Tuesday, August 5, 2014, 2:39pm
He’s a player who excels in making defenders miss and evading them with breakaway speed. After practice on Monday, head coach Jeff Fisher said that the key to Austin’s success is just getting him the ball in space.
“You could see a couple times today he made people miss and picked up big gains, so that’s what we’re looking for,” Fisher said. “We’ve got a good feel for him. He’s got a good feel for the offense. It’s just a matter of finding enough footballs to go around.”
Part of what makes Austin so dangerous is he can be effective in the passing and running games. He’s certainly a candidate for a breakout year in 2014.
Austin had a disappointing year by most accounts, but it wasn’t necessarily his fault. He had trouble getting on the field, playing just 50% of his team’s snaps. His FP/T (0.95) was respectable for a rookie, though it seemed like OC Brian Shottenheimer wasn’t sure how to utilize Austin’s skill set. HC Jeff Fisher said that he expects that the team will do a better job of that in 2014. In the end, Austin did lead the Rams’ WRs in catches (40).
So far, so good.
A first-round pick in 2009, Britt was breaking out in 2011 before a Week 3 torn ACL threw his career off course even more than a rash of early-career run-ins with the law. Last year, he caught 11 passes for 96 yards in 12 appearances and three starts.
Britt, at times, looked like a dominant WR1 throughout his career but couldn't stay healthy and couldn't stay out of trouble. If he can do that in St. Louis, he could be quite a weapon for QB Sam Bradford and the Rams. Ranked just 60th on our list now, we acknowledge his stock is rising.
Saturday, August 2, 2014, 7:11pm
"You can see those balls were humming," coach Jeff Fisher said after Saturday's practice.
Bradford seems to benefiting from improved upper-body strength.
To keep the arm strong, coaches are monitoring Bradford's pitch count, so to speak, the story said. Both sides said there's no set limit, but that the information would help factor progress and performance in training camp. Once again, this seems like a make-or-break year for Bradford, who was having a decent season last year before getting hurt. Bradford is just 23rd on our list and isn't getting a lot of draft-day love in typical 10 or 12 team leagues.
Sam Bradford wasted no time getting started in team drills, completing touchdown passes to Brian Quick, Kenny Britt and Austin Pettis. Most notably, Britt hauled in a difficult ball with second-year defensive back Brandon McGee in his face.
“He loves playing the game,” Fisher said of Britt. “He feels good. He’s making a lot of plays for us.”
Fisher also credits Britt for bringing along Quick, a receiver of a similar ilk. “Kenny may make a mistake as far as an incorrect route here or there, but he does it going full speed,” Fisher stated. “Brian, early on in his career, if he wasn’t sure, he wasn’t quite full speed. I think Brian’s learning just to go. Good things happen when you’re running hard.”
Britt is apparently running with the first team alongside Quick, with Tavon Austin manning the slot. If this continues, he'll be a compelling late-round pick on draft day. He has talent, but hasn't shown it in recent years. Maybe a fresh start with his old coach (FIsher) will do the trick. There is certainly opportunity in the Rams' receiving corps.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 8:28am
The Rams were 3-4 with Bradford and it could be argued he might have made enough impact to turn the tide in narrow home losses the next two weeks against the Seahawks and Tennessee Titans. The Rams went to a ground-oriented offense under journeyman backup Kellen Clemens and finished with seven victories for the second straight season.
Once again, this is considered a make-or-break season for Bradford who is a former number-one overall pick. For as good as Bradford was playing, last year, he was #11 QB in that span which made him a borderline starter in slightly deeper leagues. This year, Bradford is out of our top-20 at the moment and isn't getting drafted, but certainly has the potential get back on the fantasy radar once the season starts.
Of course, that part isn't so far-fetched considering Stacy's knack for nagging injuries as a rookie. And so far, Stacy has been getting the majority of the work with the first-team offense. We'll see if anything changes as camp goes on but for now, most of the training camp competitions are centered more on sorting out players rather than open jobs amongst the starting 22.
