hard after the top receiver on the market in Tennessee’s Drew Bennett. By the end of the day two of free agency, Bennett had put pen to paper as the team’s new slot receiver and eventual replacement for one of the top two spots.

Bennett brings an added element of size at 6’5 and has the ability to stretch the field with underrated speed. For his career, Bennett has 273 catches for 4,033 yards and 25 touchdowns.

In addition, the Rams pounced on a veteran tight end with ties to coach Scott Linehan in the form of Miami’s Randy McMichael. St. Louis revamped the tight end position last season by trading former starter Brandon Manumaleuna and drafting Joe Klopfenstein and Dominique Byrd. While that duo performed well along with veteran Aaron Walker, McMichael gives the Rams an experienced tight end capable of receiving and blocking with equal aplomb.

In five seasons with the Dolphins, McMichael racked up 283 receptions for 3,096 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Now, in St. Louis, it is up to the Rams to find a way to successfully integrate Bennett and McMichael into an offense that already has a number of top skill position players.

That process will begin in training camp. Bennett and McMichael flashed their talents in the full squad minicamp, but there is still work to do to ensure there are enough ball to go around when the season begins.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Chat With Jeff Gordon

July 9th,

Dan: Is there any chance of the Rams entering the fray for Tank Johnson? With the contract they just gave Little they really can't claim to be "moral high ground."

Jeff Gordon: As I noted earlier, they are a little flexible with that moral high ground. Johnson is a low-risk guy because he can't ask for a whole lot, facing the sanctions he would get for additional problems.

Bobby Rodgers: Gordo:

Can you explain to me why management hasn't made an effort to "liven" up the dome's entertainment value, especially on the musical front. I heard the song "loveshack" during a defensive stand against the Seahawks last year. Can't we get somebody in the booth that's ready to help fire us up?

Jeff Gordon: With that horrific sound system, what more could be done? The atmosphere really was dreadful.

Tom: Hi Jeff,

I was wondering if you thought anything would come up regarding the Wroten incident i.e. suspension, etc. or do you see this as somewhat of a minor infraction. Also, I know you mentioned that Seattle is the top dog until proven otherwise, and rightfully so. I noticed they have quite a few road games cross -country this year, which to me good mean a tough time for them. Do you see a different division winner this year?



Jeff Gordon: I'll still pick Seattle until that team provens itself unworthy.

john: What's the latest with Wroten? Kicking down his girl's front door is minor compared to not calling the coach.
did he ever call the Rams?

Jeff Gordon: These guys never think of these things. Linehan is a pretty big Wroten fan, so I'm they'll be OK (barring further issues) after the father-son talk. But if he proves to be a knucklehead, he'll catch the Anthony Hargrove Express.

Doug (BigRam): With the supplemental draft approaching quickly, do the RAMS have any interest in acquiring more talent?

We have tackle Jared Gaither and CB Paul Oliver to choose from among others. Gaither is an excellent prospect for LT with OP getting a little long in the tooth and with that injury, he may not be the same. Gaither stands 6'9" and usually averages about 320 lbs. It has been said that he is a very good pass blocker. Do you think it is time to groom OP's replacement? Could we use another CB or in my opinion another free safety?

Jeff Gordon: The Rams are awash in corners. I'm not overwhelmed by the current safeties, but the supplemental draft is a longshot deal.

Guard: Gordo,

There has been some speculation that based on last year's rookie contracts and this year's cap increase, we may see a larger percentage of 1st round draft picks holding out.

Is this your take also, and what are the chances that Carriker would be a hold out on day 1 of Rams camp?

Thanks again for taking all of my questions. Much appreciated.


Jeff Gordon:
I would expect Carriker to be there, because he wants to be there. Holdouts ARE contagious, because teams slot salaries, and this could happen this year. But Adam really, REALLY wants to play.

Guard: Gordo,

There appears to be some battles shaping up for starting positions on the Offensive Line for the Rams. You have Setterstrom and Terrell fighting for starting Left Guard, and a possible 4 way battle at Center with McCollum, Romberg, Fry and Donovon Raiola. Pace, Barron, and Incognito are locked in as starters.

Who do you see as the opening day starting Offensive Line for the Rams? Who's the odd person(s) out at Center?



Jeff Gordon: Pace-Setterstrom-McCollum-Incognito-Barron, with Fry and Terrell pushing for work. Romberg was solid last year, but the Rams like Fry's size.

J.R.: Where are the Rams at in contract negotiations with Bulger?

Jeff Gordon: Still working on it. Should be interesting, no?

