Thursday, August 14, 2014, 11:37am
Although Zac Stacy and Tre Mason garner most of the attention at running back, Benny Cunningham should not be overlooked. The Rams like him a lot, and he returned to St. Louis bigger, stronger and faster. He's another year removed from a serious knee injury and could play a more integral role in his second season.
Cunningham may back up Stacy while Mason learns the ropes.
While his teammates have talked up the 2013 No. 8 overall pick, not everyone has been impressed with his camp so far.
"Tavon Austin has been very quiet this camp," Holt said. "He was quiet the other night, and for a guy picked eighth overall, it's bothering me that he's been so quiet."
Coach Jeff Fisher admitted the Rams need to get Austin the ball in space more -- just don't expect to see that during the preseason.
"We just have to give him the ball," Fisher said. "Give him the ball in space, because we all know what he can do with it. And so we're doing some different things. Probably won't show a whole lot in the preseason, but I've (sic) very pleased with where he's at right now."
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).
Saints WR Brandin Cooks has been everything that was advertised and then some. The first-round draft pick from Oregon State has repeatedly flashed his dynamic speed in practices, in the scrimmage and in the preseason opener, when he embarrassed two St. Louis Rams defensive backs with a wicked stop-and-go move. Cooks has also caught almost every pass thrown his way, including some trickier back-shoulder throws and some balls he had to go up and get behind safeties and corners. And he has remained humble and hardworking, demonstrating that the hype isn't going to his head. Although you never want to put too much on any rookie's plate, Cooks really looks like a guy who will help fill that big-play void that started to show up for the Saints last season.
The Saints spread the ball around, but not only do they have to replace the departed Lance Moore, the team has to also replace the production of Darren Sproles in the receiving game. The two combined for 143 targets in 2013, so while we're expecting Kenny Stills to see a larger role, there are targets for the speedy Cooks as well. He has drawn rave reviews all summer and is looking like and as a result, his ADP is has climbed into the early 7th round.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014, 2:22pm
The Packers just signed wide receiver Jordy Nelson to a long-term contract extension, so the last thing they’d want to do to celebrate is anything that would put him at risk of missing extended time this season.
That meant going the extra mile in terms of precaution when Nelson came down with a minor hamstring injury recently. Nelson skipped the preseason opener and a few practices, but his absence came to an end on Tuesday.
Nelson was back on the field, but the wraps weren’t totally off. Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reports that Nelson took the first rep of each set of team periods, but did little else during those drills. That suggests the Packers are going to be easing him back to full speed, which could mean that they’ll hold off on making a decision about Nelson’s availability for Saturday’s game against the Rams.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014, 2:20pm
As has been custom throughout his career, Rams TE Jared Cook struggled to replicate or even approximate his dominating opening week performance in 2013 the rest of the season. After the eye-opening performance against the Cardinals, Cook became the focal point of opposing defenses with additional and more physical coverage thrown his way on a regular basis.
Cook didn't exceed 45 receiving yards in any of the next nine games and didn't score another touchdown until Week 9 against his former team. He finished with 51 catches for 671 yards and five touchdowns. But much of that production came in two games and Cook also struggled with drops, finishing with six for the season.
Cook wasn't consistent but it's something he's working on for this year. He was also hurt by the loss of QB Sam Bradford, so his return should help. Cook is more of a TE2 target in leagues where you need one. Other than that, he's a guy to target on bye weeks as a fill in until he starts to show that consistency.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014, 10:34am
It’s clear that Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt could be an important piece of the Rams offense this season. Not only has his performance on the field been strong, but also head coach Jeff Fisher said he’s becoming a team leader.
“Kenny’s always had that type of personality,” Fisher said. “He loves the game He’s not afraid to voice his opinion and he’s pulling the young guys along with him. He practices one speed and that’s full.”
Britt's running out of chances but seems to be making the best of this one in St. Louis. Britt is at the top of the depth chart with Tavon Austin on the other side. He's a potential mid-to-late round sleeper if you can land him as depth.
At the NFL owners meetings in March, coach Jeff Fisher told reporters that he’d like Stacy to be the team’s “70 percent” back. In other words, get 70 percent of the touches at running back.
But that was before the Rams selected Heisman Trophy contender Tre Mason of Auburn in Round 3 of the May draft. Throw in returnees Benny Cunningham, and even Isaiah Pead and Chase Reynolds, and there’s plenty of competition on the practice field.
