The preseason is over and the real games are about to begin. So let's look at what players stood out for good reasons and bad.
After weeks of waiting, the St. Louis Rams are getting closer to playing their first regular season game of 2014 against the Minnesota Viking. But, before we start talking more about the up coming game on Sunday, let's look back at the Rams preseason, and players who won or lost during the four week period.
Veteran Kenny Britt and third year pro Brian Quick are the biggest stories for the Rams after the preseason. Both players looked good during training camp, but who doesn't look good during camp? It's all about the preseason and playing against another team.
The Rams hoped that Britt would revive his career with the team and he's been a good addition so far. Britt has become a leader for the Rams offense and the team will need that leadership throughout the season. Britt finished the preseason with three catches and 73 receiving yards.
Reports out of camp were positive about Quick, but it made sense to wait and see what he would show us during the preseason. Show up Quick did, racking up five catches, 88 yards, and a touchdown. Quick made some impressive catches during his three starts this year and the hope is that his strong play will carry over to the regular season.
Although the Rams have question marks on their offensive line, one player has held his spot done continuously: right offensive tackle Joe Barksdale. He surprised last season and took the starting right tackle job from Rodger Saffold. During preseason there hasn't been a word said about Barksdale, which should be a testament to how well he's been playing, because nobody consistently mentions good offensive linemen.
The majority of the secondary draft picks:
The Rams needed help in the secondary, and they used the draft to their advantage by drafting four defensive backs. Only one defensive back (Christian Bryant) didn't make the 53 man roster. What makes the situation good for the Rams is that the new defensive backs played well, with two of them - second round pick Lamarcus Joyner and 5th rounder E.J. Gaines - possible starters opening day.
Well, Joyner looks like he will be starting at nickel corner this season, after playing almost the whole preseason with the starting unit. If E.J. Gaines is going to start this season it's because of the injury to starter Trumaine Johnson, but he's also looked solid in the preseason. Then you have safety Maurice Alexander who could start down the line, but right now it appears as though he will primarily be a special teams player.
The four undrafted players:
The Rams have kept multiple undrafted rookies on their roster for a few years, and this one doesn't prove to be an exception. In fact Trey Watts, Marcus Roberson, Ethan Westbrooks, Alex Bayer, could be the best UDFA group yet. None of these players will start this season, but they could stick on the roster for a while.
On defense, Westbrook's and Roberson stood out. Roberson looked like good depth in a secondary which is full of unproven players. The Rams will give him a chance to grow as a player. Westbrooks looked like a star during the preseason. The undrafted defensive lineman out of West Texas A&M can lineup anywhere on the defensive line and he has the potential to be a really good backup.
The undrafted free agents on offense will have more of their work cutout for them. Bayer is a pretty good pass catching tight end, but if he's going to stick on the roster he will have to become a better blocker. Watts looked like a good runner when he finally got his chance to play. It will be interesting to see if he will get snaps as a back if need be.
If you're a Rams fan, then you should consider Hill a winner after this preseason. The veteran backup looked well enough during the preseason that when Sam Bradford went down with another season ending knee injury, the Rams named Hill the starter and didn't acquire another quarterback.
But let's think about Hill, and why he's in the loser category: He can only make 2.75 million dollars this year on his one year contract, and that's the max. Come on Rams, pay the man.
The Auburn draft picks:
Alright, on a serious note, the Rams should be worried about their draft picks from Auburn. Second overall offensive linemen Greg Robinson and 3rd rounder Tre Mason haven't looked particularly good during the preseason.
In a big surprise, there's a good chance the Rams have canceled the whole "Robinson moving to guard and becoming an unstoppable run blocking tank" strategy. Right now, it looks like Robinson will sit on the bench and learn how to play left tackle unless there's an injury at guard. Does it really matter if Robinson plays early though? If the Rams feel like they don't need him to start, then it's fine. Plus, just because a player doesn't start early doesn't mean he's a bust.
Talking about lowering your expectations for a player... When Mason was drafted, the immediate thought was he would push Stacy for the starting job. But when Mason had a chance to stand out, he didn't. Based on the last two games, you could even make a case that Trey Watts has outperformed Mason. Either way it goes, it doesn't look like Mason will have a big role this season.
The Rams last five draft picks:
These players were unlucky, in that the Rams had a giant draft class and four undrafted players making the team, it was going to be a long-shot for all of the drafted players to make the team, even if your name is Michael Sam.
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