Way back in March, Fisher said Stacy was a guy who could get a bulk of work in the Rams offense, which equated to about 300 carries. Of course the key is staying healthy. The NFC West is also a tough division to face twice a year, but one of Stacy's better games last year came against the Seahawks at home. He posted #8 RB numbers from Week 5 on in 2013, but Tre Mason could steal some carries to help keep Stacy fresh. He's ranked 12th on our list with an ADP of the early fourth round.
Bradford is coming off a torn ACL, but coach Jeff Fisher said Thursday that there wouldn’t be any limits on the quarterback during practice.
“Sam is in great shape,” Fisher said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s ready to go. We don’t have [reservations] — right now as we speak, as camp starts — he’s full-go. If we need to back him down here and there, we’ll back him down.”
Through the first seven games of the season, Bradford averaged 16.9 FP and was the #11 QB before injuring his knee late in a game against the Panthers. Fantasy-wise, he may have turned a corner, but he's going to have to put together a full, productive season to get a sizable extension from the Rams. The team didn’t do much this offseason to improve the receiving corps.
Rice missed the final eight games of the Seahawks 2013 season after tearing his ACL in a Week 8 win over the Rams. Rice was then cut by Seattle in February in a cost-cutting move that cleared up $7.3 million in 2014 cap space for Seahawks. However, Rice returned to the team in April when he signed a one-year deal.
The receiver's injury history played a large part in his decision to retire, "I was just thinking about things I've been through in the last few years," Rice told the team's official website. "I've hit the ground a number of times. I have quite a few injuries. It's something I've always battled through and came back from, But I just figure at this point I have the rest of my life ahead of me and I want to be able to function and do things later down the road."
We wish Rice the best of luck in his future endeavors. It's a pragmatic move by a player who sees the risks involved with continuing his career given his history of concussions. His departure should shore up Jermaine Kearse's snaps and opens the door for rookie Paul Richardson to see a role as a deep threat.
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 11:27am
While nothing is set in stone in terms of starters at receiver entering this training camp, Rams WR Chris Givens does seem to have the inside track on holding down a starting job, at least as camp opens. Tavon Austin also figures to have a large role. Givens will almost certainly have every opportunity to nail down the job, especially with Stedman Bailey set to miss the first four games because of a suspension. The Rams haven't had a 1,000-yard receiver since 2007 or even one to reach 700 yards since 2008. Givens doesn't have to reach the 1,000-yard mark for it to be considered a productive season but something close to 800 yards with six touchdowns would go a long way in ensuring his future as a starter.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 6:11pm
Tennessee's players and coaches are won over, with receivers aide Shawn Jefferson talking up Justin Hunter as the one who could carry the Titans into the playoffs, while fellow wideout Michael Preston turned heads this offseason by calling Hunter a young Randy Moss -- a claim he didn't back away from Monday.
"I know how great a player Randy Moss was, and in my mind, there's no reason Justin can't be the next greatest player," Preston told Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. "... I just want to be there to support him. I know he's going to grow, make a great leap this year, and impress the city and fans with his talent."
With Kenny Britt out of the way, Hunter owns a legitimate chance to make an impact come September. NFL Films guru Greg Cosell called him "the most intriguing" and "physically talented" wideout in last year's draft -- and his game tape is speckled with flashes of brilliance -- but comparisons to a rock-solid future Hall of Famer are wildly premature.
As a rookie, Hunter checked in with the #18 FP/T (1.41), which is encouraging, especially if he’s able to beat out Nate Washington and get on the field as more than a just a passing-down specialist. He only played 36% of the team’s snaps, while Washington played 82%. The good news is that under then-OC Ken Whisenhunt, Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal all played at least 67% of the Chargers’ snaps. So with Whiz calling the plays in Tennessee, there may be room for both Washington and Hunter in the lineup.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 9:47am
In just two seasons, Rams RB Isaiah Pead has been surpassed by running backs with lesser draft status including Daryl Richardson and Zac Stacy. Even undrafted rookie Benny Cunningham handled a bigger role in 2013 and the Rams drafted Tre Mason in the third round this year. Pead's long term future in St. Louis will likely hinge on his ability to finally produce in 2014.
