Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rams Have Exciting Toys to Unwrap; Team Is Long on Skill, Short on Experience

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rams Have Exciting Toys to Unwrap; Team Is Long on Skill, Short on Experience

Article excerpt

The Rams open the regular season next Sunday, and I can't wait to see what they'll roll out. They have so many new toys on offense. All kinds of gadgets for quarterback Sam Bradford to play with. It should be bright and shiny.

Going into the Edward Jones Dome for the game against Arizona will be like rushing downstairs on Christmas morning to see what's under the tree.

Remember how it was as a kid? Your presents were there, just waiting to be revealed, but you weren't quite sure what to expect. You didn't know what they'd look like. You didn't quite know if you'd get what you wanted. You didn't know if the batteries were included.

Or think of this as one of those old electric football games. You'd plug it in, and the field would begin to vibrate. You'd align the players and hope that they wouldn't run around in circles.

The Rams with so many talented but extremely inexperienced wide receivers and running backs may take a while to find a full-speed tempo.

Like those little electric football players, they may occasionally run backwards, aimlessly wander out of bounds, or inexplicably collide with teammates.

Coach Jeff Fisher wisely kept most of the toys under wraps during four intentionally boring preseason games. He didn't give us much of a peek of an evolved passing game, and kept his super-action blitz packages tucked away for regular-season safekeeping.

I like that. Fisher's secrecy only raised the anticipation, increased the build-up, and added more suspense as Rams fans gear up for the 2013 debut.

After going 15-65 over five seasons of futility and hopelessness that ended in 2011, the Rams hired Fisher and GM Les Snead to revive then reinvent the franchise.

The project is going well. The Rams went 7-8-1 in Fisher's first season, then ambitiously added offensive tackle Jake Long, wide receiver Tavon Austin, hybrid tight end Jared Cook and other potential difference-makers during the offseason.

These new pieces joined a maturing group that formed the NFL's youngest squad in 2012. But the roster churn has continued, topped by the free-agent departure of veteran running back Steven Jackson.

The Rams may have as many as six new starters on offense and four new starters on defense. After Saturday's roster cutdown to 53, the Rams had 29 first-year or second-year players.

(Rams Park? More like Rams Day Care.)

What are the Rams planning to do with all of these playthings, appliances, gismos, novelties and contraptions?

We'll begin to find out next week. It's nearly showtime.

"I've never been more jacked about being a part of something the way I am with this," Snead said Saturday. "We're ahead of where I thought we would be (in rebuilding.) And I would say that we're getting to the point, with starting-caliber players, where we can match up with anybody."

There's no debate; the Rams have upgraded their athleticism, speed, and overall talent on offense. …

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