Guard: Gordo,

Of the assistant coaches for the Rams, who impresses you the most and why?



Jeff Gordon: Haslett, by far and away. I'm eager to see what he does with the new faces.

Guard: Gordo,

Is their any truth to the rumor that the Rams are interested in taking a look at Tank Johnson? If so, how does Linehan reconcile this with his philosophy of Character playing a large part in the player selection process?



Jeff Gordon: Linehan expressed passing interest in Ricky Williams before drafting a big back, so he'll have an open mind. Signing Tank would be a no-risk deal -- because he can't command much money and he will face heavy NFL sanctions for his next screw-up.

Loren: I have to say our defensive line scares me really bad right now. We have no idea what to expect. Please tell me something is happening on the Jenkins Front.

Jeff Gordon: I would St. Louis would settle down about Jenkins. This is a guy losing time to Damione Lewis. He would provide another big body, but he wouldn't save the "D." That job falls to Carriker, Hall and Draft.

Guard: Jeff,

Which players are you going to be watching the most at the upcoming Rams camp and what are you looking for?


Jeff Gordon: Alston, Setterstrom, Draft, both Halls, Leonard, Carriker, Adeyanju, Wade -- really, there are lots of good stories. The offensive could be special if the kids grow. It will be hard to judge the progress of the DL and LB until the real games.

the X factor: the seahawks have never sparked fear in me. their offence is gatting old, and their defence has more holes in it than something with alot of holes in it. why are people crowning them division champs? deon grant? patrick kerney? please. deon grant is as much of a liability as my grandmother on the feild, and big O will make kerney a non-factor. seahawks miss the playoffs due to age and injuries, write it down.

Jeff Gordon: The Hawks had a miraculous '06 season despite suffering all those injuries. So give the coach and QB credit for finding ways to win. Until they prove otherwise, the Hawks are the ones to beat.

George Mavris: Whats the deal with Wroten's arrest. Is there any chance this affects himi with the team and/or the NFL?

Jeff Gordon: If he cleans it up -- i.e. settles with his ex-girlfriend -- I doubt this would be a big deal.

sean: i hear allot of people talking about the 49ers. they either love their offseason, or put it down. media has them in the playoffs; rams fans doubt clements can cover bruce let alone holt. what no one is talking about is the under the radar signing of abrayo franklin from the ravens, which will allow the niners to switch to the 3-4 front they've been looking for. with franklin many lawson and patric willis, the niners are looking like a quicker dallas D. as a rams fan, i couldnt care less about clements, but i'm starting to fear the posability of those backers flying into the backfield. what kind of D can we expect from them?

Jeff Gordon: The Niners will have a nice D, but the Rams will have a power-blocking offensive line and a scheme that protects Bulger. The Rams offense will look a whole lot different with Pace back at LT and more experieced guard in the middle.

Mike: Do you expect the Rams to make an effort to sign a veteran DT when training camp begins or are they content with their current personnel (even with Claude Wroten's recent legal troubles)? If they are looking to sign someone who might that person be?

Jeff Gordon: They will wait for the right DT to come free, then make a move. Who might that be? No idea. But it would just be a depth person, more than likely. The Panthers would have to back off their trade demands for Jenkins to move him here.

Stevo: Hey Jeff,
Which Ram do you expect to have a his breakout season, (coaches included)?

"Practice?, Practice?, MVP and you're talk about practice?(Ha Ha Ha)"

Jeff Gordon: I was going to say Claude Wroten, before he got in trouble. Tye Hill is primed for a big year at corner, turning a question mark into an exclamation point. Leonard could have a huge rookie year in the role he is in. Alston intrigues everybody, too.

Stevo: Hey Jeff, your forum is graeat.
What are your predictions for the NFC west?
Which six teams do you think will represent the NFC in the playoffs?

"Playoffs?,Playoffs?, dont talk about playoffs(HaHaHa!!)"

Jeff Gordon: I have the Rams a 9-7 and on the playoff bubble. Chicago and New Orleans seem like obvious picks. The Eagles, Cowboys and Seahawks are solid possibilities. Some experts love the Panthers. The Niners are due. The Redskins have some support out there. See what I mean about the bubble?

Eric: Hey Gordo,

Whats your take on the Rams' Special Teams coverage and return games going into camp? Looking at the bears game and the game at Seattle last year, this area kept us out of the playoffs despite the run defense.

Jeff Gordon: We won't know about the special teams until the end of camp, when the playing making the team finally fill all the coverage and blocking assignments. But Dante Hall will help the return game just by showing up. The Rams believe some of their second-year players (like Alston) could be factors in coverage.