And if those five weren’t enough to consider, the Rams also have an intriguing undrafted rookie in Trey Watts, who sat out the preseason opener against New Orleans with a hamstring injury. So yes, it’s a crowded house at the position.
If Stacy got 70-percent of the carries last year, he would have had just shy of 300, putting him among the tops in the league. But perhaps the point of this story is that Stacy may not need to carry 70-percent of the time like Fisher said he could back in March. That, of course, is bad news for Stacy owners. But the good news is Stacy is still expected to be the RB1 in this offense so he should still get a bulk of the work. We think Mason has a chance to steal the most carries and could end up being a handcuff. The battle behind Stacy is a situation to watch if you're going to be a Stacy owner.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014, 8:22am
Devlin, the former Delaware standout who spent the past three seasons with the Dolphins, had a hamstring injury. He could still be brought back to the Dolphins and placed on the injured reserve list. Devlin hasn't played in an NFL regular season game.
Monday, August 11, 2014, 7:53pm
Quarterback Brady Quinn, who recently took at job handling college and pro football for FOX Sports, may not be available when football season begins. According to Jeff Darlington of NFL Network, Quinn has signed with the Dolphins.
Monday, August 11, 2014, 5:31pm
The competition for backup quarterback behind Drew Brees continues to progress, with veteran Luke McCown and youngster Ryan Griffin having submitted an addendum to their respective resumes last Friday in St. Louis.
They’re preparing to turn in another work sample Friday in New Orleans, when the Saints play their preseason home opener against Tennessee at 7 p.m. at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Griffin was one of the offensive stars in a 26-24 victory over the Rams, completing 16 of 23 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions in five series. McCown, who started in place of Brees, completed seven of 10 passes for 49 yards and an interception in two series.
The Saints are being cautious with Brees' injury. Head coach Sean Payton has maintained they'll continue to monitor his progress and take it "day-to-day."
Brees continues to rehab on the side. He did some light running and agility drills before throwing with injured wide receiver Kenny Stills. It seems like the team is just being cautious with their star QB but we'll continue to monitor in case it's something more. He's considered a top-three fantasy QB option this season.
Sunday, August 10, 2014, 1:28pm
After pursuing him for a couple of weeks and even in previous seasons, the Rams finally snatched QB Shaun Hill away from the Detroit Lions in the offseason. Hill has wasted no time proving why the Rams coveted him.
Starting the preseason opener in place of Bradford, Hill went 5 of 7 for 84 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 151.2.
“Well, we expect him to do that; that’s what he’s done for years," coach Jeff Fisher said. "(He) has a good feel for what we’re doing and a good sense for timing and throws a nice ball, a catchable ball. Five-for-7 and good control over what we were doing. That was pretty good, pretty good first effort for him.”
It's just one game, but Hill is exactly the type of steady hand who would give them insurance in case of another Bradford injury. The Rams are considered to have a pretty good defense and certainly some talent on offense so Hill could keep them on line to make a playoff run if need be. Hill very well could offer the same kind of fantasy value as Bradford, which is low-end QB2 or a committee candidate in certain matchups. Bradford is expected to play in preseason Week 2.
Saturday, August 9, 2014, 11:48am
St. Louis Rams tight end/defensive lineman Mason Brodine was working to make the team's 53-man roster in a unique role.
Brodine switched from defensive end to tight end in the offseason but was doing a bit of both during this season's training camp. He'd hoped that versatility would give him a shot to make the roster after spending most of the past two seasons on the practice squad.
Those hopes were dashed in Friday night's preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints when Brodine suffered a fractured ankle in the first half. He's scheduled for surgery on Tuesday and his season is over before it ever really got started.
Friday, August 8, 2014, 1:30pm
In this camp, he's already lost reps to Kenny Britt, Brian Quick, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey and is getting little work with the first offense in practice. He's already been bumped to third on the depth chart and will need a big finish to work his way back to a starting role.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 6:32pm
Rams running back Zac Stacy did go through the practice after limping off during Tuesday's practice. The injury didn't seem serious at the time and it appears there is nothing to it as he was back to go through special teams drills Wednesday. Stacy said after the practice that he's feeling good and though he's unsure if he'll play in the preseason opener, made it clear he's ready to go if called upon.