Live From Rams Camp - St. Charles Missouri
After three straight dismal seasons, it would be natural for St. Louis Rams fans to be cynical about the 2010 season. But after attending a scrimmage Saturday night at Hunter Stadium in St. Charles, Missouri on the campus of Lindenwood University, it’s clear that many Rams fans are once again optimistic about the future.
And the main reason for optimism is rookie quarterback Sam Bradford. After seeing Bradford’s performance during the scrimmage, it’s no wonder why so many people were clamoring for his autograph after the session concluded.
It must be said that veteran A.J. Feeley opened the scrimmage as the starter, and looked sharp, but when Bradford replaced him, the rookie completed his first four pass attempts, including an 11-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Keenan Burton. Bradford showed excellent mobility on the touchdown toss, rolling out to his right and calmly finding Burton in the end zone. As the night continued, Bradford continued to look sharp, throwing touchdown passes to the likes of tight end Billy Bajema and running back Kenneth Darby.
But Bradford saved his best for one of the last moments of the scrimmage. The Rams simulated a two-minute drill, and the scenario of the drill was that the team needed a field goal to win. Bradford cranked up his right arm and went deep to wide receiver Danny Amendola. The picture perfect connection covered 53 yards and moved the Rams inside the 10-yard line. Bradford and the offense walked off the field having put the team in position to win.
The top pick in April’s draft had clearly passed his first test, although it must be mentioned that several St. Louis defensive backs, including Ron Bartell, sat out the scrimmage. The Rams gave Bradford, Feeley, Keith Null, and Thaddeus Lewis plenty of passing opportunities as they opted to rest Steven Jackson and not subject him to potential injury.
In the battle to be Jackson’s backup, Chris Ogbonnaya got the first carry, but didn’t look particularly impressive overall. Kenneth Darby did have the touchdown catch, but before that, he dropped a pass. Jamie McCoy, who is listed on the roster as a fullback, also lined up some at halfback.
Fantasy owners would be best served by not targeting Steven Jackson’s handcuff. It would be easy to envision the Rams going pass-heavy if Jackson were out of action because of the upgrades at quarterback. Bradford is generating all the headlines, but Feeley knows the offense and can be a capable quarterback in stretches. Before Bradford took his first snap, Feeley hooked up with Amendola on a 30-yard scoring play. And Keith Null, the lone holdover at the quarterback position from 2009, showed improvement, hitting wide receiver Brandon McRae in stride for a 60-yard touchdown strike.
Amendola was the best of the wide receivers, but with rookie Mardy Gilyard on the roster, he’s fighting just to stay around. He helped his cause considerably on Saturday night.
Donnie Avery had a nifty catch early on, while Laurent Robinson looked solid and most importantly, healthy. Robinson has been cursed by injuries in his career, and if he can stay on the field for the entire season it will be a big plus for the St. Louis offense. Brandon Gibson did not participate in the scrimmage.
The Rams are still likely to struggle when the regular season arrives, but there’s no doubt their offense should be better than it was in 2009. Jackson is the glue and the top fantasy player. Bradford is an incredible prospect for keeper leagues. Avery and Robinson won’t be weekly starters, but if Bradford is the real deal, they might be useful in a good matchup.
All in all, it was a good night for the Rams.