The Rams would like to see a competition develop in camp with their backs. Pead even got some first-team reps in the spring. But the story even says it's probably not realistic to expect Pead to make enough of a leap to steal carries from Stacy, Cunningham and Mason. It goes on to say a more likely scenario is Pead playing special teams and developing into a third-down back. Right now, there's just not a lot of fantasy value.
Monday, July 14, 2014, 7:50pm
"I made the initiative to be in better shape," Bowe told USA TODAY Sports on Monday. "I'm getting older, and talking to the old vets, the only way you last longer is to be in better conditioning. I took that to the heart and am training extremely hard this year."
A couple months shy of his 30th birthday, Bowe said he weighs around 212 pounds — down from his playing weight of 222 to 225 in the past — thanks to a diet featuring fish, vegetables and fewer carbs, plus intense workouts in Miami with his personal trainer.
We rank Bowe 45th on our WR list. He got off to a slow start but did come on Weeks 11-16 and was a usable WR3. Still, Alex Smith has been known to check down and that hurts Bowe's value. He's currently going in the 12th round, and guys like Rueben Randle and Tavon Austin who rank right there with Bowe probably offer more upside.
Friday, July 11, 2014, 11:48am
Witherspoon no longer plays for the Rams. He didn't witness Britt's offseason work. It's worth noting, though, that Witherspoon played with Britt in Tennessee and presumably holds close ties to coach Jeff Fisher after following him from Nashville to St. Louis.
There is certainly opportunity for Britt to earn a big role in the Rams' passing game given the current (unproven) state of the team's WR corps, but we've heard this song before. Britt is nothing more than a late-round flier until we start to see some results on the field.
Sunday, July 6, 2014, 9:00pm
Rangers beat writer Gerry Fraley and columnist Rick Gosselin joined Fox Sports Southwest's Dana Larson on Monday for SportsDay OnAir. Here are some highlights.
On Scott Linehan:
Fraley: "I saw Scott in St. Louis when he got fired midway through the season. He had Steven Jackson who is one of the most gifted running backs in football and a cut ahead of Murray right now. He had no idea what to do with Stephen Jackson in that Rams offense. I still think Linehan is a puzzling hire to me. I understand he is tight with Jason Garrett. He is even more pass happy than Jason Garrett. When you have a line with three first rounders and a quality back in Murray, why do you want a guy who wants to throw the ball even more? I don't get it. Unless he has undergone a real conversion in his thought process, Ill be stunned if they run the ball more. They may run it less."
Gosselin: "They didn't run the ball in Detroit last year. That's one of the few teams who ran it less than the Cowboys. In this building, the owner, the GM, the head coach, the coordinator and the quarterback all want to pass. The only one guy who doesn't want to pass is Demarco Murray and he gets out voted every time."
Last season, the Cowboys were 3rd in pass % (63.6%) while the Lions were 13th (58.8%). The raw numbers show that the Lions (445 rushing attempts) ran more than the Cowboys (336 attempts) as well, so we're not sure where Fraley and Gosselin are getting their numbers. Linehan does have a history of being pass-happy, but he ran the ball with Reggie Bush and Joique Bell in 2013 and his arrival should be good for Murray in 2014.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 3:11pm
The Chiefs are making an effort to get DeAnthony Thomas involved and need to find a way to put his speed to use. But he’s only 5-foot-9 and 174 pounds, so there’s a limit on how much they can expect to get from Thomas. At a minimum, he should be the kickoff and punt returner, where he should excel immediately.
“He’s just an explosive playmaker. He’s got worldclass speed. He ran track on the Oregon track team up there, which is one of the better progRams in the country. He’s the alltime leading punt return average guy in Oregon school history. He’s got the most kick return yards in school history. In addition to that, he’s averaged over 6 yards a carry as a running back. I think with his speed, his explosiveness in the open field, I think there’s a variety of ways we can find a way to use him on both offense and special teams.” -- Chiefs scout Trey Koziol.