Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kind of Crazy, but This Is Fun

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kind of Crazy, but This Is Fun

Article excerpt

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm really looking forward to the Rams' preseason opener tonight in Cleveland. This qualifies as a conversion for me. But I confess: I'm in.

I'm usually bored by the drudgery of exhibition games. They're almost always dull. And it's truly sad to see players' seasons wrecked and wasted because of injuries in meaningless games that exist for one real reason: to generate extra revenue for greedy NFL owners.

Another problem? Exhibition games are often misleading. Fans watch a watch a third-string quarterback say, Thaddeus Lewis running around and making plays against scrubs and waiver-wire folderol and begin fantasizing he's Joe Montana.

And then there's the quandary of conflicting coaching agendas. Most coaches view these games for what they are, a chance to evaluate players in a different setting. These secure coaches refuse to reveal their regular-season schemes that give upcoming opponents a free scouting report.

Other head coaches game plan for these rehearsals, reaching into the regular-season playbook in a transparent attempt to look smart. The Rams were the NFC West preseason champions for three consecutive summers under former head coach Steve Spagnuolo.

Rams head coach Jeff Fisher didn't game plan for last year's preseason opener at Indianapolis. Colts coaches treated the event like the Super Bowl, went with their regular-season packages and made the Rams look clownish in a 38-3 loss.

Rams fans spent a week shrieking about Fisher being out of touch, stale, stuck in the past, a bad hire, and no better than Spags. It was one of the most absurd overreactions I've ever seen.

So yeah, I normally despise preseason football.

Why do I care about this one?

Because the Rams have generated buzz. And for once, and at last, there's a reason to believe that the hype could lead to legitimate hope.

The Rams have a lot of new toys and gadgets young, skilled talents capable of transforming the league's sleepiest offense.

I'm geeked for a sneak preview of wide receiver Tavon Austin, the No. 8 overall pick in this year's draft. I don't know how much he'll play, but even if his debut appearance is nothing more than a trailer for an upcoming action-adventure movie, I don't want to miss it.

Bring on the sneak peeks. The scenes of Austin, flex tight end Jared Cook, wide receiver Stedman Bailey and second-year wideouts Chris Givens and Brian Quick.

We'll see a brand-new backfield taking shape, with Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Zac Stacy, Terrance Ganaway and Benny Cunningham vying for regular-season playing time and touches.

Later on in the preseason we'll be able to check the progress of quarterback Sam Bradford, offensive tackles Jake Long and Rodger Saffold and the battle at left guard between Shelley Smith and Chris Williams. …

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