Training camp tour stop: Rams
His rookie season was strong as he finished with 18 TD passes and 15 interceptions. However, if you’re looking for significant growth this season, you’ll probably be disappointed. The Rams are still working to improve the foundation of their team. The only receiver of substance they added in free agency was Mike Sims-Walker(notes), who has yet to top 900 yards in three seasons. Sims-Walkers has good hands and runs nice routes, but he’s just a No. 2 receiver. He is not a deep threat or explosive. That’s a good addition for the Rams, but they could still use a legit downfield guy and are cautiously hoping that Mark Clayton(notes), who was off to a nice start last season in the first five games, will re-sign and return from a knee injury at some point.
Clayton visited the team Tuesday, but coach Steve Spagnuolo said Clayton is still a long way from getting healthy.
The upshot in all of this is Bradford figures to make steady improvement. But if you’re looking for 25 to 30 TD passes, that’s a stretch. Heck, the most important thing for the Rams to do this season is improve the overall efficiency of the passing game, primarily hoping to up the average yards per pass attempt from last season, when it was only 6.0.
[Related: Sam Bradford learning new ‘language’]
WR Danny Amendola(notes) finished with 85 receptions last season, so he looks great for PPR leagues. However, he gained only 689 yards on those catches for an average of only 8.1 yards. In two seasons, he has averaged only 7.9 yards on 128 catches and has only four touchdowns. In the right offense, Amendola would be a nice No. 3/slot receiver. Making him a starter exposes his limitations, particularly when there isn’t another premier receiver in the lineup.
It should be no surprise that RB Steve Jackson, who last season topped the 1,400-yard mark in rushing and receiving for the fourth time in the past five seasons, is still the top weapon in the Rams’ offense. Even with backups Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood(notes) around, Jackson figures to get another 325 carries. However, the thing to watch is that Jackson, who is entering his eighth season, averaged only 3.8 yards per carry in ’10, the lowest of his career.
Line still in work: The Rams are hoping OT Jason Smith(notes), the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, will take another step forward, particularly after the team signed RG Harvey Dahl(notes) as a free agent. Smith, who originally was drafted to be a left tackle, moved to the right side last season. With Smith, Dahl, C Jason Brown(notes), LG Jacob Bell(notes) and LT Rodger Saffold(notes), the Rams have the making of an excellent offensive line, which was the top priority for GM Billy Devaney. Smith could be the key in helping the group go from very good to great.
“The expectations that go when you take a lineman that high are enormous,” Devaney said. “Jason has been really good and when we took him, we thought he had more upside than a lot of guys because he was a little young and raw. I really see another step coming from him.”
Despite the lack of a deep threat on offense, don’t look for the Rams to make a panic move. Some have suggested that the Rams make a move for a player like WR Randy Moss(notes). That’s not going to happen, even though the team seriously considered trading for Vincent Jackson(notes) last year when San Diego was toying with the idea of shipping him.